Boundless alternative to
SOC 2012 2nd Edition
by Jon Witt
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Preview of Chapter 1
Section 1The Sociological Perspective
Sociological studies range from the analysis of conversations to the development of theories in order to understand how the world works.
The Sociological Imagination
The sociological imagination is the ability to situate personal troubles within an informed framework of larger social processes.
Sociology and Science
Early sociological studies were thought to be similar to the natural sciences due to their use of empiricism and the scientific method.
Sociology and the Social Sciences
As a social science, sociology explores the application of scientific methods to the study of the human aspects of the world.
Sociology and Common Sense
The sociological approach goes beyond everyday common sense by using systematic methods of empirical observation and theorization.
Section 2The Development of Sociology
Tradition vs. Science
Social scientists began to adopt the scientific method to make sense of the rapid changes accompanying modernization and industrialization.
Early Thinkers and Comte
One of the most influential early figures in sociology was Auguste Comte who proposed a positivist sociology with a scientific base.
Early Social Research and Martineau
Harriet Martineau was an English social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist.
Social Darwinism and Spencer
Herbert Spencer created what he called "sociology," a synthetic philosophy that tried to find a set of rules explaining social behavior.
Class Conflict and Marx
Marx focuses on explaining class conflict due to the means of production, which he posited was the driving force behind social evolution.
Social Integration and Durkheim
Emile Durkheim studied how societies maintained social integration after traditional bonds were replaced by modern economic relations.
Protestant Work Ethic and Weber
Weber departed from positivist sociology, instead emphasizing Verstehen, or understanding, as the goal of sociology.
The Development of Sociology in the U.S.
Lester Ward, the first president of the American Sociological Association, is considered the founder of sociology in the United States.
Section 3The Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology
The Theoretical Perspectives in Sociology
Social theories draw the connections between seemingly disparate concepts in order to help us understand the world around us.
The Functionalist Perspective
The functionalist perspective attempts to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual and social needs.
The Conflict Perspective
Conflict theory sees society as a dynamic entity constantly undergoing change as a result of competition over scarce resources.
The Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
Symbolic interactionism looks at individual and group meaning-making, focusing on human action instead of large-scale social structures.
The Feminist Perspective
Feminist theory is a conflict theory that studies gender, patriarchy, and the oppression of women.
Theory and Practice
Sociologists use both theory and practice to understand what is going on in the social world and how it happens.