Introduction to Sociology Sociology the systematic study of human society Purpose of Sociology C. Wright Mills “the sociological imagination” allows sociologists to place personal troubles of individuals within a framework of larger social issues I.e. divorce Sociological Perspective seeing the general in the particular (Peter Berger, 1963) Possible to identify general patterns in the behavior of particular people People are split into different categories men vs. women rich vs. poor The categories to which we belong shape our experiences Lillian Rubin (1976) Marriage Study Higher income women expect their men to be sensitive to others, to talk readily, and to share feelings Lower income women look for men who do not drink to much, were not violent, and held steady jobs Seeing Strange in the Familiar People do NOT decide what to do; society shapes our thoughts and deeds Why do you choose a particular college? “I wanted to stay close to home” “I got a basketball scholarship” “My girlfriend goes to school here” “I didn’t get into the school I wanted” Doesn’t really tell you how and why people go to college Personal Choice Emile Durkheim Studied suicide figures in France and found: Protestants, wealthy, single, and men were more likely to commit suicide Catholics, Jews, poor, and women were less likely to commit suicide Social Integration: categories of people with strong social ties vs. more individualistic Living on the Margins Outsiders- not part of the dominant group the greater the social marginality, the better someone can use the sociological perspective Need to be able to step back and observe Crisis Great Depression people realized general forces were at work in their particular lives Not “Something is wrong with me; I can’t find a job” Rather “The economy has collapsed; there are no jobs to be found” If we can observe and learn about “the system” we can then make changes if necessary Global Perspective Global Perspective The study of the larger world and our society’s place in it Our place in society shapes our life experiences The position of our society in the larger world system effects everyone in the U.S. High-income Countries Nations with the highest overall standard of living Includes top 60 counties U.S., Canada, Argentina, Western Europe, South Africa, Israel Produce most of the world’s goods and services Own most of the wealth *These people are better off simply because they were born in these countries Middle-income Countries Nations with a standard of living about average for the world as a whole Includes 76 countries Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia Receive 6-8 years of schooling Extreme social inequality (some very rich, some very poor) Low-income Countries Nations with a low standard of living in which most people are poor Most countries are located in Africa and a few in Asia Some very rich Most lack safe housing, water, food, and little chance to improve their lives Comparisons to the U.S. • • • • Where we live shapes the lives we lead Societies throughout the world are increasingly interconnected Many social problems that we face in the U.S. are far more serious elsewhere Thinking globally helps us learn about ourselves Applying the Sociological Perspective Sociological Perspective Seeing the general in the particular Society shapes the lives of its members Applying the Sociological Perspective Why it is useful: Sociology guides many of the laws and policies that shape our lives Making use of the sociological perspective leads to important personal growth and expanded awareness Good preparation for work Sociology and Public Policy Sociologists help shape public policy Racial desegregation, school busing laws, divorce Example Lenore Weitzman discovered women who leave marriages lose income Many states have passed laws that have increased women’s claim to martial property and enforced fathers’ job to support women raising their children Benefits of Sociological Perspective 1. Helps us assess the truth of commonly held assumptions -Do we decide our own fate, if so we are likely to praise successful people as superior -pg. 10: Seeing Sociology in Everyday Life 2. Helps us assess both the opportunities and constraints in our lives -we play our cards but society deals us the hand -helps us “size up” the world to better accomplish our goals 3. Empowers us to be active participants in our society -if we do not understand how society operates, we are likely to accept the status quo -pg. 7: C. Wright Mills 4. Helps us live in a diverse world -U.S. represents 5% of the world’s population -95% live very differently -everyone sees their life as “right”, “natural”, and “better” -helps us think more critically about all ways of life Origins of Sociology Science and Sociology French social thinker Auguste Comte (1798-1857) first came up with the term sociology Described a new way of looking at society Wanted to find out how society could be improved and how society actually operates Comte Saw sociology as the product of a 3-stage historical development 1. Theological- thinking guided by religion 2. Metaphysical- society as a natural, not supernatural system 3. Scientific- used a scientific approach to study sociology Positivism Definition: a way of understanding based on science Society operates according to its laws (much like the laws of nature) Sociological Theory Structural-Functional Definition: Framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability Sociologists Emile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer Points to Social Structure any relatively stable pattern of social behavior gives our lives shape (families, school, work, community) Examines Social Functions the consequences of any social pattern for the operation of society as a whole all social structures keep society going similar to the way the human body operates Robert K. Merton Manifest Functions: recognized and intended consequences of any social pattern Latent Functions: unrecognized and unintended consequences of any social pattern Social Dysfunction: any social pattern that may disrupt the operation of society Summary Main goal is to figure out “what makes society tick” critics say it ignores inequalities of social class, races, and gender Social-Conflict Theory Definition: a framework for building theory that sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change investigate how social class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age are linked to society’s unequal distribution of money, power, education, and social prestige Focus on how social patterns benefit some while hurt others Can be used to bring about societal change that reduces inequality Feminism and the Gender-Conflict Approach Definition: a point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men closely linked to feminism support of social equality for women and men Helps make us aware of the ways life places men in positions of power over women at home, at work, in the media also, shows importance of women to the development of society Race-Conflict Approach Definition: point of view that focuses on inequality and conflict between people of different racial and ethnic categories Points out contributions made by people of color to the development of sociology Review of Social-Conflict Approaches Critics: ignores shared values and interdependence cannot claim scientific objectivity paints society in broad strokes Symbolic-Interaction Approach Definition: framework for building theory that sees society as the product of the everyday interactions of individuals Max Weber understand a setting from the point of view of the people in it Society amounts to people interacting Shows how individuals actually experience society Macro-level Orientation Definition: a broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole Big picture Includes the structural-functional approach and the social-conflict approach Micro-level Orientation Definition: a close-up focus on social interactions in specific situations includes the symbolic-interaction approach Applying the Approaches: The Sociology of Sports The Functions of Sports A structural-functional approach directs our attention to the ways in which sports help society operate Sports have functional and dysfunctional consequences Sports and Conflict Social-conflict analysis points out that games people play reflect their social standing. Sports have been oriented mostly toward males. Big league sports excluded people of color for decades. Sports in the United States are bound up with inequalities based on gender, race, and economic power. Figure 1.2 “Stacking” in Professional Football Sports as Interaction Following the symbolic-interaction approach, sports are less a system than an ongoing process. All three theoretical approaches—structuralfunctional, social-conflict, and symbolicinteraction—provide different insights into sports. No one is more correct than the others.