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Chapter 1: Introduction – Understanding Sociology

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Chapter 1


sociology –  scientific study of social relationships, institutions, and societies.

Sociological Perspective: the process of understanding and explaining how individuals and groups interact within society.


 sociological theory a set of interrelated ideas that provide a systematic understanding of the social world.

The vineyard and village views represent macro sociology, a level of analysis focusing on social systems and populations on a large scale.

The meadow is an example of micro-sociologya level of analysis focusing on individuals and small groups within the larger social system.

the proletariat the majority, who were the poor, property-less industrial working class.

bourgeois –  the small minority who were the wealthy class.

The conflict and functionalist theories are both at the macro level of analysis and do not include an emphasis on social interactions.


applied sociology  the use of sociological theory, research, and methodologies to find solutions to problems in society.

queer theorya critical view that rejects the traditional categories of gender, sex, and sexuality in contemporary society.

postmodern social theory  – a critical view rejecting the historical, scientific, and structured means of investigating and interpreting the social world.

Conflict theory Focus: Focuses on the macro level of analysis and on class struggles and exploitation within society, institutions, and organizations.

Functionalist Theory Focus – focuses on a macro-level analysis and how the parts of society serve to maintain stability. Each part serves a function within society such as the role of government, education, and religion.

Symbolic Interaction Focus – Focuses on the micro level of analysis and how society is the product of interactions between people, which occur via symbols such as language, gestures, and other subjective actions that have distinct meanings.

1.2.1: Explain the characteristics of social structures.

These are the common characteristics and functions of social structures:


  • organizes behaviors of large groups of people
  • capable of coercing individuals and groups
  • provides norms, rules, and practices
  • assigns roles and powers to individuals and groups
  • encompasses large geographical areas

1.3.1: Identify the role of sociology in understanding social problems

social problems – the societal conditions that harm segments of society

Objective conditions – The scope of a problems

Subjective Concerns – People\\\’s feelings about a problem

human trafficking A situation in which a person is smuggled, abused, and forced to work against their will for the economic gain of another. 

Fair Tradean organizational movement and certification process to help producers in developing countries receive a fair price for their products with the goals of reducing poverty, providing for the ethical treatment of workers and farmers, and promoting environmentally sustainable practices.

sustainability the idea that current and future generations should have equal or greater access to social, economic, and environmental resources 

sustainable development development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

1.3.2: Describe the social problems associated with a social inequality

social inequality the unequal distribution of power, property, or prestige in society.

1.4.1: Explain the relationship between the sociological imagination and Durkheim\\\’s anomie

Sociological imagination – the ability to see the detail of our own lives context of larger social structures as opposed to merely personal choices or personal troubles.

Personal troubles – Matters experiences at the individual level.

Public issues – a matter that impacts society as a whole.

Anomie – the breakdown of social values, norms, and order resulting in social instability.

1.5.1: Evaluate the consequences of globalization in the context of social change

Social Change – The forces that change the organization and the social structures of society.

Globalization – the worldwide integration of our cultural, economic, and political lives that result from the ever-increasing levels of business, trade, and technology.

1.5.2: Evaluate the consequence of globalization in the context of social change

Applies Sociology – The use of sociological theory, research, and methodologies to find solutions to problems in society.

Conflict — the vineyard — macro-level analysis

Functionalists — village — macro-level analysis
Symbolic Interaction — meadow — micro-level analysis