The Sociological Perspective - sociology1-2

The Sociological
Chapter 1
Mr. Schoffstall
The Sociological Perspective
Sociology- is the systematic study of human society
The sociological perspective helps us to see general
social patterns in the behavior of particular
It also encourages us to realize that society guides our
thoughts and deeds- to see the strange in the familiar.
Sociology also encourages us to see individuality in
social context.
1. Example , Emily Durkheim’s research showed
that the suicide rate was strongly influenced by the
extent to which people were socially integrated
with others, people need to feel connected to
other people, we need human interaction.
The Importance of Global
Sociologists also strive to see issues in Global
Perspective, defined as the study of the larger
world and our society’s place in it.
EXAMPLE: Marriage
Higher income women want men who are
sensitive, talk openly, who share their feelings.
Lower income women wanted a man who doesn’t
drink, is not violent, and has a job.
We think Sociologically when we realize how the
immediate society we belong to and the
categories that we associate ourselves with shape
our particular life experiences.
Example: Going to College
*Around the world 5 out of 100 receive a
college degree, 20 years ago going to
college was not an option, if your
household makes 75k yearly likelihood
to attend college higher than someone
who earns 20k.
*Is choosing a partner or going to college
just a matter of personal choice?
Example: Childbearing
*Average women in India 3, in South
Africa 4, in Cambodia 5, in Saudi
Arabia 6…WHY?
*Women in poor countries have less
schooling, fewer economic
opportunities, remain in the home, less
likely to use contraception.
Example: Suicide
*Emile Durkheim study he found that
some categories of people were more
likely than others to take their own
lives in contrast people with strong
social ties had low suicide rates,
whereas more individualistic categories
of people had higher suicide rates.
*In 2000 suicide more common for males
than females, white males more than
white females.
B. There are three different types of
nations in the world.
1. The world’s higher-income countries
are industrialized nations in which
most people have relatively high
2. The world’s middle-income
countries have limited
industrialization and moderate
personal income.
3. The world’s low-income countries have little
industrialization and most people are poor.
4. Global Sociology Box-The Global Village: A
Social Snapshot of Our World. Think of the
population breakdown if the world were a
village of one thousand people. What would
be the breakdown? Who would be the
wealthy and the poor? Who would control
the majority of the wealth? Some really
good questions to think about . . .
5. Global thinking is an important component
of the sociological perspective for four
A. Where we live makes a great difference in
shaping our lives.
B. Societies the world over are increasingly
interconnected, making traditional
distinctions between “us” and “them” less
and less valid
C. Many human problems faced in the United
States are far more serious elsewhere.
D. Thinking globally is a good way to learn
more about ourselves.
Economic Development in Global Perspective
In higher-income countries, a highly productive
economy provides people with abundant materials.
Middle-income countries are less economically
productive while low-income countries have severe
and extensive poverty.
In extremely poor nations very little food, clean
and appropriate shelter. Many countries like these
are run by corrupt governments.
Applying the Sociological
A. Certain situations like the following
promote a sociological way of viewing
1.Experiencing social marginality, the
state of being excluded from social activity
as an “outsider”. People at the margins of
social life are aware of social patterns that
others rarely think about.
2. Living through periods of social crisis
like the Great Depression or the 1960s.
B. Benefits of the sociological
1. The sociological perspective helps us asses
the truth of “common sense.”
2. The sociological perspective helps us asses
both opportunities and constraints in our
3. The sociological perspective empowers us
to be active participants in our society.
4. The sociological perspective helps us to
live in a diverse world.
The application of Sociology
C. The application of sociology is evident in the
role that sociology has had in shaping public
policy and law in many ways. A background in
sociology is also good preparation for the
working world. An increasing number of
sociologists work in any sorts of applied
Sociological Imagination: Turning Personal
Problems into Public Issues. The power of the
sociological perspective lies not just in
changing individual lives but in transforming
The origins of Sociology
A. Three major social changes during the 17th and
18th centuries are important to the development
of sociology.
1.The rise of a factory-based industrial
2. The emergence of great cities in Europe.
3. Political changes, including a rising concern
with individual liberty and rights. The French
Rev. symbolized this dramatic break with
political and social tradition.
Auguste Comte
B. Auguste Comte believed that the major goal of
sociology was to understand society as it actually
operates. Comte favored positivism- a way of
understanding based on science. Comte saw
sociology as the product of a three-stage
historical development:
1. The theological stage, in which thought
was guided by religion.
2. The metaphysical stage, a transitional
3. The scientific stage.
Auguste Comte
C. Auguste Comte and Karl Marx are
well-known political pioneers of
sociology. Other sociological pioneers
who made important contributions
include Harriet Martineau, Jane
Addams, and William Edward Burghardt
Du Bois, all pushed to the margins of
Sociological Theory
A. A theory is a statement of how and why specific
facts are related. The goal of sociological theory
is to explain social behavior in the real world. For
example SEEING OURSELVES-National Map 1-1
shows suicide rates across the United States.
B. Theories are based on Theoretical Paradigms,
sets of assumptions that guide thinking and
research. Sociologists ask 2 basic ?: what issues
should we study? How should we connect the
facts? There are 3 major Sociological Paradigms:
The Paradigms
1. The structural-functional paradigms is a
framework for building theory that sees society
as a complex system whose parts work together
to promote solidarity and stability.
a. It asserts that our lives are guided by social
functions( relatively stable patterns of social
b. Each social structure has social functions,
or consequences, for the operation of society as
a whole.
Key Theorists
C. Key figures in the development of this paradigm
include Auguste Comte, Emily Durkheim, Herbert
Spencer, and Talcott Parasons.
D. Robert Merton introduced 3 concepts related to
social functions:
1. Manifest functions, the recognized and
unintended consequences of any social pattern
2. Latent functions, largely unrecognized and
unintended consequences
3. Social dysfunctions, undesirable consequences of
a social pattern for the operation of society.
E. Critical Evaluations:
The influence of this paradigm has declined
in recent decades.
1. It focuses on stability, thereby
ignoring inequalities of social class, race
and gender.
2. The social-conflict
Is a framework for building theory that sees
society as in arena of inequality that
generates conflict and change. Most
sociologists who favor the conflict
paradigm attempt not only to understand
society but also to reduce social
A. Key figures in this tradition include Karl
Marx and W. E. B. Du Bois.
B. Critical evaluation
1. It ignores social unity based on
mutual independence and shared
2. Because it is explicitly political, it
cannot claim scientific objectivity.
3. Like the structural-function
paradigm, it envisions society in
terms of broad abstractions.
C. Diversity: Race, Class, and Gender BoxAn early Pioneer: Du Bois on Race. Du Bois,
one of sociology’s pioneers, wanted to
apply sociology to solving the problems of
his time, especially racial inequality.
Is a framework for building theory that sees
society as the product of the everyday
interactions of individuals.
A. The structural-functional and the socialconflict paradigms share a macro-level
orientation, meaning that they focus on broad
social structures that shape society as a whole.
In contrast symbolic-interactionism has a
micro-level orientation; it focuses on patterns
of social interaction in specific settings.
B. Key figures in the development of this
paradigm include Max Weber, George
Herbert Mead, Erving Goffman, George
Homans, and Peter Blau.
C. Critical evaluation: Symbolic
interactionism attempts to explain more
clearly how individuals actually experience
society. However it has 2 weaknesses:
1. It’s micro-orientation sometimes results in the
error of ignoring the influence of larger social
2. By emphasizing what is unique, it risks
overlooking the effect culture, class, gender,
and race.
4.Applying the Paradigm. The
sociology of sports.
a. The functions of sports. A structuralfunction approach directs attention to
the ways sports help society to operate.
b. Sports and conflict. A social-conflict
analysis points out that sports are closely
linked to social inequality.
c. Sports as interaction. The symbolicinteraction paradigm sees sports less as a
system that as an ongoing process.
5. Controversy and Debate
Is sociology nothing more that stereotypes? In
contrast to stereotypes, good sociology involves
making generalizations, but with 3 important
a.Sociologists do not indiscriminately apply any
generalization to all individuals.
b. Sociologists are careful that a generalizations
squares with available facts.
c.Sociologists offer generalizations fair-mindedly,
with interest in getting at the truth.