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Western University
Sociology 1020
Kim Luton

Sociology – A Canadian Focus Chapter 1: What is Sociology? Sociology: explains why members of some groups behave differently than members of other groups • Groups can include societies that share territory and way of life (eg Canada • Groups that share the same status (eg doctors, right to life advocates • Social categories (having no children, same height, same province) Social Facts: points to group level explanations of behaviour  Social or group level explanations of behaviour eg ethinicity, gender, residence, marital status  Social positions plays role in behaviour and attitude of different social groups Durkheim on suicide  should not focus on isolated individual explanations (eg depression, inherited tendencies)  Social causes of suicide  Men have higher suicide rate than women  Protestants higher than catholics and jews  Older higher than young  Single people higher than married Highest among men, protestants, old and single because of their social isolation Social links act as suicide buffers Types of Suicide Egotistical: lack of social ties Altruistic: excessively strong social ties (eg suicide bombers) Anomic: found in societies marked by insufficient regulations, a condition which might arise in times of extensive or rapid social change. Individuals experience feelings of unpredictability or being without limits Fatalistic: occurs in societies having too many rules and too few options. Individuals feel trapped Agentic Shift: when we as individuals forsake or try to give up our responsibility onto someone else or something else Auguste Comte: founder of sociology Durkheim: believed society is based on consensus and cooperation Society is structured like a human body ; a collection of organs each performing a function for the benefit of the society (body) as a whole. Thus social ills are temporary phenomena curable by “medicines” or “repairs” Chapter 2: Research Methods  Personal experience is not sufficient to generalize behaviour to society  Individuals situations based on selective perception ( seeing what you want to see) Quantitative and Qualitative Methods • Positivism: Durkheim, use research methods of the natural sciences, favours  Quantitative Methods: counting and precise measurement of observable behaviour, a limited number of variable and prediction • Weber disagreed – social sciences should not copy natural science research methods • Believes sociologists needs to understand behaviour, not just predict it External Validity: how well experimenters can generalize from the lab to the real world Social action: meaningful, goal-directed behaviour – need to understand them to make predictions Qualitative Methods • Participants observation: researchers observe actual behaviour, talk in depth with those being observed, ask them the meaning of their behaviour A Quantitative Option: Survey research • Most common type of research Theories and hypotheses • Theory: Basic, abstract approach to subject matter • Set of interrelated statements that organize knowledge • Variable: something that takes on different values within different groups • Relationship: variable go together in some way • Changes to one  changes to other eg. suicide rates and integration Hypothesis • Theories form testable hypothesis • Statement of a presumed relationship between 2 or more variables • If A variable occurs, then B variable occurs- B variable is the one being explained, A variable, the explanation • A is the cause or independent variable • B the effect or dependent variable • Axiomatic logic: making connecting links between related theoretical statements Eg If A  B and B  C, then A C • Deductive logic: deriving a specific statement from a more general statement Models • Built by combining two or more “If A, then B” statements to fill the explanation chain Operational definitions • describe the actual procedures used to measure theoretical concepts • simple, directly observable, or empirical measures of things that may be complex, difficult to measure directly and hard to observe • what we look for or listen for in order to measure variables • Issue: validity of operational definition. Don’t always measure accurately • Reliability: measures of a variable should be consistent and not fluctuate • Operational definitions fail when –respondants change their portrayal of their attitides as they grow tired of the questionnaire, or they tailer their responses to the person asking the questions ( eg female interviewers get different responses than male interviewers) Sample • Select subset of individuals from the population that are studied • Must be representative of the population. ‘looks like’ the general pop • Conclusions should not be generalized beyond the group from which the sample is drawn • Random Sample: all individuals are listed, some are selected purely by chance. Every individual has an equal chance of being selected. Difficult to achieve • Cluster sampling: researchers first sample large untis, then medium units within the large units, then even small units within that. • Both sampling methods allow generalizations to the population • Issue: many randomly chosen individuals refuse to be interviewed • Quota Sampling: conscious as opposed to chance, matching of the sample to certain proportions in the population (eg interviewing women in the workforce to match that proportion. Respondents are chosen by availability Issues: those who are available and willing to cooperate may be different than those unreachable and uncooperative • Accidental Sampling: researchers talk to anyone at a selected location, regardless of social characteristics. Less expensive, but cannot generalize to larger population Analysis • Examination of relationships between independent and dependent variables • Researchers do not examine these numbers called the raw date – percentages allow for better comparisons • But each category of the independent variable must add up to 100% • Most sociological research finds that 2 variable tend to be related under certain conditions for some people. Analysis based on ‘other things being equal” part of the hypothesis • “Other things” called control variables – stays constant, used as a comparison. Goal is to approximate the conditions of the natural science controlled experiment, Make all tings equal except variations A Qualitative Strategy: Participant observation • Observation a central requirement of qualitative research • Researcher asks permission to join and observe a group and question its members about the meanings of their behaviour Theories and hypotheses • Also called perspective • Begin studies with minimal preconceptions and allow data to speak for itself • Do make hypotheses but allow facts observed to lead to theoretical generalizations • Weber’s verstehen or understanding should be the goal of sociology • Qualitative researcher must “take the role of the other” • Deductive logic (general to the specific) vs inductive logic – goes from specific facts to general statements • Grounded theory: theory rooted in and arising from the data. Collect first then make conclusions Model • Never one indepent and one dependent variable – involves many variables acting at once • Look at many things to start, and over time focus on fewer variables • Models are often more general than specific in the form of themes and motifs • Participant observers are satisfied in many instances with associations between variables without any idea of cause or talk of dependent and dependent variables • Multiple causes and long causal changes are stressed (ABCDDE) Measurement • Observers view real behaviour, going beyond verbal reports of individuals behaviour and articificial situations in labs • Can see behaviour than the subjects are unaware of, or would be unwilling to admit to in an interview – behaviour can be explained by the actors themselves • “objective” measures and operational definigions replaced by subjective definitions Sampling • Cannot study large number of groups – to costly and timeconsuming • Sampling is used within this one small group • Researchers must sample times, places, people and behaviours- randomly or quota • Samples are often based on chance – interaction is unpredictable Analysis • Participant observers often let actors explain their own behaviour – these subjective perceptions can be objectively innacurate • Observers can add their own explanations – analysis is descriptive • Issue: resrachers cannot describe all that is going on, to get the full picture – to much data to include • Must be selective with info included based on familiarity iwht topic and logic • Some examine the data while still in the field • Negative Case Analysis: examining those cases that fail to support the generalizations – forces revision of grounded theory Comparing quantitative and qualitative • Survey research often studies attitudes instead of behaviour – people often do not act as their attitudes would predict • People can slant their answers – say what they think researchers want to hear – lie to give socially acceptable answers • Arguments – questionaires vs interviews reduce lying. Validity can be increased by researchers trained in noticing resistance and encouraging honesty • Participant observation is invalid because people will never act completely natural while being observed • Vulnerable to potential biases, needs and unconscious distortions of the observers themselves. Each sees something different • Makes replication of a study difficult – makes invalidity harder to uncover • Difficulty of making generalizations – only small group study, less likely it will apply to other groups • Cross-sectional research: data on independent and dependent variables are collected at the same time. Thus researchers cannot demonstrate which variables are causes and which are effects • Correlations: demonstrations that changes in one variable go with changes in another • Spurious relationships: assuming that a relationship is causal when it is really only through a thirds variable C, that A and B are linked • Longitudinal research – research done over time, used for participant observations, allows researchers to see which variable comes first, but there are many behaviours, makes it difficult to isolate the cause • Triangulation: the application of several research methods to the same topic, hoping that the weaknesses of one method will be balanced by the strengths of the others Eg confirm participant observation with survey research Historical and Comparative Issues • Most researchers confine study to their study and it does not predict long-term trends • Gaps are filled with historical and comparative analysis –retesting of hypothesis in a new setting • Primary Sources: records produced at the time, described by a contemporary of the event – can be invalid depending on the source • Secondary Sources: created when individuals report what a primary source said  causes problems with validity – more time for misinterpretation • Difficulties with sampling – how many societies should be included ** Durkhiem  quantitative/survey research ** Weber  qualitative research /participant observation Marxist Research Methods: critical of subjective perspective (symbolic interactionism) • People are constrained by social reality • Could be free if someone revealed them to their oppression • Concentrates on the potential for change • Amount of power and resources held (especially economic ) is the major independent variable affecting all other aspects of life • Dialectical approach – history is a series of conflict over existing material arrangements Chapter 3: Culture Culture: produces order and patterned behaviour in social life • Knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society • 1 – these are shared by all members of some social group 2- the older generation tries to pass them on to the younger members 3- shapes behaviour • The sum total of all cultural elements associated with that group Values and Norms • Values: shared, relatively general beliefs that define what is desirable and what is undesirable (tattoos as a positive thing in Canada) • Norms: relatively precise rules specifying which behaviours are permitted and which prohibited for group members (eg personal space. Space on empty buses) • Sanction: used when someone engages in a prohibited behaviour, to communicate in some way disapproval to the deviant member of society • Society: people who share a common culture, think of themselves as having inherited a common set of historical traditions, interact with other group members frequently, see themselves as being associated with a particular geographical area • Different between important and less important norms – nature of the reaction of other people in the group • Folkways: norms that do not evoke severe moral condemnation when violated (eg not wearing clothes, streaking across campus) • Mores: norms whose violation provokes strong moral condemnation (sexual assault, arson, murder) • Different between the two based on the reaction, not the content of the rule (eg eating dog in North America vs eating beef in Hindu culture) Social Roles • Role: several behaviour expectations associated with a particular social position within a group or society (teacher, student). ** they are social constructions, can be arbitrary • Role Conflicts: situations in which the behaviour expectations associated with one role are inconsistent with those associated with another role (parenting and working conflict) • Subculture: group of people within a single society who possess, in addition to the cultural elements they share with the other members of their society, certain distinctive cultural elements that set them apart • Institution: a society or subculture agrees that a specific set of norms and values should regulate some broad area of social life, such as economy, family life, religion • Popular Culture: cultural objects and beliefs that are widely distributed across all social classes in a society (comic books, horror films), Usually spread by mass media, inexpensive to aid popular consumption • Barbie – cultural icon, she meshes with capitalistic society, she is the quintessential consumer, teaches young girls how to be consumers, embodies popular middle class qualities – neat pretty, anxious to have the right outfit, heterosexual, enforces gender stereotypes - takes on traditionally female careers (teachers, nurses, flight attendants), impossible body shape, (kens was more realistic), reinforces a cultural climate in which women must be considered inferior, strongly sexualized, indepent, not a mother or wife Aspects of Culture 1. Has enormous variation with regard to values, norms and roles 2. Few cultural elements are common to all known societies 3. The elements of culture in a given society are often interrelated • Cultural Variation: variation in cultural elements. Example: Maragart Mead’s study of sex and temperament. Arapesh-female traits, Mundugumor – male traits, Tchambuli – switched gender roles • Berdache: individuals in native societies who had taken on the opposite gender roles (eg Zuni) also called ‘two-spirited’ Globalization: reducing variations between culture. Creating a homeogeneous, largely America global culture • American norms spreading: McDonaldization of society – predictability, quantity over quality. In china – clean standards, lining up. But became a community centre Canadian vs American Identity America: rebellion against authority, individualism, egalitarianism. Committed to change. Due to revolution. Protestant religion which stressed separation of church and state and individualism Canada: respect for authority, collectivism, and elitism. Conservatism. Haven for loyalist in revolution. Lower crime rates. Receptive to social welfare. Catholic and Anglican religion which emphasized connection with state Cultural Universals: elements of culture found in every, single known society • Rules limiting sexual behaviour • Division of labour by sex – tasks for males and females separately • Taboos – incest (in almost all cultures) • Number of similarities is small compared to cultural variations Cultural Integration • Many elements that make up a culture are interrelated. Change in one element creates change in others • Eg Yir Yoront – missionaries gave axes in reward for converting . System of rules which determined who had authority between two people. Not always clear. Stone headed Axes were used to solve this. Property of older males in kinship groups – people had to go to them for ax. Women and young men had axes and no longer had to go ask. No more clear definitions of authority. Difficult to maintain cooperation Studying Culture Ethnocentrism: tendency to see things from the point of view of the observer’s culture rather than from that of the observed – often leads us to view other culture as inferior rather than just different. Saw non-industrial societies as stuck in the stage of savagery Infantilization: associate people from other culture with child-like traits (eg descriptions of conflict between Natives and Canadian government – irresponsible, out of control, disruptiv
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