notes1 - Understanding Social Behavior Sociology the study...

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Understanding Social Behavior Sociology – the study of human behavior and society – Focuses on groups but not individuals o Sociologists study a broad range of phenomena From small group interactions and the meaning of cultural symbols to large scale economic shifts Micro- vs. Macro- Sociology Connection between the individual and society The “Sociological Imagination” o C. Wright Mills, “The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society.” o To view our individual lives in the context of large, powerful, historically conditioned social forces The Individual vs. Social Structures o How do we usually explain one’s behavior? Going to war – prove patriotism, among other reasons Divorce – no passion, to develop potential partner College students’ suicide – to escape depression o How should we explain group behavior? Going to war – society teaches us to be patriotic Divorce – social trend towards sexual equality Suicide – pervasive societal expectations of academic performance o What is a social structure? Patterns of social relationships Groups/Society  Individual Behavior o Groups and society shape individual behavior o Individual behavior creates groups and society o Going to college – your personal decision? o Joining a gang – a social act providing some young men and women with a sense of security Sociologists Focus on… o The individual or the group? o Individual behavior or patterns of group behavior?
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o Personal motivation or social forces? o The effect social structures have on people or the effect people have on social structure? Sociological Theories o What does a theory do? It explains reality Each theory provides a framework for interpreting sociological observations The three dominant sociological theories o Symbolic Interactionism (e.g. George Simmel, George Herbert Mead) o Functionalism (e.g. Emile Durkheim) o Conflict Theory (e.g. Karl Marx) 1. Symbolic Interactionism Symbol refers to the meanings associated with people, objects and events How we construct meanings; use symbols to communicate with each other; the foundation of our social world 1. Everyone has a self that allows us to discuss and reflect on our actions 2. We construct meanings, based on which we act 3. We understand and anticipate others’ reactions to our behavior We have to understand the symbolic world to understand people’s behavior 2. Functionalism The society is made up of many parts, each fulfilling a certain function; interrelated When a part does not work, it becomes dysfunctional Change? 3.
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notes1 - Understanding Social Behavior Sociology the study...

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