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Introduction to Sociology: Study Guide

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Topics: Sociology

1. Sociology
a. What is Sociology?
Systematic study of human behavior, through organized use of scientific method.
“The effect of society on people.
b. What is a social institution?
A complex group of interdependent positions that together form a social role and “reproduce themselves over time” (status quo)
Shaped by individuals, also shape individuals.
b.i. Examples?
Media, Economy, Religion, Education, Government.
c. How is sociology distinctive from other social sciences?
It is considered a “broad” social science, along with anthropology.
Sociology as opposed to cousin, anthropology, focuses on post industrial/industrial societies.
Studies parts of every narrow social science (econ, political science, psychology)
d. What is it a combination of?
Combination of theory and research.
e. What do sociologists study?
They study how norms are produced and maintained, as well as what happens when they are broken, or “deviated”.
How individuals are shaped by society, and how society shapes individuals.
What shapes our interaction with others.
The consequences of isolation from society/human contact. Importance of the relationship between biological makeup and society.
The media’s effect on our bodies and minds. Stereotypes.
Explanations of mass murder and suicide.
Reasons for equality and inequality and their consequences.
f. What shapes our interaction with others?
Norms, behavior, language, religion, economic status, education, media…
g. What happens when people are isolated from “the social world”?
People become mentally unstable.
Feral Children, solitary confinement.
h. How does the media shape our bodies and minds?
h.i. Do we really make our own decisions?
Not really, societal pressures and expectations make decisions for us.
Body distortion through advertisements. Makes people want to have a body that is literally unattainable even by the models.
Distortion. Stereotypical ads.
h.ii. How does the media permeate with everything? (Do we see everything through the lens of media?)
Every social institution uses media to convey messages and to market them. Use ads to effect and connect with society.
People usually hear/see/connect with things in relation to the economy, politics, education, religion—through the media (radios, TVs, computers, twitter…).
i. What explains mass murder and suicide?
Durkheim’s Suicide.
Suicide rates seemed to be highest when people were cut off from society (and media). People who lived very private lives (protestants) and who were single, unmarried, and usually men.
Against Durkheim’s hypothesis.
j. What is a norm?
A societal expectation of human behavior. What is expected of someone in a given society. “The normal, expected behavior/action of a person”.
A broken norm is called deviance or “deviated norm”.
Norms are hugely noticeable when broken.
j.i. What is a moray?
A very serious norm (not to murder, not to rape, not to have incest).
Considered to be obscene if broken (if someone commits murder, rape, etc.…). Deviation from a moray would usually include severe punishment.
j.ii. What is a folkway?
A less serious norm (not burping in public, opening a door for someone).
Deviation of a folkway would most likely result in a slap in the wrist, or weird looks.
k. How do norms shape the way we function in society?
Deviation of norms usually reaffirms the presence of a norm…
People are expected to follow these norms some sort of “societal guideline”.
Norms are the building blocks of a society in a way.
“Front stage/back stage behaviors”

2. Sociological Imagination
a. What is the sociological imagination?
The ability to see the connections between people’s personal lives and broader societal structures.
“Neither the life of and individual nor the history of society can be understood without understanding both.”- Mills
The ability to see how our lives shape, and are shaped by the social world.
The sociological imagination required the individual to go outside of their psyche to see broader social influences.
b. What is the key “understanding/purpose” of the sociological imagination?
To see the connections between ones personal life, and of society as a whole.
What personal AND societal factors shape the decisions you make in every day life? What is the connection?
To understand the intersection of biography and history.
Understand impacts beyond personal control.
Unemployment, war, government action.
c. How is unemployment a…
c.i. Personal trouble?
“Occurs within the character of the individual and with the range of his/her relations with others”
Creates embarrassment, sadness, internalizing of the situation.
Effect on areas of social life where one is directly aware (family, friends).
c.ii. Public Issue
Unemployment rate in country. Transcends local environments and range of inner self.
Whose fault is it? Individual or gov’t/economy?
Most unemployed countries have worst economies.. Connection?
c.ii.1. Where is the line drawn?
Where personal troubles become obsolete to societal issues.
d. What shapes what/ who shapes who?
Broad society shapes the individual, as individuals shape society.
e. What influence does society have over personal decisions?
Set of common societal values/norms shape individual actions.
Unemployment causes stresses and changing in decision-making habits.
War can cause individual decisions to shift
Socio-economic classes.
f. What is a micro- theory?
Interactionism. Seeing society through perspective of a micro- lens.
It deals with what shapes individual actions.
The idea that “life is a play” and people interact based on what is expected of them. Performing for an “audience”.
The idea of front stage/back stage—acting differently in private and in public.
Scripted conversations.
f.i. Examples…
Goffman’s idea of interactionism. THEORY OF SELF.
Cahill’s article on bathroom etiquette.
g. What is a macro- theory?
A theory that deals with explaining sociological interactions at the macro level.
Society is an area of inequality that generates conflict in change (How society is divided).
g.i. Examples…
Consensus/Functionalism (Durkheim)
Conflict (Marx)
h. How does society “work”? (Functionalism)
MACRO- society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
Individual action is underlined by a set of common societal values and norms.
Amish society.
Crime/punishment can be a function of society in that people are punished for deviation of norms/crime in order to reinforce norms in society as a message not to break them again.; a way to enlighten the rest of society.
h.i. How is society related to ‘biology’?
It is like an organism with integrated parts.
Social stability- society works to stabilize society as organs work to stabilize human body.
Disruptions in society- Society needs to adapt to change, like a body needs to adapt to disease.
h.ii. What undermines individual’s actions?
Common societal values and norms.
i. Draw the “sociological imagination” chart.

3. Sociological theories
a. What are sociological theories?
Attempts to understand the social world. Can be very abstract.
Can be supported or undermined by empirical observations.
May lead to hypothesis.
Attempts to organize certain facts, but theories are NOT facts.
Commonly accepted beliefs/general rules.
b. What is conflict theory?
The theory that society is an area of inequality that generates conflict and change.
Deals with the division of society.
b.i. How is society divided?
Society is divided by inequality (social classes)
Divided based on relations of production (who gets more goods/resources)
b.ii. What is Marx’s sense of conflict in society? (Which groups are in conflict?)
Proletariat (laborers) v. Bourgeoisie (owners)
Crack vs. cocaine
With technological advances (as seen in Charlie Chaplin), bourgeoisie will attempt to squeeze more and more out of proletariat.
c. What is functionalism theory?
Theory that society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability.
Individual action is undermined by set of common societal values and norms.
Society needs to adapt to disruptions.
d. What explains poverty?
Micro social functions: Impoverished people exist to serve as scapegoats for society. Poverty reinforces our sense of being good and being better than impoverished people.
d.i. What theory does this involve?
Functionalism (Durkheim)
d.ii. What is a scapegoat?
Someone who is very defenseless and vulnerable. Given the blame even if they did not cause a problem.
d.ii.1. Normatively?
When the poor break norms, norms are affirmed.
They are considered cultural villains (media portrayal)
We define ourselves in terms of others.
d.ii.2. Politically?
Institutional scapegoats- poor provide easy scapegoats for political problems. Allow politicians to make a case to help the poor… Yet the poor hardly benefit. Used for promotion.
d.ii.3. Economically?
Poor people provide jobs for social workers, social scientists…
Without poverty, there would be a huge loss of jobs.
e. What is the difference between function/consensus and conflict theory?
Conflict theory deals with the idea that society is shaped by oppression and conflict, while functionalism deals with the idea that society is shaped by the different parts that work together to form norms. Conflict theory is a negative perspective on societal functions, functionalism is an optimistic perspective.
f. What theory is considered a pessimistic approach?
Conflict theory because it says that society is shaped by social forces working negatively against each other through exploitation of certain parts.
g. Which theory is considered more optimistic?
Functionalism because it maintains the idea that society is shaped by the working together of parts to promote stability.
h. What are some other theories?
Durkheim’s suicide theory,
Inglharts theory that economic development is linked with predictable changes in culture and in social/political life.
Marx’s modernization theory- economically developed societies show the future to less developed societies.
i. Identify similarities and differences between conflict theory, functionalism, and interactionism.
j. What is interactionism?
The idea that life is a play. (Goffman)
Deals with how individual actions are shaped by society.
j.i. What is the ‘dramaturgical’ analogy?
Life is a play, we are all actors on a stage (we perform a given role), our conversations are scripted (norms), and we do what is expected of us.
j.i.1. What is a norm in this sense?
k. What is Durkheim’s Suicide about?
It is his mental alienation theory. States that defects with the brain or other underlying psychological conditions cause suicide.
The “most individual act”.
After research, new theory was that social integration shapes suicide, NOT mental defects.
l. Difference between Marx and Weber? Global Cultural Values?
????Weber states that as society goes from agrarian to industrial, traditional values and religion fade away, but come back once that society goes from industrial to post industrial. These changes are predictable.
????Marx on the other hand argues that traditional values shift towards secular rationalism and self- expression values through development.
m. What is the “theory of the self”?
It is Goffman’s dramaturgical analogy of interactionism that states…
Social life resembles a play.
People attempt to manage impressions through “performances”.
People engage in front stage/back stage behavior, depending on their definition of the situation, the setting, and the audience.

4. TheoryResearch
a. How does research (deductive v. inductive) differ?
Research differs in where it starts.
Deductive starts in theory/hypothesis.
Inductive starts with actual data. No hypothesis necessary.
b. What is sociology a combination of?
Combination of theory and research.
c. What are the different variables in research?
Independent and dependent variables.
Manipulation of variables
“50 fun things to do in an elevator”- observe behavior in natural state, and then manipulate the normal state by doing something against the norm…
c.i. Difference between the two.
Independent=Influences the dependent variable.
Dependent=Influenced by independent variable
Ex. In misconduct article, the independent variable is the severity of the crime (murder v. assault) and the dependent variable is the level of misconduct associated with it (as a result of the severity).
d. What is the research cycle? Draw.

d.i. Identify cycle for inductive AND deductive.
Inductive- Empirical observation> Analysis (strengthening conclusion)>Theory
Deductive (deduced from theory)—Theory> Hypothesis>Empirical Observation>Analysis
e. Explain each step in research cycle. (4)
Theory- Attempt to understand or explain the social world/phenomenon. Contains propositions. Can be very abstract.
Hypothesis- Proposed relationship between two or more phenomena. More concrete than theory.
Empirical Observations- “Data”. Systematically collected via a certain method or methods. Concrete results.
Analysis- Conclusion on whether or not the data supports the theory and hypothesis. Depends on whether the data is quantitative or qualitative.
Theory (not always)- New theory based on analysis and supporting of data.
f. Explain the research processes/methods (Deductive v. Inductive).
Deductive: (Usually Quantitative)
Ask a question/formulate a hypothesis.
Choose a research method to collect data (empirical observations).
Experiments: Manipulation of a variable.
Surveys: Standardized questions and response categories.
Existing data analysis: Comparative research, historical research… (Demographics and other stats…)
Design Research: Measuring and Sampling. Define concepts/measure variables and sample.
Determine if findings are of a causal relationship (Is this caused by that?).
As ice cream sales go up, so do crime rates. BUT ice cream does not cause crime, the increase in temperature does.
Time Order
Cause has to come prior to the effect (Independent variable must come before dependent variable)
Rule out alternative explanations.
Must test a competing hypothesis…
Are the findings generlized?
What is the sample? How was it selected?
What is the population?
Analyze Data.
Report Results.
Inductive: (Qualitative)
Ask a research question. NO hypothesis.
Choose a research method to collect data (empirical observation).
Semi-structured or unstructured interviews.
Sit down with someone, hear stories… Not survey type questions.
Participant observation (Gang leader for a day, bathroom article…)
Design Research: Sample (setting/population). DO NOT define concepts/measure variables.
Analyze and interpret data.
Report Results.
g. What are the “Golden Rules” of ethical research?
Do no harm (physical/emotional/social).
Informed consent required: Provide complete information about study, person must voluntarily consent.
Voluntary Participation.
Confidentiality/Anonymity: Privacy.
g.i. Explain which rules were broken in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
Do no harm: The subjects for restricted from being given treatment even when it became available.
Informed Consent: Subjects were lied to/were not given complete information about study being conducted.
Confidentiality/Anonymity: Subjects’ names were given to hospitals so they would not be given further treatment.
Voluntary Participation: They were told they were being given treatment, and that is the only reason they participated.
h. What is inductive inquiry?
“The conclusion is uncertain even if the evidence is true because its content goes beyond the evidence”. From small to big.
A strengthened conclusion as the research cycle progresses/as patterns go on. UNCERTAIN CONCLUSION.
From concrete to more abstract.
Ex. John is a democrat and a union member; therefore all union members are democrats.
h.i. Where in the cycle does it start and progress to?
From empirical observation to theory.
h.ii. What are the steps?
Empirical observation>Analysis>Theory
i. What is deductive inquiry?
“The conclusion is absolutely certain if the evidence is true”. From big to small.
Strengthened conclusion as the research cycle progresses, as possibilities are eliminated/narrowed down. CERTAIN CONCLUSION.
From abstract to more concrete.
Ex. All union members are democrats. John is a union member, therefore he is a democrat.
i.i. Where in the cycle does it start and progress to?
From Theory to Empirical observation/analysis.
i.ii. What are the steps? Explain.
Theory>Hypothesis>Empirical Observation>Analysis>Updated Theory (if necessary)
j. What is the difference?
Deductive starts at Theory (Abstract) and progresses to analysis of empirical observation (Concrete)… Inductive starts at Empirical Observation (Concrete) and progresses to theory (Abstract).
Deductive inquiry results in a certain conclusion, and inductive inquiry results in an inconclusive theory.
k. What is a causal relationship?
Time order: Cause (independent variable) must come before effect (dependent variable).
Rule out alternative explanations: By testing competing hypotheses.
l. What is design research?
Inductive: Sampling of data.
Deductive: Definitions of concepts, measuring of variables, sampling of data.
l.i. How do you measure and sample?
You derive a sample out of a random, diverse population (private/public setting).
l.ii. How does causality come into play here?
Measuring/sampling of data must produce a casual relationship.
Must rule out alternative explanations.
Cause must come before effect.
l.iii. What does it mean if findings are generalized?
It means that the design research only included a sample from a potentially limited, not diverse population.
l.iii.1. Questions to consider…
What is the sample? How is it selected?
What is the population that the sample was selected from?
m. What is an inductive statement?
An “If, then most likely” statement.
n. What is a deductive statement?
An “If, then” statement.
o. Difference between quantitative and qualitative research? When are they used?
Qualitative research is primarily used in inductive inquiry; it involves empirical observations/data that is derived through interviews, and personal stories or statements. Not standard surveys. Unstructured. Smaller sample size.
Quantitative research is used usually in deductive inquiry; it involves data that is derived through standardized, structured surveys. Demographics. Comparative/historical research (existing data analysis). Larger sample size. Uses field research.
p. Definition of inductive?
Strengthened conclusion as cycles/patterns go on from empirical observation to theory. Uncertain conclusion.
q. Definition of deductive?
Strengthened/proven conclusion as cycle goes on from theory to empirical observation/analysis.
q.i. Abstract/Concrete?
Inductive starts as more concrete, ends more abstract.
Deductive starts as more abstract, ends up more concrete.
r. What is the front stage/back stage theory?
Goffman’s theory that people act differently in public (front stage) by following norms, than they do in private settings (back stage) where they may deviate from public expectations.
r.i. Example…
In a bathroom, back stage actions are prevalent… People act differently in the bathroom than they do in public. The way they act once they leave the bathroom is their front stage acting. Use backstage to deviate in order to prepare for the front stage. Different norms present between front and back stages.

5. Readings
a. What does the Tuskegee Syphilis study deal with?
It deals with unethical research. Golden Rules of ethical research were broken here.
a.i. When, where, why, how, who?
Who? US public health services AND ~600 black men (2/3 had syphilis).
What? A study on syphilis/”bad blood”.
Why? To understand the effects of syphilis.
When? 1932-1971 (at around the midpoint of the study, penicillin, a treatment was discovered).
Where? Macon County, Alabama. Town of Tuskegee.
This study was carried out because of scientific racism. At the time of the study, scientists justified the study because they believed that blacks were inferior and would die out soon anyways.
b. What does Cahill’s article deal with?
Inductive research involving the study of bathroom behavior. Field research by which through participant observation, bathroom behavior was observed in the context of Interactionism and Goffman’s theory of the self (front stage/back stage behavior).
b.i. What theories?
Interactionism. Theory of the self (Goffman).
Functionalism. Theory of social integration (Durkheim).
b.ii. What research method?
Participant observation/ field research. Small sample size. Inductive. Qualitative.
c. What does Inglehart/Baker’s article deal with?
It deals with the correlation between economic development and the changing of culture and social values. Focuses on understanding the sources of survival values (basic human survival) and of traditional values (religion and family).
c.i. What theories?
Theory of Modernization. (Marx)
Economically developed societies show the future to less developed societies. Industrialism produces pervasive social and cultural consequences from rising education levels to changing gender roles.
Traditional religious values have an enduring influence on the institutions of a society. (Secularization theory..?)
Theory that economic development is linked with predictable changes in culture and in social/political life. (Functionalism)
c.ii. Findings?
Economic development is associated with pervasive and in some cases, predictable cultural changes.
Industrialization promotes a shift from traditional to secular rational values.
Post industrialism brings about a shift towards more trust, tolerance, and well being post-industrial values.
Updated modernization theory-
Modernization does not follow a linear path.
The rise in the service sector and the transition to a knowledge society are linked with a different set of cultural changes from those that characterized industrialization.
Economic collapse can reverse effects of modernization, bring a society back to traditional values.
Religious beliefs persist and are becoming more wide spread in advanced industrial societies due to increase in concerns about life.
Cultural change is path dependent.
Industrializing societies are NOT becoming like America. Misleading to view cultural change as “Americanization”.
Modernization is probalistic not deterministic. Processes and path of economic development vary based on culture.
c.iii. What research method?
Deductive. Historical research. Existing data analysis.
d. What is Mills C Wright’s article about?
The sociological imagination is a quality of mind that enables man to use information and develop reason in order to achieve lucid summations of what is going on in the social world, and of what is happening within themselves.
Connection between personal life and broad social structures.
Every individual lives out a biography within a historical sequence.
The intersection between society and individual. Effect of individual on society and effect of society on individual.
“To be effective, sociology must make a connection between the individual and the social”.
History is developing at a faster pace than man is able to orientate himself.
“Neither the life of an individual nor the history of society can be understood without understanding both”.
e. “Education of Monica and Karen” ERES article.
e.i. How does it incorporate the sociological imagination?
It incorporates the sociological imagination by comparing the social forces that shaped the lives of two college girls and the paths that they took.
What shaped heir reasoning for attending college, their choices once there…
f. What is Gans’ reading about?
It is about functionalism. It is about how impoverished people are used as scapegoats by society.
Poor people provide jobs to social workers. Without poor, there would be loss of jobs. (Economically)
Poor people breaking norms affirms those norms in society. “Cultural Villains”. We define ourselves in terms of others. (Normative)
Poor people provide easy “institutional scapegoats”. Blamed for problems in politics (unemployment, GDP, healthcare). Give politicians an issue for fight for during elections. (Political)
Poverty reinforces our sense of being good and being fortunate.

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