Chapter 1. An advent to Sociology
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Figure 1.1. Sociologists study how society affects people and how people affect society. Exactly how does being in a crowd impact people’s behaviour? (Photo courtesy that PDerek Hatfield/wikimedia commons)

Learning Objectives

1.1. What Is Sociology?

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

1.2. The history of Sociology

Explain why sociology arised when it didDescribe the main ideas the the co-founder of sociologyDescribe just how sociology became a separate scholastic discipline

1.3. Theoretical Perspectives

Explain what sociological theories are and also how they room usedDescribe sociology as a multi-perspectival social science, i beg your pardon is split into positivist, interpretive and an essential paradigmsUnderstand the similarities and differences in between structural functionalism, critical sociology, and also symbolic interactionism

1.4. Why study Sociology?

Explain why it is worthwhile to research sociologyIdentify means sociology is used in the real world

Introduction come Sociology

Concerts, sporting activities games, and also political rallies deserve to have very large crowds. Once you attend one of these events, friend may recognize only the world you come with. However you may experience a emotion of connection to the group. Friend are one of the crowd. Friend cheer and also applaud when everyone rather does. You boo and yell alongside them. You relocate out the the way when someone needs to gain by, and you to speak “excuse me” when you must leave. You know exactly how to law in this kind of crowd.

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It have the right to be a really different suffer if you room travelling in a international country and find you yourself in a crowd relocating down the street. You may have trouble figuring out what is happening. Is the crowd simply the normal morning rush, or is it a politics protest of part kind? possibly there was some kind of accident or disaster. Is it safe in this crowd, or have to you shot to extract yourself? How have the right to you find out what is walking on? although you space in it, you may not feel favor you are part of this crowd. You might not recognize what to do or just how to behave.

Even in ~ one type of crowd, various groups exist and different behaviours space on display. At a absent concert, because that example, some may enjoy to sing along, others may prefer come sit and observe, when still rather may join in a mosh pit or shot crowd surfing. On February 28, 2010, Sydney crosby scored the winning goal versus the United states team in the gold medal hockey game at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. 2 hundred thousand jubilant world filled the roadways of downtown Vancouver come celebrate and also cap off two weeks of uncharacteristically vibrant, joyful street life in Vancouver. Just over a year later, ~ above June 15, 2011, the Vancouver Canucks lost the saturday hockey video game of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins. One hundred thousand world had been watching the video game on out screens. At some point 155,000 world filled the downtown streets. Rioting and also looting led to numerous injuries, burned cars, trashed storefronts and property damages totaling an approximated $4.2 million. Why to be the crowd solution to the two events so different?

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

A an essential insight of sociology is that the straightforward fact of gift in a group changes your behaviour. The group is a phenomenon the is more than the amount of that is parts. Why perform we feel and also act in different ways in different types of society situations? Why might world of a single group exhibit different behaviours in the exact same situation? Why might human being acting similarly not feel associated to others exhibiting the same behaviour? this are several of the numerous questions sociologists ask together they examine people and societies.

1.1. What Is Sociology?

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Figure 1.3. Sociologists find out about society as a totality while examining one-to-one and also group interactions. (Photo courtesy that Robert S. Donovan/flickr)

A dictionary defines sociology as the systematic examine of society and society interaction. The word “sociology” is obtained from the Latin native socius (companion) and the Greek native logos (speech or reason), i m sorry together average “reasoned speech about companionship”. How can the suffer of companionship or togetherness it is in put right into words or explained? if this is a beginning point for the discipline, sociology is actually much more complex. It uses many different methods to research a wide range of subject matter and also to use these studies to the actual world.

The sociologist Dorothy blacksmith (1926 – ) defines the social together the “ongoing concerting and coordinating the individuals’ activities” (Smith 1999). Sociology is the systematic research of every those aspects of life designated by the adjective “social.” These aspects of society life never just occur; lock are arranged processes. They can be the briefest of day-to-day interactions—moving to the best to allow someone happen on a busy sidewalk, for example—or the largest and also most enduring interactions—such as the billions of everyday exchanges that constitute the circuits of an international capitalism. If there room at least two human being involved, even in the seclusion the one’s mind, climate there is a social interaction that involves the “ongoing concerting and coordinating the activities.” Why does the person move come the appropriate on the sidewalk? What collective procedure lead come the decision that relocating to the right quite than the left is normal? Think about the T-shirts in your drawer at home. What room the order of linkages and social relationship that connect the T-shirts in her chest the drawers come the dangerous and also hyper-exploitive garment factory in countryside China or Bangladesh? These are the form of inquiries that suggest to the distinctive domain and also puzzles that the social that sociology looks for to explore and understand.

What Are society and Culture?

Sociologists examine all aspects and also levels the society. A society is a group of civilization 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 of civilization from different societies as they carry on day-to-day conversations to examine the rule of polite conversation native different civilization cultures. An additional sociologist could interview a representative sample of human being to see how email and instant messaging have readjusted the means organizations space run. Yet one more sociologist might study exactly how migration established the way in i beg your pardon language spread and changed over time. A 4th sociologist could study the background of global agencies choose the United nations or the international Monetary money to examine how the globe came to be divided into a an initial World and a third World after the finish of the early american era.

These examples illustrate the ways culture and society can be studied at various levels that analysis, native the thorough study of face-to-face interaction to the examination of large-scale historic processes affecting whole civilizations. The is common to divide these level of evaluation into various gradations based upon the range of communication involved. As disputed in later chapters, sociologists break the examine of culture down into 4 separate levels of analysis: micro, meso, macro, and global. The an easy distinction, however, is between micro-sociology and also macro-sociology.

The examine of cultural rules that politeness in conversation is an instance of micro-sociology. In ~ the micro-level that analysis, the focus is top top the society dynamics the intimate, face-to-face interactions. Study is carried out with a specific collection of people such as conversational partners, family members members, work associates, or friendship groups. In the conversation study example, sociologists might try to determine how world from different societies interpret each other’s action to see how various rules of politeness cause misunderstandings. If the very same misunderstandings take place consistently in a number of different interactions, the sociologists may have the ability to propose some generalizations around rules of politeness that would be valuable in to reduce tensions in mixed-group dynamics (e.g., during staff meetings or worldwide negotiations). Other instances of micro-level research incorporate seeing how informal networks end up being a vital source of assistance and advance in formal administrations or exactly how loyalty come criminal gangs is established.

Macro-sociology concentrates on the properties of large-scale, society-wide social interactions: the dynamics the institutions, classes, or whole societies. The example above of the affect of migrate on an altering patterns that language intake is a macro-level phenomenon because it describes structures or procedures of social interaction that occur external or past the intimate circle of individual society acquaintances. These include the economic and also other situations that result in migration; the educational, media, and other interaction 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 that different areas within a population; and also so on. Other examples of macro-level research study include analyzing why women are much less likely than guys to reach positions of power in culture or why fundamentalist Christian religious movements pat a much more prominent function in American politics than they do in Canadian politics. In every case, the website of the analysis shifts away from the nuances and detail of micro-level interpersonal life come the broader, macro-level organized patterns that structure social change and society cohesion in society.

The relationship between the micro and the macro remains one of the key problems confronting sociology. The German sociologist Georg Simmel mentioned that macro-level procedures are in fact nothing an ext than the sum of all the distinctive interactions between certain individuals at any kind of one time (1908), however they have actually properties that their very own which would be to let go if sociologists only focused on the interactions of particular individuals. Émile Durkheim’s classic study of suicide (1897) is a instance in point. While suicide is just one of the many personal, individual, and intimate action imaginable, Durkheim prove that rates of suicide differed between religious communities—Protestants, Catholics, and also Jews—in a way that could not be described by the separation, personal, instance factors connected in each specific case. The different rates the suicide had to be explained by macro-level variables connected with the different religious beliefs and also practices the the faith communities. We will go back to this instance in an ext detail later. On the various other hand, macro-level phenomena like course structures, institutional organizations, legitimate systems, sex stereotypes, and urban methods of life administer the mutual context for daily life however do not explain its nuances and micro-variations an extremely well. Macro-level structures constrain the day-to-day interactions the the intimate circles in which us move, but they are additionally filtered through localized perceptions and also “lived” in a myriad the inventive and unpredictable ways.

The Sociological Imagination

Although the scale of sociological studies and the techniques of transporting them out space different, the sociologists affiliated in lock all have actually something in common. Every of them looks at society using what pioneer sociologist C. Wright Mills referred to as the sociological imagination, sometimes likewise referred to together the “sociological lens” or “sociological perspective.” In a sense, this was Mills’ way of addressing the dilemmas of the macro/micro divide in sociology. Mills defined sociological imagination as how individuals understand their own and others’ pasts in relationship to background and social structure (1959). The is the volume to see an individual’s private troubles in the paper definition of the wider social procedures that structure them. This allows the sociologist to research what Mills dubbed “personal problem of milieu” as “public concerns of social structure,” and also vice versa.

Mills reasoned that exclusive troubles choose being overweight, gift unemployed, having actually marital difficulties, or feeling purposeless or depressed have the right to be purely personal in nature. It is feasible for them to be addressed and understood in terms of personal, psychological, or moral attributes, one of two people one’s own or those that the civilization in one’s immediate milieu. In an individualistic society like our own, this is in fact the many likely way that human being will to the the worries they confront: “I have actually an addictive personality;” “I can’t gain a break in the job market;” “My husband is unsupportive;” etc. However, if exclusive troubles are widely common with others, they indicate that there is a common social difficulty that has actually its source in the method social life is structured. In ~ this level, the worries are not adequately taken as merely private troubles. Lock are ideal addressed as public worries that need a collective an answer to resolve.

Obesity, for example, has actually been significantly recognized as a farming problem for both children and also adults in phibìc America. Michael Pollan cites statistics that 3 out of five Americans are overweight and also one the end of 5 is obese (2006). In Canada in 2012, simply under one in five adults (18.4 percent) to be obese, up from 16 percent the men and 14.5 percent of women in 2003 (Statistics Canada 2013). Weight problems is because of this not simply a personal trouble concerning the medical issues, dietary practices, or exercise habits of specific individuals. That is a widely common social problem that puts civilization at danger for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It likewise creates far-ranging social expenses for the clinical system.

Pollan argues that excessive weight is in component a product of the significantly sedentary and stressful lifestyle of modern, capitalist society, but much more importantly that is a product that the industrialization the the food chain, which since the 1970s has created increasingly cheap and also abundant food through significantly an ext calories because of processing. Additives favor corn syrup, i beg your pardon are much cheaper to create than organic sugars, brought about the tendency of super-sized rapid foods and soft drink in the 1980s. Together Pollan argues, trying to find a processed food in the supermarket there is no 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 also attitudes linked with being overweight together an issue of just how the industrialization of the food chain has changed the human/environment relationship, in specific with respect come the species of food us eat and the means we eat them.

By looking at individuals and societies and how they interact through this lens, sociologists are able to study what impacts behaviour, attitudes, and culture. By using systematic and also scientific approaches to this process, they try to execute so there is no letting their very own biases and pre-conceived ideas influence their conclusions.

Studying Patterns: how Sociologists see Society

All sociologists space interested in the experiences of individuals and how those experiences room shaped through interactions v social groups and society as a whole. Come a sociologist, the an individual decisions an separation, personal, instance makes do not exist in a vacuum. Social patterns and social pressures put push on civilization to choose one an option over another. Sociologists try to recognize these basic patterns by analyzing the plot of large groups of world living in the same society and suffering the very same societal pressures.

Understanding the relationship in between the separation, personal, instance and culture is among the most an overwhelming sociological problems, however. Partly this is since of the reified method these two terms are offered in day-to-day speech. Reification refers come the method in which abstract concepts, complicated processes, or mutable social relationships come to be thought of as “things.” A prime instance of this is when civilization say the “society” resulted in an individual to carry out something or to turn out in a particular way. In writing essays, first-year sociology students sometimes refer to “society” together a reason of society behaviour or together an entity with independent agency. Top top the other hand, the “individual” is a gift that appears solid, tangible, and also independent the anything walking on external of the skin bag that contains its essence. This conventional distinction between society and the individual is a product of reification in so far as both culture and the individual appear as elevation objects. A concept the “the individual” and also a concept the “society” have been given the standing of real, substantial, live independence objects. Together we will watch in the chapters to come, culture and the individual room neither objects, nor space they independent of one another. An “individual” is inconceivable there is no the relationships to others that specify his or her inner subjective life and his or her exterior socially identified roles.

The problem for sociologists is the these principles of the separation, personal, instance and culture and the relationship between them space thought of in terms created by a really common moral structure in modern-day democratic societies, namely that of individual responsibility and also individual choice. Frequently in this framework, any type of suggestion that an individual’s behaviour requirements to be understood in terms of that person’s society context is dismissed together “letting the individual off” that taking personal responsibility for your actions.

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Talking about society is akin come being morally soft or lenient. Sociology, as a society science, stays neutral top top these type of ethical questions. The conceptualization the the individual and society is much much more complex. The sociological trouble is to have the ability to see the individual together a completely social being and yet together a being who has company and complimentary choice. People are beings who execute take on individual obligations in their day-to-day social roles and also risk social after-effects when lock fail to live up to them. The way in which they take on responsibilities and also sometimes the obsession to do so space socially characterized however. The sociological problem is to be able to see culture as a dimension of experience defined by regular and predictable fads of behaviour the exist individually of any specific individual’s desires or self-understanding. Yet at the exact same time a society is nothing however the recurring social relationship and activities of particular individuals.