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What is Sociology?

• What is Sociology?
○ Systematic study of social behavior and human groups interacting
 The key element is interaction
 Every kind of group 2  2 billion
○ The influence of social relationships upon people’s attitudes/behaviors
and how societies are established and change.
○ To identify recurring patterns of social behavior and then identify their
• Sociological perspective
○ An awareness of the relationship between the individual and the wider
 Ex: Alcoholic driving  Crashes in to you  Kills you
• The alcoholic is the individual and you/your death is
society and its impact is your death
 Ex: Alcoholic  Affects the law (Cops, roadblocks, courts, etc) 
Expense ($)
 Ex: Alcoholic  Affects the families  Loss of inhibitions +
Expense ($)
 Ex: Alcoholic  Affects medicine  Waiting for liver  Expense
• Why alcoholism?
○ Problem solving
○ Childhood (Parents drank)
○ Depression
○ Genetics (?) (Unproven)
○ Peers (!)
○ Media (!!) (Song from Cheers)(Commercials)
• Perception = Reality?
○ Guy leaving a bar at 8 am
 Perception: Alcoholic
 Reality: Works nights, having his “dinner” now, before sleep
○ Blondes
 Perception: Dumb
 Reality: Not true

Some Basics

Sociological Thinkers

• Auguste Comte (-1857)

○ Father of sociology
○ Developed sociology as a science
○ Most writings devoted to making a more rational society
 More rational interaction between people
○ French Revolution  Executions by Guillotine  “Wait a minute, we
need to be rational”
• Harriet Martineau
○ English, came post-Comte. Did a lot of work with translating Comte’s
○ Wrote on all aspects of society at the time, especially within England
 Politics, womens rights, employment, how to improve society
 Prolific writer + sociologist
• Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903)
○ “Social Darwinism”
 Survival of fittest  In society the people who were smart
enough to survive in business, and you’re too dumb to succeed,
you deserve to lose.
• Not quite “fittest”, but “smartest”.
 Friend of business and business interests (tycoons, oil
companies, etc)
• “You don’t have to apologize to anyone for being
successful, you made your money, you deserve it.”
• E. Durkheim (1858 – 1917)
○ Brought the scientific method in to the field of sociology
○ Known for his study of religion & society
○ Known for his extremely extensive study on suicide (Elderly males kill
themselves most often)
 Typically:
 65+ no friends, no family left.
 Generally speaking the older you get beyond 65 the higher the
suicide rate goes.
 Do not belong to any social organizations, not joiners.
 Not Catholic
• Due to absolution of confession + comradery of Mass
 In summary, they live alone
 Anomie (purposelessness)
• Max Weber
○ Religion main force in social change (humanistic)
○ Verstehen = “Insight”
 Cannot look at society purely objectively, must be some
subjective measure involved in understanding why people act a
certain way.
• Karl Marx (philosopher more than sociologist)
○ Wrote the Communist Manifesto (1848)
○ Took what Heigl had thought (Invented Communism)
○ Predicates everything as being based on a class struggle
 (Rich vs. Poor)
• This would lead to a revolution, and once the poor took
over, Communism would take over.
○ Conflict in society
• Charles Couley
○ Microsociologist (small groups are very important in terms of sociology)
 Looked at families, relationships, etc
• Jane Adams
○ One of our first social workers
○ Hull House
 Settlement house where you could go to get help settling in the
 Job information, healthcare information, etc
• R. Merton
○ Believed in combining micro- and macro- in to one sociology
○ Known for group studies, laboratory studies of individuals, group
conformity, and studies of urbanization
• W. E.B. DuBois
○ First black sociologist
○ Essay kind of reporting (mostly gone from sociology now)
○ Worked with minority groups

Types of Sociology

• Microsociologists: Look at the world as being based on how small groups

react and interact
• Macrosociologists Look at the world as being based on how large groups
react and interact

Most Important Aspect of Sociology

• FCI: Functionist, Conflict, Interactionist

○ Three main sociological perspectives (or theories)
 Functionist perspective
• Oldest
• Totally macro-
• T. Parsons was a chief
• Believe society is composed of interconnected parts, for
society to maintain stability, all parts are necessary, no
parts should be removed from the “chain”.
○ Think “everyone serves a function”
○ If the part is not useful it will dissipate over time, of
its own accord.
 Society is a chain link fence, one link of the
fence is crime, functionists argue we can’t
get rid of it, all we can do is lock the
criminals up.
• Three Types of Function
○ Manifest function
 Intended function of society
 Conscious function
 Ex: Attend college
○ Latent function
 Unintended function that occurs
 Ex: While in college you meet your future
○ Dysfunction (some controversy over whether this is
a real function)
 Occur in society when society is disrupted
 Ex: $350 Billion to banks in US, no one
accountable as to where money has gone.
Now we’re giving $350 billion more to
replace the unaccounted for money. Tax
rates in 5 years ^.
 Conflict Perspective
• Is a macro- concept
• Marx
○ Society is in a constant struggle (conflict) between
○ White v. Black, Black v. Hispanic, Boss v. Workers
○ Everything that occurs is in conflict. Religions,
governments, economic systems, etc.
 Interactionist (Symbolic)
• Only micro-
• Look at human aspect of society
• Concerned not with objective macro- but subjective micro-
• Looking at, basically, how people interact with each other.
• Do not look at large groups, but small group relationships
• Frequently this interaction causes people to become
actors in society and as actors they use symbols to
meet their goals.
○ Guy giving you the finger = symbolic interactionist
 Indicating he’s not happy with what you did,
no other way to interpret it.
• Some argue that you don’t even need to interpret via
voice what someone is saying to you, you’ll be able to tell
just via facial features and expressions what you feel
○ Email to Aprils42282@yahoo.com

Sociological Research

Research Design (Research Model)

1. Select a topic
a. Make sure its narrow enough
2. Define the problem
3. Review the literature
4. Formulate a hypothesis
5. Choose a research method
a. Survey
i. Questionnaire
1. If you use these in your study, you need to
understand you will not get back as many as
you send out.
2. Inexpensive
1. Like Gallup. If you use a good method, you’ll get
good results.
2. More expensive than a questionnaire, must train
the people doing the interview
b. Documents
i. Birth certificates, death certificates, divorce decrees,
ii.Also not expensive
c. Experiments
i. Don’t do a lot in sociology. Dealing with human beings,
don’t want to manipulate them.
d. Participant Observation
i. Watching peoples behavior, observing behavior.
e. Secondary analysis
i. Inexpensive, going back and looking at other studies.
f. Unobtrusive measures
i. Watching someone but they are unaware they are
being observed
ii.Example is NYC, wanting to find out why people were
not throwing their garbage in the trash cans. Hired a
company. That company was paid $1m, guy hired 10
people to stand at 10 busiest intersections from 8am –
7pm and watched people throwing stuff out. What did
he see? Cans didn’t have large enough openings.
People essentially missed.
6. Collect the data
7. Analyze the results
a. Peer review
i. Other people, not involved in the study, review it for
b. Put it all together. Statistically valid?
8. Share the results
a. Publish your research in a journal
9. This stimulates more ideas for research
10.Which generate hypothesis
11.Begin at 1


• Human Subjects  Random Assignment  Experimental Group,

Control Group
• The more people in your sample, the more validity to your study.
• The longer your study, the more validity to your study.
• Validity: The degree to which a measure accurately reflects the subject
under study
• Reliability: Consistent results over a number of studies on the same topic

Ethics in Research

• Ethics: Truth, guidelines

• Unethical
○ Alter data: Don’t like the way it turned out, change some things.
○ Confidentiality: Not protecting the confidentiality of the people in the
○ Funding: Unethical sources
○ Company Involvement:
• How people manipulate studies
○ “More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette” ad from 1950s
 “Camels are easier on your throat than any other cigarette”
○ Paying a doctor to find no correlation between smoking and lung
Measures of Central Tendency

Definition: How we look at an average.

• Averages
○ Mode: The most frequent score in a series
○ Median: Scores placed least to most, median score is middle score.
○ Mean: Place scores in order and add them up, then divide by the
number of scores. (Classic average)


Definition: Learned ways of behaving and believing that characterize a particular

Culture = Things | Society = People

• Ideas, values, customs, pas and present within society

• Material
○ TV, house, car, etc
• Non-material
○ Not identifiable, generally, not something written down necessarily
○ Customs, inanimate concepts, values, ideas, things symbolic
• Cultural Universals
○ Language
 Most important, only way to communicate. Without this, the
others are meaningless.
○ Families
○ Housing
○ Laws
○ Religions
○ Government
• Cultural Diffusion: Transmit items from one culture to another
○ Example: McDonalds, Starbucks From USA  Other places in the
 Jeans, media, etc.
 Other Cultures  Food here
• Cultural Norms: Standards of behavior maintained by a society.
○ Encourage positive behavior and discourage negative behavior
 Types:
• Formal norms: All societies have formal norms. All
societies have some form of a law against murder.
○ Generally written in to law
○ Some societies don’t have laws written out
○ “Mores”: MOOR-AY: necessary for society
• Informal norms:
○ Usually not laws
○ Everyday patterns of behavior
○ “Folkways”: The ways folks behave
○ Norm Conflict: In obeying one set of norms break another
 Ex: Underage drinking


• Values: What is considered desirable good in a culture

○ 2008 : $, House
○ Rarely correlates to the value of trust

Cultural Variations

Definition: Variations within a culture

• Subcultures: A part of the culture that shares a pattern of norms that differ
from the larger society
○ Participate in the culture and the subculture
○ Within a subculture there is an argot
 Argot: Language specific to that subculture
○ Example of subculture: Amish
 Go to Philadelphia, Reading Terminal, loaded with foods from all
over you will see several booths with people from the Amish
community selling their products in our society. Thus, they
function in both their subculture and the regular society.
• Subculture: Dress, speech, religion, even government
• Us: Sales of products
○ Army
 Subculture: uniform, laws, governing body, etc
 Culture: Take your uniform off, in our society again
• Counter Cultures: Culture that rejects the culture and wants to change it
○ Example: Hippies. We don’t vote, or work, we travel, have fun and
enjoy ourselves
 Like Utopian societies
• Culture Shock: When one is in an unfamiliar culture, many times you will
experience a disorientation (fear). When you leave your society, this is very
○ Example: The gangs of kids that rob people in Brazil. If we saw that,
we’d suffer from culture shock.

Responses to Cultural Variation

• Ethnocentrism: The assumption that your culture is superior to all others
• Cultural Relativism: A different way of looking at another society. It is
reviewing their culture from their own perspective.
• Xenocentrism: When you feel that your culture is inferior to other cultures.
Your society isn’t as good as other societies. Etc.

Dominant Ideology

• Dominant Ideology: There are a set of social, political, and economic

interests that cultural beliefs help maintain.
○ Who is responsible for setting this?
○ We break it down according to the 3 sociological perspectives in our
 Functionalist: (Laissez faire)
 Conflict: By Political Parties : Small Groups : Rich and Powerful
 Interactionalist: Small group action, they say the small groups in
society are important, the face to face conversations. Bottom