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Chapter 1 The Sociological Perspective and Research Methods Chapter Outline Putting Social Life into Perspective Comparing Sociology with Other Social Sciences The Development of Sociological Thinking Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives Chapter Outline Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives The Sociological Research Process Research Methods Ethical Issues in Sociological Research Putting Social Life Into Perspective Sociology is the systematic study of human society and social interaction. Sociologists study societies and social interactions to develop theories about : How behavior is shaped by group life How group life is affected by individuals Society A large social grouping that shares the same geographical territory and is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. We are all affected by global interdependence, a relationship in which the lives of all people are intertwined and any nation’s problems are part of a larger global problem. Why Study Sociology Helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves and our social world. Helps us see how behavior is shaped by the groups to which we belong and our society. Promotes understanding and tolerance by helping us look beyond personal experiences and gain insight into the larger world order. Fields That Use Social Science Research The Sociological Imagination The ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society. Distinguishes between personal troubles and social issues. Suicide As a Personal Trouble: Many people consider suicide to be the result of personal problems. As a Public Issue: Sociologist Emile Durkheim related suicide to the issue of cohesiveness in society instead of viewing it as an isolated act that could be understood by studying individual personalities or inherited tendencies. Suicide Rates by Race and Sex Rates indicate the number of deaths by suicide for every 100,000 people in each category for 2001. Importance of a Global Sociological Imagination The future of our nation is intertwined with the future of other nations on economic, political, environmental, and humanitarian levels. Understanding diversity and developing tolerance for people who are different from us is important for our personal, social, and economic well-being. High-income Countries These are nations with highly industrialized economies; technologically advanced industrial, administrative, and service occupations; and high levels of national and personal income. Examples: United States, Canada They generally have a have a high standard of living and a lower death rate due to advances in nutrition and medical technology. Middle-income countries Sometimes referred to as developing countries, these are nations with industrializing economies, particularly in urban areas, and moderate levels of national and personal income. Examples: Nations of Eastern Europe and many Latin American countries, where nations such as Brazil and Mexico are industrializing rapidly. Low-income Countries Low-income countries are primarily agrarian nations with little industrialization and low levels of national and personal income. Examples: Many of the nations of Africa and Asia, particularly India and the People’s Republic of China. Race, Ethnicity and Class Race is a term used to specify groups of people distinguished by physical characteristics. Most sociologists consider race a social construction used to justify inequalities. Ethnicity refers to cultural identity and is based on factors such as language or country of origin. Class is based on wealth, power, prestige, or other valued resources. Sex and Gender Sex refers to the biological and anatomical differences between females and males. Gender refers to the meanings, beliefs, and practices associated with sex differences, referred to as femininity and masculinity. Industrialization The process by which societies are transformed from dependence on agriculture and handmade products to dependence on manufacturing industries. First occurred during the Industrial Revolution in Britain between 1760 and 1850. Resulted in massive economic, technological, and social changes. People were forced to leave rural communities to seek employment in the emerging cities. Urbanization The process by which an increasing proportion of a population lives in cities rather than rural areas. The factory system led to a rapid increase in the number of cities and the size of populations. People from diverse backgrounds began working in the same factory and living in the same neighborhoods. This led to the development of new social problems: inadequate housing, crowding, unsanitary conditions, poverty, pollution, and August Comte Considered the “founder of sociology.” Comte’s philosophy became known as positivism— a belief that the world can best be understood through scientific inquiry. Comte believed objective, bias-free knowledge was attainable only through the use of science rather than religion. Two Dimensions Of Comte’s Positivism 1. Methodological The application of scientific knowledge to physical and social phenomena. 2. Social and political The use of such knowledge to predict the likely results of different policies so the best one could be chosen. Harriet Martineau Believed society would improve when: women and men were treated equally enlightened reform occurred cooperation existed among all social classes Herbert Spencer Contributed an evolutionary perspective on social order and social change. Social Darwinism The belief that the human beings best adapted to their environment survive and prosper, whereas those poorly adapted die out. Emile Durkheim Believed the limits of human potential are socially based. One of his most important contributions was the concept of social facts. Socialfacts are patterned ways of acting, thinking, and feeling that exist outside any one individual but exert social control over each person. Karl Marx Viewed history as a clash between conflicting ideas and forces. Believed class conflict produced social change and a better society. Combined ideas from philosophy, history, and social science into a new theory. Max Weber Believed sociological research should exclude personal values and economic interests. Provided insights on rationalization, bureaucracy and religion. Georg Simmel Theorized about society as a web of patterned interactions among people. Analyzed how social interactions vary depending on the size of the social group. Developed formal sociology, an approach that focuses attention on the universal recurring social forms that underlie the varying content of social interaction. Jane Adams Founded Hull House, one of the most famous settlement houses, in Chicago. One of the authors of a methodology text used by sociologists for the next forty years. Awarded Nobel Prize for assistance to the underprivileged. W. E. B. Du Bois One of the first to note the identity conflict of being both a black and an American. Pointed out that people in the U.S. espouse values of democracy, freedom, and equality while they accept racism and group discrimination. Theoretical Perspectives Theoretical perspectives are based on ideas about how social life is organized. The major perspectives in U.S. sociology are: Functionalist Conflict symbolicinteractionist postmodernist perspectives Major Theoretical Perspectives Theory View of Society Composed of interrelated parts that Functionalist work together to maintain stability. Society is characterized by social Conflict inequality; social life is a struggle for scarce resources. Major Theoretical Perspectives Theory View of Society Symbolic Behavior is learned in interaction with Interactionist other people. Postindustrialization, consumerism, and global communications bring into Postmodernist question assumptions about social life and the nature of reality. The Sociological Research Process Research is the process of systematically collecting information for the purpose of testing an existing theory or generating a new one. The relationship between theory and research has been referred to as a continuous cycle. Theory and Research Cycle Definition of Theory Theory; As et of logically interrelated statement That attempts to describe explain, and predict social events. Hypothesis; a statement of the relationship between two or more variables. Variable; any concept with measurable traits that can change from on person, time, situation, or society to another. Types of variable 1. Independent Variable; is the variable assumed to be the cause of the relationship between variables. 2. Dependent Variable; the variable assumed to be caused by the independent variable. 3. Validity; the extent to which a study or research instrument accurately measures what it is supposed to measure 4. Reliability; research instrument yields consistence results. Conventional Research Model 1. Select and define the research problem. 2. Review previous research. 3. Formulate the hypothesis. 4. Develop the research design. 5. Collect and analyze the data. 6. Draw conclusions and report the findings. Hypothesized Relationships Between Variables: Causal Hypothesized Relationships Between Variables: Inverse Causal Hypothesized Relationships Between Variables: Multiple-cause Qualitative Research Method 1. Researcher begins with a general approach rather than a highly detailed plan. 2. Researcher has to decide when the literature review and theory application should take place. Qualitative Research Method 3. The study presents a detailed view of the topic. 4. Access to people or other resources that can provide necessary data is crucial. 5. Appropriate research method(s) are important for acquiring useful qualitative data. Research Methods: Survey Research Describes a population without interviewing each individual. Standardized questions force respondents into categories. Relies on self-reported information, and some people may not be truthful. Research Methods: Analysis of Existing Data Materials studied may include: books, diaries, poems, and graffiti movies, television shows, advertisements, greeting cards music, art, and even garbage Research Methods: Field Research Study of social life in its natural setting. Observing and interviewing people where they live, work, and play. Generates observations that are best described verbally rather than numerically. Approaches to Field Research Participant observation Collecting observations while part of the activities of the group being studied. Ethnography Detailed study of the life and activities of a group of people over a period of years. Research Methods: Experiments Study the impact of certain variables on subjects’ attitudes or behavior. Designed to create “real-life” situations. Used to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between variables. Experimental group Control group ASA Code of Ethics 1. Disclose research findings in full and include all possible interpretations of the data. 2. Safeguard the participants’ right to privacy and dignity while protecting them from harm. ASA Code of Ethics 3. Protect confidential information provided by participants. 4. Acknowledge research collaboration and disclose all financial support.
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