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Theories and Theorists

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Theories and Theorists. Chapter 1. Sociology =. study of groups/societies and the way they affect our behavior. A. Social relationships (humans are social creatures). 1. sociological imagination =. ability to see the connection between private troubles and social problems. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
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Theories and Theorists Chapter 1
Page 1: Theories and Theorists

Theories and Theorists

Chapter 1

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I. Sociology = study of groups/societies

and the way they affect our behavior

A. Social relationships (humans are social creatures)

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1. sociological imagination =

ability to see the connection

between private troubles and social


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2. examines social institutions:

• family, education, economy, government, religion—and how they influence individuals

a. also examines how these institutions stay the same and change

i. Families, schools, religion in everyday life

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3. main lesson of sociology =

• structure of society affects people, molding both their attitudes and their behavior

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B. Types of Sociology

• 1. macrosociology =examines large scale structures and processes

a. entire cultures or societiesb. Functionalism and Conflict theories 2. microsociology =

looks at smaller groups or individuals

a. Symbolic Interactionism Perspective

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3. Jobs/Uses a. Sales – Marketing b. Social Worker

c. Teaching d. Dealing with Social Problems – politician, economist, minister e. Anything dealing with PEOPLE

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C. It is a science

• 1. Information is gained through observations based on scientific method

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2. Part of Social Sciences:


economics political science




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D. Early Sociologists

1. Auguste Comte

a. first to define sociology

2. Karl Marx (and Frederick Engels)a. Conflict perspective

3. Emile Durkheim a. Functionalism4. Max Webera. Symbolic Interactionism

understanding putting self in other’s shoes to

understand perspective5. Herbert Spencer

a. “Survival of Fittest”—societies should evolve naturally and solve own problems

b. Verstehen =

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II. Development in US

• A. Industrial Revolution problems in cities = Social Issues

B. First Dept. of Soc. in 1893 at U. of Chicago

C. 1940s study center shifted to Harvard and Columbia U.

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III. Major Theories/Perspectives in Sociology

• A. Evolutionary Theory = societies will

progress thru more complex stages1. Strongest will

survive2. Favored by

countries/classes in power

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B. Functionalism = • views society as a

set of interrelated parts that work together to produce a stable social system

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1. Herbert Spencer & Emile Durkheim

2. Social institutions are studied by their functions in society

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a. manifest function =

intended and recognized

consequence of some element of

society i. e.g. car for transportation

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b. latent function =

unintended and unrecognized

consequence an element has on


i. e.g. car as status symbol

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c. dysfunction =

• negative consequence an element has for the stability of the social system

Incest, abuse

Learn better

skills as criminal

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d. If no function,

i. Hermits, Criminals, Gay Marriage, respectively…

dysfunctional,or function does not have consensus,

it is considered DEVIANTDEVIANT

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3. All institutions are interconnected

4. society held together through consensus

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Recess and Loss of Consensus

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5. Sociologists using Functionalist Perspective study:

Church and State;

economy; family values;

School performance and standards

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Conflict Theory Intro

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C. Conflict Perspective =

studies competition over resources and

change from the conflict that arises

1. Karl Marx & Frederick Engels

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2. Interested in how those who possess more power in society exercise control over those with less power

3. Nonviolent competition as well as violent: sexes, races, age

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4. Decision making in family, relationships among racial groups

controlled by dominant group (white male or eldest, strong male)

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5. Labor disputes between workers and employers – employers have control; workers may feel exploited

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6. * Competition over scarce resources is at the basis of social conflict*

b. once people gain control they then establish rules that protect their interests at the expense of other groupsc. inequality leads to social conflict (less power fight back)—this leads to social change (inevitable feature in society)

a. resources such as power and wealth are in limited supply— competition

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7. Sociologists using Conflict Theory deal with:

• Labor disputes; Poverty and

Welfare; Racism;

Sexism; Gay Rights

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D. Symbolic Interactionist =

• focuses on relationships and how we interact

using symbols and routine

1. Max Weber, George Herbert Mead, Charles Horton Cooley

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Symbols and interaction

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2. how individuals respond to

one another in everyday situations

3. meanings that individuals attach to their own actions and to the

actions of others

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4. * symbol =anything that stands

for something else— members of society must

agree on meaning

—used to communicate

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• 5. we learn the meanings of these symbols through interacting with others

6. our idea of self is based on how we believe we are seen through other

people’s eyes•7. interested in interaction between people that takes place through the use of symbols

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When do symbols affect interaction?

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8. Goffman compared life in society to theatre

• a. Actors:each

member of society has a “role” to play in relation to

other members

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b. Script:

just as stage actors follow a script so actors in society follow rules for

acceptable behavior

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c. Director:

anyone who gives rules or direction; helps you become

who you are

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d. Interpretation:

• actor’s interpretation depends on script, what is brought to the role, what other actors do, and how audience reacts

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e. Bad Actors:

• those who stray too far from

accepted roles = deviant

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9. Specialties within Symbolic Interactionism

a. Ethnomethodology =

study of routine—glue that holds

society together—the subconscious

rules followed

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i. if a person does notrespond to habitual


then the person will spend time wondering if they were snubbed or if something was wrong

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b. sociolinguistics =study of how social

factors influence speech patterns

i. use speech to

communicate and locate self ii. Southern speech

vs. North-Eastern/City

speech = crops growing vs.

business world

iii. Bad words for women vs. Bad words for men - shows men’s position of power =

Conflict theory

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10. Sociologists using Symbolic Interactionism study: child development,

relationships within groups (businesses,

schools, political parties),

mate selection,

birth order