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CHAPTER 1 A SOCIOLOGICAL COMPASS BRIEF CHAPTER OUTLINE INTRODUCTION Robert Brym’s Indirect Road to Sociology A Change of Mind THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE The Sociological Explanation of Suicide The Sociological Imagination Origins of the Sociological Imagination SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY AND THEORISTS Functionalism Conflict Theory Symbolic Interactionism Feminist Theory CONDUCTING RESEARCH The Research Cycle Ethics in Sociological Research THE MAIN METHODS OF SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH Experiments Surveys Field Research Analysis of Existing Documents and Official Statistics THE POINTS OF THE COMPASS Equality versus Inequality of Opportunity Individual Freedom versus Individual Constraint Where Do You Fit In? CHAPTER SUMMARY Sociology is the systematic study of human behavior in social context. Sociology can help us to know our capabilities, our limitations and ourselves. Durkheim ’s sociological study of suicide demonstrates that there is a social realm that influences all human behavior. Durkheim showed that apparently even nonsocial and antisocial actions are influenced by social structures. A social structure is a relatively stable pattern of social relations. The sociological perspective analyzes the interplay between personal troubles and three 1
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levels of social structure: microstructures (patterns of intimate social relation), macrostructures (patterns of social relations that lie outside and above your circle of intimates and acquaintances, and global structures (patterns of social relations that lie outside and above the national level). The sociological imagination is the ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures. The sociological imagination emerged with three modern revolutions (scientific revolution, democratic revolution, industrial revolution) that helped people to think about society in a new way. We can understand out social world more fully when we use the sociological imagination. Three major theoretical traditions in sociology are functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Feminist theory has arisen in recent decades to compensate for deficiencies in the three traditional theories . Functionalism (Durkheim, Parsons and Merton) focuses on how human behavior is governed by relatively stable social structures. Conflict theory (Marx, Weber, and Dubois) shows how major patterns of inequality in society produce social stability in some circumstances and social change in others. Symbolic interactionism (Weber, Mead, Goffman, social constructionism) focuses on interpersonal communication in microlevel social settings. Feminist theory (Martineau and Addams) claims that male domination and female subordination are determined by structures of power and social convention. Researchers should make an important effort to be
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course SOC 110 taught by Professor Tahhaha during the Spring '08 term at Bellevue College.

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