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Studying Society : Lecture 1


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These are the slides from my Studying Society course at Durham University's Foundation Centre. These slides are from week 1, which is a general overview of the course and introductory sociology.

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Studying Society : Lecture 1

  1. 1. Studying Society: Week 1 Dr. Nick Pearce @drnickpearce
  2. 2. OutlineIntroduce courseResourcesSociety quizWhat is sociology?SocialisationFunctionalism
  3. 3. Studying Society• Encourage you to think sociologically: to stimulate the „sociological imagination‟• Introduce a bank of knowledge, necessary concepts, theoretical approaches and suitable terminology to aid further study in the human and social sciences• Provide you with the skills to ask critical questions about the taken-for-granted social world that we inhabit
  4. 4. Outline of courseTeachingWeek Title Theme NOTES: Welcome and Introduction Defining Sociology1 History of sociology Social stratification 1 Theoretical Perspectives2 Economic, Social, Cultural capital Social stratification 2 Power, Education and Health3 Race, ethnicity &4 nationality Gender & feminisms Essay question given out5 Reading Week Crime & deviance 1 What is crime? Formative: Annotated bibliography7 How do we measure crime? Crime and deviance 2 What causes crime?8 Case study: serial killers Easter Vacation Media and Power 1 Media consumption Essay due9 Media and Power 2 Media ownership and production10 Sport Revision Sport and Society11
  5. 5. Resources•Lots of sociology textbooks!•Libraries•Second hand market •Online,, abebooks •Be careful about currency of book (edition etc.) •Also some topics are contentious (i.e. Marxism)
  6. 6. Quiz
  7. 7. What is Sociology?“Sociology is the systematic study of human groups and social life inmodern societies” (Browne 2005)“Sociology involves the systematic study of the character andpatterns of human interaction” (Cohen and Kennedy 2007)“Sociology is a martial art” (Bourdieu)“Sociologists would go to a strip club and look at the audience”(Laurie Taylor, YouTube clip in playlist)
  8. 8. What is sociology?• The study of society, but… – Society changes – Many societies – Sociological theories change society• Hard to examine our own society – Looks natural – Critical stranger
  9. 9. Sociology/ Anthro / Psych
  10. 10. Sociology is Scientific-ish:Application of Scientific theory/method to the study of groups of people.•Benefits? –Value freedom – personal beliefs and prejudice –Objectivity •Systematic research method •Evidence based •Checkable - Peer reviewable• Difficulties?• What are sociologists studying?
  11. 11. Individual Vs Society• One of the key debates in sociology – Unresolved! – Complex• Socialisation is key
  12. 12. Socialisation, Culture and Identity Values Norms Customs Roles
  13. 13. Socialisation, Culture and IdentityValues• Generalised• Ideas about what is right and wrong• Pressure to conform to Values –often formalised into Laws• Formalised sanctions used toenforce
  14. 14. Socialisation, Culture and Identity Norms Specific – putting values into practice Social rules define „correct‟ and „acceptable‟ behaviour Members of group are expected to conform Generally enforced informally
  15. 15. Socialisation, Culture and Identity Customs Established, ritualised sets of behaviour Expressions of social values Re-enforce social values
  16. 16. Socialisation, Culture and Identity Jane Doe Social Roles Student • Sets of behaviour associated with individuals Daughter • Often based on relationships • Expectations • Multiple roles Mother • Role conflict Employee Cage fighter
  17. 17. Socialisation, Culture and Identity Social Control Conformity and Deviance • Sanctions (reward and punishment) •What would happen if… –a society had no norms or values? –a child had no models for behaviour (or poor models)? –a child did not undergo a process of socialisation?
  18. 18. Socialisation activity• Get into 4 groups• Focus on different agent of socialisation – How are the following reinforced? • Norms • Values • Roles • Customs
  19. 19. break
  20. 20. Founding „Fathers‟
  21. 21. Early years… Auguste Comte (1798-1857) Coined the word „sociology‟ „Queen of the sciences‟ Positivist
  22. 22. Durkheim (1858-1917)• First professor of sociology• A scientific sociology?• Focus on order• Functionalist
  23. 23. FunctionalismSociety is like a living organism How is society like a human body?
  24. 24. Max Weber (1864- 1920) • Modernity and rationality – „Iron cage‟ • Protestant Work Ethic
  25. 25. Karl Marx (1818-83)• Predates the word „sociology‟• Critically examined capitalism• “Religion is the opium of the people”• Spoke up for working class• Focus on conflict
  26. 26. More conflict theories• Feminism(s) focus on gender conflict• Post-colonial studies focuses on ethnicity/ geo politics• Queer theory focuses on sexuality• Disability studies on ability/disability – All focus on normalisation
  27. 27. Summary• Sociology is systematic study of modern society• There are many theories which help us examine society• This course will provide an overview of many different aspects of modern society and develop the „sociological imagination‟