SociologyChapter 1:The Sociological Point of View
Sociology“In a commonsense sort of way every normal human being is a social scientist” - Rodney Stark, Ph.D. Sociology
Sociology We are all “social scientists” in that we must develop an ability to understand and predict human behavior in order to maintain “normal” relationships… Consider what it means to describe someone as being “socially awkward” or worse still “sociopathic”
Sociology Of course the ability to predict the behavior of people we know does NOT make us all sociologists by strict definition… In fact most people don’t know… …What Sociology is? …What sociologists study? …What the &$#%!! the sociological imagination is?
Sociology The text defines Sociology as: the social science that studies human society and social behavior! The definition your syllabus while similar is even shorter… – Sociology is the SCIENTIFIC study of human SOCIAL behavior! Sociology is founded on the premise that (we) humans ARE first and foremost SOCIAL BEINGS! Sociologists argue that our humanity arises out our social relationships with others…
Sociology The subject of Sociology is – THE GROUP! Most sociologists define a group as two (or three) or more people who maintain a stable pattern of interactions and share a common identity. Sociologists further define groups as either: – Primary: close, stable, intimate attachments – Secondary: united by common interests, change frequently, limited attachments Sociologists use the term aggregate to describe an “unrelated” crowd or collection of individuals
The Sociological Perspective Your are encouraged to develop a Soc POV so you can: See the hidden meaning behind human actions using your Sociological Imagination Broaden your view of the world Establish a balance between personal desires and the good of the community
The Sociological Perspective The sociological perspective asserts that humans are fundamentally social beings! Ok, OK sounds simple – easy enough so far - but ask yourself why? What makes us unique? Social Interaction allowed us to develop civilization but ask yourself what is it about human beings that sets us apart from all other creatures?
The Sociological Perspective Humans develop or mature slowly in comparison to many other creatures and require extensive parenting and social interaction in order to survive. Civilization is far too complex to pass on through inherited traits (instincts) but we humans have created culture that is in fact shared and transmitted through common language instead. Humans have the ability to anticipate responses to our actions and this allows us to form stable relationships!
The Sociological Perspective Free will has been debated for centuries by theologians and philosophers. Some people argue that human actions are predetermined - others believe in free will. What do you think? If you believe in free will however how in the world can we anticipate or predict the behavior of others???
The Sociological Perspective Most sociologists assert that human beings do indeed have free will… …but also argue that rational human beings, when possible, will make choices that are most rewarding to themselves! The ability to predict human behavior rests on the assumption that people will act in self interest whenever possible!
The Sociological Imagination In 1959 an American Sociologist named C. Wright Mills coined the term Sociological Imagination to describe what he saw as an ability to connect social forces and individual behavior! Sociologists maintain behavior is shaped or influenced by “social structures” that possess tremendous power to influence individual actions and choices!
Sociology’s place in the Social Sciences In order to have a place among the sciences Sociologists must employ the Scientific Method in their subject of study… The scientific method consists of four parts – 1)Observation – 2)Hypothesis – 3)Experimentation/Research – 4)Conclusion/Theory (note: these “steps” may be placed in any order)
Sociology’s place in the Social Sciences Social Phenomena or Social Facts are proportional facts that accurately describe groups rather than given individuals! Applying the scientific method to the study of human behavior becomes possible once social facts are discovered! The discovery of social facts changes the social sciences forever!
Sociology’s place in the Social Sciences Sociology is one of several related disciplines that are collectively known as the social sciences. The are six other major social sciences: Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, and Psychology… While the social studies share a common subject – human beings – each may be distinguished by a unique focus on a particular aspect of human behavior!
The Social Sciences Anthropology studies prehistoric or pre- industrial man. Economics examines how people allocate scarce resources. Geography focuses on the way humans interact with their physical environment. History is an exploration of humanities past. Political Science studies the ways humans govern themselves. Psychology is primarily concerned with the human mental processes and emotions. Psychology typically focuses on the internal motivations for behavior of the individual. Most social scientists count History as the “oldest” and Sociology is generally considered the “youngest” in this family!
History of Sociology C.W. Mills is credited with defining the sociological imagination in 1959 but social philosophers have been examining the relationship between society and human behavior since the earliest days of civilization! The “history” of Sociology, however, doesn’t begin with the Sumerians or the Egyptians – or even the Greeks… Sociology, is in fact , a relatively new science… and it was born… in France!
History of Sociology In 1838 A French nobleman, August Comte predicted a science he called “Sociology” would one day guide civilization to an orderly, progressive, utopian future. Comte, while credited with being the first to use the word sociology in his writings -never referred to himself as a sociologist… …so Comte is instead considered as an important social philosopher by most modern sociologists…
History of Sociology Herbert Spencer (1820 -1903) is an important British social philosopher (like Comte) who was influenced by the work of Charles Darwin. Spencer advocated a biological model of society and his ideas served as foundation for theories of functionalism and social evolution. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” NOT Darwin! Spencer argued that the strongest, “most fit” societies would survive! Social unrest is “natural” and necessary for social evolution!
History of Sociology Sociology as a science emerges from the flames of revolution – the Scientific, Political Revolutions of the 18th century and the Industrial Revolution that achieves full steam in the 19th century - provide the sparks necessary to give rise to “a science of society.” During the Industrial Revolution millions of Europeans move from farms to the city and the economy of western Europe began to shift an from agricultural base to an industrial one.
History of Sociology European governments began to keep records (known as moral statistics in France) to help guide policy during this period of rapid social and economic change. These “moral statistics” were collected by region and included population, births (legit or illegitimate), cause of death, gender, marriage status, literacy rates, criminal history, age and more… French moral statistics were compiled for years and published in the Compte and eventually made the science of Sociology possible by providing a collection of Social Facts – just the data needed to conduct the scientific method!
History of Sociology As you recall, social phenomena or social facts are proportional facts that describe groups rather than given individuals! Applying the scientific method to the study of human behavior becomes possible once social facts are discovered!
History of Sociology 1897 a Frenchman named Emile Durkheim published Suicide. Durkheim analyzes social facts (statistics) using the scientific method in a groundbreaking book on the SOCIAL causes of suicide! Durkheim is the first to refer to himself a SOCIOLOGIST, taught Sociology at a French university, and is widely regarded as the Father of Sociology!
Sociology There are three giants in Sociology! – Emile Durkheim (1858 – 1917) known as the “Father of Sociology” – Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) a self described German “Historian” and a trained Economist who saw history in terms of class struggle – Max Weber (1864 – 1920) also a German, narrowed the focus of Sociology by concentrating on ways in which society influenced - and was influenced by - small groups.
Sociological Approaches Sociology is divided into two approaches: 1) Micro sociology – is an examination of small group interaction and the way social forces shape behavior of individuals 2) Macro sociology – is concerned with the study of large groups with emphasis on developing global theories that may be applied to all.
Sociological Approaches Micro sociologists Macro sociologists – explore influences of social – Seek wide ranging forces on choices and comparisons of - and behaviors… explanations for - social – focuses on primary group conditions interactions – focus on relationships b/w – studies sources of small social structures (i.e. and group conflict and solidarity society – theories incl. symbolic – Seeks causes of wars, interaction, exchange ethnic conflicts or theory, social creation of self nationalism and ethnic and mind solidarity – theories incl. functionalism, conflict theory, social evolution,
Sociological Theories ConflictFunctionalism Theory (Macro) (Macro) Interactionism (Micro)
Sociological Theories Functionalism: theoretical perspective that views society as a set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system. Focus: Social Structures Conflict Theory: theoretical perspective that focuses on those forces in society that promote competition and change. Focus: Class Conflict, Power Interactionism: theoretical perspective that focuses on how individuals and small groups interact with one another in society. Focus: Social construction of self and mind, Symbolic Interaction
Sociological Approaches Micro sociologists Macro sociologists – explore influences of – Seek wide ranging social forces on choices comparisons of - and and behaviors… explanations for - social conditions – focuses on primary – focus on relationships group interactions b/w social structures – studies sources of (i.e. and society small group conflict – Seeks causes of wars, and solidarity ethnic conflicts or – theories incl. symbolic nationalism and ethnic solidarity interaction, exchange – theories incl. theory, social creation functionalism, conflict of self and mind theory, social evolution,