Traditions of Sociological Thought

It can be said that the first wisdom of sociology is this—things are not what they seem. This too is a deceptively simple statement. It ceases to be simple after a while. Social reality turns out to have many layers of meaning. The discovery of each new layer changes the perception of the whole.
from Peter Berger's Invitation to Sociology, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books. 1963, p. 23

Goals for Class Today
Concept review (from Ch. 2) New/Old concepts (from Ch. 2) Probability (“fuzzy objects”) Topic areas in sociology Paradigms and the micro/macro distinction Inconvenient facts, Ethnocentrism, Cultural Relativism

Concept Review
Sociological imagination Personal Troubles vs Social Issues If we want to understand the experiences of individuals, we frequently need to look to the social. If we want to make differences in the lives of individuals, we may need to make changes at the level of the social.

Exercising the Sociological Imagination
Think of the ways in which we tend to see the following as personal troubles rather than public issues/social problems: Divorce Drug/alcohol problems Teen pregnancy School shootings

New Concepts: Manifest vs. Latent
manifest vs. latent functions of what? ...of patterns, practices, policies or other social phenomena occurring in society Manifest functions are intended; they reflect a society’s desired outcomes Latent functions are unintended consequences of things aimed at a desired outcome (they can be desirable or undesirable)

Manifest vs. Latent Functions
Manifest function: social control of criminals Latent function: socialize individuals into a life of crime Workplace exercise programs Manifest: reduce healthcare costs Latent: increase worker productivity

Probability in Sociology
There is no equivalent to the law of gravity in sociology (i.e., nothing is certain) Sociologists look for patterns (or exceptions to patterns) and try to understand the causes of the pattern in ways that allow us to talk about the probability of an event There are always exceptions to the patterns

Not just Opinion



Topic Areas in Sociology
What sociologists study topic area or subject matter How sociologists study a topic paradigms (i.e., theories) levels of analysis (micro vs. macro)

American Sociological Association “Sections”
Aging and the Life Course Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity Animals and Society Asia and Asian America Body and Embodiment Children and Youth Collective Behavior & Social Movements Communication and Information Technologies Community and Urban Sociology Comparative and Historical Sociology Crime, Law, and Deviance Culture Disability and Society Economic Sociology Education Emotions

American Sociological Association “Sections”
Emotions Environment and Technology Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Evolution, Biology and Society Family Global and Transnational Sociology History of Sociology Human Rights International Migration Labor and Labor Movements Latino/a Sociology Law Marxist Sociology Mathematical Sociology Medical Sociology Mental Health Methodology Organizations, Occupations, and Work Peace, War, and Social Conflict

American Sociological Association “Sections”
Political Economy of the WorldSystem Political Sociology Population Race, Gender, and Class Racial and Ethnic Minorities Rationality and Society Religion Science, Knowledge, and Technology Sex and Gender Sexualities Social Psychology Sociological Practice and Public Sociology Teaching and Learning Theory

Paradigms in Sociology
Functionalist Paradigm
Society is organized and guided by shared norms and values Society is made up of parts that work together Like most organisms, society seeks a stasis and avoids disturbances

Paradigms in Sociology
Conflict Paradigm
Society is made up of groups with different beliefs and conflicting values These groups compete for scarce resources Society is in a constant state of conflict (it’s this tension that creates stability)

Paradigms in Sociology
Interactionist Paradigm
we act toward other people and things on the basis of how we perceive reality our perceptions are shaped by our interactions with others conflict in society results from people operating from different perceptions of reality

Micro vs Macro Levels of Analysis

Always questioning common explanations for things by identifying both the manifest and latent functions of social things
Why don’t we make eye contact with strangers when walking down the street? Why are tattoos so popular recently? Why are pit bulls so popular in certain segments of society?

Sociology: Work of the Devil
Inconvenient facts–pieces of evidence that contradict our untested assumptions about the social world Ethnocentrism–seeing differences as signs of inferiority Cultural Relativism–we can only understand people within their cultural context Sociology aims to explain why things are the way they are, not whether the way things are is right or wrong

The Crossroads of Race and Sexuality: Date Selection Among Men in Internet “Personal” Ads Interracial Marriage among Newlyweds in the U.S A Closer Look at Interracial Marriage Statistics

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