powerless by a ruling elite; ageism, with a struggle for finances (Social Secu-
rity) and health care (Medicare) dividing the generations of workers; and so on,
Due to space limitations, I can provide only this brief sketch of these
three theories that dominate sociology today. Among the many examples of
in this book, you might look at selections by Clark
(11), Goffman (12), Lawson (18), and Henslin and Biggs (20). The readings
by Gans (33) and Harris (40) provide examples of
one by Gracey' (39) is an example of
The dominant orienta-
tion of this book is symbolic interactionism.
Part II of the book, then, builds upon Part
I hope that it will help you
to better appreciate how sociologists do their research and how they inter-
pret what they find.
JAMES M. HENSLIN
Guesswork does not go very far in helping us to understand our social
world. Some of our guesses, hunches, and ideas that pass for com-
mon sense are correct. Others are not. And we seldom know which
Sociologists must gather data in such a way that what they report
is objective-presenting information that represents what is really
"out there." To do so, they must use methods that other researchers
to check their findings. They also must tie
their findings into what other researchers have already reported and
into sociological theory. In this overview of
Henslin outlines the procedures that sociologists use to gather data.
Renee had never felt fear before-at least not like this.
begun as a vague feeling that something was out of place. Then
she felt it creep up her spine, slowly tightening as it clawed its
way upward. Now it was like a fist pounding inside her skull.
Renee never went anywhere with strangers. Hadn't her parents
hammered that into her head since she was a child? And now, at
19, she wasn't about to start breaking
And yet here she was, in a car with a stranger. He seemed
nice enough. And it wasn't as though he were some strange guy
on the side of the road or anything. She had met George at Pa-
tricia's party, and everyone seemed to know him,
Renee had first been attracted by his dark eyes. They
seemed to light up his entire face when he smiled. And when he
asked her to dance, Renee felt flattered. He was a little older, a
little more sure of himself than most of the guys she knew.
Renee liked that:
was a sign of maturity.
As the evening wore on and he continued to be attentive to
her, it seemed natural to accept his offer to take her home.
But then they passed the turn to her dorm. She didn't un-
derstand his mumbled reply about "getting something." And as
he turned off on the country road, that clawing at the back of
her neck had begun.
As he looked at her, his eyes almost pierced the darkness,