Chapter 1: Sociology and the Real World
What Does Society Look Like?
While the idea of society is familiar, describing it can be difficult. Ultimately
society is made up of many different components, such as culture, race,
family, education, social class, and people’s interactions.
People actively and collectively shape their own lives, organizing their social
interactions and relationships into a meaningful world. Sociologists study
this social behavior by seeking out its patterns.
is a group of people who shape their lives in aggregated and patterned
ways that distinguish their group from other groups.
Asking the Big Questions
People have long sought out an understanding of the meaning of life, their
place in society, and their social world. While early explanations were based
on tradition, superstition, and myth, the emergence of the social sciences
during the nineteenth century began to allow a more complete understanding
of the social world.
are the disciplines that use the scientific method to examine
the social world, in contrast to the natural sciences, which examine the
physical world. Examples of social sciences include economics, psychology,
geography, communication studies, anthropology, history, and political
What is Sociology?
is the systematic or scientific study of human society and social
behavior, from large-scale institutions and mass culture to small groups and
Howard Becker defined sociology as the study of people “doing things
together.” This reminds us that society and the individual are inherently
connected, and each depends on the other. Sociologists study this link: how
society affects the individual and how the individual affects society.