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Mrs. Hansen
Sociology
Section 1: Examining Social Life

Sociology:
 The study of human society and social
behavior, focusing on social interaction

Why study it?
 Having a sociological perspective means
you can gain perspective on yourself and
the world you live in!
 Sociology tells you that all people are social
beings and that behavior is learned from
those around you.
 It gives you the ability to see the world from
another’s point of view
 Balance
○ You will know how to be a member of a group
and also an individual
 Sociological Imagination

Where does sociology fit with the social
sciences?
 Anthropology= study of past/ less advanced





societies
Psychology= study of the behavior and
thinking of organisms
Social Psychology= study of how the social
environment effects an individual’s behavior
Economics= study of the choices made to
meet their needs and wants
Political Science=the study of the
organization and operation of governments
History= the study of past events
Section 2: Sociology then & now

Sociology developed in the 1800s
because of many social changes that
were occurring
 Moving to cities
 Society’s influence on the individual
 Questioning the explanations of life

Influential early sociologists
 Auguste Comte: French, “founder of
sociology”
○ Applied the methods of physical science to
sociology
○ Focused on social order and social change
 Society is held together by processes called social
static and change occurs because of Social
dynamics
 Herbert Spencer: English
○ Strongly influenced by Charles Darwin
○ Adopted a biological model of society
 Society is made up of individual parts that work
together to maintain the system over time
○ Used the Theory of evolution to explain the
nature of society
 Social change and unrest are necessary to reach
stability and perfection
○ He thought social problems would eventually
correct themselves
 Karl Marx: Prussian (present day Germany)
○ Believed that the structure of society is
influenced by the organization of its economy
○ Divided society into 2 classes
 Bourgeoisie = Capitalists
 Proletariat = Workers
○ Imbalance of power would lead to conflict
between the capitalists and workers
○ Primary cause of social change is conflict
 “Conflict Theory”
 Emile Durkheim: French
○ 1st to systematically apply the methods of
science to the study of society
○ Concerned about social order
 Saw society as a set of independent parts; however,
saw these independent parts in terms of the function
they served
○ Very interested in the function of religion to
maintain social order
 Shared beliefs and values held society together
○ Believed that sociologists should only study
the features of society that are observable
○ Published the 1st true sociological study about
suicide in 1897
 Max Weber: Prussian
○ Interested in separate groups within society
 Focused more on the effects of groups on the
individual
○ Believed sociologist should go beyond
studying the observable features of society
and look at the feelings and thoughts of
individuals
○ Principle of Verstehen
○ Used the concept of ideal type to break down
the characteristics of the features of society

Current Perspectives
 Theoretical perspectives outline specific
ideas about the nature of social life
○ Functionalist: people who follow this
perspective view society as a set of
interrelated parts that work together to
produce a stable social system
 People agree on what is best for society and work
together to achieve it
 Functionalists look at the elements of society and
label them either dysfunctional or functional
 They can also be manifest or latent function
○ Conflict perspective: Focus is on the forces
that promote competition and change
 They do not just focus on violent conflict but also on
the competition between groups in society
 Competition over resources are the root of social
conflict
○ Interactionist perspective: how individuals
interact with each other in society
 They want to see the interaction of people in
everyday life
 They look at the role of symbols and how they effect
daily life
 This theory is used to understand things like: child
development, relationships within groups, and mate
selection