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Introduction to Sociology


Dr. Ida Cook, 823-3744 Contact via Course Mail

Syllabus Calendar Fall term 2013 Assignments All quizzes online 4 quizzes Submit all assignments online Canvas system Posting
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Contact information Individual/group work Modules 4 total

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Sociology definition
The scientific study of the patterned interaction between 2 or more people in groups Endures over time (Dr. Cooks definition)
Sociology: The scientific study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior (Ballantine)

Why do we study society?

To describe To understand (collect data & evaluate) To predict To control or change behavior

The Underlying Assumptions of Sociology

People are social beings. People spend most of their lives in groups. Interactions between people and groups are reciprocal. Conflict and change are inevitable. All groups have certain organizing characteristics.

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Sociologists Study Groups of All Sizes

Dyads (e.g., romantic couples) Small groups (e.g., a family, classroom, restaurant staff) Large groups (e.g., Latinos in the United States) Nations (e.g., all residents of the United States) The global society (the entire world as a single entity)

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Groups Are Characterized by:

Recurrent social patterns Ordered behavior and the rules that govern group behavior Shared experiences among members Common understandings

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Sociology vs. Common Sense

Common Sense: Ideas that are taken for granted and are rarely questioned Sociologists rely on scientific evidence, not commonsense assumptions.

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Sociology vs. Common Sense

Many commonsense assumptions are challenged by scientific evidence. e.g., As developing countries modernize, the lives of their female citizens improve. This is falseevidence shows that the status of women in many developed and developing countries is getting worse. Women earn less than men; own only 1% of the worlds property; and are significantly more likely to live in poverty and be illiterate.
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Emile Durkheim
Division of labor Types of Social Solidarity:
mechanical coordination (simple) organic society a complex organism

Rules of sociological method Social fact: (See text and readings for more information)
External to the individual Coercive Example? Laws, language, education, economy, etc.

Social solidarity the more often

people interact, the stronger the ties and the greater the solidarity -Depends upon: 1. the degree to which group members share beliefs and values and 2. the intensity and frequency of interaction

The Sociological Perspective

Our personal experiences can be best understood by examining them in the broader social context. e.g., Why do some individuals get punished more harshly for the same crimes than others do? What social factors might be related to other issues such as teenage pregnancy or late-life divorce?
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Sociological Imagination
C. Wright Mills a quality of mind that will help us use information and develop reason to better understand the world. Distinguishes between - troubles and issues What forces cause it? Is it the persons behavior or broader?

The Sociological Imagination

C. Wright Mills Individual hardships, or privileges, may be caused by environmental causes. e.g., how is the unemployment of a factory worker in Michigan related to political and economic forces in our society? More specifically

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(Personal) Troubles
occur within the character of the individual and within the range of his immediate relations with others; things with which he is directly and personally aware. The statement and resolution lie within the individual as an entity.

(Social) Issues
Transcend these local environments. Have to do with the organization of many things/situations in the institutions of an historical society as a whole. It is a public matter; a crisis in institutional arrangements.

What Do Sociologists Do?

The majority are employed in colleges and universities. Others work in business, government, and social service organizations. In all occupations, sociologists utilize their sociological imaginations to study human interaction, impact social policy, and solve problems.
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A Comparison of the Social Sciences

All the social sciences study aspects of human behavior and social life. Cultural anthropology focuses on the way of life or culture of a group. Psychology focuses on individual behavior and mental processes. Political science focuses on government systems and power. Economics focuses on economic conditions and how people organize, produce, and distribute goods. SAGE Publications, Inc., 2011.

The Social World Model

Understanding sociology requires an understanding of the different levels of analysissocial groups from the smallest to the largest.
The social world model allows us to picture the levels of analysis in our social environment as an interconnected series of small groups, organizations, institutions, and societies. SAGE Publications, Inc., 2011.

Our Social World Model

Global Community Meso Society



Me (and My Inner Circle)

National Organizations, Institutions and Ethnic Subcultures

Each level adds depth to a topic

Social Structures
Social unitsinterconnected parts of the social world Social structurepeople and groups that bring order to our lives and hold social units together Social institutionsprovide the rules, roles, and relationships to direct and control human behavior All are interconnected
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Social Structures
Social processesthe actions taken by people in social units Process of socializationhow we learn the social expectations for members of society Process of changeevery social unit is continually changing The environmentthe setting surrounding each social unit
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Levels of Analysis
The social world can be studied from a variety of levels:
Micro-level (individuals and small groups) Importance: micro interactions form the basis of all social organizations Meso-level (intermediate-sized units) Importance: helps explain the processes and institutions in a society Macro-level (focus on entire nations, global forces, and international trends) Importance: Helps understand how larger social forces shape everyday life

Each level adds depth to a topic

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Levels of AnalysisApplication
Which level of analysis would you use to examine each of the following questions? How do couples divide housework responsibilities? Which factors determine the percentage of women in political power in a certain country? Does the size of the sports stadium matter for students who are choosing a college?

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Chapter 2 Examining the Social World: How do we know? Science of Sociology Empirical, objective Data empirical; anything observable, counted, sensed Variables take on different values
e.g., male/female; age 0-100+

Research cycle: start to finish

How Sociologists Study the Social World

1. Planning the study A. Define the topic/problem B. Review existing relevant research C. Formulate hypotheses 2. Designing the research methods A. Design the research method B. Select a sample C. Collect the data 3. Do the analysis 4. Draw conclusions
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Different Approaches to Research

Survey interview, self-administered Participant-observation
Field Research ethnography

Experiment Existing Data (Available Data) Analyze after

the fact - archives, bones, buildings; secondary data collected for another purpose (census, utility records, death records, letters, paintings, etc.

Level of analysis and theory help determine the method used to measure social phenomena

1. Survey
(def.) a series of questions asked of people Interview talk with respondents, record answers Questionnaire self-administered
Open-ended questions allow respondent to develop own answer Closed-ended questions force the respondent to choose from among pre-determined responses

Closed-ended questions
(Survey- questionnaire, structured interview)

1. Yes/no; never married, married, separated, divorced, widowed, etc. 2. Contingency questions
a. Yes, no(if yes), how many? 1-2,3-4,5+

b. No, yes, (if yes), how long do you work? <6, 6+

3. Matrix questions
a. Agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree

somewhat, disagree strongly b. Always, sometimes, seldom, never

Survey (continued)
Open-ended questions unstructured; where respondent provides the answers
Printed/ Written, or Asked of respondent (face to face interview) Probe, seek additional details (greater flexibility)

2. Field Research, Participant Observation

(def.)systematic, planned observations of social interactions Detached/non-participantthe researcher merely observes (one-way mirror, uninvolved)


Field Research Participant Observation Participant observationthe researcher participates in the activity being studied
Ethnographya field study that involves self-reflection; the findings guide the future methods and observations Research (Hawthorne) effectsthe group behavior may be altered by the presence of the researcher*


3. Experiment
(def.) all variables are controlled except the ones being studied Allows test of true cause and effect Limited use because artificial (research effects may occur), and it is unethical to introduce many variables into the laboratory Controlled Experiment - 2 types of groups: Control groupsubjects who are not exposed to the treatment Experimental groupsubjects who are exposed to the treatment

4. Existing Data Measures (Secondary analysis)

Unobtrusive, inexpensive, easy to do

Study of things that already exist 1. Existing statistics available data, created for another purpose, e.g. census, building stats., crime
data, library holdings, budget information (may be nonrepresentative)

Artifacts things left behind, e.g. pots, buildings, ceremonial remains 3. Content analysis study and categorize text/ materials e.g., diaries, tv shows, newspapers, musical lyrics a. Manifest content or b. Latent content (open) (hidden)

Study of Suicide - Durkheim

Rules of Sociological Method; One of the first to
systematically collect (available) data to test hypothesis

Social fact
external to individual coercive

Types of Suicide: Altruistic devotion to the other members; strong bonds encourage behavior Anomic norms governing behavior are vaguely defined; failure of society to provide guidance Egoistic weak social ties

Triangulation the use of multiple methods to compensate for strengths/weaknesses of methods

? ? Observation ? ? ? Experiment Existing data (unobtrusive measures) ?

Could be 2 or the 4 methods (or more)

Operational definition provides: Verbal definition and Procedures/ operations to measure thing Validity measure what you say you intend to measure

Reliability consistent results

Hypothesis statement of relationship between 2 or more variables; prediction; testable (measured)

Cause Effect

Intervening Variable

Independent Variable: thought to influence or change another variable Dependent Variable: variable that changes (effect); thought to be influenced by another variable

Evidence of Causality
Alternative explanation?

1. Temporal (time) priority -cause happens before

2. an association (correlation) exists

between variables -as one variable changes, the other


3. no alternative explanation

D A-----B-----C 1. cause precedes effect, in time 2. an association exists between variables 3. no alternative explanation (non-spurious)
Generalizability findings apply beyond a specific case.




Selecting a Sample
Samplea small group of people who are systematically chosen to accurately represent the larger population (representative)
Randomevery person in the population has an equal chance of being selected (that is, no bias in selection of subjects; all due to chance) Interval select every nth subject/person Systematic select based on characteristics and then randomize within groups Non-representativesample data cannot be generalized to the larger population, accidental; selection influenced in some way

Research cycle:
Generalize Findings

Theoretical level
Theory Review literature

Applied Research
Draw Conclusions Hypotheses

Analyze data Collect Data


Empirical level

Doing the Analysis and Drawing Conclusions

Data are analyzed and interpreted. Results are discussed and conclusions are drawn about whether the hypotheses are supported. Findings must be replicable (can be reproduced). Each study gets us closer to an accurate understanding of the social world.
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Ethical Issues in Social Research

Sociologists must ensure that subjects are not harmed in any way and that their confidentiality is protected.
The subjects must provide informed consent.

Human subjects boards (UCF/IRB) at universities and research institutions help protect subjects.
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The Social World Model & Levels of Analysis

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Revolutions in Thought
(See Comte and stages of human thought) Scientific (1550-1750) Democratic (1750- (French Revolution) Industrial 1780Post-Industrial

Early Sociology Theorists

August Comte - father of sociology (named)
Proposed positivism - scientific (systematic) study of society
Questions: What holds society together? Why is there change?

Law of Three Stages described how we think abut our world - changes in the development of the mind and human thought: Theological - religious, intellectual authority Metaphysical - philosophers Positive scientific principles (positivism, neopositivism)

Theoretical Perspectives
Theoretical perspective: a basic view of society that 1. Guides sociologists ideas and research 2. Helps them understand social behavior 3. Helps develop explanations of organized social patterns and their relationships 4. Can be micro- or macro-level (all can be used at the meso level)

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Micro-to-Meso Level Theories Symbolic Interaction Theory: (or social construction or interpretative theory) Main ideas: Through interactions and symbols, we socially construct our worlds. These constructions help us decide how to act and are dependent on our social positions in groups Key theorists: George H. Mead, the Iowa School, Blumer

Main criticisms:
neglects macro-structures; difficult to study concepts such as the mind and the self
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Micro-to-Meso Level Theories Rational Choice Theory: (or Exchange theory) Main ideas: Make choices based on selfinterest (utilitarian);
maximize rewards and minimize costs; every interaction involves an exchange of something valued

Main criticisms: More micro; Neglects macrolevel and internal processes; challenges the idea that human behavior is always self-centered or utilitarian; difficulty explaining altruistic behavior

Key theorists Peter Blau, George Homans

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Meso- and Macro-Level Theories Conflict Theory: Main Ideas: Assumes system characterized by inequality and conflict
study unequal social patterns, benefit some at the expense of others Emphasizes social change Interests of:
Dominant (powerful) group - protect privileges keep status quo (same, no change) Subordinate (weaker) group - obtain wealth and status of dominant group

Criticism: More macro; poor micro explanation; neglects cohesion and cooperation; hard to test empirically
Key theorists: Marx, Du Bois, Dahrendorf, Simmel, Coser

Marx Conflict Theory (meso-,macro level)

Economy (material conditions) are basis of society Power comes from economic conditions Classes:
bourgeoisie - owners of production proletariate - workers in production

Class consciousness awareness elites Change -good/inevitable


haves have-nots

(Structural) Functionalism
(meso-, macro-level)

assumes that society is a system interdependent parts - work together for stability, balance (sudden change disruptive) social function - consequences for the operation of the whole
Comte, Durkheim, Parsons, Merton

Merton -functionalism
function - positive (purpose) dysfunction - negative effect, undermine stability

manifest function - consequences recognized and intended, planned latent function - unrecognized, unintended, unplanned

Meso- and Macro-Level Theories

Feminist Theory: Main Ideas: Criticizes the hierarchical structures in

society that treat women and minorities unfairly; sociology has traditionally been male dominated; feminist theory is rooted in conflict and symbolic interactionism

Main Criticisms: In addition to focusing on gender, unclear how theory deals with intersection of race and class. Key Theorists: Martineau, Adams, Collins
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Feminist Theory
Martineau and Addams Which social structures and interaction processes maintain male dominance and female subordination? Modern Feminism focus on:
Patriarchy Power and social convention Micro and macro level Gender equality will benefit all society

Micro and Macro level

Max Webers Contributions: both levels/ approaches. (Micro-): Verstehen (subjective understanding) actions that occur affect our interpretation of the social world and our actions
Partly seen as a technique/method

(Macro-): Focused on the study of societies and major institutions especially bureaucracies, which he believed to be guided by evolving rationality
Ideal types: a measure used by identifying typical characteristics of institutions/units and compare with real institutions
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Chapter 3 Culture and Biology

Culture distinctive way of life (complex
whole) for a people, including ideas, practices and material objects created to deal with problems
socially shared, learned transmitted from one generation to the next enhances adaptation integration into meaningful whole (ethos)

Values ideas about what is right and wrong Symbol anything that carries meaning, e.g., language, math
Allow us to classify, experience and generalize from it
Best Wishes

Language system of symbols strung together to communicate thought

Happy Birthday

Subculture Values and patterns influenced by dominant culture The values and related behavior of a subgroup whose patterns depart from those of larger group; distinguish members from larger group Counter-culture a subculture whose patterns are in opposition to the larger culture. Actively work to distinguish from larger group

Cultural elements:
Material culture tools and techniques that enable people to accomplish tasks Non-material culture symbols, norms, values and other nontangible elements of culture Ideology set of interrelated ideas about what constitutes appropriate roles and behavior, e.g., religion, political systems

Norms: rules (prescriptions for) that guide


Mores: rules, behavior that have great

moral significance, strongly held, guidelines (laws = formal) Folkways: rules, behavior that have little moral significance -Taboo: violation of norm causing revulsion (most societies have taboos) Sanctions: rewards/punishments associated with norms

judging another culture in terms of your own society

Culture shock:
Feeling of surprise and disorientation, experienced when people witness cultural practices appearing very different from their own Examples in current events?

Cultural relativism:
Acceptance of different practices and values; seeing that other culture from that cultures perspective

- Reflects more balanced picture of society Criticisms (negative consequences)
Too much emphasis, limits time for basic values Political disunity Too extreme opposes most deeply held values

Evolution of Societies (Durkheim)

Society evolving from simple to complex Division of labor Types of Social Solidarity the more often people interact, the stronger the ties and the greater the solidarity; based on:
Degree to which share beliefs and values Degree of intensity and frequency of interaction mechanical coordination (simple) organic society a complex organism

Evolution of Societies
Mechanical societies
Small, simple, premodern societies Held together by common beliefs, values, and emotional ties Labor is divided by male/female distinctions and age groupings

mile Durkheim

Organic societies
Large, complex societies Held together by the specialization of tasks Division of labor Efficiency Institutions and bureaucratic organizations emerge

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Gemeinschaft - community, rural,

simpler, locale, location

Geselleschaft - society, urban,

complex, secondary, anonymous, atomized, place
(Ferdinand Tonnies)

Types of Society Hunter/Gatherer Herding and Horticultural


Industrial Post-Industrial and Information

E v o l v i n g


Types of Societies
Hunter and Gatherer Societies
Rely on vegetation and animals to live Organized around kinship Nomadic Small (between 20 and 50 members) Gendered division of labor Resources shared fairly Actions and behaviors dictated through tradition or survival Lack material possessions Today such societies are becoming extinct.
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Types of Societies
Herding and Horticultural Societies
Gendered division of labor Herding societies
produce small herds of domesticated animals for food and survival

Horticultural societies
maintain small garden plots for food and survival (digging stick)

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Types of Societies
Agricultural Societies Sedentary (stay in one place) Rely on raising crops for food Use technological advances for increased efficiency and higher crop yields Plows Irrigation Use of animals Fertilization
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Types of Societies
Agricultural Societies (continued)
First cities/towns Created the feudal system (earlier times) Food surpluses allowed some individuals to leave the land and to trade goods or services in exchange for food Use of advanced technologies Gendered division of labor

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Types of Societies
Industrial Societies
Rely on mechanized production Pronounced division of labor Rise in standard of living
Wide gaps between owners and laborers

Population concentrated in cities Kinship patterns change Social change more rapid

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Types of Societies
Postindustrial or Information Societies

Utilitarian/economic use of technology or scientific knowledge is very important Majority of labor force in service positions The division of labor more pronounced Technical and professional education increasingly important Stratification based on technological knowledge and education

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Types of Societies
Postindustrial or Information Societies

Emphasis on science to solve social problems including: Creating alternate energy sources Automation
Computers, robotics to complete tasks formerly done by individuals

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Globalization - Process by which formerly

separate economies, states and cultures are tied together and aware of their interdependence.

eclectic mix of elements from different times, places, erosion of authority and decline in consensus of core values.