Chapter 1 – 3 Sociology And Social Life

This chapter covers sociology and social life, idea and value.


Scientific study of human social life, groups and societies with an emphasis on modern, industrial systems.

Sociological Imagination

Have to be detached from a certian problem in order to try to fix it. Looking at things in a bigger picture.

Charles Wright Mills

Came up with the idea of sociological imagination.

Auguste Comte

Coined the term sociology, also known as the father of sociology.

Comte’s Science of Society

Two branches, 1. Static, 2. Dynamic.

Comte’s Beliefs

Sociology should contribute to the welfare of humanity by using science to understand and predict human behavior.

Herbert Spencer

Thought of society as an organism. Interactive parts contribute to the whole. Government should leave social problems alone.

Emile Durkheim

Studied suicide. Social integration prevented suicide.

Social Integration

The degree to which people are tied to a group.

Karl Marx

Human history marked by class conflict. Economic systems determine beliefs and values. Capitalism breeds conflict.

Max Weber

Ideas and values impact social change as much as economy. Versteken. Bureaucracy inevitable. Society is more efficient but no more democracy.


Individuals give meaning to their own behavior.

Harriet Martineau

Jane Addams

Founded the Hull House in Chicago. Dealt with many social ills but one at a time. Social security, child labor, workmans comp. Nobel peace prize 1931, used formal scientific methods.

W.E.B. Du Bois

First African American to receive a doctorate at Harvard. Worked on racial equality and created the NAACP.

Symbolic Interactionist Perspective

Microview of society. Language is crucial. People assign meaning to others words. All interactions involve symbols. Response is due to our subjective interpretation. Behavior is fluid.

Functionalist Perspective

Society is made up of interdependent parts that perform functions for society as a whole. Society is held together by social consensus. Social change is harmful.

Social Consensus

Majority agree on what would be good for everybody, maintaining order and stability in society.

Conflict Perspective

Portrays society as always changing and marked by conflict. Different groups compete with each other for scarce resources. EG. Men vs Women, Black vs. white.

Feminism Perspective

Explains human life in the terms of the experiences of women. Different from men, women’s position in most social situations is unequal to that of men, women are oppressed by patriarchy.


Male dominated society.

7 Theories of Perspective

Conflict, Feminism, Functionalist, Marxism, Symbolic Interactionism, Rational Choice, Postmodernism.

Marxist Perspective

Class conflict between the working class and the ruling class. Macro perspective. Capitalist societies will eventually lead to a revolution.

Rational Choice Perspective

Among the different variables, self interest could be the number one variable to explain society. Cannot explain emotions like love.

Postmodernist Perspective

HIstory leads to progress idea is dead. We are run by “New Media”. Pluralistic, diverse and disconnected from the past.

Research Process

1. Problem 2. Background 3. Hypothesis 4. Research Method 5. Experiment 6. Interpret 7. Report


Study of people first hand, using participant observation, or interviewing. A- Detailed information. D- Small group

Live Histories

Assembling biographical material about individuals.

Comparative Research

Comparing various groups in different societies

Historical Analysis

Studying past events directly or through written record.


Combining many research methods to check and supplement material obtained from the others.

Sociological Research

Helps us determine which common sense beliefs are myths and which are reality.

19th Century Social Philosophers

Influenced by the natural sciences because those sciences served as a model to understand and control the social world.

Robert Merton

The main function of going to college is to get an education.

Social Role

The expectations one should fulfill to be helpful and contribute to society.

Role Sets

The expectations one should fulfill depending on the association of specific profession.

Role Conflict

Having two obligations but having to neglect one over the other depending upon the severity of the consequences.

Secondary Groups

Mostly found in large, industrial societies.

Social Group

Collection of people that share some characteristics, interact with each other, and have some feelings of unity.

Postindustrial Societies

Less faith in science to provide answers, increasing power and freedom to individuals, impersonal relations, shallow lives, greater gender equality and more people move away from big cities.

Sapir- Whorf Hypothesis

Language shapes the ways in which people perceive the world.

American Values

Have been more beneficial to the U.S. society than other countries with different values.

Cultural Universals

Practices that are found in all cultures.

Participant Observation

A research method that involves asking questions about opinions, beliefs or behaviors.

Class Conflict

Durkheim’s terms for struggle between the capitalists, who own the means of production and those who do not.


Socially shared idea about what is good, desirable or important.


Reward for conformity to norms or punishment for violation of norms.

Social Institution

A set of widely shared beliefs.


How you interact with others in accordance with your role/status.


What you do in your status


Your position in society, the prestige that goes along with it.

Role Set

Different roles that go along with one single status.

Role Conflict

Two conflicting roles from two different statuses.

Role Strain

Two conflicting roles from the same status.

Sociocultural evolution

The process of changing from a simple to a complex society.

Pre-Modern Societies


Modern World Societies

Newly industrializing

Hunting-Gathering Societies

Based on using food provided by nature-gathering, fishing and hunting every day. Used simple tools. The oldest and most egalitarian societies. Small societies. Nomads.

Example of Hunting-Gathering

Kung in South Africa.


A person who believes in the equality of all people, most equal society.

Pastoral Societies

Based on the domestication of animals and use their products as main source of food. Groups move where there is foods but they are more settlers than nomads. Independent and warlike.

Example of Pastoral

Deserts of North and East Africa and the Middle East.

Horticultural Societies

The cultivation of domesticated crops in small gardens using hand tools. Slash & burn the field system. Sexual division. Permanent settlements. Surplus of food= prestige. Warfare common. 1st social inequality and sexual division.

Example of Horticultural

Tropical forests of Asia, Australia, South America and Africa.

Agricultural Societies

Moore labor, use of fertilizers, control of water supply, use of animals. Use of the plow—agricultural revolution—larger crops. Permanent settlements, larger population, central government and great inequalities.

When did industrial societies appear?

250 years ago

Industrial Societies

Production of goods through mass employment in business and commercial operations. Based on industrial production and mostly they are free enterprise; technological advances occur more faster. Urban, social life is impersonal, politics more developed. Nation states.


Move away from cities, do not believe in science, technology for marketing, biotechnology, Increasing power and freedom to individuals but impersonal relations; shallow lives; instant gratification.
Greater gender equality.


The language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors and material objects that are passed on from one generation to the next. The way of life of individual members or groups within a society.

Material Culture

The material objects or goods that distinguish a group of people from others.

Non-Material Culture

A group’s way of thinking and doing.


A system, a collection of interrelationships that connects individuals sharing the same territory.

Social Control

Used when a person fails to conform to the culture. Members of a culture are supposed to learn in childhood.


A collection of objective ideas, facts about the physical & social worlds.


Subjective and unverifiable ideas.


Abstract ideals shared by a group. Socially shared ideas about what is good and desirable in life.


Principles or rules of social life people observe.
written and unwritten rules to control a society’s behavior. Society enforces these norms through sanctions.


Weak norms that specify expectations about proper behaviors, but if someone does not follow we don’t send them to jail, we just raise our eyebrows. Hipsters.


Norms that constitute demands on our behavior. Mores are often turned into laws.
If there is no normative support the laws are hard to enforce (e.g. teenage drinking).

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis

That language predisposes us to see the world in a certain way.


Diverse cultures within a society. Different languages or cultural patterns. Offer opportunities for creativity and change such as the following:
Can reject prevailing values and norms.
Can promote alternatives to dominant culture.
Can act as force of change.


The process by which different cultures are absorbed into the mainstream culture.


Respecting cultural diversity and promoting equality of different sub-cultures within the culture.


Judging other cultures in terms of one’s own standards. Is the attitude that one’s own culture is superior to those of other peoples.

Cultural relativism

Judging a society by its own standards. Is the belief that culture must be understood on its own terms.

Cultural Universals

Common features of human behavior found in all societies.

Examples of Cultural Universals

Food-getting technology, Housing, Language, Marriage, Art, Incest taboos, Cooking, Medicine, Joking ect.

Global Culture

Increased global communications and economic interdependence represent more than the growth of world unity.

Forces for Global Culture

Television, unified global economy, global citizens, international organizations, electronic communications.


totality of learned, socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material and behaviors. It includes the ideas,values and artifcatcts( ex. DVD, comic books, birth control devices, etc)


farily large number of peoplewho live in the same teritory are relatviely indepedent of people outside their area and particpate in a common culture
1.largest form of human group
2. share common heritage and culture

Theodore Adorno

globally the primary effct of popular culture is to limit people’s choices. (German philopher)

culture industry

the worldwide media industry tht standardizes the goods and services demanded by consumers

cultural universals

all societies have devloped certain common practices and beliefs (ex: need for food, shelther and clothes)

George Murdock

Anthrolopologist – complied list of cultural universals ( athletic sports, cooking, dancing, visiting, personal names, marriages, medicine, religion rituals, funneral ceremonies, sexual restricitions, trade list same, but how to express them varies from culture to culture


the tendency to assume that one’s culture and way of life represent the norm or are superior to others

cultural relativism

viewing people’s behavior from the perspective of their own culture It places a priority on understanding others cultures rather than dismissing as strange or excotic.


the systemic study of how biology affects human social behavior. Asserts many cultural traits juman display are not learned by te rooted in genetic make up.

Charles Darwin

founded on sociobiology Theory of Evolution – natural selection

natural selection

process of adaption to the environment through random gentic variation. Assumed that particulat forms of behavior become genetically linked to species if they contribute to its fitness of surfe


process of introducing a new idea or object to a culture.


involves making known or sharing the existence of an aspect of reality


results when existing cultural items are combined into a form that did not exist before.


refer to the process by which a cultural item spreads from group to group or society to society

technology `

cultural information about the ways in which the material resources of the environment may be used to satisfy human needs and desires

material culture

physical or technological aspects of our daily lives inccluding food, houses, factories, raw materials,

nonmaterial culture

ways of using material objects as well as customs, beliefs, philosphies, governments, and patterns of communication (Ogburn’s work)

cultural lag

period of maladjustment when the nonmaterial culture is still struggling to adapt to new material conditions. (Ogburn’s work)


is a segment of scoiety that shares a distinctive pattern of customs, rules and traditions that differs form the pattern of the larger society. Sometimes emerge when the dominant society unsucessfully tries to support a practice such as the use of illegal drugs


specialized language used by members of a group or subculture


when a subculture conspicuously and deliberately opposes certain aspects of the larger culture

culture shock

anyone who feels disoriented, uncertain, out of place or even fearful when immersed in an unfamiliar culture


an abstract system of word meanings and symbols for all aspects of culture. It includes speech, written characters, numerals, symbols and nonverbal gestrues and expressions describes reality and serves to shape the reality of a culture

Sapir- Whorf hypothesis

hypothesis concerning the role of language in shaping our intepretation of reality, It holds that langage is culturally determined.


gestures, objects and words that form the basis of human communication

nonverbal communication

use of gestures, facial expressions an other visual images to communicate


are established standards of behviors maintained by a society

formal norms

generally have been written down and specify strict punishments for violators Ex: diploma, medal, firing from job, jail sentence

informal norms

generally are understood but not precisly recorded. Ex: dress code, smile, frown, bullying, etc


norms deemed highly necessary to the welfare of a society often because they embody the most cherished principle of a people.


norms governing everyday behavior


penalties and rewards for conduct concerning a social norm


collective conception of what is considered good, desirable and proper or bad, undesirable and improper in a culture

cultural war

polarization of society over controversial cultural elements

dominant ideology

set of cultural beliefs and practice that help to maintain powerful social, economic, and political interests.


use of 2 languages in a particular setting (work or school) teaching each language as equally legitimate.

cultural variation -functionalist perscpective

subcultures serve the interesrs of subgroups, ethnocentrism reinforces group solidarity

cultural variation – conflict perpective

contercultures questions the dominant social order, ethncentrism devalues groups

cultural variation – feminist perpective

cultural relativism respects variations in the way men and woman are viewed in different societies.

cultural variation – interactionist perpective

customs abd traditions are transmitted through intergroup contact and through media

norms – functionalist perpective

reinforce societal standards

norms – conflict perpective

reinforce patterns of dominance

norms – feminist perpective

reinforce roles of men and women

norms – interactionist perpective

are maintained through face to face interaction

values -functionalist perspective

are collective coneptions what is good

values – conflict perspective

may perpetuate social inquality

values – feminist perspective

may perpetuate male dominance

values -interactionist perspective

are defined and redefined through social interaction

culture and society – functionalist perspective

culture reflects a society’s strong central values

culture and society – conflict perspective

culture reflects society’s dominant ideology

culture and society – feminist perspective

culture reflects society’s view of men and women

culture and society – interactionist perspective

a society’s core culture is perpetuated through daily social interactions

Walmart – functionalist perspective

provides food and services to customers

Walmart – conflict perspective

opposes labor unions; slow to provide employee health benefits, promote women

Walmart – feminiist perspective

limits role of women in leadership

Walmart – interactionist perspective

history of insensivity to cultrual variations in store customer relationships