Chapter 1. An arrival to Sociology
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Figure 1.1. Sociologists research how culture affects people and how people affect society. Just how does gift in a crowd affect people’s behaviour? (Photo courtesy the PDerek Hatfield/Wikimedia Commons)

Learning Objectives

1.1. What Is Sociology?

Explain the concepts main to sociology.Describe the different levels of analysis in sociology: micro-level sociology, macro-level sociology, and also global-level sociology.Define the sociological imagination.

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1.2. The history of Sociology

Explain why sociology emerged when the did.Describe the central ideas the the founders of sociology.

1.3. Theoretical Perspectives

Explain what sociological theories and paradigms are and how they are used.Describe sociology as a multi-perspectival social science divided into positivist, interpretive and an essential paradigms.Define the similarities and also differences between quantitative sociology, structural functionalism, historic materialism, feminism, and symbolic interactionism.

1.4. Why research Sociology?

Explain why it is worthwhile to research sociology.Identify ways sociology is applied in the genuine world.

Introduction come Sociology

Concerts, sporting matches and games, and also political rallies have the right to have very large crowds. Once you attend among these events you may understand only the civilization you came with, yet you may experience a feeling of link to the group. Girlfriend are one of the crowd. Girlfriend cheer and also applaud as soon as everyone else does. Girlfriend boo and yell alongside them. You move out of the way when someone demands to get by, and you speak “excuse me” as soon as you need to leave. You know just how to behave in this kind of crowd.

It deserve to be a very different endure if you room travelling in a international country and you uncover yourself in a crowd relocating down the street. Girlfriend may have actually trouble figuring out what is happening. Is the crowd simply the usual morning rush, or is it a political protest of part kind? perhaps there to be some kind of accident or disaster. Is it safe in this crowd, or have to you try to extract yourself? How deserve to you find out what is going on? return you room in it, you may not feel prefer you are part of this crowd. You may not know what to carry out or how to behave.

Even in ~ one kind of crowd, different groups exist and also different behaviours room on display. At a absent concert, because that example, some might enjoy to sing along, others might prefer come sit and also observe, while still rather may join in a mosh pit or try crowd-surfing. ~ above February 28, 2010, Sydney crossby scored the win goal versus the United states team in the yellow medal hockey video game at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Two hundred thousand jubilant human being filled the roads of downtown Vancouver come celebrate and also cap off 2 weeks of uncharacteristically vibrant, joyful street life in Vancouver. Simply over a year later, on June 15, 2011, the Vancouver Canucks lost the saturday hockey game of the Stanley Cup finals versus the Boston Bruins. One hundreds thousand human being had been watching the game on the end screens. Ultimately 155,000 human being filled the downtown streets. Rioting and looting led to hundreds of injuries, burnt cars, trashed storefronts and also property damage totaling an estimated $4.2 million. Why was the crowd an answer to the two occasions so different?

Figure 1.2. People’s experiences of the post-Stanley Cup revolt in Vancouver were really different. (Photo courtesy the Pasquale Borriello/Flickr)

A crucial insight that sociology is the the basic fact of gift in a group changes your behaviour. The team is a phenomenon that is more than the amount of that is parts. Why do we feel and also act in different ways in different varieties of social situations? Why might civilization of a single group exhibit different behaviours in the exact same situation? Why might human being acting an in similar way not feel associated to rather exhibiting the same behaviour? these are several of the many questions sociologists ask as they study people and societies.

1.1. What Is Sociology?

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Figure 1.3. Sociologists learn about culture as a entirety while examining one-to-one and group interactions. (Photo courtesy that Robert S. Donovan/Flickr)

A dictionary specifies sociology as the systematic examine of society and social interaction. Words “sociology” is obtained from the Latin native socius (companion) and the Greek indigenous logos (speech or reason), i beg your pardon together mean “reasoned decided or discourse about companionship”. How have the right to the endure of companionship or togetherness be put into words or explained? when this is a beginning point for the discipline, sociology is in reality much more complex. It uses numerous different theories and methods to research a wide selection of topic matter, and applies these studies to the genuine world.

The sociologist Dorothy blacksmith (b. 1926) specifies the social together the “ongoing concerting and also coordinating the individuals’ activities” (Smith, 1999). Sociology is the systematic study of all those aspects of life designated by the adjective “social.” They concern relationships, and they problem what happens when an ext than one human being is involved. These elements of society life never just occur; castle are arranged processes. They have the right to be the briefest of daily interactions — relocating to the best to permit someone happen on a liven sidewalk, for instance — or the largest and also most enduring interactions — such as the billions of day-to-day exchanges that constitute the circuits of worldwide capitalism. If there space at the very least two world involved, even in the seclusion that one’s mind, then there is a social interaction that requires the “ongoing concerting and coordinating of activities.” Why does the human being move to the right on the sidewalk? What cumulative processes lead to the decision that moving to the right rather than the left is normal? Think around the T-shirts in her chest that drawers in ~ home. What space the sequences of linkages, exchanges, and also social relationships that connect your T-shirts come the dangerous and also hyper-exploitative garment factory in rural China or Bangladesh? These space the form of concerns that point to the unique domain and puzzles that the social that sociology looks for to explore and understand.

What are society and Culture? Micro, Macro and an international Perspectives

Sociologists research all aspects and also levels the society. A society is a group of human being whose members interact, reside in a definable area, and also share a culture. A culture includes the group’s shared practices, values, beliefs, norms, and artifacts. One sociologist could analyze video clip of human being from various societies together they bring on daily conversations to research the rules of polite conversation from different civilization cultures. An additional sociologist could interview a representative sample of civilization to see just how email and instant message have readjusted the method organizations space run. Yet another sociologist could study exactly how migration determined the means in i m sorry language spread out and adjusted over time. A 4th sociologist could study the background of worldwide agencies choose the United countries or the international Monetary fund to examine just how the globe ended up being divided into a an initial World and also a 3rd World ~ the finish of the colonial era.

These examples illustrate the means in which culture and culture can be learned at different levels that analysis, from the thorough study the face-to-face interactions to the check of large-scale historic processes affecting whole civilizations. That is common to division these levels of analysis into different gradations based upon the scale of interaction involved. As discussed in later chapters, sociologists break the research of society down into four separate level of analysis: micro, meso, macro, and global. The simple distinctions, however, are between micro-level sociology, macro-level sociology and global-level sociology.

The study of social rules the politeness in conversation is an example of micro-level sociology. At the micro-level that analysis, the focus is on the social dynamics the intimate, face-to-face interactions. Study is conducted with a specific collection of people such as conversational partners, family members members, occupational associates, or friendship groups. In the conversation study example, sociologists might shot to recognize how human being from different societies interpret every others’ behaviour to check out how various rules that politeness bring about misunderstandings. If the same misunderstandings take place consistently in a number of different interactions, the sociologists may have the ability to propose some generalizations about rules of politeness that would certainly be helpful in reduce tensions in mixed-group dynamics (e.g., during staff meetings or international negotiations). Other examples of micro-level research incorporate seeing how informal networks end up being a key source of support and advancement in formal bureaucracies, or how loyalty to criminal gangs is established.

Macro-level sociology focuses on the nature of large-scale, society-wide social interactions the extend past the instant milieu of separation, personal, instance interactions: the dynamics that institutions, course structures, sex relations, or whole populations. The example over of the influence of migrate on changing patterns that language usage is a macro-level phenomenon because it describes structures or procedures of social interaction that occur exterior or beyond the intimate circle of individual social acquaintances. These incorporate the economic, political, and other situations that cause migration; the educational, media, and also other communication structures that help or hinder the spread out of speech patterns; the class, racial, or ethnic divisions that develop different slangs or societies of language use; the loved one isolation or integration the different communities within a population; and so on. Other examples of macro-level research study include analyzing why ladies are much less likely than guys to reach positions of power in society, or why fundamentalist Christian spiritual movements play a an ext prominent role in American politics than they carry out in Canadian politics. In every case, the site of the evaluation shifts far from the nuances and detail of micro-level interpersonal life to the broader, macro-level organized patterns that structure social change and society cohesion in society.

In global-level sociology, the emphasis is top top structures and processes that extend past the boundaries of says or details societies. Together Ulrich Beck (2000) has pointed out, in countless respects us no much longer “live and also act in the self-enclosed spaces of nationwide states and their respective nationwide societies.” concerns of climate change, the introduction of new technologies, the investment and disinvestment of capital, the photos of well-known culture, or the tensions of cross-cultural conflict, etc. Increasingly involve our daily life in the to work of the whole globe, by-passing traditional boundaries and, to some degree, distance itself. The example over of the means in which the world ended up being divided into wealthy very first World and also impoverished third World societies mirrors social procedures — the development of international establishments such as the unified Nations, the international Monetary Fund, and non-governmental organizations, for instance — which are worldwide in range and an international in their effects. V the boom and also bust that petroleum or various other export commodity economies, it is clean to someone living in ft McMurray, Alberta, that their everyday life is influenced not just by your intimate relationships v the people roughly them, nor just by provincial and national based corporations and also policies, etc., but by an international markets that recognize the price of oil and the global flows of resources investment. The context of this processes has to be analysed at a global scale of analysis.

The relationship in between the micro, macro, and global remains among the key theoretical problems confronting sociology. What is the relationship between an individual’s life and also social life? The beforehand German sociologist Georg Simmel discussed that macro-level procedures are in fact nothing an ext than the sum of every the distinctive interactions between certain individuals at any one time (1908/1971), yet they have properties of their very own which would be to let go if sociologists only focused on the interactions of certain individuals. Émile Durkheim’s standard study of suicide (1897/1951) is a instance in point. If suicide is among the most personal, individual, and intimate acts imaginable, Durkheim demonstrated that prices of suicide differed between religious communities — Protestants, Catholics, and Jews — in a method that could not be explained by the individual factors involved in each details case. The various rates that suicide had to be described by macro-level variables connected with the different religious beliefs and practices of the faith communities; much more specifically, the different levels of social integration of these communities. Us will return to this instance in an ext detail later. ~ above the other hand, macro-level phenomena like class structures, institutional organizations, legitimate systems, sex stereotypes, population growth, and urban means of life administer the common context for daily life however do not explain its certain nuances and micro-variations an extremely well. Macro-level structures constrain the day-to-day interactions the the intimate circles in which we move, yet they are also filtered with localized perceptions and also “lived” in a myriad the inventive and unpredictable ways.

The Sociological Imagination

Although the range of sociological studies and the techniques of delivering them out room different, the sociologists connected in them all have something in common. Every of lock looks at culture using what pioneer sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916-1962) dubbed the sociological imagination, sometimes additionally referred to as the “sociological lens” or “sociological perspective.” In a sense, this to be Mills’ way of addressing the crises of the macro/micro divide in sociology. Mills defined sociological creative thinking as just how individuals recognize their own and also others’ stays in relationship to background and social framework (1959/2000). That is the capacity to see an individual’s private troubles in the context of the wider social processes that structure them. This enables the sociologist to study what Mills dubbed “personal problem of milieu” as “public issues of social structure,” and vice versa.

Mills reasoned that personal troubles like being overweight, gift unemployed, having marital difficulties, or feeling purposeless or depressed have the right to be purely personal in nature. It is possible for castle to be addressed and understood in terms of personal, psychological, or moral attributes — either one’s very own or those the the civilization in one’s instant milieu. In one individualistic culture like our own, this is in truth the most likely means that human being will regard the problems they confront: “I have actually an addictive personality;” “I can’t get a rest in the task market;” “My husband is unsupportive,” etc. However, if personal troubles space widely common with others, they suggest that there is a common social problem that has its source in the method social life is structured. In ~ this level, the worries are no adequately understood as simply private troubles. They are best addressed together public concerns that need a collective solution to resolve.

Obesity, because that example, has actually been increasingly recognized together a growing problem for both children and also adults in north America. Michael Pollan cites statistics that three out of 5 Americans space overweight and one out of five is obese (2006). In Canada in 2012, simply under one in 5 adults (18.4%) to be obese, increase from 16% of men and also 14.5% of ladies in 2003 (Statistics Canada, 2013). Excessive weight is therefore not just a private issue related to the medical issues, diet practices, or exercise actions of details individuals. It is a widely shared social concern that puts human being at risk for chronic illness like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It additionally creates far-ranging social prices for the clinical system.

Pollan suggests that weight problems is in part a product of the increasingly sedentary and stressful lifestyle of modern, capitalist society. More importantly, however, that is a product of the industrialization of the food chain, which since the 1970s has produced increasingly cheap and abundant food through significantly more calories as result of processing. Additives favor corn syrup, i beg your pardon are much cheaper and therefore more rewarding to create than natural sugars, caused the trend of super-sized rapid foods and soft drink in the 1980s. As Pollan argues, trying to find a processed food in the supermarket without a cheap, calorie-rich, corn-based additive is a challenge. The sociological imagination in this instance is the volume to watch the personal troubles and attitudes linked with being overweight together an issue of how the industrialization of the food chain has transformed the human/environment relationship — in particular, v respect to the varieties of food us eat and also the method we eat them.

By looking at individuals and societies and how they connect through this lens, sociologists room able to examine what influences behaviour, attitudes, and culture. By applying systematic and scientific methods to this process, they shot to do so without letting their own biases and preconceived principles influence their conclusions.

Studying Patterns: exactly how Sociologists view Society

All sociologists space interested in the experience of individuals and also how those experiences space shaped through interactions with social groups and society as a whole. Come a sociologist, the an individual decisions an individual makes do not exist in a vacuum. Cultural patterns and also social pressures put press on human being to select one choice over another. Sociologists shot to recognize these general patterns by evaluating the plot of huge groups of world living in the same society and experiencing the exact same societal pressures. When basic patterns persist v time and become habitual or routinized at micro-levels of interaction, or institutionalized in ~ macro or an international levels that interaction, castle are referred to as social structures.

As we listed above, understanding the relationship between the separation, personal, instance and culture is among the most daunting sociological problems. Partially this is since of the reified method these two terms are offered in day-to-day speech. Reification refers to the method in which summary concepts, facility processes, or mutable social relationships concerned be believed of as “things.” A prime instance of reification is when world say the “society” led to an separation, personal, instance to carry out something, or to rotate out in a certain way. In writing essays, first-year sociology students occasionally refer come “society” as a cause of social behaviour or together an entity through independent agency. Top top the various other hand, the “individual” is a gift that seems solid, tangible, and also independent of anything walk on outside of the skin sack that has its essence. This conventional distinction between culture and the separation, personal, instance is a product that reification, together both society and the individual appear as independent objects. A concept the “the individual” and also a concept the “society” have actually been provided the condition of real, substantial, independent objects. Together we will view in the chapters come come, society and the individual room neither objects, nor are they independent of one another. An “individual” is inconceivable without the relationship to others that specify their internal, spatu life and their external, socially-defined roles.

One trouble for sociologists is the these principles of the individual and also society, and the relationship in between them, are thought that in terms created by a really common moral structure in modern democratic societies — namely, the of separation, personal, instance responsibility and also individual choice. The separation, personal, instance is ethically responsible for your behaviours and decisions. Frequently in this framework, any type of suggestion that an individual’s behaviour needs to be understood in regards to that person’s society context is dismissed as “letting the separation, personal, instance off” because that taking personal responsibility for your actions. Talk about culture is akin come being morally soft or lenient.

Sociology, together a social science, remains neutral ~ above these types of moral questions. For sociologists, the conceptualization of the individual and culture is much more facility than the moral framework suggests and needs to it is in examined v evidence-based, fairly than morality-based, research. The sociological problem is to have the ability to see the individual as a extensively social being and, yet, as a being that has company and complimentary choice. People are beings who perform take on individual duties in their day-to-day social roles, and risk social consequences when lock fail come live as much as them. However, the way in which people take ~ above responsibilities, and sometimes the obsession to perform so, space socially defined. The sociological problem is to be able to see society as: a dimension of experience characterized by regular and also predictable patterns of behaviour that exist independently of any particular individual’s desires or self-understanding. In ~ the same time, a culture is nothing yet the ongoing social relationship and activities of certain individuals.

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A an essential basis of the sociological perspective is the concept that the individual and culture are inseparable. It is impossible to research one without the other. German sociologist Norbert Elias (1887-1990) referred to as the procedure of simultaneously analyzing the action of individuals and the society that forms that behaviour figuration. He explained it through a an allegory of dancing. There have the right to be no dance without the dancers, yet there can be no dancers there is no the dance. Without the dancers, a dance is just an idea about motions in a choreographer’s head. Without a dance, over there is simply a group of human being moving around a floor. Similarly, there is no culture without the individuals that do it up, and also there are also no individuals who space not impacted by the culture in which lock live (Elias, 1978).