For study including the medias role in describing the

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An Introduction to Physical Science
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Chapter 1 / Exercise 4
An Introduction to Physical Science
Shipman/Wilson
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for study, including the media’s role in describing the attacks, the presence of violence in our educational institutions, the gun control debate, the inadequacy of the nation’s mental health care system, and the stereotyping and stigmatization of people who suffer from mental illness. Besides doing research, sociologists have a long history of advising government agencies on how to respond to disasters. Certainly the poverty of the Gulf Coast region complicated the huge challenge of evacuation in 2005. With Hurricane Katrina bearing down on the Gulf Coast, thousands of poor inner-city residents had no automobiles or other available means of escap- ing the storm. Added to that difficulty was the high incidence of disability in the area. New Orleans ranked 2nd among the na- tion’s 70 largest cities in the proportion of people over age 65 who are disabled—56 percent. Moving wheelchair-bound resi- dents to safety requires specially equipped vehicles, to say noth- ing of handicap-accessible accommodations in public shelters. Clearly, officials must consider these factors in developing evac- uation plans (Bureau of the Census 2005f). Sociological analysis of the disaster did not end when the floodwaters receded. Long before residents of New Orleans staged a massive anticrime rally at City Hall in 2007, researchers The earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010 may have lasted only a few minutes, but the social impact on the small, impoverished island nation will last many years. This “temporary” tent city shelters 20,000 people whose homes were destroyed, and for whom there is still no permanent housing.
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An Introduction to Physical Science
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Chapter 1 / Exercise 4
An Introduction to Physical Science
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8 CHAPTER 1 Understanding Sociology theory is a set of statements that seeks to explain problems, actions, or behavior. An effective theory may have both explanatory and pre- dictive power. That is, it can help us to see the relationships among seemingly isolated phenomena, as well as to understand how one type of change in an environment leads to other changes. The World Health Organization (2006) estimates that some 900,000 people commit suicide every year. More than a hun- dred years ago, a sociologist tried to look at suicide data sci- entifically. Émile Durkheim ([1897] 1951) developed a highly original theory about the relationship between suicide and social factors. Durkheim was primarily concerned not with the person- alities of individual suicide victims but rather with suicide rates and how they varied from country to country. As a result, when he looked at the number of reported suicides in France, England, and Denmark in 1869, he also noted the total population of each country in order to determine the rate of suicide in each nation. He found that whereas England had only 67 reported suicides per million inhabitants, France had 135 per million and Den- mark had 277 per million. The question then became “Why did Denmark have a comparatively high rate of reported suicide?” Durkheim went much deeper into his investigation of sui- cide rates. The result was his landmark work Suicide, published in 1897. Durkheim refused to accept unproved explanations

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