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What is Sociology?
the scientific study of social structure
(human social behavior)
Sociological Perspective:
a view that looks at behavior of groups, not
Social Structure:
the patterned interaction of people in
social relationships
Sociological Imagination:
the ability to see the link between society
and self
Origins of Sociology: Europe
Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
father of sociology
positivism: the belief that knowledge
should be derived from scientific
social statics: study of social stability
and order
social dynamics: study of social change
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)
best known for her translation of Comte’s
contributions in research methods,
political economy, and feminist theory
wrote – Society in America
supporter of the emancipation of women
and slaves
women’s lack of economic power kept
them dependent
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
higher education was result of his own reading
compared society to the human body – parts
working together to promote it’s well-being and
Social Darwinism – evolutionary social change led
to progress – provided people did not interfere
poor deserve to be poor – rich to be rich
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
- believed that the structure of a society is influenced
by how its economy is organized
- society divided into two classes:
1. bourgeoisie – capitalists
2.proletariat – workers
- imbalance of power would lead to conflict
-proletariat wins = build a classless society
-each citizen would contribute according to
1. his ability
2. his needs
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
saw society as a set of interdependent
parts – in terms of their functions
 emphasized the primary role that
conflict plays in social change
 advocated revolution to speed up the
process of change
 ideas led to development of the conflict
perspective in sociology
Max Weber (1864-1920)
interested in separate groups within society rather
than society as a whole
 effect of society on the individual
 uncover people’s feelings and thoughts
Verstehen – understand the meanings individuals
attach to their actions – put oneself in the place of
others and try to see situations through their eyes
ideal type – description comprised of the essential
characteristics of a feature of society
example – your school
Jane Addams (1860-1935)
opened Hull House on Chicago’s west side (1889)
welfare, educational and recreational service for poor
surveyed the poor to help her understand the people
and the conditions in which they lived
 study covered subjects such as wage levels,
sweatshops, child labor, the immigrant experience,
and living conditions in poverty-stricken
 discussion on the effects of industrialization and
W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
first African American to earn a doctorate at
 assisted in the founding of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP)
 used community studies to underscore the
significance of race in American society
 believed that sociologists should be involved
in social reform as well as academic study
of each part of a
society – family, economy,
parts of society as an integrated
manifest functions – intended and
recognized consequences of an
aspect of society
Functionalism (con’t)
latent functions – unintended and
unrecognized consequences of an aspect
of society
dysfunction – negative consequences of an
aspect of society
approach emphasizing the role of conflict,
competition, and constraint within society
disagreement among various groups in a
society or between societies
power – the ability to control the behavior of
balance of power among groups shift –
change occurs
symbol – anything that stands for
something else and has an agreed-upon
meaning attached to it
we learn the meaning of a symbol from the
way we see others reacting to it
once we learn the meanings of symbols,
we base our behavior (interaction) on them
we use the meaning of symbols to imagine
how others will respond to our behavior
Symbolic Interactionism (con’t)
dramaturgy – approach that depicts human
interaction as theatrical performances –
presentation through dress, gestures, tone
of voice – act in a way to have one we may
like notice us – presentation of self or
impression management (Goffman)
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