Sociology

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First found May 22, 2018

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Lori Peek, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Co-Director, Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis
Colorado State University
What is sociology anyway?
Sociology is the study of human life.
Sociology is the study of human life.
Sociology is the study of society.
Sociology is the study of human life.
Sociology is the study of society.
Sociology is the study of human life.
Sociology is the study of society.
Sociology is the systematic study of human
behavior, social interaction, social
institutions, and society.
“The fact is that most sociologists regard their field as
an approach rather than as a subject matter, a perspective
rather than a body of knowledge. What differentiates us
from other observers of the human scene is how we look out
at the world – the way our eyes are focused, the way our
intellectual reflexes are set, the way our imaginations are
tuned.” –Kai T. Erikson, Yale University
What is a
sociological perspective?
What is a sociological perspective?
What is a sociological perspective?
“vivid awareness
of the relationship
between personal
experience and the
wider society”
–C. Wright Mills
(1916-1962)
Why do people become
homeless?
Why do people become homeless?
Biography
Why do people become homeless?
History
Biography
Social Structure
Why do people become homeless?
History
Biography
Social Structure
Why do people become homeless?
History
Biography
Social Structure
Why do people become homeless?
History
Biography
Social Structure
“When, in a city of 100,000, only one man
is unemployed, that is his personal
trouble, and for its relief we properly
look to the character of the man, his skills,
and his immediate opportunities. But
when in a nation of 50 million employees,
15 million men are unemployed, that is an
issue, and we may not hope to find its
solution within the range of opportunities
open to any one individual.”
~C. Wright Mills, 1959
History and Emergence of Sociology
August Comte (1798-1857)
• French Philosopher
• Founder of Sociology
• Argued that the methods
used in the natural sciences
should also be applied to the
objective study of society
• Social Laws: Social Statics +
Social Dynamics
Marx
Weber
Durkheim
Emile Durkheim (1855-1917)
• French Sociologist
• Functionalist theoretical tradition
• Social Facts
– Patterned ways of acting, thinking, and
feeling that exist outside any one
individual, but that exert social control
over each person
• Social Solidarity
– Mechanical Solidarity – traditional
societies where people share beliefs and
values and perform common activities
– Organic Solidarity – diverse division of
labor in society
– Anomie: condition in which social
control becomes ineffective as a result of
the loss of shared values and of a sense
of purpose in society
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
• German Economist and
Philosopher
• Conflict perspective
• Unlike Durkheim (whose focus
was on social order), Marx
believed that it was the economic
conflict between the capitalist class
(bourgeoisie) and the working
class (proletariat) that would lead
to social change.
• Alienation
– A feeling of powerlessness and
estrangement from one’s work, from
other people, and from oneself
Max Weber (1864-1920)
• German Social Scientist
• Emphasized that sociology should be
value free–research should be conducted
in a scientific manner and should exclude
the researcher’s personal values and
economic interests.
• Believed that bureaucracies were
becoming increasingly oriented toward
routine administration and a specialized
division of labor.
• For Weber, rational bureaucracy (and
not class struggle) was the most
significant factor in determining the
social relationships between people in
industrialized societies.
Major Theoretical Approaches
Perspective
Level of
Analysis
View of Society
Functionalist
Macro
Society is composed of interrelated parts that work
together to maintain stability within society. The stability
is threatened by dysfunctional acts and institutions.
Major Theoretical Approaches
Perspective
Level of
Analysis
View of Society
Functionalist
Macro
Society is composed of interrelated parts that work
together to maintain stability within society. The stability
is threatened by dysfunctional acts and institutions.
Conflict
Macro
Society is characterized by social inequality; social life is a
struggle for scarce resources. Social arrangements benefit
some groups at the expense of others.
George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)
• American philosopher, psychologist,
and sociologist
• Generalized Other
• The norms, values, attitudes, and
expectations of people “in
general.”
• Role Taking
• The “I” and the “Me”
• “I” = active, spontaneous, creative
• “Me” = attitudes and demands of
others and the awareness of those
demands
Major Theoretical Approaches
Perspective
Level of
Analysis
View of Society
Functionalist
Macro
Society is composed of interrelated parts that work
together to maintain stability within society. The stability
is threatened by dysfunctional acts and institutions.
Conflict
Macro
Society is characterized by social inequality; social life is a
struggle for scarce resources. Social arrangements benefit
some groups at the expense of others.
Symbolic
Interactionist
Micro
Society is a sum of interactions of people and groups.
Behavior is learned in interaction with other people; how
people define a situation becomes the foundation for how
they behave.
Comparing Major Theoretical
Paradigms
Level of Analysis
Functionalism
Conflict Theory
Symbolic
Interactionism
Macro
Macro
Micro
•
•
•
Core Questions
•
What keeps society
functioning
smoothly?
•
What are the parts of
society and how do
•
they relate?
What are the
intended and
unintended outcomes •
of an event?
How are wealth and
power distributed in
•
society?
How do people with
•
wealth and power
keep them?
Are there groups that
get ahead in this
•
society and why?
How are society’s
resources and
opportunities
divided?
How do people cocreate the society?
How does social
interaction influence,
create, and sustain
human relationships?
Do people change
behavior from one
setting to another,
and if so, why?
Meso or Mid-Range
Theoretical Orientation
• Focus on organizations, companies, social
institutions, laws, and groups of people
organized around similar interests.
Core Areas of Sociology
The American Sociological Association (ASA) currently has 52 sections
Section
2015 Section
2015 Section
2015
Sex & Gender
1,176 International Migration
625 Body and Embodiment
321
Culture
1,115 Science, Knowledge & Technology
621 Sociological Practice and Public Sociology 317
Medical
1,036 Aging
612 Asia/Asian American
313
Organizations, Occupations & Work
1,007 Religion
307
Race, Gender & Class
930
Sexualities
605 Altruism, Morality & Social Solidarity
580 Marxist
Racial & Ethnic Minorities
858
Crime, Law & Deviance
576 Mental Health
307
Theory
835
Community & Urban
575 Consumers and Consumption
268
Political Sociology
818
Population
549 Human Rights
266
Comparative & Historical
815
Environment & Technology
487 Peace, War & Social Conflict
256
Collective Behavior/Social Movements
814
Sociology of Development
481 Emotions
252
Inequality, Poverty and Mobility
814
Law
411 Mathematical
214
Family
799
Labor & Labor Movements
409 Rationality & Society
205
Education
772
Methodology
409 Disability & Society
202
Economic
748
Political Economy of the World System
409 History of Sociology
194
Global & Transnational Sociology
713
Latina/o
408 Alcohol & Drugs
171
Teaching & Learning
675
Children & Youth
406 Animals & Society
141
Social Psychology
633
Communication, Information
Technologies and Media Sociology
331 Evolution, Biology & Society
136
Ethnomethodology
307
129
Methodological Approaches
• Quantitative Research
– Based on the goal of scientific
objectivity and focused on
data that can be measured
numerically
• Qualitative Research
– Uses interpretive description
rather than statistics to
analyze underlying meanings
and patterns of social
relationships
Kendall 2006
Research Methods
•
•
•
•
Surveys
Secondary data analysis
Content analysis
Field research
– Interviews
– Participant observation
– Focus groups
– Photovoice
• Experiments
• Spatial analysis/GIS
Structure/Agency
• An important debate in
sociology that highlights to
what extent an individuals
life is determined by social
forces
• Agency
– The ability to act
independent of structure
• Structure
– Pre-existing social
arrangements that shape
and constrain behavior
Social Stratification
The hierarchical arrangement of large social groups
based on their control over basic resources (Feagin and
Feagin 2003).
Social structural inequality is often based on class, race,
gender, age, and other attributes on which society places
value.
Present / Future of Sociology
-Focus on “wicked problems”
-Increased multi- and interdisciplinary work
-More sophisticated methodological approaches +
“big data”
-Threats to credibility / legitimacy of social sciences
Thank You!
Lori Peek, Ph.D.
Colorado State University
[email protected]

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