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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Course Code
Suzanne Casimiro

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Chapter One: The Sociological Perspective
The Sociological Perspective: Sociology is the systematic study of human society; point of
view called sociological perspective
Seeing the General in the Particular
Peter Berger- sociological perspective- seeing the general in the particular
He meant that sociologists find general patterns in behavior of particular
Even though each person is unique, sociologists recognize that society acts
differently on different categories of people
Ex. Kids vs. adults/ women vs. men/ rich vs. poor
According to sociology, the category we fall into shapes our life experiences
We begin to think sociologically when we realize that our individual life
experiences are shaped by the society in which we live, and by the general
categories in which we fall
Seeing the Strange in the Familiar
Idea that society shapes what we think and do
Sociological perspective provides additional insights that may not be readily
Seeing Personal Choice in Social Context
Idea that society reflects our personal choices
Example 1: number of children women have- factors affecting this decision
could include: poor country, less schooling, few economic opportunities and use of
Example 2: suicide rates- according to Emile Durkheim, some categories of
people are more likely to commit suicide- men, protestants, rich people, and
unmarried people
Explained this in terms of social integration: categories of people with strong social
ties had lower suicide rates compared to more individualistic categories of people
that had high suicide rates (p.5)
Seeing Sociologically: Marginality and Crisis
Situations that help people use the sociological perspective: living on the margins of
society and living through a social crisis
being an outsider(not part of the dominant group) the greater peoples social
marginality, the better able they are to use the sociological perspective
examples of people at the margins of society- women, gay/lesbian, people with
disabilities and old
The importance of a global perspective
Global Perspective: study of the larger world and our societys place in it

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193 nations of the world can be divided into three categories base on their
level of economic development
countries nations with the highest overall standard of living
includes 60 countries
these nations produce most of the goods and services,
and its people have the most wealth
people in these countries are very well off, not
because theyre smarter or work harder, but only
because they live in a rich region of the world
countries nations with an average standard of living
includes 76 nations
as likely to live in rural villages as in cities
avg: 6-8 years of schooling
social inequality: wealth not spread evenly, some are
extremely rich vs. some extremely poor people
countries includes 57 nations
low standard of living where most people are poor
wealth not spread evenly^
United Nations Human Development Index (HDI): determines quality of life based
on income, life expectancy, literacy rates and school enrolment
Comparisons made between Canada and other nations due to four main reasons:
Where we live shapes the lives we
leadto understand ourselves and
appreciate how others live, we
must understand something about
how countries differ
Societies throughout the world are
increasingly interconnecteddue to tech., people are more
connected and aware of each
others cultures ( ex. Share tastes
in food, clothing and music)
U.S. influences their way of life on
other countries
Trading has created global
Many Canadian jobs involve
international trade, gaining
greater global understanding has
become crucial
Many social problems that we face
in Canada are far more serious
Poverty in Canada vs. Poverty in
Africa or Asia
Gender Inequality in Canada vs.
worlds poor countries
Thinking globally helps us learn

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more about ourselves
Conclusion: in an interconnected world, we can understand ourselves only to the
extent we understand others
Applying the Sociological Perspective
Sociology and Personal Growth
Using the sociological perspective makes us more active and aware and has four
The sociological perspective helps
us assess the truth of “common
Ex. Assuming that you decide
your own fate, you might praise
someone who is very successful,
and think that the less successful
person is personally deficient
Sociological approach encourages
us to ask whether such common
beliefs are true or why they are so
widely followed
The sociological perspective helps
us see the opportunities and
constrains in our lives
The sociological perspective
empowers us to be active
participants in our society
The more we understand how
society works, the more active
citizens we become
Wright Mills- sociological
perspective turns a personal
problem (not having a job) to a
public issue(bad economy or high
unemployment rates)
When we see how society affects
us, we may support it or set out to
change it
The sociological perspective helps
us live in a diverse world 5% of people are Canadian, the
rest of the world lives their lives
very differently
We tend to define our lifestyle as
Sociological perspective
encourages us to think critically
about strengths and weaknesses
of all ways of life including ours
The Origins of Sociology
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