Chapter summary imageStudying Sociology helps you to understand the world you live in better, by learning about the people in it.

What is sociology?

A science guided by the basic understanding that the social matters: our lives are affected not only by our individual characteristics, but by our place in the social world.

What are the characteristics of the three major sociological paradigms?

Functionalism:

Defines society as a system of interrelated parts; primarily a macro orientation because it focuses on larger social structures rather than individuals.

Conflict Theory:

views society as an unequal system that brings about conflict and change; focuses on macro issues and supports the idea that the struggle for scarce resources holds a society together; concerned with inequality as it relates to wealth and power.

Symbolic interactionism:

focuses on how individual people interact with other people in their everyday lives; studies how the use of “symbols” influence how people communicate; follows a micro approach because it is concerned with the individual’s role in creating society.

Why is Community Learning Important to a Society?

Provides you with a fresh perspective and expands your understanding of sociology and your world

Theory

Functionalism

  • society is a system of connected parts working together to keep society intact
  • it is important to consider the function of any issue
  • society is fairly stable, which means that things occur in society for a specific function
  • suggests society will find a balance point of its own

Conflict Theory

  • focuses on social classes and their drastic differences in wealth, power, and prestige
  • upper class controls society’s wealth and resources and exploits the lower class
  • once a group has power, they want to keep it, so they are likely to create advantages for themselves

Symbolic Interactionism

  • believes the root of society comes from its symbols
  • society is fluid, meaning it is always in the process of change because the symbols we use and their interpretations change
  • disputes arise when people do not share the same definitions of symbols

Key Terms

Sociology

is a science guided by the basic understanding that “the social matters: our lives are affected, not only by our individual characteristics but by our place in the social world.

Sociological Imagination

is the ability to look beyond the individual as the cause for success and failure and see how one's society influences the outcome.

Micro

means small-scale.

Macro

means large-scale.

Solidarity

refers to the level of connectedness a person feels to others in the environment.

Social Control

refers to the social mechanisms that regulate a person's actions.

Egoistic Suicides

are suicides that result from a lack of solidarity, occurring among those who have few social connections, feel isolated and alone, and are more likely to fall into despair.

Altruistic Suicides

are suicides that occur when the level of solidarity is exceptionally high and when the individual views the group's interest as superior to all other interests.

Fatalistic Suicides

are suicides that result from a lack of social control.

Anomic Suicides

are suicides that occur as a result of social unrest.

Paradigm

refers to a theoretical framework through which scientists study the world.

Functionalism

is a theoretical framework that defines society as a system of interrelated parts.

Conflict Theory

is a theoretical framework that views society as an unequal system that brings about conflict and change.

Symbolic Interactionism

is a theoretical framework that focuses on how people interact with others in their everyday lives.

Social Laws

are statements of fact that are unchanging under given conditions and can be used as ground rules for any kind of society.

Social Statics

are the existing structural elements of society.

Social Dynamics

are the change in existing structural elements of society.

Social Darwinism

is a notion that suggests strong societies survive and weak ones become extinct.

Mechanical Solidarity

refers to the state of community bonding in traditional societies in which people share beliefs and values and perform common activities.

Organic Solidarity

occurs when people live in a society with a diverse division of labor.

Functions

are social factors that affect people in a society.

Manifest Functions

are functions that lead to an expected consequence or outcome.

Latent Functions

are functions that lead to unforeseen or unexpected consequences.

Bourgeoisie

refers to members of the capitalist class.

Proletariat

refers to members of the poor working class.

False Consciousnes

is a person’s lack of understanding of his or her position in society.

Class Consciousness

is an understanding of one’s position in the class system.

Self

refers to a person’s identity and what makes that person different from others.

Contagion

is a rapid, irrational mode in which people do not think rationally or clearly.

Dramaturgy

is a theory of interaction in which all life is like acting.

Community Learning

occurs when individuals and groups work to identify and address issues of public concern.

Essay

1.The three sociological paradigms often overlap with one another. Choose a sociologist discussed in the chapter. Discuss how his or her ideas connect to all three sociological paradigms.

2. Why is it important for a sociologist to use a sociological imagination? What consequences might arise if he or she failed to use this way of thinking?

3. What sort of attitudes concerning homelessness might a symbolic interactionist discourage?

4. Why is suicide a compelling sociological issue?

5. Describe possible manifest and latent functions of a law that would legalize drugs.

Where to Start Your Research Paper