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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY Terms to Know: ■ Social Forces: anything humans created that influence, pressure, or push people to behave in specified ways. ■ Sociology: The scientific study of human activity in society ■ Biography: all the events and day to day interactions, from birth to death, that make up a person's life. ■ Sociological imagination: a perspective that allows us to consider how outside forces, especially in our time in history and the place we live, shape our life stories or biographies. What is it? ■ Sociology = studies human society and social behavior in a scientific manner. ■ Two main aspects of society. – Social interaction = how people relate to one another and influence one another’s behavior. – Social Phenomena = observable facts or events in human society. What exactly is a society? ■ A society is a large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory and is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Sociological Imagination ■ The ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society ■ Private v. Public Issues ■ Example: Obesity. Personal Issue that impacts the larger public Private Issues & Public Issues There is a strong tendency in liberal democracies towards seeing human behaviour in terms of individual characteristics, abilities, choices and preferences. We tend to experience whatever happens in our own lives as unique and private, and also to interpret what happens to other people as unique and private to them. These are seen as ‘private troubles’. Sociologists, on the other hand, are more interested in the relationship between what happens to individuals in their lives and the larges processes of social, economic and political change that might be said to lie underneath or behind those happenings. The discipline of Sociology encourages you to look for the social processes and structures that give a generalised pattern to those private troubles and thus turn them into ‘public issues’. Why do People Study Sociology? 1. Understand how behavior is influenced by social factors. 2. Learn how to view the world through others’ eyes – Look beyond common belief and find hidden meanings= sociological perspective – Attempt to balance one’s persona desires with their social environment. – Connect the larger world with personal life =sociological imagination 3. Find your “Place” both within society and history.