INTRODUCINGSOCIOLOGYDefining the Discipline and Its History
What is sociology?Per Kendall, sociology is the “systematic study of human society and social interaction” Multiple scopes of analysis (macro, micro) Based on scientific research, not „common sense‟, hunches, personal convictions, etc.It is possible to systematically to study groups of peoples because: People are social beings People act in routine, predictable ways (most of the time)
Do people act in predictable ways?When you woke up this morning, how did you „choose‟ to dress? Clearly the „deck is stacked‟ in favor of people acting in predictable ways and thus a scientific study of society is possible!
Sociology helps us debunk socialmythsAnswer true or false to the following statements:1. The South was less segregated in 1950 than it was in 18902. States that have legalized gay marriage have much higher divorce rates3. The reasons that people commit suicide cannot be measured by anything individualistic ones (ex. a sense of personal despair)4. Countries with an established church (i.e. the Catholic Church in Spain, the Church of England) have higher rates of religious devotion than countries without a history of an official state church.
The answer to all these isFALSE!!!1. Jim Crow Laws didn‟t take effect until the early 1900‟s. Until then, it was quite common for white males to get haircuts, for example, from black barbers.2. 5 out of the 10 states/jurisdictions with the lowest divorce rates are part of 9 jurisdictions that recognize/perform gay marriage (Link to article)3. Certain social groups are more likely to commit suicide and suicide is more prevalent in times of social change4. The US has never had an official state church, yet church attendance is far higher than in Western European countries (many of whom still have a state church)
Why sociology over casualobservation? Common sense is not at all common, nor does it make sense Our observations are biased by our own assumptions and experiences What seems like individual choices might actually be socially conditioned responses (ex. What we wear) “Things are not what they seem” -Famed sociologist Peter Berger
Locating Sociology Among theSciences Geology Sociology Physics Psychology Anthropology Political Chemistry Science Biology History Physical Sciences “Hybrids” Social Sciences
Sociology and BiblicalRevelationWe are created in God‟s image (Gen. 1:27) and thus, sociology teaches about ourselves and God. Sociology is practical for ministers in that it helps us: Understand society Understand group dynamics Equips to do research on people Helps us sift between social myths and reality when making sense of social changes Separate data from interpretation
Sociology and Biblical Revelation,pt.2 Sociology has many common assumptions of the biblical worldview, but diverges greatly in others. Emphasis on structures, institutions, and processes, rather than „ultimate meaning‟ or the existence of God Sociologists do, however, study world faiths to determine their social and subjective significance While most sociologists are value-free in their research, their pre-existing assumptions affect the types of questions they ask and how they
Sociology‟s Original Sin Combination of Scientific Revolution (17th century) and 18th century political revolutions (USA, France) upended existing assumptions of society In this environment, French philosopher Auguste Comte proposed that society was governed by scientific laws (statics and dynamics) Coined the term sociology from Latin socius (social) and Greek logos (study of) Sociologists would be high priests of this new religion
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) French sociologist who pioneered the structuralist approach to sociology Believed that social facts governed society Made a lasting contribution to sociological thought in his studies of religion and suicide Performed the first true sociological study
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Father of communism and greatly influenced the conflict theory within sociology Believed all societies could be divided into the oppressed and oppressors Believed that the workers would eventually overtake the rich and set up a socialist state All social institutions (religion, family) ultimately supported the „means of production‟
Max Weber (1864-1920) Father of the symbolic interactionist perspective in sociology-a „bottom- up‟ approach to studying society Most famously know for his work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Believed the world was moving towards an iron cage of rationality Was said to have „debated the ghost of Marx”
W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) First American-American to receive a PhD from Harvard and first American-American sociologist Known for his publication of The Philadelphia Negro and The Souls of Black Folk-integrating the African- American experience of „double- consciousness‟ into formal sociology Co-founder of the NAACP in 1909
Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) Most influential sociologist of 20th century-advocated the functionalist perspective Saw society as well-oiled machine that seeks equilibrium and stability Each person and institution serves a function that makes society work together and dysfunctional parts will bring down the whole
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) Advocated a conflict perspective (like Marx) but did not see a happy ending for society Coined the term „sociological imagination‟-the idea that seemingly personal troubles are linked to social trends Believed that a power elite, comprised of military, political, and economic elites, ruled the nation