HSW CHAPTER 1 SOCIOLOGY AND THE STUDY OF SOCIETY
Individuals create society, but society, in turn, creates them.
In every society there are accepted distances for social conversation.
Sociologists focus on general patterns, or regularities, in the suicide behavior.---
Durkheim revealed some fascinating patterns for suicide.
Sociology is particularly challenging since it forces us to re-examine ourselves, our
strongly held beliefs and values, and the social institutions to which we belong.
***what is society?
--society as structure
One key goal of sociology is to systematically study and analyze the various elements
that constitute a society’s structure and the relationships among these elements.
The terms society, social structure, and culture are often used interchangeably within
the social sciences; some anthropologists try to combine the concepts by using the
term sociocultural system
--relations of power
Power is largely a result of the control individuals or groups have of a society’s
resources, including its “human resources.” It exists within personal relationships—
which we might term proximal relations of power--and at a more abstract level in
society as a whole—which we might term distal relations of power.
We live in a society that teaches us to look inward to our own individual failings or to
nearby proximal relations of power when we experience the negative consequences
of distal relations of power, rather than outward to the broader social system.
Wright Mills: the sociological imagination is the ability to go beyond the personal
issues we all experience and connect them to broader social structures. The
sociological imagination is the ability to link distal relations of power to our
immediate life situations
---society as process
At the same moment that societies display repetitive patterns, they are also being
altered. Sociologists explain the ordered patterns but also analyze the changes.
***where does the individual fit in?
Humans are social and act in patterned ways, but there is no requirement that we
act in those ways.
Even when the price is incredibly high, some people under certain conditions choose
to go against established expectations. These nonconforming behaviors can become
the basis for broader social change. ---society and individual freedom
The constraints of society that limit what we can do also limit what others can do.
The assumption that most people will act as they should reduces our level of
insecurity and allows us to get on with our lives.
In the real world, the rights, beliefs, and values of various groups and individuals are
always coming into conflict and must be resolved either informally or formally.
***sociology and science
The roots of modern sociology lie in nineteenth-century Europe and are linked to the
growth of science in the preceding few centuries
First, knowledge must be based on empirical observation, that is, on data that can
be observed through the senses; second, information must be analyzed through logic
and rational thought.
One of the earliest social theorists to try to apply scientific principles to social
analysis was Frenchman Auguste Comte.
North American sociology of the twentieth century became much more focused on
quantitative analysis and proximal social relations while European sociology remained