The word social, is derive from “Latin” word social associate or companion and the Greek word logy mean theory. There are several outers who have giving different type of definition. 1. The study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society. 2. Analysis of a social institution or societal segment as a self-contained entity or in relation to society as a whole. [French sociologie : socio-, socio- + -logie, study (from Greek -logiā; see -logy).] sociologic so'ci·o·log'ic (-ə-lŏj'ĭk) or so'ci·o·log'i·cal (-ĭ-kəl) adj. sociologically so'ci·o·log'i·cal·ly adv. sociologist so'ci·ol'o·gist n. Sociology is the study of the social world around us, the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges widely, from the family to the anonymous crowd, organized crime to organized religion, from inequality along the lines of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports. Sociology offers a unique way of observing and understanding the social world in which we dwell. Sociology looks beyond taken-for-granted views of reality to provide deeper, more illuminating and challenging understandings of social life. Through its particular analytical perspective, theoretical approaches, and research methods, sociology expands our awareness of social relationships, cultures, and institutions that profoundly shape both our lives and human history. Sociology also helps us to understand more clearly the forces shaping the particulars of our own lives. The ability to see and understand this connection between large-scale social forces and personal experience, what C. Wright Mills called "the sociological imagination," offers invaluable academic preparation for our personal and professional lives in an ever-changing society. Sociology is the study of human societies. It is a social science (with which it is informally synonymous) that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge and theory about human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structures.
Sociology is both topically and methodologically a very broad discipline. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification (i.e., class relations), religion, secularization, modernity, culture and deviance, and its approaches have included both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. As much of what humans do fits under the category of social structure and agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as medical, military and penal institutions, the internet, and even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. The range of social scientific methods has also broadly expanded. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-20th century led to increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, and philosophic approaches to the analysis of society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new mathematically and computationally rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modeling and social network analysis. Why take sociology? Many of the pleasures and pains you encounter in life result from the fact that you depend upon others for what you want -- parents, friends, employers, musicians, technicians -the list could go on and on. And if you look beyond yourself to the lives of others you cannot help but notice that the same is true for them. At the heart of sociology is the fact of human interdependence. Not only what you want and what you get from others, but also who you are, what you can do, must do, and how much pleasure and pain comes your way, all depend upon these relationships of interdependence. Taking sociology can help you understand the patterns of human interdependence that shape your daily life. Taking sociology classes will also help you gain important skills. You may learn specific marketable skills, such as how to use statistical software. More generally, you will learn how to engage in critical analysis, an ability that will serve you well no matter what your future career. What can I do with Sociology? People who get a B.A. in sociology are often employed in the helping professions, in business, and in various public welfare positions, especially those dealing with social programs and their implementation. Only those students who graduate from our M.A. program are employed in jobs with the title "sociologist," since that title requires graduate training. Career opportunities for students with a degree in sociology include: administration, advertising, banking, counseling (family planning, career, substance abuse, etc.), community planning, health services, journalism, group and recreation work, marketing and market research, sales, teaching, human resources/personnel, social services, and social research. A sociology minor aids those going into such varied fields as business, counseling, health services, teaching and the social services. People who work in these fields often have to make decisions based on analysis of social trends and phenomena. The minor gives
professionals some of the grounding in methodology and technique that they need to do their work. Here are some web sites that offer information on jobs and careers for sociology majors:
What is a Theoretical Perspective?
Perspectives might best be viewed as models.
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Each perspective makes assumptions about society. Each one attempts to integrate various kinds of information about society. Models give meaning to what we see and experience. Each perspective focuses on different aspects of society. Certain consequences result from using a particular model.
No one perspective is best in all circumstances. The perspective one uses may depend upon the question being asked. If one is exploring bureaucratic organization, then one might like to use a perspective that is concerned with social order. On the other hand, if one is concerned with social inequality, then perhaps the conflict perspective is more useful. Perhaps the best perspective is one which combines many perspectives.
II. The Functionalist Perspective
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The origins of the functionalist perspective can be traced to the work of Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim. The problem of maintaining social order is a central problem for understanding society. Understanding society from a functionalist perspective is to visualize society as a system of interrelated parts. All the parts act together even though each part may be doing different things. Institutions, such as family, education, and religion are the parts of the social system and they act to bring about order in society. Integration of the various parts is important. When all the "parts" of the system work together, balance is maintained and the over all order of the system is achieved. Social structures in society promote integration, stability, consensus, and balance.
A. A System With Parts
The parts of society, while performing different functions, work together to maintain the stability of the whole social system. In order to understand the idea of "social system," it may be helpful to visualize a different kind of system. For example, biological organisms are systems. In fact, many sociologists use biological models to explain human society. The biological metaphor is successful in that it calls attention to how a social "organism" consists of various unique parts. Those parts, in turn, function together to support and maintain the whole system.
B. What's the Purpose?
Functionalists, like Emile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton, are interested in how the parts of the social system contribute to the continuation of the social system. When functionalists encounter the various aspects of society, they may ask "What is its purpose?" A primary purpose of all parts (institutions like police, newspapers, religion) is to encourage consensus. Merton (see Robertson, 1989:12) distinguishes between manifest functions, latent functions, and dysfunctions.
1. Manifest Functions
Manifest functions refer to functions that are obvious. Examples: The manifest function of schools is to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. The manifest function of the military is to defend the nation. The manifest function of criminal justice is to keep the streets safe for a society's citizens.
2. Latent Functions
Latent functions are functions that are unrecognized. They may even be important functions, but their consequence is not obvious. Example: College students, in the course of pursuing their education, may make good friends. • Merton described college as a "mate selection market" where students meet prospective marriage partners.
A perspective that is highly concerned about order is by definition concerned about what happens when social order breaks down. Merton uses the term dysfunction, which refers to a negative consequence that may disrupt the system. Dysfunction also conjures up the notion that a social phenomenon can be functional in one setting and dysfunctional in another. Examples: Over Population Pollution
C. Critique of Functionalism 1. Functionalism Resists Change
Invoking a biological model has certain built-in assumptions connected to it. Biological organisms do not perform very well when they encounter great change in their environment. Society, however, is not biological. It is social. Social systems can tolerate much greater change than can biological systems.
2. Functionalism is Inherently Conservative
Change tends to be viewed as a negative consequence. All the parts of society act as a part of a unified system. Altering one part of the system has impact on all the other parts. There fore, there is a tendency is to protect existing institutions out of a fear that change in one area of society will adversely influence other parts of society. Fear of creating disorder in society is often used as a justification for avoiding change.
III. The Conflict Perspective
Conflict theorists see society less as a cohesive system and more as an arena of conflict and power struggles. Instead of people working together to further the goals of the "social system,"
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People are seen achieving their will at the expense of others. People compete against each other for scarce resources. Basic inequalities between various groups is a constant theme of conflict theory. Power, or the lack of it, is also a basic theme of conflict theory. Since some people benefit at the expense of others, those who benefit use ideology to justify their unequal advantage in social relationships.
Marx is a conflict theorist. He argued that the struggle between social classes was the major cause of change in society. Much change, in fact, happens as rich people and poor people compete over scarce resources. Not all conflict theorists are Marxist. Weber is also a conflict theorist. Where as Marx focused on class conflict as the "engine" of historic change, others see conflict among groups and individuals as a fact of life in any society. Conflict can occur over many other aspects of society unrelated to class. For example, conflict can occur over water rights (in West Texas and New Mexico). Conflict occurs when two people have a car accident. Conflict occurs between men and women.
A. Conflict and Change
As a result of tension, hostility, competition, and disagreements over goals and values, change is one of the basic features in society. In general, change occurs because of inequality and the battle over scarce resources. Conflict occurs because people want things (power, wealth, and prestige) that are in short supply. One should realize that conflict is not intrinsically bad. Conflict provides grounds where people unite in order that they may act on their common interests. Conflict is the motor for desirable change.
B. Who Benefits?
Like the functionalists, conflict theorists recognize the existence of social structures, but instead of structures existing for the good of the whole system, social structures (institutions) serve the interests of the powerful. One should also recognize the flip side of this coin. Structures that serve the powerful also are designed to keep other groups in society in their place for the privilege of others. Instead of following the functionalist path of addressing dysfunction (i.e. something that doesn't work) conflict theorists would ask "Who Benefits?" Example: Acid rain Acid rain is not "bad" for everyone. The powerful people who control polluting industries stand to make huge profits by not providing proper air purification.
Cooperation is not assumed. The idea of society being an integrated system based on consensus is a manufactured idea. • The powerful influence or coerce the rest of the population into compliance and conformity.
Social order is maintained, not by popular agreement, but rather by the direct or indirect exercise of power."
IV. The Interactionist Perspective
The Interactionist perspective takes the position that it is people who exist and act. All the other "structures" found in society are nothing but human creations. For the Interactionists, society is always in a process of being created, and this occurs through communication and negotiation.
Symbolic Interactionists are called micro-sociologists. The scope of investigation for these sociologists is very small. Interactionists prefer to explore the interaction of individuals or groups of individuals. Interaction is generally face-to-face and addresses "everyday" activities. Society occurs as a result of interaction between individuals and small groups of individuals over long periods of time. They are interested in the way individuals act toward, respond to, and influence one another in society. People negotiate meaning in their lives. Each communication produces new perspectives, expectations, and boundaries that individuals use to assure continual interactions in the future. Micro-sociologists are not interested in institutions (e.g., the economy and government), social class, and nation-states.
Society is dynamic. Change occurs as a result of interaction between individuals. Continuous change, not stable patterns, characterizes the real nature of society. This kind of change is much less deterministic than change associated with the conflict perspective. Marxists look for change that is determined by characteristics in the social structure. Change from the Interactionist perspective is freeform.
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B. Reference Groups
Much interaction takes place in "reference groups." Reference groups include professional organizations, friendship groups, doctors and medical people, education, and the community in which we live. • Some are more stable than others, but change is a common feature in all reference groups. • Change occurs as people communicate with one another.
C. Symbolic Interaction
Symbolic interaction is a major sub-category of the Interactionist perspective. Robertson (1989:15) argues that "the interaction that takes place between people occurs through symbols." He calls a symbol "anything that can meaningfully represent something else."
D. Shared Meaning
As individuals and small groups first negotiate patterns of social interaction, and then come to reply on those patterns, expectations become more fixed in social structure. Eventually, people come to accept those patterns as part of their reality. Often they cannot see beyond that reality. Choices are made within that reality. Once people that accept certain aspects in society are "real," real consequences flow from that realty. The "witches" at Salem discovered this the hard way.
Culture and Society
A. What is Culture?
Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted behavior. Culture is all the values, norms, and customs that people share with one another. • Culture includes language and beliefs • Culture is all of the material objects such as monuments, three-piece suites, the lottery, fur coats, and fine automobiles. • Culture is ideas (like the belief in democracy and freedom) found within a society. • Culture is what individuals think is right and important as they interact (Schaefer, 1992:67).
Culture is a way of life. When people talk about "the way of life" of people with a distinctive life style, whether they live in Appalachia or Norway, they are talking about culture. It defines what is important and unimportant. Culture refers to everything that people create. Values, norms, goals, and culture in general, develop as people interact with one another over time. Culture accounts, in part, for the unprecedented success of the human species. It allows us to adapt to extreme environments. We could not survive without our culture. In a sense, we create our culture, but our culture, in turn, recreates us (See Robertson, 1989:38-42). Culture provides the context (back ground) that we use to interact with each other. It defines boundaries that we use to distinguish us from them.
Henslin (2006:38-40) notes that language is the primary way people communicate with one another. It’s a system of symbols which all us to communicate abstract thought (Henslin, 2004:40). • It’s a perspective which allows culture to exist. • Language is universal in that all cultures have it, but it is not universal in that people attach different meanings to particular sounds.
The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis argues that language provides categories through which social reality is defined and constructed. It argues that thinking and perception are not only expressed through language but also shaped by language.
We need to keep in mind the notion of perspective when talking about culture. A culture is a "shared perspective." It is not absolute truth. Perspectives are limited by their nature. They allow us to see life from only a certain angle. As we interact, we come to share ideas about the way the world is. Perspectives filter what we see (Charon, 1986:199-203). Example: "The Allegory of the Cave"
Ethnocentrism, according to Farley (1988:16-17), refers to the tendency to view one's own culture as the norm. There is a tendency to assume one's culture is superior to others. "Our" truths and values are so central to whom "we" are that it is difficult to accept the possibility that our culture represents only one of many. A particular culture does not represent universal "TRUTH." This is not to say that to be proud of one's heritage is inappropriate. On the contrary, a little ethnocentrism is beneficial because of its bonding effect. Ethnocentrism becomes a problem when we expect others to become like us. Example An American who thinks citizens of another country are barbarian because they like to attend bull fights is an example of ethnocentrism.
Cultural Relativism and Verstehen
To accurately study unfamiliar cultures, sociologists have to be aware of culturally-based biases. Max Weber advocates the use of "value-free" Sociology, which means that one should eliminate, as much as possible, bias and prejudice. Weber calls attention to the German idea of verstehen to describe the practice of understanding unique culture from the standpoint of others. Cultural relativism refers to the understanding of a culture on its own terms. In essence "you have to be able to stand in the other persons shoes." When you can "see" from the perspective of another, then you can understand that culture.
A. Cultural Universals
Components of Culture
Cultural universal refers to a cultural item that exists in all cultures part and present. Items like religion and language are found in every culture. They are examples of cultural universals
Innovation is the process of introducing an idea or object that is new to culture. There are two forms of innovation: discovery and invention.
Sociologists use the term diffusion to refer to the process by which a cultural item is spread from group to group or society to society. Cultures learn from one another. Diffusion can occur through a variety of means, among them exploration, military conquest, missionary work, etc. (Schaefer & Lamm, 1992: 70). Henslin (2004:51) contends that when groups make contact with one another, they most often exchange nonmaterial culture.
Henslin (2004:51) uses cultural leveling to describe a situation in which cultures become similar to one another as a result of travel and communication. The fact that one can find a McDonalds or a Coke nearly every where in the world is an example of cultural leveling.
Material Vs. Nonmaterial Material
Culture is easily divided into material or nonmaterial concepts (See Robertson, 1989:29). Material culture includes:
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weapons machines eating utensils jewelry art hair styles clothing
Anthropologists study material artifacts when exploring cultures which have been extinct for hundreds or thousands of years. All which remains from ancient cultures are artifacts of their material culture.
Often Sociologists will investigate nonmaterial aspects. Nonmaterial culture refers to abstract human creations. Included in this category are:
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language gestures values beliefs rules (norms) philosophies customs governments institutions
Ideal Culture and Real Culture?
Appelbaum and Chambliss (1997:42) contend that ideal culture refers to the norms and values that a society professes to hold. Henslin (2004:49-50) ideal culture describes models to emulate and which as worth aspiring to. Real culture refers to norms and values that are followed in practice. Example: Henslin (2004:49-50) notes that Americans glorify academic achievement and material success. However, most students do not graduate with honors and most citizens are not wealthy. Thus there is a gap between ideal culture and real culture.
Culture lag refers to the tendency for culture to be slow to adapt to changes in technology. Technological change can happen over night while some times it takes culture a few generations to adapt to changes in technology (Henslin, 2004: 50). Example: When Napster provided free music exchange, the record producers argued that the practice was unfair, but yet no laws existed which made music sharing illegal. This example highlights the lag between technology and social adaptation. Henslin (2004:50) calls this the distinction between material and non material culture. Material culture runs ahead of non material culture.
As people grow, they develop a sense of what to expect in their familiar surroundings. "Culture becomes the lens through which we perceive and evaluate what is going on around us" (Henslin, 1999:36). We don't generally question these assumptions. When one travels into a completely different culture, for example, a rural village in Africa, one encounters different assumptions that might violate what we come to expect as normal. An individual suddenly immersed in a unique and unfamiliar setting experiences disorientation. This is known as culture shock (see Henslin, 2004:35).
A rural individual who is suddenly taken to a large city
Norms and Values
Norms are rules that govern our lives and values are the goal of our lives. Norms are the expectations, or rules of behavior, that develop out of values. Norms are guidelines for our behavior. Norms may be informal or they may be formalized into laws. Values are principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile or desirable. Norms are rather specific while values are abstract and general in nature.
Norms are the shared rules or guidelines that govern our actions in society. Norms can be laws, but they also can be procedures, morals, customs or expectations. Many times, One's position within the social structure determines the definitions of norms. Often norms are outward expressions of a society's deeply held and shared values. Norms are important for defining boundaries. The text uses gangs as an example again. In order to belong to a gang, a potential gang member has to learn the "norms" of the gang. Norms define us and them.
Folkways are norms that ordinary people follow in everyday life. Conformity is expected, but not absolutely insisted on. Folkways are not strictly enforced. Example: "No shirt, no shoes, no service"
Mores are norms are taken more seriously and are strictly enforced. Henslin (1999:44) considers them as "essential to our core values." Henslin suggests that we insist on conformity. Example: Flag burning, murder
Taboos approximate super mores. Henslin (1999:44) argues that taboos are so "strongly ingrained that even the thought of its violation is greeted with revulsion." Examples are Incest and cannibalism.
A law is a norm that is formally enacted by a political authority. The power of the state backs laws.
Society always establishes a way of ensuring that people "behave in expected and approved ways"
Henslin (1999:43) contends that sanctions are positive or negative reactions to the ways in which people follow norms. They can be either positive or negative. Rewards accrue for conformity and punishment for nonconformity. They can be material, such as a fine for not adhering to a norm, but they can also be gestures, "such as frowns, stares, harsh words, or raised fists" (Henslin, 1999:43).
Each culture has a general consensus of what is worth working for (ends). • Values refer to that which we consider important or unimportant, desirable or undesirable, good or bad, and beautiful or ugly. • They guide most of our actions. • Values are long range commitments to ends that people share culturally. • Values are abstract and general. • Essentially, values describe our "moral" goals in society. • Values indicate the standards by which people define their ideas about what is desirable in life.
IV. Variations Within Cultures: Sub-Cultures and Counter Cultures
Some cultures in the U.S. have remained relatively isolated from the dominant culture. These are subcultures. Charon (1986:199) points out that subcultures have goals, values, and norms that are different from those of the dominant culture. Although their culture differs from the dominant culture, they do not openly oppose the dominant culture. Members of subcultures are usually content to avoid the dominant culture. Countercultures, on the other hand, like the SDS, Hippies, and the Black Panthers are examples of subcultures that openly oppose the dominant culture. Countercultures actively seek to change the dominant culture. The following are two examples of subcultures. They are not counter cultures. Neither group seeks to change the status quo.
The Amish represents a subculture. Hostetler (1980 in Charon, 1986:218) describes the Amish as governed by the teachings of the Bible. There is a strong desire among the Amish to separate themselves from the outside world. They have a dualistic view of the world. They see good and evil, light and darkness, 14
truth and falsehood. The Amish have little interest in improving the material world. Instead they seek salvation. The goal of the Amish to separate themselves (as much as possible) from the "negative." They define negative as urban and distant from god. They see the city as the "center of leisure," of nonproductivity, and wickedness. To avoid evil, the Amish forbid all intimate contact with outsiders. Contamination by the outside world tempts one away from the kingdom of god. Part of the separation from the outside includes not using electricity, telephones, or automobiles. Married men grow beards, but are not allowed to grow mustaches. They do not encourage formal education past elementary school. The Amish use horses and other nonmechanical equipment for farming.
The Vice Lords
The Vice Lords is another subculture. In a book called Vice Lords R. Lincoln Keiser (in Charon, 1987:221-4) discussed four aspects [which Keiser calls ideological sets] that the Vice Lords use to define their world and guide their actions. Keiser defines four ideological sets which he calls Heart ideology, Soul ideology, brotherhood ideology, and game ideology.
Heart ideology refers to the displays of courage and daring which are important for the Vice Lords. A member has to show that he's willing to put his personal safety on the line. An individual who talks a lot about fighting, but who doesn't back up his rhetoric is a "punk."
Soul for the Vice Lords has the same general connotation as it does for the Black community. Soul refers to ways of conducting ones self that strips away the superficial surface and gets down to the nitty-gritty. Soul is the essence of the Black community. The Vice Lords judge one another in terms of soul.
The spirit of brotherhood is also important. Drinking wine is an important shared social experience for the group. Each person contributes what money he has for a "bottle." Each then gets an equal amount regardless of how much money he puts in. Drinking wine reinforces the brotherhood.
In "game ideology" the gang member attempts to manipulate other gang members by playing games. Manipulating others through games is a significant 15
part of the Vice Lords life. Such games may include hustling money from strangers. A "light weight" game player may simply ask for money. More than likely he gets turned down. A "heavy" on the other hand may concoct a story that another street gang is going to jump the stranger. There for the stranger should pay protection money to the "lords."