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Ideas underlying science How do we know? oSociology uses scientific methods to expand knowledge of the social world oThe Systematic use of theories and research methods makes sociology much more than guesswork or opinionThe development of sociology Social thought before sociology: strongly influenced by religion and philosophy Modern sociology arose in nineteenth-century Europe, influenced by several conditions: oColonialism: exposure to other cultures oIndustrial Revolution & French Revolution: desire to know how dramatic change could be systematically explained oAdvances in the natural sciences: desire to apply scientific method to the social worldAugust Comte & the science of society Coined the term “sociology” in 1838 Thought society’s problems could not be understood by philosophical or religious speculation; scientific knowledge was needed Two main concerns oWhat holds society together? (social statics or structure) oWhy is there change in society? (social dynamics or process)Early sociology after Comte Focus on massive social and economic change brought by Industrial Revolution Focus on relationship between micro-, meso-, and macrolevel processes Early sociological theorists: Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Harriet Martineau, Max Weber, and W.E.B. DuBois Use of scientific method to test ideasSociology’s major theoretical perspectivesTheoretical perspective: a basic view of society that Guides sociological research and analysis Provides an overall approach to understanding social behavior, social systems, and relationships between them Can be micro- or macro-level; all can be used at the mesolevelMeso to Micro level theories Symbolic interaction theory o(or social construction, interpretative theory) Main ideas: oPeople interact on the basis of shared symbols to construct a meaningful world—which then serves as a basis for further interaction. oSome emphasize agency, individuals’ active role in constructing their social environments, or how their social positions shape their constructions Main criticisms: oNeglects macro-structures oDifficult to study concepts like “mind” and “self” Key theorists: George H. Mead, the Iowa SchoolRational choice theory o(or exchange theory) Main ideas: oPeople act by making rational, self-interested decisions that will maximize their rewards and minimize costs Main criticisms: oNeglects macro-level processes and micro-level, internal mental processes oCannot easily explain altruistic behavior oPeople do not always act rationally or accurately assess their self-interestStructural-functional theory o(or functional theory)
Main ideas: oEach part of society has a necessary function oParts fit together into a stable, orderly whole o

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