People like to explain events, and they have many ways to frame them: as natural, acts of God, as
personal choices, etc…
People often disagree about the cause of any one event
Ex. Susan Smith’s sons
What made her kill her sons?
Smith’s insanity, child abuse or inherited disease, etc.
Most people, most of the time, employ the individual frame, which makes sociology counterintuitive
Solidarity [Pride in a group membership] is an important resource
[Other resources: money, authority]
We generate much solidarity both by waging conflict with out-groups and by affirming our dependence
upon well defined ingroups.
Young men beating up homeless
Systematic, explicit, and repeatable methods of collecting and analyzing data
Sociologists have yet to develop technology for the rapid collection of new forms of data, and so have yet
to develop into the rapid discovery made of the physical sciences
The discipline of sociology
Objectivism: the philosophical perspective that one’s beliefs are simply true, and that anything different is
Constructivism: the contrary perspective one’s beliefs are based on group activities. When the daily
activities of a group change, so does their belief. Group activities construct world views
Sociology adopts the constructivist perspective even though our daily lives demand the objectivist faith
that we sustain with group rituals and other habits
Objectivist faith results when people construct beliefs but forget that they constructed them
Objectification is the process by which we take our constructions for granted, imputing them to nature or
Example of construction
Shipping, mercantile, capitalism, and the shape of the universe
Heliocentric vs. teracentric
The cotton-harvesting maching, agribusiness, and the size of the human race
Slaves vs. African Americans
In all cases, economic changes altered perception
Objectification occurs through ritual and habit
Rituals focus group attention on ideas that are important to them, and then involve groups emotionall
moving activity, which has the effect of affirming the truth of the ideas
Habit makes any behavior seem normal by way of daily repetition. After a while, the assumptions behind
habitual behaviors can seem like eternal truths.
The most dramatic example of non-rational but self-interested behavior is crusading, in which people
break daily routines and bond together to try to eliminate or at least punish deviance.
People tend to choose deviants to persecute in self-interested ways, but then organize crusades in ways
that ensure that they would never eliminate the deviance.
Religion: the collective ritual affirmation of cosmologies, which include supernatural beings that have
power over our survival and make ethical demands.
Ritual: scripted group effort focused on a shared symbol