ANT 121 Introduction to Sociology What is sociology? The scientific and systematic study of society, social interaction and human behaviour. What is the focus of sociology? • The social consequences of activities, behaviours and attitudes. • Questioning how and why people act in the ways they do. • The recognition that human behaviour is social in nature. • Culture - beliefs, values, norms & language. • The entire society and ALL social institutions. • The external & structural factors that influence people. • Industrialised, developed societies & globalization. The Sociological Perspective • Looks beyond the limitations of individual view of the world - develop an understanding of society as a whole. • Understands the importance of cultural influences upon our lives. To understand those from different race, ethnic or class backgrounds. • C. Wright Mills (1959) coined the term, ‘the sociological imagination’, also known as the sociological lens or perspective. • Provides an in-depth examination of social organization & behaviour. • Develops a framework for analyzing the social world in broader context transcending personal experience or “common sense”. Sociology versus Common sense • The example of suicide shows how sociological findings contradict ‘common sense’ beliefs & ideas. • People assume suicide is linked to being unhappy & those living in desperate circumstances & poverty would be more likely to commit suicide. The opposite is true - wealthy, developed countries have the highest suicide rates, whereas in Africa the rates remain relatively low. • Similarly, in South Africa, the suicide rate among whites is higher than among blacks. You would also expect the suicide rate to decrease after apartheid ended, yet the opposite is true. • You may assume that the suicide rate would decrease during an economically prosperous period, but the suicide rate increases when there is a sudden change in people’s lives, even if positive like an economic boon, or winning the lottery. Socialisation • Is a lifelong interactive process of cultural learning involving different types of social actors. • The individuals, groups & institutions that facilitate this process are the agents of socialisation • They ensure that individuals learn & incorporate the values & norms of their culture as well as their various positions in the social structure in such terms as class, race and gender. Agents of socialisation •Primary Agent: The Family •Secondary Agents: Peer groups, schools, religious institutions & the mass media. Uses of sociology / What sociologists do • Sociology graduates can lecture & do research at universities. • Offer collection of skills - good oral & written communication, critical thinking, interpersonal skills & problem solving ability. • Able to deal effectively with a wide range of social issues & problems. • Apply expertise to issues like urbanization, homelessness, violence, crime, over population, AIDS and the formulation of social policy. • Work in government departments, research institutes, trade unions, business world. Consultants, advisors in prisons, hospitals & NPOs. • Specialize to further increase career prospects. If you are interested in health issues, medical sociology is recommended.