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Sociology Essay

By ksehra Apr 16, 2014 4721 Words
Conflict theory[edit]
Main article: Conflict theory
Functionalism aims only toward a general perspective from which to conduct social science. Methodologically, its principles generally contrast those approaches that emphasize the "micro", such as interpretivism or symbolic interactionism. Its emphasis on "cohesive systems", however, also holds political ramifications. Functionalist theories are often therefore contrasted with "conflict theories" which critique the overarching socio-political system or emphasize the inequality of particular groups. The works of Durkheim and Marx epitomize the political, as well as theoretical, disparities, between functionalist and conflict thought respectively: To aim for a civilization beyond that made possible by the nexus of the surrounding environment will result in unloosing sickness into the very society we live in. Collective activity cannot be encouraged beyond the point set by the condition of the social organism without undermining health. — Émile Durkheim The Division of Labor in Society 1893, [69] The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes. — Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto 1848, [70] 20th century social theory[edit]

Anthony Giddens
The functionalist movement reached its crescendo in the 1940s and 1950s, and by the 1960s was in rapid decline.[71] By the 1980s, functionalism in Europe had broadly been replaced by conflict-oriented approaches.[72] While some of the critical approaches also gained popularity in the United States, the mainstream of the discipline instead shifted to a variety of empirically-oriented middle-range theories with no single overarching theoretical orientation. To many in the discipline, functionalism is now considered "as dead as a dodo."[73] As the influence of both functionalism and Marxism in the 1960s began to wane, the linguistic and cultural turns led to myriad new movements in the social sciences: "According to Giddens, the orthodox consensus terminated in the late 1960s and 1970s as the middle ground shared by otherwise competing perspectives gave way and was replaced by a baffling variety of competing perspectives. This third 'generation' of social theory includes phenomenologically inspired approaches, critical theory, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, structuralism, post-structuralism, and theories written in the tradition of hermeneutics and ordinary language philosophy."[74] The structuralist movement originated from the linguistic theory of Ferdinand de Saussure and was later expanded to the social sciences by theorists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss. In this context, 'structure' refers not to 'social structure' but to the semiotic understanding of human culture as a system of signs. One may delineate four central tenets of structuralism: First, structure is what determines the structure of a whole. Second, structuralists believe that every system has a structure. Third, structuralists are interested in 'structural' laws that deal with coexistence rather than changes. Finally, structures are the 'real things' beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning.[75] Post-structuralist thought has tended to reject 'humanist' assumptions in the conduct of social theory.[76] Michel Foucault provides a potent critique in his archaeology of the human sciences, though Habermas and Rorty have both argued that Foucault merely replaces one such system of thought with another.[77][78] The dialogue between these intellectuals highlights a trend in recent years for certain schools of sociology and philosophy to intersect. The anti-humanist position has been associated with "postmodernism," a term used in specific contexts to describe an era or phenomena, but occasionally construed as a method. Structure and agency[edit]

Main article: Structure and agency
Structure and agency form an enduring ontological debate in social theory: "Do social structures determine an individual's behaviour or does human agency?" In this context 'agency' refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and make free choices, whereas 'structure' relates to factors which limit or affect the choices and actions of individuals (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, and so on). Discussions over the primacy of either structure and agency relate to the core of sociological epistemology("What is the social world made of?", "What is a cause in the social world, and what is an effect?").[79] A general outcome of incredulity toward structural or agential thought has been the development of multidimensional theories, most notably the action theory of Talcott Parsons and Anthony Giddens's theory of structuration. Research methodology[edit]

Main article: Social research
Sociological research methods may be divided into two broad categories: Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases (or across intentionally designed treatments in an experiment) to create valid and reliable general claims Qualitative designs emphasize understanding of social phenomena through direct observation, communication with participants, or analysis of texts, and may stress contextual and subjective accuracy over generality Sociologists are divided into camps of support for particular research techniques. These disputes relate to the epistemological debates at the historical core of social theory. While very different in many aspects, both qualitative and quantitative approaches involve a systematic interaction between theory and data.[80] Quantitative methodologies hold the dominant position in sociology, especially in the United States.[28] In the discipline's two most cited journals, quantitative articles have historically outnumbered qualitative ones by a factor of two.[81] (Most articles published in the largest British journal, on the other hand, are qualitative.) Most textbooks on the methodology of social research are written from the quantitative perspective,[82] and the very term "methodology" is often used synonymously with "statistics." Practically all sociology PhD program in the United States require training in statistical methods. The work produced by quantitative researchers is also deemed more 'trustworthy' and 'unbiased' by the greater public,[83] though this judgment continues to be challenged by antipositivists.[83] The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate. For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire to a representative sample population. By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individual's social actions may choose ethnographic participant observation or open-ended interviews. Studies will commonly combine, or 'triangulate', quantitative and qualitative methods as part of a 'multi-strategy' design. For instance, a quantitative study may be performed to gain statistical patterns or a target sample, and then combined with a qualitative interview to determine the play of agency.[80] Sampling[edit]

The bean machine, designed by early social research methodologist Sir Francis Galton to demonstrate the normal distribution, which is important to much quantitativehypothesis testing. Quantitative methods are often used to ask questions about a population that is very large, making a census or a complete enumeration of all the members in that population infeasible. A 'sample' then forms a manageable subset of a population. In quantitative research, statistics are used to draw inferences from this sample regarding the population as a whole. The process of selecting a sample is referred to as 'sampling'. While it is usually best to sample randomly, concern with differences between specific subpopulations sometimes calls for stratified sampling. Conversely, the impossibility of random sampling sometimes necessitates nonprobability sampling, such as convenience sampling or snowball sampling.[80] Methods[edit]

The following list of research methods is neither exclusive nor exhaustive: Archival research or the Historical method: draws upon the secondary data located in historical archives and records, such as biographies, memoirs, journals, and so on. Content analysis: The content of interviews and other texts is systematically analyzed. Often data is 'coded' as a part of the 'grounded theory' approach using qualitative data analysis (QDA) software, such as NVivo,[84] Atlas.ti, or QDA Miner. Experimental research: The researcher isolates a single social process and reproduces it in a laboratory (for example, by creating a situation where unconscious sexist judgments are possible), seeking to determine whether or not certain social variables can cause, or depend upon, other variables (for instance, seeing if people's feelings about traditional gender roles can be manipulated by the activation of contrasting gender stereotypes).[85] Participants are randomly assigned to different groups which either serve as controls—acting as reference points because they are tested with regard to the dependent variable, albeit without having been exposed to any independent variables of interest—or receive one or more treatments. Randomization allows the researcher to be sure that any resulting differences between groups are the result of the treatment. Longitudinal study: An extensive examination of a specific person or group over a long period of time. Observation: Using data from the senses, the researcher records information about social phenomenon or behavior. Observation techniques may or may not feature participation. In participant observation, the researcher goes into the field (such as a community or a place of work), and participates in the activities of the field for a prolonged period of time in order to acquire a deep understanding of it.[86] Data acquired through these techniques may be analyzed either quantitatively or qualitatively. Survey research: The researcher gathers data using interviews, questionnaires, or similar feedback from a set of people sampled from a particular population of interest. Survey items from an interview or questionnaire may be open-ended or closed-ended.[87] Data from surveys is usually analyzed statistically on a computer. Computational sociology[edit]

A social networkdiagram: individuals (or 'nodes') connected by relationships. Main article: Computational sociology
Sociologists increasingly draw upon computationally intensive methods to analyze and model social phenomena.[88] Using computer simulations,artificial intelligence, text mining, complex statistical methods, and new analytic approaches like social network analysis and social sequence analysis, computational sociology develops and tests theories of complex social processes through bottom-up modeling of social interactions.[89] Although the subject matter and methodologies in social science differ from those in natural science or computer science, several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation originated from fields such as physics and artificial intelligence.[90][91] By the same token, some of the approaches that originated in computational sociology have been imported into the natural sciences, such as measures of network centrality from the fields of social network analysis and network science. In relevant literature, computational sociology is often related to the study of social complexity.[92] Social complexity concepts such as complex systems, non-linear interconnection among macro and micro process, and emergence, have entered the vocabulary of computational sociology.[93] A practical and well-known example is the construction of a computational model in the form of an "artificial society", by which researchers can analyze the structure of a social system.[94][95] Practical applications of social research[edit]

Social research informs politicians and policy makers, educators, planners, lawmakers, administrators, developers, business magnates, managers,social workers, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and people interested in resolving social issues in general. There is often a great deal of crossover between social research, market research, and other statistical fields. Areas of sociology[edit]

Social organization is the study of the various institutions, social groups, social stratification, social mobility, bureaucracy, ethnic groups and relations, and other similar subjects such as education, politics, religion, economy and so forth. Social psychology is the study of human nature as an outcome of group life, social attitudes, collective behavior, and personality formation. It deals with group life and the individual's traits, attitudes, beliefs as influenced by group life, and it views man with reference to group life. Social change and disorganization is the study of the change in culture and social relations and the disruption that may occur in society, and it deals with the study of such current problems in society such as juvenile delinquency, criminality, drug addiction, family conflicts, divorce, population problems, and other similar subjects. Human ecology deals with the nature and behavior of a given population and its relationships to the group's present social institutions. For instance, studies of this kind have shown the prevalence of mental illness, criminality, delinquencies, prostitution, and drug addiction in urban centers and other highly developed places. Population or demography is the study of population number, composition, change, and quality as they influence the economic, political, and social system. Sociological theory and method is concerned with the applicability and usefulness of the principles and theories of group life as bases for the regulation of man's environment, and includes theory building and testing as bases for the prediction and control of man's social environment. Applied sociology utilizes the findings of pure sociological research in various fields such as criminology, social work, community development, education, industrial relations, marriage, ethnic relations, family counseling, and other aspects and problems of daily life.[96] Scope and topics[edit]

Main articles: Subfields of sociology and Outline of sociology Culture[edit]

Max Horkheimer (left, front), Theodor Adorno (right, front), and Jürgen Habermas (right, back) 1965. Main articles: Sociology of culture and Cultural studies
For Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history".[62] Whilst early theorists such as Durkheim and Mauss were influential in cultural anthropology, sociologists of culture are generally distinguished by their concern for modern (rather than primitive or ancient) society. Cultural sociology is seldom empirical, preferring instead the hermeneutic analysis of words, artifacts and symbols.[dubious – discuss] The field is closely allied with critical theory in the vein of Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and other members of the Frankfurt School. Loosely distinct to sociology is the field ofcultural studies. Birmingham School theorists such as Richard Hoggart and Stuart Hall questioned the division between "producers" and "consumers" evident in earlier theory, emphasizing the reciprocity in the production of texts. Cultural Studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture (such as white working class youth in London) would consider the social practices of the group as they relate to the dominant class. The "cultural turn" of the 1960s ushered instructuralist and so-called postmodern approaches to social science and placed culture much higher on the sociological agenda. Criminality, deviance, law and punishment[edit]

Main articles: Criminology, Sociology of law, Sociology of punishment, and Deviance (sociology) Criminologists analyze the nature, causes, and control of criminal activity, drawing upon methods across sociology, psychology, and the behavioural sciences. The sociology of deviance focuses on actions or behaviors that violate norms, including both formally enacted rules (e.g., crime) and informal violations of cultural norms. It is the remit of sociologists to study why these norms exist; how they change over time; and how they are enforced. The concept of deviance is central in contemporary structural functionalism and systems theory. Robert K. Merton produced a typology of deviance, and also established the terms "role model", "unintended consequences", and "self-fulfilling prophecy".[97] The study of law played a significant role in the formation of classical sociology. Durkheim famously described law as the "visible symbol" of social solidarity.[98] The sociology of law refers to both a sub-discipline of sociology and an approach within the field of legal studies. Sociology of law is a diverse field of study which examines the interaction of law with other aspects of society, such as the development of legal institutions and the effect of laws on social change and vice versa. For example, an influential recent work in the field relies on statistical analyses to argue that the increase in incarceration in the US over the last 30 years is due to changes in law and policing and not to an increase in crime; and that this increase significantly contributes to maintaining racial stratification.[99] Economic sociology[edit]

Main article: Economic sociology
The term "economic sociology" was first used by William Stanley Jevons in 1879, later to be coined in the works of Durkheim, Weber and Simmel between 1890 and 1920.[100]Economic sociology arose as a new approach to the analysis of economic phenomena, emphasizing class relations and modernity as a philosophical concept. The relationship between capitalism and modernity is a salient issue, perhaps best demonstrated in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) and Simmel's The Philosophy of Money (1900). The contemporary period of economic sociology, also known as new economic sociology, was consolidated by the 1985 work of Mark Granovetter titled "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". This work elaborated the concept of embeddedness, which states that economic relations between individuals or firms take place within existing social relations (and are thus structured by these relations as well as the greater social structures of which those relations are a part).Social network analysis has been the primary methodology for studying this phenomenon. Granovetter's theory of the strength of weak ties and Ronald Burt's concept of structural holes are two best known theoretical contributions of this field. Environment[edit]

Main articles: Environmental sociology, Sociology of disaster, and Human ecology Environmental sociology is the study of human interactions with the natural environment, typically emphasizing human dimensions of environmental problems, social impacts of those problems, and efforts to resolve them. As with other subfields of sociology, scholarship in environmental sociology may be at one or multiple levels of analysis, from global (e.g. world-systems) to local, societal to individual. Attention is paid also to the processes by which environmental problems become defined and known to humans. Education[edit]

Main article: Sociology of education
The sociology of education is the study of how educational institutions determine social structures, experiences, and other outcomes. It is particularly concerned with the schooling systems of modern industrial societies.[101] A classic 1966 study in this field by James Coleman, known as the "Coleman Report", analyzed the performance of over 150,000 students and found that student background and socioeconomic status are much more important in determining educational outcomes than are measured differences in school resources (i.e. per pupil spending).[102] The controversy over "school effects" ignited by that study has continued to this day. The study also found that socially disadvantaged black students profited from schooling in racially mixed classrooms, and thus served as a catalyst for desegregation busing in American public schools. Family, gender, and sexuality[edit]

"Rosie the Riveter" was an iconic symbol of the Americanhomefront and a departure fromgender roles due to wartime necessity. Main articles: Sociology of the family, Sociology of childhood, Sociology of gender, Feminist sociology, Feminist theory, and Queer theory Family, gender and sexuality form a broad area of inquiry studied in many subfields of sociology. The sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution and unit of socialization, with special concern for the comparatively modern historical emergence of the nuclear familyand its distinct gender roles. The notion of "childhood" is also significant. As one of the more basic institutions to which one may apply sociological perspectives, the sociology of the family is a common component on introductory academic curricula. Feminist sociology, on the other hand, is a normative subfield that observes and critiques the cultural categories of gender and sexuality, particularly with respect to power and inequality. The primary concern of feminist theory is the patriarchy and the systematic oppression of women apparent in many societies, both at the level of small-scale interaction and in terms of the broader social structure. Feminist sociology also analyses how gender interlocks with race and class to produce and perpetuate social inequalities.[103] "How to account for the differences in definitions of femininity and masculinity and in sex role across different societies and historical periods" is also a concern.[104]Social psychology of gender, on the other hand, uses experimental methods to uncover the microprocesses of gender stratification. For example, one recent study has shown that resume evaluators penalize women for motherhood while giving a boost to men for fatherhood.[105] Another set of experiments showed that men whose sexuality is questioned compensate by expressing a greater desire for military intervention and sport utility vehicles as well as a greater opposition to gay marriage.[106] Health and illness[edit]

Main articles: Sociology of health and illness and Medical sociology The sociology of health and illness focuses on the social effects of, and public attitudes toward, illnesses, diseases, disabilities and the aging process. Medical sociology, by contrast, focuses on the inner-workings of medical organizations and clinical institutions. In Britain, sociology was introduced into the medical curriculum following the Goodenough Report (1944).[107] Internet[edit]

Main article: Sociology of the Internet
The Internet is of interest to sociologists in various ways; most practically as a tool for research and as a discussion platform.[108] The sociology of the Internet in the broad sense regards the analysis of online communities (e.g. newsgroups, social networking sites) and virtual worlds. Online communities may be studied statistically through network analysisor interpreted qualitatively through virtual ethnography. Organizational change is catalyzed through new media, thereby influencing social change at-large, perhaps forming the framework for a transformation from an industrial to an informational society. One notable text is Manuel Castells' The Internet Galaxy—the title of which forms an inter-textual reference to Marshall McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy.[109] Knowledge and science[edit]

Main articles: Sociology of knowledge and Sociology of scientific knowledge The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. The term first came into widespread use in the 1920s, when a number of German-speaking theorists, most notably Max Scheler, and Karl Mannheim, wrote extensively on it. With the dominance of functionalism through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought. It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the 1960s, particularly by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality (1966) and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society (compare socially constructed reality). The "archaeological" and "genealogical" studies of Michel Foucault are of considerable contemporary influence. The sociology of science involves the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."[110] Important theorists in the sociology of science include Robert K. Merton and Bruno Latour. These branches of sociology have contributed to the formation of science and technology studies. Literature[edit]

Main article: Sociology of literature
Sociology of literature is a subfield of sociology of culture. It studies the social production of literature and its social implications. A notable example is Pierre Bourdieu's 1992 Les Règles de L'Art: Genèse et Structure du Champ Littéraire, translated by Susan Emanuel as Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field (1996). None of the founding fathers of sociology produced a detailed study of literature, but they did develop ideas that were subsequently applied to literature by others. Marx's theory of ideology was directed at literature by Pierre Macherey, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. Weber's theory of modernity as cultural rationalisation, which he applied to music, was later applied to all the arts, literature included, by Frankfurt School writers such as Adorno and Jürgen Habermas. Durkheim's view of sociology as the study of externally-defined social facts was redirected towards literature by Robert Escarpit. Bourdieu's own work is clearly indebted to Marx, Weber and Durkheim. Media[edit]

Main article: Media studies
As with cultural studies, media study is a distinct discipline which owes to the convergence of sociology and other social sciences and humanities, in particular, literary criticism andcritical theory. Though the production process or the critique of aesthetic forms is not in the remit of sociologists, analyses of socialising factors, such as ideological effects andaudience reception, stem from sociological theory and method. Thus the 'sociology of the media' is not a subdiscipline per se, but the media is a common and often-indispensable topic. Military[edit]

Main article: Military sociology
Military sociology aims toward the systematic study of the military as a social group rather than as an organization. It is a highly specialized subfield which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action based on shared interests linked to survival in vocation and combat, with purposes and values that are more defined and narrow than within civil society. Military sociology also concerns civilian-military relations and interactions between other groups or governmental agencies. Topics include the dominant assumptions held by those in the military, changes in military members' willingness to fight, military unionization, military professionalism, the increased utilization of women, the military industrial-academic complex, the military's dependence on research, and the institutional and organizational structure of military.[111] Political sociology[edit]

Main article: Political sociology

Jürgen Habermas
Historically political sociology concerned the relations between political organization and society. A typical research question in this area might be: "Why do so few American citizens choose to vote?"[112] In this respect questions of political opinion formation brought about some of the pioneering uses of statistical survey research by Paul Lazarsfeld. A major subfield of political sociology developed in relation to such questions, which draws on comparative history to analyze socio-political trends. The field developed from the work of Max Weber andMoisey Ostrogorsky.[113] Contemporary political sociology includes these areas of research, but it has been opened up to wider questions of power and politics.[114]Today political sociologists are as likely to be concerned with how identities are formed that contribute to structural domination by one group over another; the politics of who knows how and with what authority; and questions of how power is contested in social interactions in such a way as to bring about widespread cultural and social change. Such questions are more likely to be studied qualitatively. The study of social movements and their effects has been especially important in relation to these wider definitions of politics and power.[115] Race and ethnic relations[edit]

Main articles: Sociology of race and ethnic relations and Sociology of immigration The sociology of race and of ethnic relations is the area of the discipline that studies the social, political, and economic relations between races and ethnicities at all levels of society. This area encompasses the study of racism, residential segregation, and other complex social processes between different racial and ethnic groups. This research frequently interacts with other areas of sociology such as stratification and social psychology, as well as with postcolonial theory. At the level of political policy, ethnic relations are discussed in terms of either assimilationism or multiculturalism.[116] Anti-racism forms another style of policy, particularly popular in the 1960s and 70s. Religion[edit]

Main article: Sociology of religion
The sociology of religion concerns the practices, historical backgrounds, developments, universal themes and roles of religion in society.[117] There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that sociologists do not set out to assess the validity of religious truth-claims, instead assuming what Peter L. Berger has described as a position of "methodological atheism".[118] It may be said that the modern formal discipline of sociology began with the analysis of religion in Durkheim's 1897 study of suicide rates amongst Roman Catholic and Protestant populations. Max Weber published four major texts on religion in a context of economic sociology and social stratification: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1915), The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism (1915), and Ancient Judaism (1920). Contemporary debates often center on topics such as secularization, civil religion, and the role of religion in a context of globalization and multiculturalism. Social networks[edit]

Harrison White
Main articles: Social network and Social network analysis A social network is a social structure composed of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes", which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige. Social networks operate on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals. Social network analysis makes no assumption that groups are the building blocks of society: the approach is open to studying less-bounded social systems, from non-local communities to networks of exchange. Rather than treating individuals (persons, organizations, states) as discrete units of analysis, it focuses on how the structure of ties affects individuals and their relationships. In contrast to analyses tha

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