Flashcards in Midterm Deck (39):
What is sociology?
- Sociology: systematic study of human society
- Sociologists identify general social patterns in the behaviour of particular individuals
- Understanding that society shapes our lives
- You see and experience the world through a lens
- Durkheim found that suicide (what seems like a personal choice) was grounded largely on social experiences and context (the more connected someone was to society, the less likely they are to commit society)
What is theory and the theoretical approach?
- Theory: a statement of how and why specific facts are related
- Theoretical approach: a basic image of society that guides thinking and research
What is structural-functionalism or the consensus theory?
- Macro-level orientation
- Society is a complex system whose parts work together for stability
- If something ceases to function, we get rid of it
- August Comte, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Robert K Merton
What is the social-conflict theory?
- Macro-level orientation
- Society is an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social change
- Benefit a few at the expense of the majority
- Factors such as race, sex, class, and age are linked to social inequality
- Ignores how shared values and mutual interdepence unify society
- Karl Marx, Web Du Bois
What is symbolic-interactionalism? Talk about postmodernism.
- Micro-level orientation
- Society is the product of everyday interactions of individuals
- Society is nothing more than shared reality that people construct as they interact
- Complex, ever-changing mosaic of subjective meanings and symbols to people
Postmodernists: observe with goal of achieving understanding
- Human sciences cannot be scientific because of human subjectivity
- Ignores larger social structures, effects of culture and inequality
- Max Weber, Erving Goffman
What are the basic components of sociological investigation?
- Science is a logical system that bases knowledge on empirical evidence (standards apart from faith, belief, or conventional wisdom)
- Max Weber said sociologists select topics that are value-relevant but cautioned them to be value-free in their investigations
- Replication by other researchers can limit distortion caused by personal values
What is scientific sociology?
- Study of society based on systematic observation of social behaviour
- Positivism: assumes that an objective reality exists “out there” that can be studied based upon empirical evidence
- Using a scientific orientation, researcher gathers empirical, quantitative data
- Concept: a mental construct that represents some part of world
- Variable: concept whose value changes from case to case
- Operationalize a variable: specify exactly what is to be measured
- There are many types of relationships between variables:
- Cause and effect: demonstrated correlation; independent variable occurs before dependent; no evidence of 3rd variable
- Correlation: relationship in which 2+ variables change together
- Spurious correlation: false relationship between 2+ variables caused by some other variable (to expose, use controls)
- Corresponds to structural-functional approach
What is interpretive sociology?
- Study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social world
- Sees reality as being constructed by people themselves in the course of their everyday lives
- Relies on qualitative data; gives you more detail than quantitative data and tells you reasons for why you got the results
- Researcher is participant; discovering subjective sense people make of their world
- Corresponds to symbolic-interaction approach
What is critical sociology?
- Study of society that focuses on the need for social change
- Researchers should be social activists in pursuit of desirable change guided by politics
- Looking to see solutions to problems
- Critical sociologists say that all research is political or biased; either it calls for change or it does not
- Corresponds to social-conflict approach
Talk about gender and how it may influence research.
- Androcentricity and gynocentricity: approaching the topic from a male-only or female-only perspective
- Overgeneralizing: using data collected from one sex and applying the findings to both sexes
- Gender matters in the way people experience the world
- Gender blindness: the failure to consider the impact of gender at all
- Double standards: using different standards to judge males and females
- Interference: a subject under study reacts to the sex of the researcher
- Eg. participant thinks researcher is attractive or disgusting will alter their behaviour
What do feminist researchers claim?
- Research should focus on the condition of women in society
- Research should be grounded in women’s experience of subordination
- Eg. Harriet Mratineau, Florence Nightingale
What are the methods of research?
- Participant observation
- Secondary and historical analysis
What are experiments?
- Investigating cause and effect under highly controlled conditions
- Testing a hypotheses (a statement of a possible relationship between variables)
- Break group into experimental group (exposed to independent variable) and control group (exposed to a placebo)
- Hawthorne effect: a change in behaviour caused by awareness of being studied
- Provides the greatest opportunity to specify cause-and-effect relationships + replication of research is relatively easy
- Laboratory settings have an artificial quality + unless research environment is carefully controlled, results may be biased
What are surveys?
- A research method in which subjects respond to a series of statements or questions in a questionnaire or an interview
Random sampling: every person has an equal chance of being in the sample
- Questionnaire: a series or written/read (interview) questions
- Closed-ended: fixed response
- Open-ended: allowing free response
- Allows surveys of large populations + interviews provide detailed responses
- Questionnaires must be carefully prepared and may yield a low return rate + interviews are expensive and time-consuming
What is participant observation?
- Investigators systematically observe people while joining them in their routine activities
- Most of this research is exploratory and desciptive
- Allows study of “natural” behaviour + usually inexpensive
- Time consuming + replication is difficult + researcher must balance roles of participant and observer
What is secondary and historical analysis? Discuss content analysis.
- Reanalyzing data collected by others (eg. census data)
- Content analysis: counting or coding the content of written, aural, or visual materials (eg. letters and textbooks, television, websites)
- Saves time and expense of data collection + makes histroical research possible
- Researcher has no control over possible biases in data + data may only partially fit current research needs
What is culture?
The ways of thinking, acting and the material objects that together shape a people’s way of life
What is material and nonmaterial culture?
- Nonmaterial culture: the ideas created by members of a society
- Material culture: the physical things created by members of a society, reflects cultural values and a society’s technology
What is social control and shame/guilt?
- Social control: attempts by others to regulate people’s thoughts and behaviour
- Shame: the painful sense that others disapprove of our actions
- Guilt: a negative judgement we make about ourselves (self-imposed)
What are the elements of culture?
- Anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture (eg. Tiffany’s blue box)
- Societies create new symbols all the time
- Reality for humans is found in the meaning things carry with them
- A system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another
- Cultural transmission: the process by which one generation passes culture to the next
- Sapir-Whorf thesis: people perceive the world through the cultural lens of language
3. Values and beliefs
- Values: culturally defined standards of desirability, goodness and beauty, which serve as broad guidelines for social living
- Cultures have their own values that are very powerful and can influence individuals’ beliefs
- Lower-income nations have cultures that value survival
- Higher-income countries have cultures that value individualism and self-expression
- Sometimes one key cultural value contradicts another and value conflict causes strain
- What is ideal isn’t necessarily put into practice
- Values change over time
- Beliefs: specific statements that people hold to be true
- Values support beliefs
- Rules and expectations by which society guides its members’ behaviour
- Proscriptive: should not do, prohibited
- Prescriptive: should do, prescribed like medicine
- Taboos: widely observed and have great moral significance
- Difference between right and wrong
- Folkways: norms for routine and causal interaction
- Difference bewteen right and rude
What are the types of culture?
1. Ideal culture
- The way things should be
- Social patterns mandated by values and norms
2. Real culture
- The way things actually occur in everyday life
- Social patterns that only approximate cultural expectations
3. High culture: cultural patterns that distinguish a society’s elite
4. Popular culture: cultural patterns that are widespread among society’s population
5. Subculture: cultural patterns that set apart some segment of society’s population
- Subculture is part of the larger culture but you’re also a member of a particular group (eg. bikers have a harley)
6. Counterculture: cultural patterns that strongly oppose the widely accepted culture a society
- Some countercultures seek to disrupt society through violence
- When Obama was elected in 2008, the group memberships of skinheads (KKK, neo-nazis) exploded
What is multiculturalism and eurocentrism?
- Social policy designed to encourage ethnic or cultural heterogeneity
- Multiculturalism generates controversy
- Eg. a Sikh RCMP officer wanted to wear his ceremonial dagger along with his uniform
People were offended because the uniform is a Canadian icon and did not want it to be changed
- Eurocentrism: the dominance of European cultural patterns
What does multiculturalism do for society?
1. Gives a more accurate picture of Canada’s past
- We are all immigrants to Canada other than Natives
2. Allows us to come to terms with our current diversity
3. Strengthens academic achievements of children of immigrants
- Letters from school boards are available in many languages
- Parents can read and understand what is happening
- #1 predictor of academic success is parental involvement
4. Through it, Canadians can learn to live in an increasingly interdependent world
Why is immigration good?
- Immigration is good because an aging society means people are leaving the work force
- Aging people are the most expensive (health care, etc.)
- Not enough people to pay taxes and support elders
What is cultural integration?
The close relationship among various elements of a cultural system
What is cultural lag?
Some elements change at different rates, causing various degrees of disruption in cultural systems
What are the causes of cultural change?
- Invention: creating new cultural elements
- Discovery: recognizing and better understanding something already in existence
- Diffusion: the sprad of cultural traits from one society to another
What is ethnocentrism and cultural relativism?
- Ethnocentrism: the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture
- Cultural relativism: the practice of judging a culture by its own standards
- “This is why things are happening in that culture”
What are global cultures?
Today we observe many of the same cultural practices the world over due to:
- Global economy: the flow of goods
- Global communications: the flow of information
- Global migration: the flow of people
Limits to the thesis:
- All the flows have been uneven
- Assumes affordability of goods
- People don’t attach the same meaning to material goods
What are theoretical analysis of culture?
- Culture is a complex strategy for meeting human needs
- Cultural universals: traits that are part of every known culture; includes family, funeral rites and jokes
- Critical review: ignores cultural diversity and downplays importance of change
- Cultural traits benefit some members at the expense of others
- Society’s system of material production has a powerful effect on the rest of a culture
- Critical review: understates the ways cultural patterns integrate members into society
- Feminists claim that our culture is gendered
- Our society defines masculinity as superior and this is reflected in our way of life
- Cultural patterns reflect and support gender inequality
- Explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture
- Approach rooted in Charles Darwin and evolution; living organisms change over long periods of time based on natural selection
- Critical review: might be used to support racism or sexism; little evidence to support theory; people learn behaviour within a cultural system
What is society, nation and state?
- Society: people who interact in a defined terrority and share culture
- Nation: political entity and its people
- State: political entity in a territory with borders
What is Gerhard and Jean Lenski's approach?
- Sociocultural evolution: the changes that occur as a society gains new technology
- Societies range from simple to the technologically complex
- Technologically simple societies change very slowly
- More technologically complex societies support bigger populations, more affluence and change at a faster pace
1. Hunter/gatherer societies: use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation (eg. Africa, Malaysia)
- Depend on family and mobility (nomadic)
- Sexes are of equal socio-economic importance
2. Horticultural and pastrol societies: use of hand tools to raise crops + domestication of animals (eg. South America, Africa, Asia)
- Could support larger population
- Division of labour and inequality
- Rudimentary government and miltary
- See God as directly involved in wellbeing of the world
3. Agrarian societies: large-scale cultivation using plows attached to animals or more powerful energy sources
- Larger population and food surpluses
- Greater specialization and inequality (men more dominant)
- Societies expanded into empires
4. Industrial societies: production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery
- Huge populations, increased mobility/communication
- Occupational specialization became greater than ever
- Family is less the centre of social life
5. Post-industrial societies: technology that supports an information-based econmy
- Significant changes in occupational structures and roles
Informatin replaces objects as centre of economy
- Worldwide flow of information affects everyone on the globe
What is Karl Marx?
- Social conflict: the struggle between segments of society over valued resources
- To keep profits high, capitalists keep wages low = conflict
- Social institutions: major spheres of social life, or societal subsystems, organized to meet basic human needs
- Marx viewed the economic system as society’s infrastructure
- Materialism: the means by which humans produce material goods shape their experiences
- False consciousness: explanations of social problems as individual problems and shortcomings; not flaws in society
- Over history, new productive forces undermined old orders and new social classes gained ascendance
- In the “ancient world” warfare was frequent and produced masters and slaves
- The feudal world saw lords and serfs
- The productive forces of industry creatd the bourgeoisie and the proletariat
- Capitalists and proletarians are engaed in class conflict today
- Capitalists: people who own factories and productive enterprises in pursuit of profits
- Proletarians: sell their labour for wages
- Class conflict (struggle): conflict between entire classes over the distribution of wealth and power in society
- Class consciousness: the recognition by workers of their unity in opposition to capitalists and to capitalism itself
- Alienation: the experience of isolation and misery resulting from powerlessness
- Workers are alienated from act of working (don’t fully benefit from work, other people get profits), product of work, other works and human potential
- Socialism: a system of production that could provide for the social needs of all
- Marx believed that the only way out of capitalism is to remake society
What is Max Weber?
- Rationalization: the historical change from tradition to rationality as the main type of human thought
- Tradition: values and beliefs passed from generation to generation
- Rationality: a way of thinking that emphasizes deliberate, matter-of-fact calculation of most efficient way to accomplish a particular task
- Societies change when we put tradition behind us
- Eg. waiting 30 minutes for food from a restaurant is not efficient; burgers from McDonalds are not home-made and are convenient which is how society has progressed
- Societies differ not in terms of how people produce things but in how people think about the world
- Disenchantment: scientific thinking has swept away most of people’s sentimental ties to the past
- Key to the birth of industrial capitalism lay in Protestant Reformation
- Protestants and Calvinists believed in pre-destination (some people are destined for salvation)
- People started working harder because they wanted to know that God favoured them
- This religious viewpoint (traditional ways of doing things) turned into a work ethic (rationality)
- Characteristics of today’s rational social organization:
- Distinctive social institutions (eg. company or university)
- Large-scale organization (within institution)
- Specialized tasks of workers
- Personal discipline
- Awareness of time
- Technical competence (we have the necessary skills)
Impersonality (absence of human character; cog in wheel)
What is Emile Durkheim?
- Durkheim’s great insight was recognizing that society exists beyond ourselves
- Society is more than the individuals who compose it
- Function of society is to provide the moral discipline that guides our behaviour and controls our desires
- Anomie: when society provides little moral guidance to individuals
- Patterns of human behaviour (cultural norms, values, beliefs) exist as established structures (social facts) that have an objective reality beyond the lives of individuals
- Mechanical solidarity: social bonds based on common sentiments and shared moral values, strong among preindustrial societies
- Organic solidarity: social bonds based on specialization and interdependence, strong among industrial societies
- Division of labour: specialized economic activity
- Modern society rests less on moral consensus and more on functional interdependence
What holds societies together?
- Lenski: a shared culture and patterns that vary technology
- Karl Marx: elites force an uneasy peace, true unity comes from cooperative productive
- Max Weber: rational, large-scale organizations connect lives
- Emile Durkheim: specialized division of labour causes organic solidarity
How have societies changed?
- Lenski: changing technology; modern society has enormous productive power
- Karl Marx: social conflict is now in the open
- Max Weber: from traditional to rational thought
- Emile Durkheim: from emchanical solidarity to organic solidarity
Why do societies change?
- Lenski: technological innovation transforms society
- Karl Marx: struggle between social classes is the engine of change
- Max Weber: ideas contribute to change
- Emile Durkheim: expanding division of labour causes change