Chapter 1. An arrival to Sociology
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Figure 1.1. Sociologists research how culture affects people and also how people influence society. How does being in a crowd impact people’s behaviour? (Photo courtesy of PDerek Hatfield/wikimedia commons)

Learning Objectives

1.1. What Is Sociology?

Explain concepts main to sociologyDescribe the various levels of analysis in sociology: micro-sociology and also macro-sociologyUnderstand how various sociological perspectives have developed

1.2. The background of Sociology

Explain why sociology arised when it didDescribe the main ideas that the founders of sociologyDescribe exactly how sociology came to be a separate scholastic discipline

1.3. Theoretical Perspectives

Explain what sociological theory are and also how they room usedDescribe sociology together a multi-perspectival social science, i m sorry is divided into positivist, interpretive and an important paradigmsUnderstand the similarities and also differences between structural functionalism, critical sociology, and symbolic interactionism

1.4. Why study Sociology?

Explain why the is worthwhile to research sociologyIdentify ways sociology is applied in the real world

Introduction come Sociology

Concerts, sports games, and also political rallies deserve to have very large crowds. Once you attend one of these events, girlfriend may know only the people you came with. Yet you might experience a feeling of link to the group. You are among the crowd. Girlfriend cheer and also applaud when everyone else does. Friend boo and yell together them. You move out the the way when someone demands to acquire by, and also you say “excuse me” as soon as you need to leave. Friend know exactly how to behave in this type of crowd.

You are watching: Inequality, capitalism, and stratification are key concepts of which theoretical perspective?

It have the right to be a an extremely different endure if you space travelling in a international country and also find yourself in a crowd moving down the street. You may have trouble figuring out what is happening. Is the crowd simply the normal morning rush, or is the a political protest of part kind? possibly there was some sort of accident or disaster. Is it safe in this crowd, or should you shot to extract yourself? How deserve to you find out what is walking on? return you room in it, you may not feel choose you are part of this crowd. You may not know what to perform or exactly how to behave.

Even in ~ one type of crowd, different groups exist and different behaviours room on display. At a rock concert, because that example, some may enjoy singing along, others might prefer to sit and also observe, when still rather may join in a mosh pit or shot crowd surfing. Top top February 28, 2010, Sydney crosby scored the win goal versus the United states team in the gold medal hockey game at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Two hundred thousands jubilant people filled the roadways of downtown Vancouver to celebrate and also cap off two weeks of uncharacteristically vibrant, joyful street life in Vancouver. Simply over a year later, on June 15, 2011, the Vancouver Canucks lost the seventh hockey game of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins. One hundreds thousand human being had to be watching the video game on out screens. At some point 155,000 civilization filled the downtown streets. Rioting and also looting led to hundreds of injuries, charred cars, trashed storefronts and property damages totaling an estimated $4.2 million. Why was the crowd response to the two events so different?

Figure 1.2. People’s experience of the post-Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver were very different. (Photo courtesy that Pasquale Borriello/flickr)

A key insight that sociology is the the straightforward fact of gift in a group transforms your behaviour. The group is a phenomenon that is more than the sum of the parts. Why perform we feel and act differently in different species of social situations? Why might human being of a solitary group exhibit various behaviours in the very same situation? Why might civilization acting likewise not feel associated to rather exhibiting the very same behaviour? these are several of the numerous questions sociologists ask together they study people and societies.

1.1. What Is Sociology?

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Figure 1.3. Sociologists learn about culture as a totality while examining one-to-one and also group interactions. (Photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan/flickr)

A dictionary defines sociology as the systematic study of society and social interaction. Words “sociology” is acquired from the Latin word socius (companion) and the Greek native logos (speech or reason), i m sorry together mean “reasoned speech about companionship”. How can the endure of companionship or togetherness be put into words or explained? if this is a starting point for the discipline, sociology is actually much more complex. That uses many different techniques to study a wide selection of subject matter and also to apply these research studies to the real world.

The sociologist Dorothy blacksmith (1926 – ) specifies the social as the “ongoing concerting and also coordinating of individuals’ activities” (Smith 1999). Sociology is the systematic research of every those facets of life designated by the adjective “social.” These facets of society life never merely occur; lock are organized processes. They have the right to be the briefest of day-to-day interactions—moving come the appropriate to let someone pass on a liven sidewalk, for example—or the largest and also most enduring interactions—such as the billions of daily exchanges that constitute the circuits of an international capitalism. If there are at the very least two human being involved, even in the seclusion the one’s mind, climate there is a social communication that requires the “ongoing concerting and also coordinating that activities.” Why walk the human being move to the ideal on the sidewalk? What collective process lead come the decision that moving to the right quite than the left is normal? Think about the T-shirts in your drawer in ~ home. What room the assignment of linkages and social relationship that attach the T-shirts in her chest the drawers to the dangerous and also hyper-exploitive garment factory in countryside China or Bangladesh? These are the type of concerns that suggest to the distinct domain and also puzzles that the social the sociology looks for to explore and also understand.

What Are society and Culture?

Sociologists examine all aspects and also levels the society. A society is a team of world whose members interact, reside in a definable area, and share a culture. A culture consists of the group’s shared practices, values, beliefs, norms and artifacts. One sociologist might analyze video clip of civilization from various societies as they carry on daily conversations to study the rule of polite conversation indigenous different civilization cultures. Another sociologist could interview a representative sample of human being to see exactly how email and instant messaging have changed the means organizations room run. Yet one more sociologist might study exactly how migration figured out the way in which language spread out and adjusted over time. A 4th sociologist can study the background of worldwide agencies prefer the United nations or the international Monetary money to examine exactly how the globe became divided right into a an initial World and also a 3rd World after ~ the finish of the colonial era.

These instances illustrate the ways culture and society can be learned at different levels that analysis, indigenous the comprehensive study the face-to-face interaction to the check of large-scale historical processes affecting whole civilizations. The is typical to divide these levels of analysis into different gradations based on the range of communication involved. As discussed in later on chapters, sociologists rest the research of culture down into 4 separate levels of analysis: micro, meso, macro, and also global. The an easy distinction, however, is in between micro-sociology and macro-sociology.

The research of cultural rules of politeness in conversation is an instance of micro-sociology. At the micro-level that analysis, the emphasis is ~ above the society dynamics that intimate, face-to-face interactions. Study is performed with a specific collection of people such as conversational partners, family members, work-related associates, or friendship groups. In the conversation research example, sociologists might shot to determine how civilization from different societies interpret every other’s behaviour to see how different rules of politeness cause misunderstandings. If the exact same misunderstandings take place consistently in a variety of different interactions, the sociologists may have the ability to propose some generalizations around rules the politeness that would certainly be beneficial in to reduce tensions in mixed-group dynamics (e.g., during staff meetings or worldwide negotiations). Other examples of micro-level research incorporate seeing exactly how informal networks become a crucial source of support and development in formal administrations or just how loyalty come criminal gangs is established.

Macro-sociology concentrates on the properties of large-scale, society-wide social interactions: the dynamics that institutions, classes, or entirety societies. The example over of the influence of migrate on changing patterns that language intake is a macro-level phenomenon because it describes structures or procedures of social communication that occur exterior or beyond the intimate one of individual social acquaintances. These include the economic and also other circumstances that lead to migration; the educational, media, and other communication structures that aid or hinder the spread of speech patterns; the class, racial, or ethnic departments that produce different slangs or societies of language use; the loved one isolation or integration that different neighborhoods within a population; and so on. Other examples of macro-level research include analyzing why ladies are much less most likely than guys to reach positions of strength in culture or why fundamentalist Christian religious movements beat a much more prominent function in American politics than they carry out in Canadian politics. In each case, the website of the evaluation shifts away from the nuances and detail of micro-level interpersonal life come the broader, macro-level organized patterns that framework social change and society cohesion in society.

The relationship between the micro and also the macro remains among the crucial problems confronting sociology. The German sociologist Georg Simmel mentioned that macro-level processes are in fact nothing more than the sum of every the unique interactions between particular individuals at any type of one time (1908), yet they have properties the their own which would certainly be to let go if sociologists only concentrated on the interactions of specific individuals. Émile Durkheim’s classic study of self-destruction (1897) is a instance in point. When suicide is among the most personal, individual, and intimate plot imaginable, Durkheim demonstrated that rates of self-destruction differed between religious communities—Protestants, Catholics, and Jews—in a way that could not be explained by the separation, personal, instance factors affiliated in each certain case. The different rates that suicide had to be described by macro-level variables associated with the different religious beliefs and practices the the faith communities. We will go back to this example in much more detail later. Top top the various other hand, macro-level phenomena like class structures, institutional organizations, legal systems, gender stereotypes, and also urban ways of life carry out the common context for daily life however do not describe its nuances and also micro-variations really well. Macro-level frameworks constrain the daily interactions the the intimate one in which us move, yet they are also filtered through localized perceptions and also “lived” in a myriad that inventive and unpredictable ways.

The Sociological Imagination

Although the range of sociological studies and the techniques of transporting them out room different, the sociologists involved in them all have actually something in common. Every of them looks at society using what pioneer sociologist C. Wright Mills called the sociological imagination, sometimes likewise referred to as the “sociological lens” or “sociological perspective.” In a sense, this was Mills’ way of addressing the dilemmas of the macro/micro division in sociology. Mills characterized sociological creativity as just how individuals understand their own and also others’ pasts in relationship to background and social structure (1959). That is the capacity to view an individual’s exclusive troubles in the context of the broader social processes that framework them. This enables the sociologist to study what Mills dubbed “personal troubles of milieu” as “public issues of social structure,” and vice versa.

Mills reasoned that personal troubles favor being overweight, gift unemployed, having marital difficulties, or feeling purposeless or depressed deserve to be purely an individual in nature. That is feasible for castle to it is in addressed and also understood in terms of personal, psychological, or ethical attributes, either one’s very own or those that the human being in one’s instant milieu. In an individualistic society like our own, this is in reality the most likely way that world will to the the problems they confront: “I have an addictive personality;” “I can’t get a break in the project market;” “My husband is unsupportive;” etc. However, if private troubles are widely shared with others, they show that over there is a usual social trouble that has actually its resource in the means social life is structured. At this level, the concerns are not adequately understood as simply private troubles. Castle are ideal addressed together public problems that require a collective solution to resolve.

Obesity, for example, has been significantly recognized as a farming problem for both children and adults in phibìc America. Michael Pollan cites statistics that three out of 5 Americans room overweight and one out of 5 is obese (2006). In Canada in 2012, simply under one in 5 adults (18.4 percent) were obese, increase from 16 percent that men and 14.5 percent of women in 2003 (Statistics Canada 2013). Obesity is because of this not simply a exclusive trouble worrying the clinical issues, dietary practices, or exercise actions of specific individuals. The is a widely shared social worry that puts world at risk for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and also cardiovascular disease. It additionally creates far-ranging social prices for the medical system.

Pollan suggests that weight problems is in part a product of the increasingly sedentary and also stressful way of life of modern, capitalist society, but an ext importantly it is a product that the industrialization that the food chain, which because the 1970s has developed increasingly cheap and abundant food through significantly much more calories as result of processing. Additives favor corn syrup, which are lot cheaper to produce than herbal sugars, caused the trend of super-sized fast foods and soft drink in the 1980s. Together Pollan argues, make the efforts to find a processed food in the supermarket without a cheap, calorie-rich, corn-based additive is a challenge. The sociological creativity in this example is the volume to view the exclusive troubles and also attitudes associated with gift overweight as an issue of how the industrialization of the food chain has transformed the human/environment relationship, in specific with respect to the species of food we eat and the method we eat them.

By looking in ~ individuals and societies and also how they communicate through this lens, sociologists room able to study what influences behaviour, attitudes, and culture. By using systematic and scientific methods to this process, they try to do so without letting their very own biases and pre-conceived concepts influence your conclusions.

Studying Patterns: how Sociologists watch Society

All sociologists are interested in the experience of individuals and how those experiences room shaped by interactions v social teams and culture as a whole. To a sociologist, the personal decisions an separation, personal, instance makes execute not exist in a vacuum. Social patterns and social forces put push on world to choose one selection over another. Sociologists try to identify these basic patterns by assessing the behaviour of huge groups of civilization living in the same culture and experiencing the same societal pressures.

Understanding the relationship in between the separation, personal, instance and society is among the most difficult sociological problems, however. Partially this is because of the reified means these two terms are provided in everyday speech. Reification refers come the means in which summary concepts, complicated processes, or mutable society relationships pertained to be thought of together “things.” A prime instance of this is when people say that “society” brought about an separation, personal, instance to carry out something or to turn out in a details way. In composing essays, first-year sociology students sometimes refer come “society” as a reason of social behaviour or as an entity with independent agency. ~ above the various other hand, the “individual” is a gift that appears solid, tangible, and also independent that anything walking on external of the skin bag that contains its essence. This conventional distinction between culture and the separation, personal, instance is a product that reification in so far as both society and the individual show up as elevation objects. A concept the “the individual” and a concept of “society” have been offered the standing of real, substantial, independent objects. Together we will see in the chapters come come, culture and the individual are neither objects, nor space they independent of one another. One “individual” is inconceivable without the relationships to rather that define his or her inner subjective life and also his or her exterior socially identified roles.

The problem for sociologists is that these principles of the separation, personal, instance and society and the relationship between them room thought of in terms developed by a very common moral frame in modern democratic societies, namely the of separation, personal, instance responsibility and individual choice. Often in this framework, any kind of suggestion that an individual’s behaviour requirements to be construed in regards to that person’s social context is dismissed as “letting the separation, personal, instance off” the taking personal responsibility for your actions.

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Talking about culture is akin to being ethically soft or lenient. Sociology, as a society science, stays neutral on these kind of ethical questions. The conceptualization of the separation, personal, instance and culture is much an ext complex. The sociological difficulty is to have the ability to see the individual together a extensively social being and yet together a being who has agency and free choice. People are us who do take top top individual duties in their daily social roles and risk social after-effects when castle fail to live approximately them. The manner in i beg your pardon they take on responsibilities and sometimes the obsession to do so are socially characterized however. The sociological problem is to be able to see society as a measurement of experience identified by regular and predictable patterns of behaviour the exist independently of any certain individual’s desires or self-understanding. Yet at the same time a culture is nothing but the recurring social relationships and tasks of certain individuals.