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Chapter 1: Introduction – Understanding Sociology

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  sociology:the scientific study of social relationships, institutions, and societies 

social institutionsstructures in society providing the framework for governing the behavior of individuals in a community or society, such as family, education, religion, economy, and the government

society, a large group of people associated with a shared culture and social institutions,

Sociological Perspectivethe process of understanding and explaining how individuals and groups interact within society (HP).

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

Social Problems: societal conditions that harm segments of society (HP).

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 (HP).

Social Changethe forces that change society’s organization and social structures (HP).

The healthcare system is a social structurethe distinctive and stable arrangements of social patterns that form the society as a whole, as it has the following common characteristics and functions.

  • 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
  • Social inequality is associated with many common mental disorders. Specifically, poorer mental health is found among women and those who report weak social support.
  • The discipline of sociology has only existed for approximately 180 years.
  • Auguste Comte (1798-1857), challenged this idea and stated that society could be studied using the same scientific methods in natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. 
  • positivism – authentic and valid knowledge of the social world is found only through scientific and empirical pursuit. 
  • Three basic social theories emerged, providing the fundamental elements of the sociological perspective. The theories are titled ConflictFunctionalist, and Symbolic Interactionism.
  • sociological theorya 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.
  • micro sociologya level of analysis focusing on individuals and small groups within the larger social system.
  • German Karl Marx – Vineyard
  • he proletariatthe majority, who were the poor, property-less industrial working class, and the land and business owners referred to as the bourgeoisthe small minority who were the wealthy class
  • he proletariatthe majority, who were the poor, property-less industrial working class, and the land and business owners referred to as the bourgeoisthe small minority who were the wealthy class
  •  Émile Durkheim – the village
  • 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.
  • George Herbert Mead focused on the theories of the socialized self.
  • Max Weber- Weber had a slightly different view from the previous three theories of how to study society, which he captured with the German term verstehen (vûrst e hen), an empathetic approach to understanding human behavior, loosely translated as understanding or interpretation.
  • Weber had a slightly different view from the previous three theories of how to study society, which he captured with the German term verstehen (vûrst e hen), an empathetic approach to understanding human behavior, loosely translated as understanding or interpretation.
  • 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
  • Max Weber wrote about these social changes and described them as the process of the rationalization of societythe replacement of traditional values and personal connections with bureaucracy, efficiency, and a means-end approach.
  • A defining element of a social structure is that the social patterns must be outside a formal organization
  • 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
    • Sociologists Capece and Lanza-Kaduce (2013) researched the social structures on college campuses that contribute to binge drinking.
    • objective conditions — the scope of a problem
    • subjective concerns — people’s feelings about a problem 
    • 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,
    • anomiethe breakdown of social values, norms, and order resulting in social instability
    • experts point to the following as reasons to monitor the impact on the general population and vulnerable groups:

      • increase in economic stress
      • social distancing and isolation
      • barriers to mental healthcare
      • constant and pervasive collective anxiety
      • long-term effects on frontline workers
      • effects of “long haul” COVID-19 symptoms on some infected individuals
      • 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.
      • well-known people who majored in sociology:

        • Reverend Martin Luther King
        • Former First Lady Michelle Obama
        • President Ronald Reagan
        • Comedian and Actor Robin Williams
        • Corey Booker, U.S. Senator from New Jersey
        • Gabrielle Union, Actress
        • Weber is considered one of the most influential sociologists. However, he was emotionally unable to fulfill his academic responsibilities due to an intense quarrel with his father, who died as a result of the argument. Weber was hospitalized for a brief period and left his professorship for 16 years.
        • Weber had a slightly different view from the previous three theories of how to study society, which he captured with the German term verstehen (vûrst e hen), an empathetic approach to understanding human behavior, loosely translated as understanding or interpretation
        •  By using the two methods of verstehen – observation and explanation – interpretation is required, which is a departure from solely using natural science techniques. His methods do not neatly fit within any of the three sociological theories previously discussed, but they are most similar to the symbolic interaction perspective.
        • nderstanding the development of capitalism requires that we employ verstehen by interpreting the beliefs of individuals within the group