Chapter 1 – Sociological Perspective
A lot of information we mistake for sociology is actually an attempt by different groups to influence social policy. Sociologists have different goals than journalists do, where sociologist answer to the scientific community. This means their goal is not high ratings, but an accurate and scientific approach to the issue they are studying. Sociology represents both a body of knowledge AND a scientific approach to the study of social issues.
Sociology as a Point of View
Scientific study of human society and social interactions
The main focus of sociology is the GROUP, not the individual. Sociology tries to move beyond personalized, common-sense approach to understanding society. Stop looking at the world from a perspective based solely on your own individual experience Sociological Imagination
C. Wright Mills (1959)
Described the different levels on which social events can be perceived and interpreted Mills used the term Sociological Imagination, which means a relationship between individual experiences and forces in the larger society that shape our actions. Process of looking at different human behaviors and seeing unseen connections between them. Is Sociology Common Sense?
Common Sense: what people develop through everyday life experiences. Or, another words, it is the set of expectations about society and people’s behavior guides our own behavior. Cannot rely on Common Sense
Common Sense is often vague, oversimplified and contradictory; whereas Sociology as a science tries to be specific, to qualify its statements and to prove its assertions. Proverbial words of wisdom are often illogical
Common Sense might be helpful, but it does NOT help us understand why and under what conditions these interacts are taking place.
Sociology and Science
Body of a systematically arranged knowledge that shows the operation of general laws Scientific Method
A process by which a body of scientific knowledge is built through observation, experimentation, generalization and verification. Empiricism
The view that generalizations are valid only if they rely on evidence that can be observed directly or verified through our senses
Sociology as a Social Science
Social Sciences – consist of all those disciplines that apply scientific methods to the study of human behavior. Cultural Anthropology
Anthropologists tend to focus on the culture of small, preindustrial societies because they are less complex and more manageable, whereas Sociology tend to study groups within large, modern, industrial societies with research methods to enable rather quickly to gather specific information about large numbers of people.
Psychology – the study of individual behavior and mental processes Both fields overlap in Social Psychology – the study of how human behavior is influenced and shaped by various social situations. Main difference:
Psychologists study the individual, while Sociologists study groups of individuals and society’s institutions. Economics
The study of creation, distribution and consumption of goods and services Main difference:
Economists study prices and availability factors, whereas Sociologists are interested in the social factors that influence person’s economic decisions. History
Involves looking at the past to learn what happened, when it happened and why it happened Main difference:
Historians provide a narrative of the sequence of certain events during a certain period (focus on the past), whereas Sociologists examine historical events to see how they influenced later social situations (focus on the present).
The study of 3 major areas: political theory / operation of government / political behavior. Main difference:
Political Science devotes more attention to the forces that shape political systems, whereas Sociology focuses on how the political system affects other institutions in society....
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