SOCY1000 Sociology: Global Perspective. Fall 2012. Professor Backman

SOCY1000 Sociology: Global Perspective. Fall 2012. Professor Backman

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SOCY 1000 Sociology: Global Perspective January 2013 Professor Carl B. Backman Office: 7030D Haley Center (Phone 844-2826) Internet: e-mail : [email protected] web page : www.auburn.edu/~backmcb/socy1000 I do not check my e-mail every day. If you need to contact me in a hurry, come to class or call me Office hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 11:00 - 11:50, or by appointment. Do not be bashful about making appointments. SUBJECT MATTER This course is an introduction to sociology. The subject of the course is human social behavior, where "social" refers to behavior that takes place in interaction with or with respect to other people. The actors engaged in human social behavior may be individuals, like you or me, or collections of individuals, like Auburn University. Human social behavior does not just "happen." It occurs in a context that helps the actor -- and other actors -- decide what the behavior means. This context also helps actors plan their future behavior and anticipate others’ behaviors. One of the objectives of sociology is to understand this context, which sociologists call "culture." Social behavior within a culture tends to follow more or less predictable patterns. These patterns constitute the culture's social system. Another of the objectives of sociology is to develop tools for describing social systems and for analyzing change in social systems. People aren't born knowing the meanings of behaviors or how to participate in social systems. Indeed, even adults may be confused when they are in new situations. The process of learning a culture and the patterns of its social system is called "socialization" and is another phenomenon of great concern to sociologists. Cultures and social systems adapt to the number and characteristics of people participating. Population size, composition, and growth, too, are important problems for sociologists. Things that are valued in a culture--money, for instance, or prestige, political power, or opportunities for advancement--as well as things like crime and disease that are considered undesirable are often distributed to individuals through the social system. Who gets what and why is one of the oldest and most prominent questions in sociology. All of these topics--culture, social systems, socialization, population change, and the distribution of things good and bad--are also of interest to social scientists other than sociologists, including anthropologists, psychologists, economists, political scientists, demographers, geographers, and others. Though the emphasis in this course will be on sociological perspectives on behavior, concepts and findings from these other disciplines will also be covered when pertinent. OBJECTIVES This course has several objectives. The first is to make you familiar with basic concepts used by social scientists, especially sociologists, in the analysis of culture, social systems, socialization, population, and the distribution of things of value. The second objective is to give you some appreciation of the enormous variety of cultures and social systems that can and do exist. Helping students overcome parochialism and ethnocentrism is an important part of the
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