Seeing the General in the Particular
One good way to define the sociological perspective is seeing the general in the particular (Berger, 1963). This definition tells us that sociologists look for general patterns in the behavior of particular people. Although every individual is unique, a society shapes the lives of people in patterned ways that are evident as we discover how various categories (such as children and adults, women and men, the rich and the poor) live very differently. We begin to see the world sociologically by realizing how the general categories into which we fall shape our particular life experiences. Sociological theories are divided into macro and micro orientation.
Macro-level orientation, a broad focus on social structures that shape society as a whole. Macro-level sociology takes in the big picture, rather like observing a city from high above in a helicopter and seeing how highways help people move from place to place or how housing differsfrom rich to poor neighborhoods.
Micro- level orientation, a close-up focus on social interaction in specific situations. Exploring urban life in this way occurs at street level, where you might watch how children invent games on a school playground or how pedestrians respond to homeless people they pass on the street.
Functionalism and Marxism are macro level as the deal with social structures while Symbolic Interactionism is micro level.
Instructions: Read from left to right.
Structural Functional Approach/
Race refers to socially constructed categories based on biological traits a society defines as important. Sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability. • The meaning and importance of race vary from place to place and over time.
View of society:
• Societies use racial categories to rank people in a hierarchy, giving some people more money, power, and prestige than others.
Society is a system of interrelated parts
(social institutions) that is relatively stable.
Each part works to keep society operating in an orderly way.
Racial and ethnic inequalities must have served an important function in order to exist
Class benefits society as a whole.
Class reflects personal talents and abilities in a competitive economy. Class promotes productivity and efficiency because rewarding important work with income, prestige, power, and leisure encourages people to do these jobs and to work better, longer, and harder.
Davis-Moore thesis: that a system of unequal rewards is necessary to place talented people in the right jobs and to motivate people to work hard.
Members generally agree about what is morally right and morally wrong.
Social Stratification is a system of unequal rewards that benefits society as a whole.
How is society held together?
What are the major parts of society?
How are these parts linked?
What does each part do to help society work?
as long as they have. How can racism and discrimination contribute positively to society?
Sociologists who adhere to the functionalist view argue that racism and discrimination do contribute positively, but only to the dominant group. Historically, it has indeed served dominant groups well to discriminate against subordinate groups. Slavery, of course, was beneficial to slaveholders. Holding racist views can benefit those who want to deny rights and privileges to people they view as inferior to them, but over time, racism harms society. Outcomes of race-based disenfranchisement—such as poverty levels, crime rates, and discrepancies in employment and education opportunities—illustrate the long-term (and clearly negative) results of slavery and racism in American society.
US class systems are based on both birth
(ascription) and meritocracy (individual