• How people act in groups & because of groups
• How individuals affect society and how society affects individuals
• Ways our thoughts and actions are partly due to our culture& socialization
• NOT inner workings of the mind isolation Why do sociology?
agency = the ability of people to act in the social world. How does one do sociology? 1. Develop your “sociological imagination”
2. Build on useful ideas & prior research
3. Use appropriate methods 1. Sociological Imagination (C. Wright Mills) “A quality of mind” that does three things:
1. Helps us see relationship between man/ biography/ self & society/ history/ world
2. Distinguishes between personal troubles & public issues
Troubles: caused by individual flaws or bad luck
· From the perspective of an individual. e.g., “Sarah doesn’t have any comfortable shoes.”
Issues: caused by broader cultural factors
· When there is a pattern to the personal troubles then it’s a public issue, especially if the pattern follows socially important boundaries, like gender
· e.g., “Women’s fashionable shoes are rarely comfortable.”
3. Gives us awareness of the social structures (constraints) that affect our lives
Society = Any relatively self-contained and self sufficient group of human beings who are united by social relationships. There are distinct boundaries Social structure = The organized patterns in social relationships and in social institutions that together constitute society. 2. Build on prior work to answer Big Questions • What is the relationship between social structure and human agency?
• How is society held together? How is order maintained?
• What causes social change? Influential Theorists: Emile Durkheim
Key Theories: Functionalism • society is an integrated whole , each part contributes to its proper functioning
• each piece depends on others
• “social facts” = things that exist outside of us and constrain us • Each social institution has functions (religions, families, education systems…)
• They function together as a system in balance
• If you disturb one institution, then other institutions have to change to restore balance
• (Society’s system is still adjusting to past changes) Influential Theorists: Karl Marx
Key Theories: Conflict theory • Saw tension and conflict as inherent aspects of capitalist society
• People in power created the current system. Current system serves the powerful
• Conflict about change is inevitable (defend/change) Influential Theorists: Max Weber (VEH-burr) • concept of verstehen, seeing things from others point of view.
• Argued: we can’t separate ourselves from what we study Influential Theorists: W.E.B. DuBois • Double Consciousness – viewing yourself through the eyes of others
• Focused on the role of history and experience in how you interpret the world
Key Theories: Symbolic Interaction (founders incl Weber & DuBois) • symbols (words, body language, what we wear, …) communicate meaning
• When we interact, we exchange & interpret symbols
• micro-level interactions (and, importantly, our interpretations of them) are fundamental building blocks of society and also reveal societal constraints & meanings
• social change comes through change in symbols and their meanings 3. How can we test the theories? This is a social science, but there’s debate about how well this can work
a) Social facts are facts vs.
b) We interpret what we see through our personal filters Ways of gathering sociological data Quantitative: count things & look for patterns (e.g., surveys, controlled experiments, content analysis of interviews or interactions)
Qualitative: put yourself in their shoes…