Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sociology Study Guide

Definition of Sociology: The scientific study of human groups and institutions.

3 Sociological Perspectives

  1. Structural-Functionalism
  2. Symbolic Interactionist
  3. Conflict Theorist
Applied to Deviance
  • Functionalists point out that deviance, including criminal acts, is functional for society. Functions include affirming norms and promoting social unity and social change. According to strain theory, societies socialize their members into desiring cultural goals. Many people are unable to achieve these goals in a socially acceptable manner, i.e. by institutionalized means. Deviants, are people who either give up on societal goals or use disapproved means to attain them. Merton identified five types of responses to cultural goals and institutionalized means: conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion. Illegitimate opportunity theory stresses that some people have easier access to illegal means of achieving societal goals.
  • Symbolic interactionists have developed several theories to explain deviance such as crime (the violation of legalized norms). According to differential association theory, people learn to deviate by associating with others. According to control theory, each of us is propelled toward deviance, but most of us conform because of an effective system of inner an outer controls. People with less effective controls deviate. Labeling theory focuses on how labels help funnel people into or divert them away from deviance. People who commit deviant acts usually use techniques of neutralization to deflect social norms.
  • Conflict theorists take the position that the group in power imposes its definitions of deviance on other groups. From this perspective the law is an instrument of oppression used by the powerful to maintain their position of privilege. The ruling class uses the criminal justice system to punish the crimes of the poor while diverting its own criminal activities away from the public eye.
The 4 components of Non-Material Culture
  1. Language
  2. Beliefs
  3. Values
  4. Norms
    1. example: Value: Marriage supported by marital laws, a Norm
5 Types of Societies and the means of transition
  1. Hunter/Gatherer
    1. transformed by an ideology: the earth belongs to us
  2. Horticultural/Pastoral
    1. transformed by a tool: the Plow
  3. Agricultural society
    1. transformed by an invention: the Steam Engine
  4. Industrial Society
    1. transformed by an invention: the Microchip
  5. Post industrial
Agricultural society = Dawn of Civilization
  • specialization of Labor
  • development of cities and social institutions
Industrial Society = Birth of Sociology
  • rapid change causing anxiety over social solidarity
  • science seen as having all the answers
  • sociology = interest in changes in society + scientific method
Sociological Contributors
Max Weber
  • interested in how authority is exercised and legitimized
  • Emphasized the need to look for subjective meanings (he called this "Verstehen") and introduced the notion of
  • Ideal types (the use of typologies in understanding social phenomenon)
  • Major work: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Emile Durkheim
  • structure-functionalist
  • First to conduct real scientific research on suicide and solidarity
    • mechanical solidarity
      • the ties that bind people in a pre-Industrial Revolution society
      • characterized by shared values and strong social relationships
    • Organic solidarity
      • the interdependence that holds people together in a very complex, impersonal society
Karl Marx
  • Utopian thinker who theorized about the nature, movement, and predicted demise of capitalism
  • influential in launching Conflict perspective
  • Co-Authored (w/ Fredrick Engels) "The Communist Manifesto"
  • Other major work: "Das Kapital" (a major criticism of capitalism)
Population Theories
- Population and food are a problem. 
Solution is starvation, population will curb itself
- Population and resources are a problem. 
Solution is birth control.
Demographic Transition Theory 
- Population and space are a problem. 
Solution is birth control.
Modernization Theory
 - Population and technology are a problem.
 Solution is to modernize the world.
- Distribution of resources, waste, political corruption and instability, and access and utilization of resources are problems, not population. 
Solution: redistribution, political stability, stewardship

Demographic Transition
  • transition from high birth rate and death rates to low birth rates and death rates
  • some cultures do not move through this transition because of the momentum of cultural and structural forces that continue to value children as a blessing (not an "economic liability")
Socialization: Process by which we learn the norms of society and abide by them according to our statuses and roles.
  • Agents of socialization: social forces influencing individual
  • Status: position in society individuals fill
  • Role: behavior expected of a status

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