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What is it and how does it differ
from other perspectives?
 Sociologists
• Interactions among people as individuals,
groups, and societies;
• How social forces affect the way people interact
with one another;
• How social interaction creates and maintains
“Everyday social life—our thoughts, actions,
feelings, decisions, interactions, and so on—is
the product of a complex interplay between
societal forces and personal characteristics.
To explain why people are the way they are or
do the things they do, we must understand the
interpersonal, historical, cultural,
organizational, and global environments they
inhabit. To understand either individuals or
society, we must understand both.”
-- C. W. Mills, 1959
 Question:
• Why do people get divorced?
• Why has the divorce rate in America increased so
much over the past 50+ years?
• How have social changes that have occurred over
this period affected changes in the family and
gender roles?
 Term
first coined by C. Wright Mills
 Refers to the ability of individuals to see the
impact of social forces on their private lives.
 Durkheim’s
study of suicide
• Recognized the impact of social forces on
suicide rates.
• Identified three types of suicide:
 Anomic
 Egoistic
 Altruistic
 Contrasting
• Biology: focuses on innate characteristics
(genetics, biochemical explanations, etc.)
• Psychology: focuses on personal
characteristics (the mind)
• Sociology: focuses on human interaction
within the larger society
Focus on
within the
Focuses on
what goes
on among
groups, and
 Biology
 Psychology
 Sociology
 Question:
• What can I do with a degree in sociology?
 Answer:
• Almost anything!
Social Services
Public Relations
Health Services