UB SOC 101 - Theoretical Perspectives in Contemporary Mainstream Sociology

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Typical Steps for ResearchSOC 101 Wednesday, February 17 Lecture OutlineTheoretical Perspectives in Contemporary Mainstream SociologyA theory is a general statement about how some parts of the world fit together and how they work; it is an explanation of how two or more facts are related to one anotherI. Symbolic Interactionism Focus is on how people themselves define reality, how they make sense of the world, how they experience and define what people are doingAssumption is that social structures are created through interactions amongpeople so that patterns and standards of behaviour emerge, i.e. social reality is a construction by peopleFocus on meanings assigned to actions and symbols, how meanings are learned and modifiedInquires into factors that influence how we interpret what we say and do, and patterns that give rise to same interpretation for manySuggest individuals exist in analogy to actors in a play– dramaturgy, a sub-theory of interactionismKey sociologists: George Herbert Mead and Herbert Blumer+CriticismsNo systematic frameworks for prediction or persistence/evolving of meaningsPotential for subjectivity in analysis greaterGoffman's dramaturgical approachunderstanding social interaction through an analogy of theatre and performanceSocial life:- a stage in which people interact and perform- humans are both actors and audience members- parts they play are roles in everyday life (mother, teacher, factory 1worker)- the roles change depending upon the setting- roles consist of two types: "front stage" and "back stage" - characterized by difference in behavior -- formal and informalII. Functionalism (also known as Structural Functionalism) – Focus on order and stability in society and assumes society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote social stabilitySociety is a system of interrelated, interdependent parts, which are called social structures (e.g. family, education, economic, religion, etc)…each social structure has a purpose or function for the continued maintenance of social stability. e.g. nuclear family: provides sustenance, shelter, primary carechildhood socialization: provides codes of social behaviorpractice of religion: the learning of values and rituals.The function of a structure is its contribution to the system, and its effects on other structuresEach structure functions to maintain an orderly and predictable system, preserving social orderThe functions of each social structure consist of :A. manifest functions: the recognized and intended consequencesof the social structureB. latent functions: the often unrecognized and unintended consequencesC. social dysfunctions: undesirable consequencesThere is a normative consensus where members of society share a set of values and behaviorsAn analogy is the thermostat/heat regulation or the human body2Key sociologists: Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, Robert MertonCriticismsMay justify and legitimize the existence of a part of society, e.g. povertyor unemploymentHelps to preserve status quo by overlooking or downplaying sources of tension and inequalityEfficiency of a part may not be questionedOrigins of social conflict and instability not accountable or are considered dysfunctionalIII. Conflict Theory – Focus on conflict as inevitable part of social lifeSocieties are characterized by inequality and thus there is an emphasis on the role of competition in producing conflictConflict is not necessarily a negative aspect of society since it produces social changeSociety comprised of dominant and subordinate groups which compete for resources – the have and the have notsWho benefits at whose expense is the questionKey sociologists: Karl Marx, Max WeberCriticismsoveremphasize tensions and divisionsrelationship between groups more complexsituations exist where subordinate groups control the interactions are ignored+Chapter 3 – Doing Sociological Research3The approaches and methods used by social science researchers Science is a logical system that bases knowledge on direct systematic observation.What is A Valid Sociological Topic?Sociologists conduct research on almost every area of human behavior.  This includes research at the both the macro level and the micro level. Sociological research includes a specified method of how it isto be done. Typical Steps for Research Step 1: select a topic. A sociologist may choose a particular topic for a variety of reasons. For example, he or she may be interested in the topic, there may be funding available to do research on the topic, and/or the topic may constitute a pressing social problem that the sociologist wants to help people better understand and, perhaps, help to solve.Ways to Select Topics Personal experience Curiosity based on media State of knowledge in the field Solving a problemStep 2: define the problem. This involves developing a researchable question focusing on a specific subject and figuring out, exactly, what it is you want to learn about it.45Step 3: review the existing literature This is required in order to learn whether studies have already been done on the subject and, if so, what the results were.Goals of a Literature Review Demonstrate a familiarity Show the path of prior research Integrate and summarize Learn from others6 Reviewing the literature helps the researcher narrow down the subject, come up with ideas about specific questions to ask and/or particular areas to explore, and to assess if there is anything new to learn about the subject that has not already been uncovered by previous

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UB SOC 101 - Theoretical Perspectives in Contemporary Mainstream Sociology

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