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Transcript
Sociology 231
The Sociological Perspective
What Is Sociology?

It is one of the Social Sciences along with:
– Psychology, Anthropology, Criminology,
Economics, Political Science, and History

The study of social life and the social
causes and consequences of human
behavior
– Sociologists look for the social
causes/influences of human behavior
– Looks beyond psychology

Sociologists rely on “The Sociological
Imagination”
3/22
The Sociological Imagination
is the Ability to See the
Relationship Between
Individual Experiences and the
Larger Society in Which They
Occur.
4/22
Sociologists try not to take anything for
granted or accept anything at face value
 Want to “peel” back the layers of reality
 Are generally skeptical of explanations
about human behavior or situations until
proven to be true

– Always ask “why?” and “how?”
5/22
Why ????
6/22
Because not everything is what it
seems...
7/22
Also, We Sometimes
Rely On Common
Sense To Explain
Human Behavior
And Other
Situations
8/22
Examples




Those who suffered from child abuse are more
likely to abuse their children
Those who live together before marriage have a
better chance of a successful marriage than
those who did not live together
Couples with children are happier than those
who do not have children
The majority of those on welfare are lazy and
really don’t want to work
9/22
Why Study Sociology?

Helps us determine why people do the
things that they do
– E.g. Why do some people grow up to be child
abusers, alcoholics, poor, etc.?

Allows us to make important decisions
regarding policies, laws, etc. that effect
society
– Example: What is the best way to treat
poverty
11/22
How And Why Did Sociology
Emerge?
19th Century governments began
collecting statistics on:
 Criminal activity
 Birth and death rates
 Suicide rates

12/22
The Result:
Social scientists discovered patterns that
seemed contradictory to common sense
 Noticed that these patterns remained
consistent, again defying common sense

13/22
Suicide As An Example
Common sense suggested suicide was an
individualistic, random action
 Yet, if this were true, we would expect to
see fluctuations, not stable patterns
 Yet 3 patterns emerged

– Rates were extremely stable from year to
year
– Rates often varied greatly from one place to
another
– Suicide rates were rising all over Europe

These Patterns and the questions they
elicited gave rise to sociology
14/22
Durkheim’s View of Suicide



Durkheim challenged purely psychological
explanations for suicide
– Noticed that suicide was more than just an
individual act, social forces played a role
He found that two things determine who is at risk for
suicide
– Social integration (How imbedded in a social
network are you?)
– Social regulation (How tightly does the society or
reference group regulate you?)
Found that there were four types of suicide,
each of which corresponded to the two
variables above
15/22
Integration
Regulation
High
High
Low
Low
Durkheim’s 4 Types of Suicide

Altruistic (extreme social integration)
– Found that those who were extremely integrated in groups had
high suicide rates
» E.g. Military personal

Egoistic (lack of social integration)
– Found that people with few family and friendship ties had
higher suicide rates

Fatalistic (extreme social regulation)
– Found that those whose lives were excessively ordered by
agents over whom they have no control had higher suicide
rates
» E.g. prisoners and mental patients
17/22

Anomic (lack of social regulation)
– Found that those whose lives were loosely regulated
had higher suicide rates
» E.g. Individuals with a lot of power, rock stars (Kurt
Cobain)
18/22
Conclusions


Psychological explanations cannot fully explain
why people commit suicide
Social integration and regulation help
determine who is more at risk for suicide
– In short, social relationships (or lack thereof) shape
the decision to commit suicide
19/22