THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
- Opens a window into unfamiliar worlds and offers a fresh look at well-known surroundings.
Seeing the Broader Social Context
- The sociological perspective stresses the social contexts in which people live and how these
contexts influence their lives.
- Sociological imagination, coined by C. Wright Mills, is a way of looking at the world that allows
links between the apparently private problems of the individual and important social issues.
o How people are influenced by their society
Society – the group of people with whom they share a culture and territory.
- To find out why people do what they do, sociologists look at social location.
o Where people are located in a particular society
Occupation, income, education, gender, age, and ethnicity
LEVELS OF SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
- Although homeless men may appear to be disorganized, Anderson and Liebow have concluded
that these men are influenced by the norms and belief of our society in the same way as other
Macrosociology and Microsociology
- Macrosociology focuses on the broad feature of society.
o Social class and patriarchy
- Conflict theory, functionalism, and feminism focus on the broader picture and are examples of
the macrosociolgical approach.
o Goal: examine and interpret the large-scale social forces that influence people
- Microsociology emphasizes on social interaction or what people do when they come together.
o Face-to-face interaction and discourse analysis, symbolic interactionism, queer theory,
postmodernism, and feminism that emphasize the social construction of gender
- The microsociological approach has a narrow focus, placing its emphasis on face-to-face social
interaction, language and discourse, or what people do when they are in each other’s presence.
- “The sociological imagination or perspective enables us to grasp the connection between history
and biography.” – C. Wright Mills
o People don’t do what they do because of inherited characteristics, external influences
rather become part of our thinking and motivations.
SOCIOLOGY AND THE OTHER SCIENCES
- Sociology is the scientific study of society and human behavior and is one of the sciences
developed by modern civilization.
The Goals of Science
1. Describe and explain why something happens
2. Make generalizations – make statements that apply to broader group of situation
a. Look for patterns, recurring characteristics, or events
- Their findings may contradict common-sense notions about social life. - Sociologists are interested in knowing what is really going on behind the scenes so they peer
beneath the surface.
THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY
- Middle of nineteenth century
- Three factors combined to lead to its development:
o Industrial revolution
Evolving from an agriculture-based society to one dependent on factory
o Success of the natural sciences
- Founder of French positivism
o Positivism – experienced alone and not on metaphysical speculation or ungrounded
- Argued that human understanding of the world was initially religious, defined by the significance
of supernatural forces.
- Comte concluded that the right way to answer his questions about social order and social
change was to apply positivism to social life.
- Sociology: “the study of society” – Comte
- Believed that capitalism is the highest stage of human development.
o Bourgeoisie (controlling class) are locked in conflict with the proletariat (exploited class)
- According to Marx, the bitter struggle can end in a classless society.
- Conflict theory
- Sought recognition for sociology as a separate academic discipline.
- Two major goals:
o Study how individual behavior is shaped by social forces.
Show how to make social research practical.
Compared the suicide rates of several European countries.
Rates remained stable year after year
Unmarried protestant males killed themselves at a higher rate
- Social integration – the degree to which people are tied to their social group, as a key factor in
o People with weaker social ties are more likely to commit suicide.
- When social integration is weaker, people with these characterstics have fewer social ties that
keep them from committing suicide – egoistic suicide.
- Altruistic suicide – when people kill themselves following a death of loved one.
- Anomic suicide – when aspirations of wealth become unfulfilled, some individuals may feel so
passionately about their loss that they contemplate suicide.
- Anomie – a breaking down of the controlling influences of society.
Max Weber - Contemporary of Durkheim
- One of his important contributions to sociology: study of the rise of capitalism
- Protestantism pushed people to work hard, to save money, and to invest in it – Protestantism
- The protestant countries were more likely than the Roman Catholic to embrace the new
economic system called capitalism.
THE ROLE OF VALUES IN SOCIAL RESEARCH
- Weber – sociology should be value free
- Replication – the repetition of an experiment to confirm findings or to ensure accuracy
VERSTEHEN AND SOCIAL FACTS
Weber and Verstehen
- Verstenhen – to understand
o We must pay attention to subjective meanings – the ways in which people interpret
their own behavior.
- Weber insisted we can’t understand people unless we look at how people view and explain their
Durkheim and Social Facts
- Social facts – the patterns of behavior that characterize a social group, community, or nation.
o Patterns that hold true year after year indicate that as thousands and millions of people
make individual decisions, they are r