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Flashcards in Midterm Deck (39):
1

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)

2

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

3

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
Ignores inequality
- August Comte, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Robert K Merton

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

What are the methods of research?

- Experiments
- Surveys
- Participant observation
- Secondary and historical analysis

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

What is culture?

The ways of thinking, acting and the material objects that together shape a people’s way of life

18

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

19

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)

20

What are the elements of culture?

1. Symbols
- 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

2. Language
- 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

4. Norms
- 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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

What is cultural integration?

The close relationship among various elements of a cultural system

26

What is cultural lag?

Some elements change at different rates, causing various degrees of disruption in cultural systems

27

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

28

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”

29

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

30

What are theoretical analysis of culture?

1. Structural-functional
- 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

2. Social-conflict
- 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

3. Feminist
- 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

4. Sociobiology
- 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

31

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

32

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

33

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

34

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)

35

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

36

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

37

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

38

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

39

What are the ways of reasoning theories?

- Inductive logical thought: reasoning that transforms specific observations into general theory
- Deductive logical thought: reasoning that transforms general theory into specific hypotheses suitable for testing