Sociology Unit One

Cameron Wright Mills
Coined the term sociological imagination

Tried to understand how the average person in the US understood his everyday life; each of us lives in a very small orbit, and our worldview is limited by the social situations we encounter on a daily basis (gives us a limited perspective and point of view)

Believes that the average person does not understand their personal problems as part of any kind of larger framework

Argues that we all need to overcome our limited perspective by utilizing social imagination

Sociological Imagination
Term coined by C. Wright Mills

Understanding the relationship between personal problems (something that affects an individual or a handful or individual) and public issues (a prevalent problem among many individuals that affects thousands or millions that requires a certain policy to address the problem) and identifying structural as opposed to individual causes of behavior

The application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of sociological questions
Someone using the sociological imagination “thinks himself away” from the familiar routines of daily life

A quality of mind that allows us to understand the larger meaning of our experiences

Requires more than just making connections b/w individual lives and ideas about social structure (we now know)

Social Structure
Properties of large groups, organizations, and entire societies that channel behavior in a manner similar to physical structures

The underlying regularities or patterns in how people behave and in their relationships with one another

ex) laws/policies/norms, sex ratio, population density, age structure, stratification

Ask themselves questions that help to focus the sociological imagination and provide them with the concepts that motivate research

Determine how social phenomena is related to biological phenomena

Disentangle what is natural, or biologically determined, from what is socially constructed

Social Construction
An idea or practice that a group of people agrees exists;
maintained over time by people taking its existence for granted

The things that many see as natural (or having a biological cause) are actually created by human beings

ex) sex vs gender; the differences between men and women are not purely biological

Disentangles what is biological from what is socially constructed
Social Order
Many theories for the existence of social order:
1) Driven by self-interest and incentives
2) The existence of norms (internalization of norms through socialization)
3) Beliefs and values
The social processes through which children develop an awareness of social norms and values and achieve a distinct sense of self (by internalizing these norms)

Particularly significant in childhood and infancy, but continue to a degree throughout life

No individuals are immune from the reactions of others around them, which influence and modify their behavior at all phases of the life course

Important aspect of maintaining social order; once one has internalized a norm, they tend to follow through with the expectations of the norm in most of their interactions

Free Will vs Determinism
Deterministic frameworks predict that where an individual ends up in life is significantly if not entirely influence by he position into which he is born

Sociological imagination can be quite deterministic since it pushes us to see that, in many ways, the lives of individuals are quite determined by their social roles, gender, and class

Although sociologists tend to think in probabilities, which de-emphasizes the power of the individual, there is still room for a person to have an impact even if we acknowledge that they are constrained

Augustus Comte
Invented the word sociology as the scientific study of human behavior and society (using the scientific method)

Wanted the subject to produce knowledge of society based on scientific evidence, and to use this science to predict and control human behavior (social planning)

Ideas for social planning were based on the belief that society and the social order are not natural or preordained by a divine power, but are constructed by individuals

Initially called social physics

Emile Durkheim
The main dynamic of modern development is the division of labor as a basis for social cohesion and organic solidarity

Believed that sociology must study social facts as things, just as science would analyze the natural world, to further establish sociology as a science and develop methodological principles to guide research (built off of Comte)

Saw society as a set of independent parts, each of which could be studied separately; for a society to have a continuing existence over time, its specialized institutions (political system, religion, family, educational system, etc) must function as an integrated whole (like the human body) (organic solidarity) and cooperate (presumes a general consensus among its members over basic values and customs)

Argued that society exerts social constraint over our actions

His study of suicide led him to stress the important influence os social factors (anomie), qualities of a society external to the individual, on a person’s actions

Social Facts
The aspects of social life that shape our actions as individuals

Durkheim believed that social facts could be studied scientifically

Organic Solidarity
The social cohesion that results from the various parts (institutions) of society functioning as an integrated whole; coined by Durkheim
Social Constraint
The conditioning influence on our behavior or the groups and societies of which we are members

One of the distinctive properties of social facts

Limits what we can do as individuals according to Durkheim

Division of Labor
Basis for Durkheim’s analysis of social change; gradually replaced religion as the basis of social cohesion and providing organic solidarity to modern societies

The specialization of work tasks, and the combination of these different occupations within a product system

With the rise of industrialism, the division of labor became vastly more complex than in any prior type of production system

As division of labor expands, people become more dependent on one another

Anomie and Suicide
Anomie: the concept first brought into wide usage in sociology by durkheim in which social norms lose their hold over individual behavior; the feeling of aimless and despair provoked by modern social life and a feeling of unbelonging

Durkheim analyzed this in the context of suicide

According to Durkheim, processes of social change happen so quickly and intensely that they give rise to major social difficulties that are linked to anomie (religion as organic solidarity -> division of labor = anomie for some)

Karl Marx
Believed that the main dynamic of modern development is the expansion of capitalism, which divides society by class differences; ideas based on the materialist conception of history

Views sharply contrast those of Comte and Durkheim

Believed that capitalism contributes to a class system in which conflict is inevitable (class division), because it is in the interest of the ruling class to exploit the working class and in the interests of the workers to seek to overcome this exploitation

Believed that in the future, capitalism would be replaced by a society in which no division between rich and poor was made via communal ownership

Materialist Conception of History
Marx’s belief that social change is prompted primarily by material/economic influences, and that class conflict provides the motivation for historical development
An economic system based on the private ownership of wealth, which is invested and reinvested in order to produce a profit
Max Weber
The main dynamic of modern development is the rationalization of social and economic life

Influenced by Marx, but rejected the materialist conception of history and did not see class conflict as important; ideas and values have just as much of an effect on social change

Focused on why Western societies developed so differently from other societies; emphasized the importance of cultural ideas and values on social change

Believes that some aspects of Christian belief had strongly influenced the rise of capitalism; cultural ideas and values shape society and affect individual actions

Looked at the bureaucracy; saw the advance of bureaucracy as an inevitable feature or our era (rational-legal society)

A concept used by Max Weber to refer to the process by which modes of precise calculation and organization increasingly come to dominate the social world

Organizing social, economic, and cultural life according to principles of efficiency, on the basis of technical knowledge

Developments of science, modern technology, and bureaucracy are all examples of rationalization

A large organization that is divided into jobs based on specific functions and staffed by officials ranked according to a hierarchy

Enables large organizations to run efficiently but poses problems for democratic participation

Involves the rule of experts, who make decisions without consulting those whose lives are affected by them

Neglected Founders
The foundational figures in sociology frequently ignored women and racial minorities

Harriet Martineau and WEB Dubois

Harriet Martineau
“First woman sociologist”

Argued that when one studies a society, one must focus of all its aspects; insisted that an analysis of society must include all its members (drew attention to the absence of women’s lives from the sociology of that time)

First to study marriage, children, domestic and religious life, and race relations

Like Comte, argued that sociologists should do more than just observe; they should also act in ways to benefit society

WEB Du Bois
Created the concept of “double consciousness,” which refers to identity through the lens of the experiences of African Americans

Claimed that one’s sense of self and identity are greatly influenced by historical experiences and social circumstances (ex: slavery, segregation and prejudice for african americans)

Focused on race relations

First to trace the problems faced by blacks to their social and economic underpinnings

Modern Theoretical Approaches
Symbolic Interactionism (George Mead)
Functionalism (Comte, Durkheim, Merton)
Marxism and Class Conflict (Carl Marx)
Feminism and Feminist Theory
Rational Choice Theory (Max Weber)
Postmodern Theory (Jean Baudrillard)
George Mead
Influenced the development of sociological thought through a perspective called symbolic interactionism, which emphasized the study of language in analyzing the social world

Believed that language allows us to become self-conscious beings (aware of our own individuality); humans live in a richly symbolic universe, which applies to our sense of self

Each person is a self-conscious being because we learn to look at ourselves as if from the outside (“Taking the role of the other”)

Symbolic Interactionism
Developed by George Herbert Mead; emphasizes the role of symbols and language as core elements of all human interaction

Key element is the symbol; symbolic thought frees us from being limited in our experience to what we actually see, hear, or feel

All interaction among individuals involves an exchange of symbols

Directs our attention to the detail of interpersonal interaction and how that detail makes sense of what others say or do

One item used to stand for or represent another
ex) American flag symbolizes the nation
Deals with larger scale structures and processes
Originally pioneered by Comte

A theoretical perspective based on the notion that social events can best be explained in terms of the functions they perform, or the contributions they make to the continuity of society; analyzing the function of some aspect of society means showing its part in the continued existence and health of a society

Emphasizes the importance of moral consensus (sharing of the same beliefs and values) in maintaining order and stability in society

Regards order and balance as the normal state of society

Lost momentum as many placed too much emphasis on factors leading to social cohesion at the expense of producing conflict and division

Functionalist who distinguished between manifest and latent functions as well as functions and dysfunctions
Manifest Functions
The functions of a type of social activity that are known to and intended by the individuals involved in the activity
Latent Functions
Functional consequences that are not intended or recognized by the members of a social system in which they occur
Features of social life that challenge the existing order
A body of thought deriving its main elements from the ideas of Karl Marx

View sociology as a combination of sociological analysis and political reform

Meant to generate a program of radical political change
Emphasize conflict, class divisions, power, and ideology that is influenced by funcitonalism

The ability of individuals or the members of a group to achieve aims or further the interests they hold

Source of many conflicts in society

Measure of power is how far a group is able to put their wishes into practice

Sometimes involves the direct use of force but is almost always accompanied by the development of ideas (ideologies) that justify the actions of the power

Always connected with ideology and conflict (many conflicts are about power)

Shared ideas or beliefs that serve to justify or legitimize the interests of dominant groups; connects closely with power

Found in all societies in which there are systematic and ingrained inequalities between groups

Feminist Theory
A sociological perspective that emphasizes the centrality of gender in analyzing the social world and particularly the uniqueness of the experience of women

Strands of this theory share the desire to explain gender inequalities in society and to work to overcome them

Links social theory and reform (like marxism)

Emphasizes that gendered patterns and gendered inequalities are socially constructed

Focuses on the intersection between gender, race, and class.

Max Weber
Part of the Rational Choice Approach
Thought that all behavior can be divided into 4 categories:
1) behavior oriented toward higher values, such as politics
2) behavior oriented toward habit
3) behaviot oriented toward affect
4) behavior oriented toward self-interest (instrumental or rational action)
Rational Choice Approach
The theory that an individuals behavior is purposive

States that if you could only have a single variable to explain society, self-interest would be best

Useful, but some aspects of life that it cannot explain (like love)
ex) deviant behavior is a rational response to a specific social situation

The belief that society is no longer governed by history or progress

Highly pluralistic and diverse, with no “grand narrative” guiding its development

States the world is not destined to be a socialist one

Jean Baudrillard
Theorist of postmodernism

Believes that the electronic media has created a chaotic, empty world

The spread of electronic communication and mass media reversed the marxist theorem that economic forces could shape society

Social life is influenced above all by signs and images

Theoretical Approach
Broad orientation to the subject matter of sociology
Narrowly focused and attempts to explain particular social conditions or types of events

Formed during the research process and suggest other problems for subsequent research

The more wide-ranging, the more difficult to test

Middle-Range Theory
Specific enough to be tested by empirical research, yet sufficiently general to cover a range of phenomena
Relative Deprivation
People evaluate their own circumstances based on whom they compare themselves to
The study of human behavior in contexts of face-to-face interaction
Illuminate broad institutional patterns
Face-to-face interaction is the basis of all forms of social organization, n matter how large scale.
The study of large-scale groups, organizations, or social systems

Includes long-term analysis of change such as the development of industrialism

Essential for understanding the institutional background of daily life, since people’s lives are all affected by a broader institutional frameworks

How Sociology Can Help Us
Awareness of other cultures (allows us to see the world from many perspectives)
Assessing the effects of policies
Self-enlightenment (increased self-understanding; allows us to better influence our own futures)
The sociologist’s role (developing a social conscience)
Increasing Interdependence of Society
The lives of everyone on the planet are becoming increasingly interdependent as businesses and people move about the globe in increasing numbers in search of new markets and economic opportunities, and technology also aids this
Causes the cultural map of the world to change: networks of people span national borders and continents, providing cultural connection between places
Increasingly impossible for cultures to exist as island (few places on earth can escape the internet, TV, radio, air travel
Within a generation or two, all of the world’s once isolated cultures will be touched by global culture despite efforts to preserve old age ways of life
Forces that Contribute to a Global Culture
Emergence of a unified global economy (businesses whose factories, management structures, and markets span continents and countries)
Global citizens (ex: managers of large corporations)
A host of international organizations (ex: UN, other international groups that create a global political, legal, and military framework)
Electonic communications (provide instantaneous communication)
Exploding use of smart devices and social media
Global Culture but Individual Cultures
Globalization has also resulted in outright resistance to the homogenization of local cultures along European and North American lines

The emerging presence of a unified global culture, while connecting different cultures and societies, is also strengthening local cultural values and practices in many places

The values, norms, symbols and languages used to construct meaning and understanding of the world (speech and writing) and material culture (material goods a society makes) of a given group

Refers to the ways of life of individual members or groups within a society

Can be thought of as a “design for living” or a “toolkit: of practices, knowledge, and symbols acquired through learning that enable people to live in society

One of the most distinctive properties of human social association

Without culture, we could have no language in which to express ourselves and no sense of self-consciousness; our ability to think or reason would be severely limited

Cultural Universals
Values or modes of behavior shared by all human cultures
ex) grammar, family systems in which there are values and norms associated with the care of children, marriage, some form of incest prohibition, religious rituals, property rights, art, dancing, bodily adornment, games, gift giving, joking, and rules of hygiene

Variations within each category

Two most important cultural universals are language (primary vehicle of meaning and communication) and material culture (another way to convey meaning)

A socially approved sexual relationship between two individuals
Almost always involves 2 persons of opposite sexes, but in some cultures, types of homosexual marriages are tolerated.

Normally forms the basis of a family of procreation (expected that the married couple will produce and bring up children)

Some societies prohibit polygamy, in which an individual may have several spouses at one time.

Cultural universal, although what constitutes a marriage can vary culture to culture (ex: behavior between the couple or the number of spouses one may have or to whom one can be married)

A system of interrelationships that connects individuals; the ties that bind people together and make sustained human interaction possible

A group of people who live in a particular territoy, are subject to a common system of political authority, and are aware of having a distinct identity from other groups

Ranges from small (hunter and gathering societies) to large (China)

Relatively enduring over time, which requires some degree of common culture (a set of shared values and norms to guide behavior)

No society could exist without culture, and no culture could exist without society

Abstract ideals

Ideals held by individuals or groups about what is desirable, proper, good, and bad

What individuals value strongly influenced by the specific culture in which they happen to live

Conflicting cultural values can generate a sense of frustration and isolation

ex) americans value striving ahead, Chinese value collective effort

Principles or rules of social life that everyone is expected to observe; varies from culture to culture and change over time like the values that they reflect

Rules of conduct that specify appropriate behavior in a given range of social situations; either prescribe a certain type of behavior or forbids it
ex) what to wear

All human groups follow definite norms, which are backed by sanctions

Cultural conflict occurs when norms perceived as culturally incompatible collide

Material Culture
The physical objects that a society creates and that influence the ways people live; central aspect if a society’s material culture is technology
ex) cars, clothes, houses, tools, technology

Material culture is rapidly becoming globalized through modern information technology (computer and internet)
ex) the way classrooms and department stores resemble each other, McDonalds

The primary vehicle of meaning and communication in a society; a system of symbols that represent objects and abstract thoughts

Demonstrates both the unity and diversity of human culture, since there are no cultures without language and there are thousands of different languages

Involved in virtually all of our activities; the means by which we organize most of what we do

Allows us to extend the scope of our thought and experience; allows us to convey information about events remote in time or space and to discuss things we have never seen and develop abstract concepts

All symbols are representations of reality; can signify things that we imagine, or represent things initially experienced through our senses

Human behavior is oriented towards the symbols we use to represent reality rather than toward the reality itself, and these symbols are determined within a particular culture

Gives permanence to a culture and an identity to the people

Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis
A hypothesis based on the theories of Sapir and Whorf, that perceptions are relative to language (language shapes our perceptions of things)

Language influences our perceptions of the world; we are more likely to be aware of things that we have words for

Items used to stand for or represent another
ex: a flag symbolizes a nation

Symbols expressed in speech and writing are the chief was in which cultural meanings are formed and expressed

Any vehicle of meaning and communication
ex: material objects, aspects of behavior that generate meaning, sounds made in speech, marks made on paper, clothing, pictures, architecture
The study of the ways in which nonlinguistic phenomena can generate meaning; analysis of nonverbal cultural meanings
ex: traffic light, positioning of the church in the city
Allows us to contrast the ways in which different cultures are structured
Speech and Writing
Both vehicles of language

Writing: first began as the drawing up of lists, began as a means of storing information and as such was associated with early administrative needs

A society that possesses writing can locate itself in time and space

A written document

While the effect of speech is limited to the contacts in which the words were uttered, texts can endure for thousands of years

Cultural Turn
Describes sociology’s recent emphasis on the importance of understanding the role of culture in daily life

Culture is a “tool kit” from which people select different understandings and behaviors; our cultural tool kit inludes a variety of “scripts” that we can draw on, and even improvise on, to shape our beliefs, values, and actions; because we participate in many different (and often conflicting) cultures, our toolkits may be large with varied contents

The more appropriate the script is to a particular set of circumstances, the more likely we will be to follow it and recall events that conform to it long after they have occurred; there is no single reality to social encounters and multiple cultural scripts can play out in any situation

ex) man approaches you in the city

Early Human Culture: Greater Adaptation to Physical Environment
Human culture and biology are intertwined; culture is related to the physical evolution of th human species

Humans evolved from ape-;ole species about 4 mill years ago

First evidence of human culture showed up 2 million years ago; early humans fashioned stone tools hunted animals, and gathered, used fire; because they planned their hunts, they must have had some ability for abstract thought

Culture enabled early humans to compensate for physical limitations; humans could survive the unpredictable challenges of their surroundings and shape the world with their ideas and heir tools

Early humans were closely tied to their physical environment because they lacked the technological ability to modify their surroundings significantly; ability to make good and make clothing/shelter depended on physical resources close at hand

Cultures varied widely in different regions of the world

The Earliest Societies: Hunters and Gatherers
For most of our existence on the planet, humans have lived in small hunting and gathering societies, often numbering no more than 30-40 people

Faced little inequality (everyone lived in what would be considered as extreme poverty today); little difference among members of the society in the number or kinds of material possessions, so there was no division between rich and poor

Differences in position and rank were based on age and gender; the oldest and most experienced men usually had an important say in major decisions affecting the group, but differences in power were much less distinct than in larger types of societies

Hunting and Gathering Societies
Societies whose mode of subsistence is gained from hunting animals, fishing, and gathering edible plants

Today, most such cultures have been destroyed or absorbd by the spread of Western culture; currently, only 0.001 percent of the world’s population exists in a hunting gathering society (fewer than a quarter million) but still exist in Africa, jungles of Brazil and New Guinea

Moved about a good deal within fixed territories, around which they migrated from year to year; could not travel with much and did not have a stable membership

Had little interest in developing material wealth; main concerns were religious values and ritual activities

Pastoral and Agrarian Societies
About 15,000 years ago, some hunting and gathering groups started raising domesticated animals and cultivating fixed plots of land as their means of livelihood

Some became both pastoral and agrarian

Pastoral Society
Societies whose subsistence derives from the rearing of domesticated animals (livestock)

Depending on the environment, reared cattle, sheep, goats, camels, or horses

Some still exist in central asia, middle east, and africa

Agrarian Society
Societies whose means of subsistence are based on agricultural production (crop growing), often supplemented by hunting and gathering at first
The practice of cultivating small gardens by the use of simple hoes or digging instruments; the first step towards an agrarian society

Provided a more reliable food supply than hunting and gathering and could therefore support much larger communities

People who practiced horticulture could develop larger stocks of material possessions than people in either hunting and gathering or pastoral communities

Development of the First Civilizations
From about 6,000 BCE onward, there is evidence of societies larger than and different than those existing before; because they produced writing, science, and art, they are known as civilizations

Based largely on agriculture and the development of cities, led to the first pronounced inequalities in wealth and power, and were ruled by kinds and emperors

Earliest civilizations developed in the ME, mostly in fertile river areas; most traditional civilizations were also empires that conquered and incorporated other people

The process of the machine production of goods; the emergence of machine production based on the use of inanimate power resources (such as steam and electricity)

Replaced earlier civilizations as the dominant way of life

Originated in 18th century Britain as a result of the Industrial revolution, a complex set of technological changes that affected peoples means of gaining a livelihood including the invention of machines, the harnessing of power resources (ex: water and steam) ofr production, and the use of science to improve production methods

Allowed transportation and communication to become much more rapid, promoting a more integrated national community

Has served economic development, political cohesion, and military superiority (to spread Western Culture)

Industrial Societies
Strongly developed nation-states in which the majority of the population worlds in factories, shops, or offices rather than in agriculture, and most people live in urban areas

Today, almost 90% of people live and work in towns and cities

The largest cities are vastly larger than the urban settlements of traditional civilizations; in these cities, social life becomes impersonal and anonymous, and large-scale organizations influence the lives of virtually everyone

Sociology first emerged in industrial societies developed in Europe and North America and was strongly influenced by the changes taking place; all sociologists, although differing in specific views, acknowledged a belief that industrial society was here to stay, and as a result, the future would in many ways resemble the past (Marx, Weber, Durkheim)

Political communities with clearly defined borders and shared culture; governments have sovereign power within defined territorial areas and populations are citizens who know themselves to be part of single nations; characteristic of the modern world

ex: the US

Closely associated with the rise of nationalism

The process whereby Western nations established their rule in parts of the world away from their home territories that were previously occupied by traditional societies from the seventeenth to the early 20th century

Shaped the social map of the globe as we know it today (europeans settled thinly populated areas in North North America, Australia, and New Zealand)

Settler colonialism: takes the form of large- scale settlement (the US); countries created through settler colonialism have become industrialized

In many areas (south america, asia, and South america), the local populations remained in the majority and were administered by the colonial powers, largely for the benefit of the home country; these countries experienced a much lower level of industrial development (since much of the wealth was realized but the colonial powers)

Global North
Most of what was once called the industrialized world is found in the northern hemisphere

Use of global south and global north instead of industrialized vs developing is less likely to imply judgment as to which is culturally preferable

Global South
Refers to most of those countries belonging to the developing world in the southern hemisphere
Global South
A majority of the countries in the global south are in areas that underwent colonial rule in South Asia, Africa, and South America

Most have only become independent states since WWII, often following bloody anti-cononial struggles (ex: India)

Although these countries include people who still live in traditional fashion, these countries differ from earlier forms of traditional society in that their political systems follow western models and make them nation-states

Although most still live in crural areas, a rapid process of city development is occurring; even though agricultural remains the main economic activity, many crops are produced for sale in world markets

These countries have been created by contact with Western industrialism, which has undermined the more traditional systems

There are more poor people in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa; the global economic crisis has had an acutely destructive impact on people living in poverty- particularly women

In most societies, poverty is worse in rural areas (malnutrition, lack of education, low life expectancy, and substandard housing are more severe in the countryside, especially when arable land is scarce and agricultural activity is low); women are substantially more disadvantaged than men in such societies

Almost half of the impoverished people in the US have emigrated from poor countries

Emerging Economies
Formerly impoverished countries that over the past 2 or 3 decades have begun to develop a strong industrial base, such as India, Singapore, Chile, India, China, Mexico, South Korea, Tiawan, Argentina, Brazil

Rates of growth of the most successful of these countries is several times those of the western industrial economies (ex: East Asian)

A countries economic growth does not nesecarily mean that the citizens are happier or feel more secure; instead, as countries industrialize, their general sense of well-being does not increase and may even decline

Cultural Conformity
All cultures serve as an important source of conformity (many of the younger people see themselves as “nonconformist”)

One of the challenges for all cultures is to instill in people a willingness to conform
This is accomplished in 2 ways:
1) Members learn the norms of their culture starting from childhood, with parents playing a key role; when learning is successful, the ingrained norms become unquestioned ways of thinking and acting and they appear “normal”
2) Social control comes into play when a person fails to conform adequately to a culture’s norms (often involved informal punishment)
Durkheim argues that punishment not only helps guarantee conformity but also vividly reminds others what the norms and values of that society are

Cultures differ in how much they value conformity; China is on one end of the spectrum, the US is on the other (Americans pride themselves for having independent spirit)

Values and norms distinct from those of the majority held by a group within the wider society, while still accepting most of the norms and values of the dominant culture

Small societies tend to be culturally uniform, but industrialized societies involving numerous subcultures are themselves culturally diverse, or multicultural; subculture not only implies different cultural backgrounds or different languages within a larger society, but also include segments of the population that have different cultural patterns

Culture helps perpetuate the values and norms of a society, yet it also offers opportunities for creativity and change; subcultures an countercultures can promote view that are alternative to that of the dominant culture

Social movements or groups with common lifestyles are powerful forces of change within societies, allowing people to express and act on their opinions, hopes, and beliefs

Youth subcultures typically revolve around music preference and distinctive styles of dress, language, and behavior

Subcultures also develop around types of work associated with unique cultural features, however like all subcultures, seldom stray far from the dominant culture

Groups that reject prevailing values or norms
The acceptance of a minority group by a majority population in which the new group takes on the values and norms of the dominant culture; process by which different cultures are absorbed into a mainstream culture

Although virtually all people in the US take on some common cultural characteristics, many groups strive to retain a unique identity

Segmented assimilation where certain groups have better opportunities by which to enter US society

A condition in which ethnic groups exist separately and share equally in economic and political life

Better metaphor to describe the US than the assimilationist melting pot is the culturally diverse salad bowl

Culture Shock
The initial feeling of disorientation when immersed in a new culture because one has lost familiar cultural reference points and has not yet learned how to navigate in the new culture

Every culture has unique patterns of behavior

The tendency to look at other cultures through the eyes of one’s own culture, and thereby misrepresent them; judgment of another culture by the standards of one’s own

Sociologists avoid practicing ethnocentrism by practicing cultural relativism instead

Cultural Relativism
The practice of judging a society by its own standards

Can be difficult; globalization can often lead to a clash of cultural norms and values that has forced members of both to confront some of their deeply held beliefs

Nature vs. Nurture
Whereas biologists and some psychologists emphasize biological and evolutionary factors on human thinking and behavior, sociologists stress the role of learning and culture, or because human beings can make conscious choices, neither biology nor culture wholly determines human behavior

Different biological factors interact with and respond to environmental inputs; nature does play a role in determining the attitudes and behavior (ex: certain innate instincts, but these instincts do not drive all of behavior)

All human cultures have some common characteristics (language, emotional expression, rules for child raising and sexual behavior, standards of beauty), but there is enormous variety in how these commonalities play out (due to culture); biology is not destiny, if this was the case than all cultures would be similar or identical

Sociologists are mainly concerned with how behavior is learned through interactions (socialization), but they acknowledge that both nature and nurture interact in complex ways to shape who we are and how we behave

Nature vs. Nurture Over the Century
In the 1940s, many social scientists focused more on biological factors (ex: person’s physique determined personality)
In the 1960s-1970s, scholars emphasized culture (ex: mental diseases caused by society labeling certain behavior unusual instead of imbalanced mental activity)
Now, pendulum is kind of seining more towards biology with new understandings in genetics and brain neurophysiology, but nature and nurture interact to produce human behavior
Evolutionary biologist Edward Wilson

An approach that attempts to explain the behavior of both animals and human beings in terms of biological principles
ex) reproductive strategy

Does not argue that genes determine 100% of human behavior

Reproductive Strategy
A pattern of behavior developed through evolutionary selection that factors the canoes of survival of offspring

Since females must make a larger investment towards offspring, they tend to be more selective in males as their overriding aim is for the protection and survival of their children

Males desire to have sec with many partners to preserve the species

Helps to explain differences in sexual behavior and attitudes between mean and women

Fixed patterns of behavior that have genetic origins and that appear in all normal animals within a given species; biologically fixed patterns of action in all cultures
The Internet and a Global Culture
Many believe that worldwide growth of the internet is hastening the spread of a global culture resembling those of Europe and North America; Internet allows for global communication, instant gratification, and seemingly unlimited (and uncensored) information (this idea may be premature)

The Internet in many ways is compatible with traditional cultural values and can even serve to strengthen them (especially true in countries that control the internet); can sometimes be thought of as an echo chamber of like minded individuals that reinforce their own beliefs

Can be used to create different subcultures, and also to build a community around ides that directly threaten the dominant culture (ex: extremist groups of religion)

Globalization and its Effect on Cultures
As a result of growing ties of interdependence (both socially and economically), the world has become a single social system

Globalization has simply reordered time and ditsance in social life as our lives are increasingly influenced by worldwide events

While it has introduced some societies to some aspects of different cultures, others have harshly strengthened local traditions as a rejection of the spread of Western culture (Westoxification)

The resurgence of local cultures is evident in the rise of nationalism

The very technology that helps foster globalization also supports local cultures; the internet enables you to communicate with others who share your cultural identity, even when they are dispersed throughout the world

Despite powerful forces of globalization, local cultures still remain strong but it is too soon to tell what will ultimately happen

A set of beliefs and symbols expressing identification with a national community
Can be highly political by attempting to assert power over others
How Easily do Cultures Change?
China Example
In the past 30 years has gone a major transformation: while some key industries remain state owned, most of the economy is now in private hands leading to a growing economy and consumerism of products and information; still censors to an extent but still allows for dissent and exposure to different cultural norms and values
Still having a hard time with innovative thinking despite attempts to produce new products, due to the long withheld emphasis on the importance of memorization and rote learning in education and test taking as a key measure of ones ability (gaokao: test that determines fate)

Cultural beliefs and practices that have been upheld for nearly 1500 years do not change easily

Changing Face of Social Interaction
Social interaction over the past deceased or so has undergone a major transformation because of the internet
The expected behaviors of people occupying particular social positions; socially defined expectations that a person in a given status (or social position) follows

The idea of social role comes from the theater, referring to the parts that actors play in a stage of production; in every day society, individuals play a number of social roles

Coined by Ervin Goffman

The social honor or prestige that a particular group is accorded by other members of a society; associated with social position

Status groups normally display distinct types of life- patterns of behavior that the members of a group follow

Status privilege may be positive or negative

Pariah = outcast

Social Position
The social identity an individual has in a given group or society

May be general in nature (those associated with gender roles) or more specific (occupational positions)

Did the most to create a new field of micro sociology, or social interaction with the belief that sociologists needed to study seemingly trivial aspects of human behavior since 1) our day-to-day routines give structure and form to what we do, 2) the study of every day life reveals how humans can act creatively to shape reality (reality is not fixed or static) 3) studying social interaction in every day life sheds light on larger social systems and institutions

Saw social life as played out by actors on a stage (or many stages) because how we act depends on the roles we play at a given time

We are sensitive to how we are seen by others, and use many forms of impression management to compel others to react to us in the ways that we wish

Every human possesses a self that is fragile and vulnerable to embarrassment or even humiliation at every turn

People are attuned to how others view or think of them

Seeking approval and respect, people want to “save face” at every turn, so in social interactions, humans interact with others to make sure that the interaction ends without embarrassment for everyone (ex: adopting roles to make others more comfortable at the doctors, audience segregation)

Differentiated between the expression that an individual gives and those he gives off

Impression management
Preparing for the presentation of one’s social role; “striking a pose”

Involves the natural tendency to want to be regarded upon in a certain way

The pose that we adopt depends a great deal on our soil roles, but no particular role implies any specific presentation of self

We tend to collaborate with others in impression management

Audience Segregation
People arrange for audience segregation, in which each of their roles they act differently and each role is kept distinct from the other to preserve ones own dignity, autonomy, and respect

Showing a different face to different people; the adoption of different and separate selves dependent upon the particular audience and context

Total institution: a place in which barriers between different spheres of life no longer exist, and there is therefore no need to practice audience segregation (ex: prison, mental institutions)

Civil Inattention
The process whereby individuals in the same physical setting demonstrate to one another that they are aware of each others presence without making any intrusive gestures
ex: quickly glancing at passerby (stranger or intimates)

Fundamentally important to the existence to social life

When this occurs between strangers, an individual is implying that she has no reason to suspect his intentions, be hostile to him, or in any other way specifically avoid him

If this is avoided and others are completely ignored, it can be taken as evasive and shifty

Nonverbal Communication
Communication between individuals based on facial expression or bodily gesture rather than on spoken language
Studied the facial action coding system (FACS) for describing movements of the facial muscles that give rise to particular expressions

Found that the facial expression/emotion and its interpretation is innate in human beings through his study in New Guineans who had previously had virtually no contact with outsiders and his study in deaf/blind children; confirms Darwin’s view that basic modes of emotional expression is the same in all human beings

Individual and cultural factors may still influence what exact form facial movements take and the contexts in which they are made; no such thing as bodily gestures or postures that characterize all cultures

Unfocused Interaction
Interaction occurring among people present in a particular setting but not engaged in direct face-to-face communication; occurs when people exhibit awareness of one another’s presence through nonverbal communication

Takes place with others in a large crowd, assembly, party, busy street

Focused Interaction
Interaction between individuals engaged in a common activity or in direct conversation with one another
A meeting between two or more people in a situation of face-to-face interaction; an instance of focused interaction

Our daily lives can be seen as a series of different encounters strung out across the course of the day

In modern society, many of these encounters are with strangers rather than people we know

Always need openings to indicate that civil inattention is being discarded (eye contact is good first)

Gives vs. Giving Off
Goffman differentiated between the expressions an individual gives and those he gives off

Gives: facial expressions and spoken language to produce certain impressions on others
Gives Off: cues that others may spot to check for sincerity and truthfulness

Response Cry
Seemingly involuntary exclamations individuals make when, for example, they are taken by surprise, drop something inadvertently, or want to express pleasure

Normally directed towards others present to indicate that the lapse is minor and momentary

A fundamental part of being human is continually demonstrating to others our competence in the routines of daily life

Interaction in Time and Space
All interaction is situated;occurs in a particular place and has a specific duration in time

Actions over the course of the day tend to be zoned in time as well as in space

The division of social life into different regional settings or zones
When and where events occur
Clock Time
Time as measured by the clock, in terms of hours, minutes, and seconds; standardized around the world so that international transport is possible (world has 24 different time zones, each an hour apart)

Without clocks and the precise timing of activities, and thereby their coordination cross space, modern industrialized societies could not exist

Social Interaction
The process by which we act and react to those around us; studied first by Erving Goffman in micro sociology
Personal Space
The physical space individuals maintain between themselves and others; differs culturally

In Western cultures, people usually maintain at least 3 feet when engaged in focused interaction with others;when side by side they may be closer; in the middle east, may stand a lot closer than accepted in the West

Edward Hall
Extensively studied nonveral communication, and distinguished 4 zones of personal space

1) intimate space: up to one and a half feet; reserved for few intimate relationships; regular body touching is permitted (parents, partners)
2) personal distance: one and a half to 4 feet; normal spacing for encounters with friends, some touching is permitted
3) social contact: 4 to 12 feet: zone permitted in formal settings such as interviews
4) public distance: beyond 12 feet, preserved to those who are performing to an audience

Most fraught zones are the first two; when invaded people try to recapture their space

One of the most important figures of micro interaction (after Goffman)

Created the field of ethnomethodology

Argued that in order to make sense of the world. sociologists need to study the background expectancies with which we organize ordinary conversations

The study of how people make sense of what others say and do int he course of day-to-day social interaction

Concerned with the ethnomethods by which people sustain meaningful exchanges with one another

The stability of our daily social lives depends on the sharing of unstated cultural assumptions about what is said and why; if we cannot take these for granted, then meaningful communication would be impossible

What seems to be unimportant conventions of talk, such as small talk, therefore turn out to be fundamental to the very fabric of social life

Social Context and Shared Understandings
We can make sense of what is said in conversation only if we know the social contact, which does not appear in the words themselves

In a verbal exchange, part of the sense is in the words, and part is the way in which the meaning emerges from the social context

Shared Understandings
The most inconsequential forms of daily talk presume complicated, shared knowledge brought into play by those speaking

Small talk is actually very complex and has a basis of shared understanding; the words in ordinary tap do not always have precise meanings, we fix what we want to say throughou unstated assumptions that back it up

Much of our interaction is done through talk, which verbal cues back up