SOC 1305 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Harriet Martineau, The Sociological Imagination, W. E. B. Du Bois

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017
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Chapter 1: The Sociological View
- Sociologists study social patterns that are shared by many people
- Sociologists look for the root causes of social patterns in the way society is organized
and governed
What is Sociology?
- Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior and human groups
- Focuses on: influence of social relationships on peoples attitudes and behavior and
on how societies are established and change
THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION
- Sociological imaginationan awareness of the relationship between and individual
and the wider society
Allows us to comprehend the links between our immediate, personal social settings
and the remote, impersonal social world that surrounds us and helps to shape us
Key: ability to view ones own society as an outsider rather than from the
perspective of personal experiences and cultural biases
SOCIOLOGY AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
- Sciencebody of knowledge obtained by methods based on systematic observation
Natural sciencestudy of the physical features of nature and the ways in which
they interact and change
Social sciencestudy of various aspects of human society
- i.e. historians, economists, anthropologists, political scientists, psychologists
SOCIOLOGY AND COMMON SENSE
- Our theories and opinions come from common sense”—our experiences, exposure to
television and books, and so forth
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Relies on commonly held beliefs and not a systematic analysis of facts
- Sociologists have found evidence contrary to commonsense sayings such as love
knows no reason or love of money is the root of all evil
- Sociologists rely on scientific studies in order to describe and understand a social
environment
What is Sociological Theory?
- Theoryset of statements that seek to explain problems, actions, or behaviors
Help us see the relationships among seemingly isolated phenomena
Help us understand how one type of change in an environment leads to other
change
- WHO estimated about one million people commit suicide each year
- Émile Durkheim developed a theory about the relationship between suicide and social
factors
More concerned with suicide rates and not individual victims
Concluded that suicide rates reflected the extent of the peoples integration into the
group life of that society
- Theories are not final statements about human behavior but are constantly developing
and researched
The Development of Sociology
EARLY THINKERS: COMTE, MARTINEAU, AND SPENCER
- Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
French society after Napoleons defeat and collapse of the monarchy
Believed that theoretical science of society and a systematic investigation of
behavior were needed to improve society
Coined term sociology
Hoped it would lead to more rational human interactions
- Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
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English sociologist who translated Comtes work
Wrote the first book on sociological methods
Emphasized impact the economy, law, trade, health, and population would have on
social problems
Sociologists should not only observe but act to the benefit of society
- Hebert Spencer (1820-1903)
Rich Englishman who only wanted to understand society not improve it
Applied and adapted Darwins theory of evolution to society and the naturalness of
having those who are rich and those who are poor
Since society is bound to change because of evolution, theres no point in trying to
change it
ÉMILE DURKHEIM
- Behavior must be understood within a larger social context, not just in individualistic
terms
- Concluded after a study on an Australian tribe that religion reinforces a groups
solidarity
MAX WEBER
- Verstehensociology is a science concerned with the subjective meaning of action
- Must learn the subjective meanings people attach to their actions
How they themselves view and explain their behavior
- Ideal typeconstruct that serves as a measuring rod against which actual cases can
be evaluated
Various characteristics of bureaucracy serve as ideal type
Provide a useful standard for measuring how bureaucratic an actual organization is
KARL MARX
- Interest in abstract philosophical issues and the concrete reality of everyday life
- Believed society was fundamentally divided between classes that clash in pursuit of
their own class interests
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