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Basic Concepts in Sociology
Sociology is the study of society when encompasses human interaction and social behavior, it discusses the society involving individuals and groups, social theories, research methods, theorists, and concepts, institutions, and other arenas that allow us to identify what social constructs are. Social Constructs are the various problems or issues that one deals with throughout life as a human. These include race, gender, class, and culture. These are a few out of the many social constructs. Social Constructs either make or break the individual depending upon the experience or situation.
Ideally individuals believe that Sociology is the study of society. Yes but there’s more to it. Sociology is a social science. Social Sciences are branches of discipline that closes analyze the human being or social society.
Social Sciences are Anthropology – examine what makes an individual a human, how they behave, the cultures, the past, present, and different patterns.
Psychology – examines the individuals mind and their behavior to see how things are processed in terms of mentally, the way the brain would functions, and conscious and unconscious.
Economics – examines the usage of resources and the advantages/disadvantages of the production, distribution, capital, and the consumption of goods and services through the various types of economies worldwide. Politic Science -examines the various government systems- local, state, federal, and international, the practices of politics/government entities, laws/regulations put into place to make sure we have checks and balances, while promoting citizenship in countries.
Geography – examines the world in terms of the physical makeup, environment, atmosphere, and land.
History – examines events of the past, present, future, the evolution of social phenomena how we are affected, the effects, and the cause, and how everything is connected. Communication – examines how one exchanges information through various channels in the media such as newspapers, electronics, verbally, non-verbally, while receiving and sending messages some kind of way.
Social Work – recognized as the area that examines the welfare, conditions of those in need of help, and to make sure people can function while understanding how to understand the person.
Definition of Concepts
Everyday actor – someone who approaches the world by using knowledge that is practical or taken for granted (page 9)
Social analyst – someone who approaches the world by using reasoning and questions to gain deeper insights (page 9)
Sociology – the systematic or scientific study of human society and social behavior, from large-scale institutions and mass culture to small groups and individual interactions (page 9)
Social science – the disciplines that use the scientific method to examine the social world (page 10)
sociological perspective – a way of looking at the world through a sociological lens (page 10)
Beginner’s mind – approaching the world without preconceptions in order to see things in a new way (page 10)
Culture shock – a sense of disorientation that occurs when entering a radically new social or cultural environment (page 12)
Sociological imagination – a quality of the mind that allows us to understand the relationship between our individual circumstances and larger social forces (page 12)
Microsociology – the level of analysis that studies face-to-face and small-group interactions in order to understand how they affect the larger patterns and structures of society (page 14)
Macrosociology – the level of analysis that studies large-scale social structures in order to determine how they affect the lives of groups and individuals (page 14)
Theories – abstract propositions that explain the social world and make predictions about the future (page 16)
Paradigm = a set of assumptions, theories, and perspectives that makes up a way of understanding social reality (page 16)
Positivism – the theory that sense perceptions are the only valid source of knowledge (page 18)
Social Darwinism – the application of the theory of evolution and the notion of “survival of the fittest” to the study of society (page 19)
Structural Functionalism – a paradigm based on the assumption that society is a unified whole that functions because of the contributions of its separate structures (page 19)
Mechanical Solidarity – the type of social bonds present in premodern, agrarian societies, in which shared traditions and beliefs created a sense of social cohesion (page 19)
Organic solidarity – the type of social bonds present in modern societies, based on difference, interdependence, and individual rights (page 19)
Anomie – “normlessness”; term used to describe the alienation and loss of purpose that result from weaker social bonds and an increased pace of change (page 19)
Solidarity – the degree of integration or unity within a particular society; the extent to which individuals feel connected to other members of their group (page 19)
Sacred – the holy, divine, or supernatural (page 20)
Profane – the ordinary, mundane, or everyday (page 20)
Collective Effervescence – an intense energy in shared events where people feel swept up in something larger than themselves (page 20)
Collective Conscience – the shared morals and beliefs that are common to a group and that foster social solidarity (page 20)
Empirical – based on scientific experimentation or observation (page 20)
Structure – a social institution that is relatively stable over time and that meets the needs of society by performing functions necessary to maintain social order and stability (page 20)
Dysfunction – a disturbance to or undesirable consequence of some aspect of the social system (page 20)
Manifest functions – the obvious, intended functions of a social structure for the social system (page 21)
Latent functions – the less obvious, perhaps unintended functions of a social structure (page 21)
Conflict Theory – a paradigm that sees social conflict as the basis of society and social change and that emphasizes a materialist view of society, a critical view of the status quo, and a dynamic model of historical change (page 21)
Social inequality – the unequal distribution of wealth, power, or prestige among members of a society (page 21)
Means of production – anything that can create wealth: money, property, factories, and other types of businesses, and the infrastructure necessary to run them (page 22)
Proletariat – workers; those who have no means of production of their own and so are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live (page 22)
Bourgeoisie – owners; the class of modern capitalists who own the means of production and employ wage laborers (page 22)
Alienation – the sense of dissatisfaction the modern worker feels as a result of producing goods that are owned and controlled by someone else (page 22)
Eurocentric – the tendency to favor European or Western histories, cultures, and values over those of non-Western societies (page 23)
Ideology – a system of beliefs, attitudes, and values that directs a society and reproduces the status quo of the bourgeoisie (page 23)
False consciousness – a denial of the truth on the part of the oppressed when they fail to recognize that the interests of the ruling class are embedded in the dominant ideology (page 23)
Class consciousness – the recognition of social inequality on the part of the oppressed, leading to revolutionary action (page 24)
Dialectical model – Karl Marx’s model of historical change, whereby two extreme positions come into conflict and create some new outcome (page 24)
Thesis – the existing social arrangements in a dialectical model (page 24)
Antithesis – the opposition to the existing arrangements in a dialectical model (page 24)
Synthesis – the new social system created out of the conflict between thesis and antithesis in a dialectical model (page 24)
Critical Theory – a contemporary form of conflict theory that criticizes many different systems and ideologies of domination and oppression (page 24)
Critical Race Theory – the study of the relationship among race, racism, and power (page 24)
Feminist Theory – a theoretical approach that looks at gender inequities in society and the way that gender structures the social world (page 24)
Queer Theory – social theory about gender and sexual identity; emphasizes the importance of difference and rejects ideas of innate identities or restrictive categories (page 25)
Praxis – the application of theory to practical action in an effort to improve aspects of society (page 25)
Rationalization – the application of economic logic to human activity; the use of formal rules and regulations in order to maximize efficiency without consideration of subjective or individual concerns (page 25)
Bureaucracies – secondary groups designed to perform tasks efficiently, characterized by specialization, technical competence, hierarchy, written rules, impersonality, and formal written communication (page 25)
Iron Cage – Max Weber’s pessimistic description of modern life, in which we are caught in bureaucratic structures that control our lives through rigid rules and rationalization (page 25)
Disenchantment – the rationalization of modern society (page 26)
Verstehen – “empathic understanding”; Weber’s term to describe good social research, which tries to understand the meanings that individuals attach to various aspects of social reality (page 26)
Symbolic interactionism – a paradigm that sees interaction and meaning as central to society and assumes that meanings are not inherent but are created through interaction (page 28)
Chicago School – a type of sociology practiced at the University of Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s that centered on urban settings and field research methods (page 28)
Pragmatism – a perspective that assumes organisms (including humans) make practical adaptations to their environments; humans do this through cognition, interpretation, and interaction (page 28)
Dramaturgy – an approach pioneered by Erving Goffman in which social life is analyzed in terms of its similarities to theatrical performance (page 30)
Ethnomethodology – the study of “folk methods” and background knowledge that sustain a shared sense of reality in everyday interactions (page 30)
Conversation Analysis – a sociological approach that looks at how we create meaning in naturally occurring conversation, often by taping conversations and examining their transcripts (page 30)
Postmodernism – a paradigm that suggests that social reality is diverse, pluralistic, and constantly in flux (page 33)
Modernism – a paradigm that places trust in the power of science and technology to create progress, solve problems, and improve life (page 33)
Deconstruction – a type of critical postmodern analysis that involves taking apart or disassembling old ways of thinking (page 33)
Midrange theory – an approach that integrates empiricism and grand theory (page 34)
Social Conflict Theory– The society is responsible for social inequalities, class issues, racism, discrimination, prejudice, inadequate resources which creates struggles with scarcity, unequal distribution of power which causes power struggles, and makes conflict inevitable making those go into competition to obtain the resources that we need to successfully exist, societal blame, liberal view. Macro level.
Race Conflict-An approach to sociology that WEB DuBois stated emphasizing inequality and conflict between different racial groups.
Racial identity theory– theory that says identity is defined by belonging to a particular race or ethnic group. The strength of such identity is dependent on how much he or she has processed and internalized the sociological, political and other contextual factors within that group.
Racial formation theory-process through which social, political, and economic forces influence how a society defines racial categories.
- The concept of race came out as a tool to justify and maintain the political and economic power held by those of European descent. Class not race is the issue.
- DuBois clashed with BTW on his view on how he advocated compromise with white people, he became frustrated with things and founded the NAACP.
- Race matters because of the power society gives it.
Feminist Theory– one school of thought in the school of gender conflict theory, 1st wave women’s 1900-1900’s suffrage and legal inequalities such as right to vote, and having to have permission from husband to spend money or do anything, or own land, Also about society roles and gender, marriage, and children, 2nd wave focused on female participation in the labor force, equal pay, reproductive rights, sexual violence, educational equality, and divorce. Title 9, legal divorces, contraception’s these dealt with a lot of women of power in upper middle class, leading to broadening feminism with the process beginning with individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist, and sexist, in varying degrees. 3rd wave- 90’s acknowledgement of structures of power that create inequality across gender, class, race, and other disadvantages.
- a sociological perspective that emphasizes the centrality of gender in analyzing the social world and particularly the uniqueness of the experience of women.
Queer Theory-study of society from the perspective of a broad spectrum of sexual identities, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality.
Intersectional Conflict Theory– approach on how to analyze how social and cultural roles, identities, and categories intertwine to produce multiple axes of oppression. Used in sociology, women, and gender studies, and critical race theory. Intersectionality-the analysis of how race, class, and gender interact to create systems of disadvantage that are interdependent. Ability to acknowledge and have awareness of differences, experiences, and disadvantages. To have empathy and consideration of what may or may not have happened to another but to understand that we can’t dismiss ones experiences and assume it didn’t or couldn’t occur.
Rational Choice Theory the theory that an individual’s behavior is purposive. Within the field of criminology, rational choice analysis argues that deviant behavior is a rational response to a specific social behavior.
Postmodern Theory the belief that society is no longer governed by history or progress. Postmodern society is highly pluralistic and diverse, with no “grand narrative” guiding its development.
Structural Functionalism – A society that is complex whose parts work together to promote stability, maintain social order; Deals with stability, cohesion, survival of the fittest, the white picket fence and american dream, Victim blame, conservative view, Robert Merton, Emile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, Talcott Parsons. Macro level
Sociological Imagination-The application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of sociological questions. An awareness of the relationship between a person’s behavior and experience and the wider culture that shaped the person’s choices and perceptions. It’s a way of seeing our own and other people’s behavior in relationship to history and social structure.
Social Strain Theory –the amount of deviance in a society depends on whether that society has provided sufficient means to achieve culturally defined goals. Ex. in the U.S one of the goals is financial success is one of the strongest culturally defined goals , the means of achieving it involves getting an education, the American dream working hard to achieve it, go to school, get good grades, graduate, get good job, and succeed, this is called conformity, this isn’t an option for all money.
Containment theory-having a personality that contains deviant actions. Holds that individuals have various social controls (containments) that assist them in resisting pressures that draw them towards criminality. Attempts to account for social forces that may predispose individuals to crime as well as for individual characteristics that may insulate them from or further propel them toward criminality. Various social pressures, treated in previously discussed deterministic theories, exert pushes and pulls on the individual; these pressures interact with containments (protective barriers), both internal and external to the individual, and these containments add the elements of free will in resisting criminality.
Symbolic Interactionism– Phenomena, interaction through cause and effect. Understanding of patterns, rules, and meanings of social interaction; symbolic communications within social institutions, Erving Goffman, Charles Horton Cooley, and George Herbert Mead, micro level The shared reality through interactions that happen in society
Diff. Association Theory– who you associate with makes deviance more or less likely.
Control Theory– self-control as a way of avoiding deviance, ability to anticipate the consequences of their actions. Social Control– Attempts by society to regulate people’s thoughts and behaviors in ways that limit, or punish, and deviance.
Labeling theory– Labeling theory (also referred to as societal reaction theory) analyzes how social groups create and apply definitions for deviant behavior
Social Change Theory- Theory that explains how society can change and be the same again over time. It involves changing over time and things coming back such as pop culture, music, food, racism, and other social issues.
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