Sociology Chapter 1 Notes - I I What Is Sociology The...

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I.I.What Is Sociology?• The scientific study of social behavior and human groups.A. The Sociological ImaginationThe sociological imagination is an awareness of the relationship between an individual and the wider society. • C. Wright Mills described this type of creative thinking as the ability to view one’s own society as an outsider. Example:What constitutes a normal sportingevent in Bali (i.e., cockfighting) is different than in the United States.• It allows for a broader vision of society rather than a limited, personal viewpoint.B.Sociology and the Social Sciences• The term sciencerefers to the body of knowledge obtained by methods basedon systematic observation. • Natural science is the study of the physical features of nature. Astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics are natural sciences.• Social science is the study of the social features of human society. Sociology,anthropology, economics, history, psychology, and political science are socialsciences.• In contrast to other social sciences, sociology emphasizes the influence thatsocial factors have on people’s attitudes and behaviors, and examines the ways in which people influence and are influenced by society. Example: How sociologists and other social scientists study events such as the earthquake in Haiti. C.Sociology and Common Sense• Common sense information is not scientific. It is based on personal experience, tradition, intuition, or hearsay. Therefore, it is often unreliable and inaccurate. Example:Women are more talkative than men. [Researchers found that both male and female college students spoke about 16,000 words per day.]• Sociology tests, records, and analyzes information scientifically to describe andunderstand a social environment.II. What Is Sociological Theory?• Theory is a set of statements that seeks to explain problems, actions, or behaviors. Effective theory may be both explanatory and predictive. Example:Durkheim’s theory on suicide.• Durkheim’s research suggested that, while a solitary act, suicide is related to group life.Suicide rates reflect the extent to which people are integrated into the group life ofsociety. Modern research show similar results. Example:Las Vegas has low community cohesiveness and a high suicide rate compared to the rest of the U.S.• An essential task in building sociological theory is to examine the relationship between bits of data that are gathered through research and that may seem completely unrelated.III. The Development of Sociology • Several European theorists made pioneering contributions to the development of a science of human behavior.A. Early Thinkers1. Auguste Comte (1798-1857)• Coined the term sociologyto apply to the science of human behavior• Comte believed a theoretical science of society and systematic
investigations of behavior were needed to improve society.

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