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Introducing Sociology
Chapter Outline
 Introduction
 The Sociological Perspective
 Sociological Theories and Theorists
 Conducting Research
 The Main Methods of Sociological Research
 How Sociology Helps Us Deal with Today’s Challenges
 The systematic study of human behavior in social
Four Sociological Explanations
 Functionalism
 Conflict Theory
 Symbolic Interactionism
 Feminism
 Social phenomenon persist if they contribute to social
stability—and die off if they don’t
Conflict Theory
 Highlights the tensions underlying existing social
 Examines the capacity of those tensions to burst into
the open and cause social change
Symbolic Interactionism
 Examines how various aspects of social life convey
meaning and thereby assist or impede communication
 Focused on gender: one’s sense of being masculine or
 Interrogates patriarchy: the system of male
domination of women
C. Wright Mills
 Wrote that the sociologist’s main task is to identify
and explain the connection between people’s personal
troubles and the social structures in which they are
 Coined the term “sociological imagination”
Sociological Imagination
 The quality of mind that enables one to see the
connection between personal troubles and social
The Four Levels of Social Structure
Levels of Social Structure
 Microstructures are patterns of intimate social
 Mesostructures are patterns of organizational
social relations
 Macrostructures are social relations outside your
circle of intimates and acquaintances.
 Global structures are international organizations,
worldwide travel and communication, and
economic relations between countries.
Origins of the Sociological Imagination
The Scientific Revolution suggested that a science
of society is possible.
2. The Democratic Revolution suggested people can
intervene to improve society.
3. The Industrial Revolution presented social
thinkers with social problems in need of a solution.
Scientific Revolution
 Began in Europe about 1550.
 Encouraged the view that sound conclusions about the
workings of society must be based on solid evidence,
not just speculation.
Democratic Revolution
 Began about 1750, during which the citizens of the
United States, France, and other countries broadened
their participation in government.
 This revolution suggested that people organize society
and that human intervention can therefore resolve
social problems.
Industrial Revolution
 The rapid economic transformation that began in
Britain in the 1780s.
 Involved the application of science and technology to
industrial processes, the creation of factories, and the
formation of a working class.
 Created a host of new and serious social problems that
attracted the attention of many social thinkers.
Founders of Sociology
 Durkheim
 Parsons and Merton
 Marx
 Weber
 DuBois
 Mead
 Martineau and Addams
Explanation of Suicide
 Showed that suicide rates are strongly influenced by
social forces.
 Argued that suicide rates vary because of differences in
the degree of social solidarity in different groups.
Social Solidarity
 The degree to which group members share beliefs and
values and the intensity and frequency of their
Sociological Theory of Suicide
Altruistic Suicide
 Occurs when norms tightly govern behavior, so
individual actions are often in the group interest.
 Example: When soldiers knowingly give up their lives to
protect members of their unit.
Egoistic Suicide
 Results from a lack of integration of the individual into
society because of weak social ties to others.
 Example: The rate of egoistic suicide is likely to be high
among people who lack friends and are unmarried.
Anomic Suicide
 Occurs when norms governing behavior are vaguely
 Example: When people live in a society lacking a widely
shared code of morality, the rate of anomic suicide is
likely to be high.
Talcott Parsons
 Leading proponent of functionalism.
 Argued that society is integrated and in equilibrium
 the family raises new generations
 the military defends society
 schools teach students the skills and values they need to
function as adults
 religions create a shared moral code among people
Robert Merton
 Leading functionalist in the United States
 Proposed that social structures may have different
consequences for different groups.
 Some of those consequences may be disruptive or
 Some functions are manifest (intended), others are
latent (unintended).
Features of Functionalism
Human behavior is governed by social structures.
2. Theories show how social structures maintain or
undermine social stability.
3. Theories emphasize that social structures are based
on shared values.
4. Suggests that reestablishing equilibrium can best
solve most social problems.
Karl Marx
 German social thinker who originated conflict theory.
 Class conflict, the struggle between classes to resist
and overcome the opposition of other classes, lies at
the center of his ideas.
Max Weber
 Noted the rapid growth of the service sector of the
economy, with nonmanual workers and professionals.
 Argued that members of these occupational groups
stabilize society because they enjoy higher status and
income than manual workers in the manufacturing
Features of Conflict Theory
Macro-level structures: class relations or patterns
of domination, submission and struggle
2. Inequality: patterns of inequality produce social
3. Conflict: members of privileged groups try to
maintain their advantage over subordinate groups
4. Lessening privilege: will lower the level of conflict
W.E.B. DuBois
 The first African American to receive a Ph.D. from
 A founder of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and of the
country’s second Department of Sociology, at Atlanta
George Herbert Mead
 The driving force behind the study of how the
individual’s sense of self is formed in the course of
interaction with other people.
 Mead and his colleagues developed symbolic
Features of Symbolic
Focus on interpersonal and micro-level
2. Social life is possible only because people attach
subjective meaning to things
3. As active agents people create their social
4. Increases our tolerance of people who may be
different from us
Harriet Martineau
 Often called the first woman sociologist.
 Martineau translated Comte into English and wrote
one of the first books on research methods.
 She undertook critical studies of slavery, factory laws,
and gender inequality and was a leading advocate of
voting rights and higher education for women and
gender equality in the family.
Jane Addams
 Jane Addams was cofounder of Hull House, a shelter
for the destitute in Chicago’s slums.
 She spent a lifetime fighting for social reform and
provided a research platform for sociologists from the
University of Chicago.
 In 1931, Adams received the Nobel Prize.
Features of Feminist Theory
1. Focuses on patriarchy.
2. Holds that male domination and female
subordination are determined by power and social
3. Examines the operation of patriarchy in micro- and
macro-level settings.
4. Patterns of gender inequality should be changed for
the benefit of all members of society.
Four Theoretical Traditions in
Polling Question
Which sociological perspective do you think is
generally the strongest in explaining things in our
Symbolic interactionist
 The process of carefully observing reality to assess the
validity of a theory.
Research Cycle
Ethical Considerations
 Researchers must respect their subjects’ rights to:
 Safety
 Privacy
 Confidentiality
 Informed consent
 A carefully controlled artificial situation that allows
researchers to isolate hypothesized causes and
measure their effects precisely.
Steps in a Simple Experiment
 Dependent variable
 The presumed effect in a cause-and effect relationship.
 Independent variable
 The presumed cause in a cause-and effect relationship.
Experimental Groups
 Experimental Group
 The group in an experiment that is exposed to the
independent variable.
 Control Group
 The group in an experiment that is not exposed to the
independent variable.
Reliability vs. Validity
 Reliability
 The degree to which a measurement procedure yields
consistent results
 Validity
 The degree to which a measure actually measures what it
is intended to measure
 Asks people questions about their knowledge,
attitudes, or behavior, either in a face-to-face
interview, telephone interview, or paper-and pencil
Sample vs. Population
 Sample
 Part of the population of research interest that is
selected for analysis.
 Population
 The entire group about which the researcher wishes to
Closed-ended vs. Open-Ended
 Close-ended
 A type of survey question that provides the
respondent with a list of permitted answers.
 Open-ended
 A type of survey question that allows respondents to
answer in their own words
Four Dangers of Survey Questions
Exclusion of part of population from sampling
2. Refusal of some people to participate in the
3. Unwillingness of some respondents to answer
questions frankly
4. Asking confusing, leading or inflammatory
Polling Question
If a university asks you to complete an anonymous,
written survey asking questions about your sexual
attitudes, experiences, and behaviors, how likely is it
you will agree to complete the survey?
Very likely
Somewhat likely
Somewhat unlikely
Very unlikely
Field Research
 Research based on the systematic observation of
people in their natural settings.
Detached Observation
 A type of field research that involves classifying and
counting the behavior of interest according to a
predetermined scheme.
Two Concerns with Detached
Reactivity: the tendency of people who are observed
by a researcher to react to the presence of the
researcher by concealing certain things or acting
2. The meaning of the behavior may remain obscure to
the researcher
Participant Observation
 A type of field research that involves carefully
observing people’s face-to-face interactions and
actually participating in their lives over a long period,
thus achieving a deep and sympathetic understanding
of what motivates them to act in the way they do.
Analysis of Existing Documents And Official
 A nonreactive research method that involves the
analysis of diaries, newspapers, published historical
works, and statistics produced by government
agencies, all of which are created by people other than
the researcher for purposes other than sociological
Strengths and Weaknesses of
Research Methods
Postindustrial Revolution
 The technology-driven shift from manufacturing to
service industries and the consequences of that shift
for virtually all human activities.
 The process by which formerly separate economies,
states, and cultures are being tied together and people
are becoming increasingly aware of their growing
1. Sociologists call stable patterns of social relations:
global structures
social structures
Answer: e
Sociologists call stable patterns of social relations:
social structures.
2. According to Durkheim, the more a group's
members share beliefs and values, and the more
frequently and intensely they interact, the more
social solidarity there is in a group.
Answer: True
According to Durkheim, the more a group's
members share beliefs and values, and the more
frequently and intensely they interact, the more
social solidarity there is in a group.
3. Durkheim explained variations in the suicide rate
by focusing on:
personal troubles
social solidarity
Answer: d
 Durkheim explained variations in the suicide rate by
focusing on social solidarity.
4. The main question of __________ theory is, “how
do the institutions of society contribute to social
stability and instability?”
symbolic interactionist
Answer: a
 The main question of functionalist theory is, how do
the institutions of society contribute to social stability
and instability?
5. The process by which formerly separate
economies, states and cultures are becoming tied
together and interdependent is called:
inequality of opportunity
individual freedom
Answer: c
The process by which formerly separate economies,
states and cultures are becoming tied together and
interdependent is called: globalization.