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Chapter 1: Introduction – Understanding Sociology

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Sociological Theory: a set of interrelated ideas that provide a systematic understanding of the social world


Macro Sociology: a level of analysis focusing on social systems and populations on a large scale


Micro Sociology: a level of analysis focusing on individuals and small groups within a larger social system


German Karl Marx


Proletariat: the majority, who were the poor, property-less industrial working class


Bourgeois: the small minority who were the wealthy class


Conflict Theory: a sociological perspective emphasizing the role of political and economic power and oppression as contributing to the existing social order


French Emile Durkheim


Functionalist Theory: a macro view of how the parts of society serve to maintain stability


Manifest Functions: intentional and formally sanctioned functions of social institutions and society


Latent Functions: unintentional and informally sanctioned functions of social institutions and society


Dysfunction: the undesirable disruptions of social patterns resulting in negative consequences within society


American George Herbert Mead


Socialized Self: the self cannot develop apart from society


Symbolic Interaction: a micro view of how society is the product of interactions between people, which occur via symbols that have distinct meanings

Social Facts: social patterns that are external to individuals and greatly influence our way of thinking and behaving in society

Max Weber

Verstehen: an empathetic approach to understanding human behavior, loosely translated as understanding or interpretation

Feminist Theory: a view on anti-oppression, gender relations, and gender inequality, evolved from the conflict theory and is an important contemporary sociological perspective

Applied Sociology: the use of sociological theory, research, and methodologies to find solutions to problems in society

Queer Theory: a 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

Social Problems: the social conditions that harm segments of society

Objective Conditions: the scope of a problem

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 Trade: an 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

Sociological Imagination: the ability to see the details of our own lives in the context of larger social structures as opposed to merely personal choices or personal troubles

Personal Troubles:  matters experienced at the individual level 

Public Issue: a matter that impacts society as a whole

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