Connecting Sociology and YOU!

Chapter 1: Introduction – Understanding Sociology

Resource Details:



Sociological Perspectivethe process of understanding and explaining how individuals and groups interact within society 

Social Structuresthe distinctive and stable arrangements of social patterns that form the society as a whole 

Social Problems: societal conditions that harm segments of society.

Sociological Imaginationthe 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 

Social Changethe forces that change society’s organization and social structures 


positivism – authentic and valid knowledge of the social world is found only through scientific and empirical pursuit. 

The theories are titled 

Conflict Theory – Karl Marx talked about classes, those who own everything and those who dont, majority and minority, those in power vs those without power, critiquing capitalism, he believed we would all be living a communist life. 

sociological theorya 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 sociologya level of analysis focusing on individuals and small groups within the larger social system

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

bourgeoisthe small minority who were the wealthy class 

conflict theorya sociological perspective emphasizing the role of political and economic power and oppression as contributing to the existing social order

Functionalist – Émile Durkheim – saw everyone live in harmony, everyone plays a part.

functionalist theory, a macro view of how the parts of society serve to maintain stability

 manifest functionsintentional and formally sanctioned functions of social institutions and society

Latent functionsunintentional and informally sanctioned functions of social institutions and society

dysfunctionthe undesirable disruptions of social patterns resulting in negative consequences within society 

George Herbert Mead – theory of the socialized self, which states that the self cannot develop apart from society 

symbolic interactiona 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 – In order to study people within society, the researcher must observe social actions to understand and explain the meanings that individuals attribute to their social interactions

verstehen (vûrst e hen), an empathetic approach to understanding human behavior, loosely translated as understanding or interpretation

Focused a lot on interpretation, and although his theory didn\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\’t exactly fit into any of the other three, it is most closely related to symbols interaction.

Although this analysis is micro level, it can be used to investigate macro issues, like economics or religion.

He was the first sociologist to combine the micro and macro, thus integrating social actions and social structures


feminist theorya view on anti-oppression, gender relations, and gender inequality, evolved from the conflict theory and is an important contemporary sociological perspective. 

applied sociologythe 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 theorya critical view rejecting the historical, scientific, and structured means of investigating and interpreting the social world.

French sociologists Michel FoucaultJean Baudrillard, and Jean-Francois Lyotard are largely responsible for promoting this new social theory that rejects the idea of positivism and the structured and systematic approaches found within traditional sociological theories 

Postmodernist theory ultimately contends that all things in society are in a constant state of change, and as such, our understanding of society and culture is relative. 


social structuresthe distinctive and stable arrangements of social patterns that form the society as a whole 

rationalization of societythe replacement of traditional values and personal connections with bureaucracy, efficiency, and a means-end approach.


social problemsthe societal conditions that harm segments of society, become less about personal feelings and more about measurable, evidence-based reality. 

objective conditions — the scope of a problem

– subjective concerns — people’s feelings about a problem 

human traffickinga 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

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

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


social inequalitythe unequal distribution of power, property, or prestige in society

Functionalist Theory: A theoretical perspective that is concerned with how the parts of the social system work to maintain stability in society. 

Conflict Theory: Looks at the issue of competition and change and who benefits from structural inequalities.

Symbolic Interactionism: Contends that our understanding of everyday social behavior is based on our lived experiences.  


sociological imaginationthe 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 troublesmatters experienced at the individual level

 public issue, a matter that impacts society as a whole.

anomiethe breakdown of social values, norms, and order resulting in social instability




social changethe forces that change the organization and the social structures of society.

globalizationthe worldwide integration of our cultural, economic, and political lives that results from ever-increasing levels of business, trade, and technology.

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