Ch 1 - The Sociological Perspective
Sociology - the scholarly discipline concerned with the systematic study of social organizations
attempts to understand the social forces that shape our lives, interests and personalities
Personal level - causes and consequences of love, violence, identity, conformity, deviance…
Societal level - poverty, racism, sexism, crime, etc.
Global level - inequality, war, conflict resolution, immigration, etc.
Individuals are by nature social beings
Individuals are socially determined (products of their social environment)
During infancy and childhood, shaped by parents
Identity is socially bestowed - personalities shaped by how people receive us
We are like puppets - dependent on and manipulated by social forces.
Social determinism - the assumption that human behaviour is explained exclusively by social factors
But the puppet metaphor doesn’t go that far. Society isn’t static and rigid; there are nonconformists and deviants
Human beings shapeAND are shaped by society
Groups are human-made. Implications:
1. Social forms created defy change
2. Social organizations are imperfect - there are winners and losers
3. Individuals can change society’s structure through collective action
4. Individuals are not passive; actively shape social life by adapting/negotiating/changing
social structures (Human agency)
Sociological imagination - the view that individual troubles are inextricably linked to social forces
View social world from others’perspective
Moving away from thinking in terms of individual; focusing on social/economic/historical
circumstances (recognize societal patterns)
Detachment from taken-for-granted assumptions, establishing critical distance
Problems with the Sociological perspective
Sociology is an uncomfortable discipline. Because why?