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58 Cards in this Set

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invented the word sociology; believed this new field could produce aknowledge of society based on scientific evidence. He believed it to be themost significant and complex because it should contribute to the welfare ofhumanity by using science to understand, predict, and control human behavior

Auguste Comte

believed sociology must study social facts, aspects of social life that shape our actions as individuals; “Study social facts as things?”; society was made up of different parts and each could be studied separately; Organic Solidarity: various parts of a society functioning as an integrated hole in harmony; Social constraint; Showed that social factors exert a fundament influence on suicidal behavior (anomie)

Emile Durkheim

sought to explain the societal changes that took place during theIndustrial Revolution; believed social change is prompted primarily by economicinfluences, not the ideas or values human being hold (materialist conception ofhistory)

Karl Marx

thought economic factors were just as important as ideas and values when it came to effecting social change; studied bureaucracy

Max Weber

credited with introducing sociology to England through her translation of Comte’s founding’s; She argued that when one studies a society, one must focus on all its aspects, including key political, religious, and social institutions; she insisted that an analysis of a society must include an understanding of women’s lives.; she was the first to turn a sociological eye on previously ignored issues such as marriage, children, domestic and religious life and race relations; sociologists should do more than just observe – they should also act in ways to benefit a society

Harriet Martineau

First African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard; created concept of “Double consciousness”: which is a way of talking about identity through the lens of the particular experiences of African Americans

W.E.B. Du Bois

created perspective called symbolic interactionism

George Herbert Mead

saw functionalist analysis as providing the key to the development of sociological theory and research; distinguished between manifest and latent functions

Robert Merton

A concept first brought into wide usage in sociology by Durkheim, referring to a situation in which social norms lose their hold over individual behavior


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


An economic system based on the private ownership of wealth, which is invested and reinvested in order to produce profit; involves the production of goods and services sold to a wide range of consumers; a class system


: a class system in which conflict between classes is a common occurrence because it is in the interests of the ruling class to exploit the working class and in the interests of the workers to seek to overcome that exploitation

Marxist (conflict) perspective

A theoretical perspective based on the notion that social events can best be explained in terms of the functions they perform – that is, the contributions they make to the continuity of a society; emphasizes the importance of moral consensus in maintaining order and stability in society. Functionalists regard order and balance as the normal state of society


Functional consequences that are not intended or recognized by the members of a social system in which they occur

Latent Functions

The functions of a particular social activity that are known to and intended by the individuals involved in the activity

Manifest Functions

the growth of world interdependence; development of worldwide and local networks


the study of human behavior in contexts of face-to-face interaction


the study of large-scale groups, organizations, or social systems


The application of imaginative thought to t the asking and answering of sociological questions. “Think ourselves away” from our daily routines I order to look at them anew

Sociological Imagination

social contexts of our lives do not just consist of random assortments of events or actions; they are structured, or patterned, in distinct ways

Social Structure

The study of human groups and societies, giving particular emphasis to analysis of the industrialized world


the two way process by which we shape our social world through our individual actions and by which we are reshaped by society.


One item used to stand for or represent another – as in the case of a flag, which symbolizes a nation


a theoretical approach in sociology developed by Mead, which emphasized the role of symbols and language as core elements of all human interaction



Symbolic Interactionism

Describe main ideas and differences between 3 major theoretical approaches of symbolic interactionalism, functionalism, and the Marxist Conflict Perspective

Interactionism involves the exchange of symbols and language to better understand the context of the other person. Functionalism is about balance and order in a society. The Marxist perspective is a class system causing conflict because the people higher up only care about their own interest.
4. Describe why sociology is a science, and how it is different from the “natural” or physical sciences.
Sociology is a science because it involves systematic methods of empirical investigation, the analysis of data, and the assessment of theories in the light of evidence and logical argument.
What is the “one thing” that is the core idea of sociology? Explain using forests and trees and an example from your life.
The “one thing” that is the core idea of sociology is that we are participating in something larger than ourselves. A lot of trees can just be a lot of trees when spread out all over the world. Each one is an individual tree. However, when brought closer together they are a forest. We don’t study just the forest or just the trees but instead the forest and the trees and how they are related to each other.
2. What is a social system? Give an example.
A social system is the “larger” things we participate in such as a tree in a forest. The concept of a system refers to any collection of parts or elements that are connected in ways that cohere into some kind of whole. An engine in a car is a system and the collection of parts are arranged in such a way that it makes the car go.
3. Are people parts of social systems, or do they participate in them? Explain.
People participate in systems without being part of the system. For example, a wedding. Everyone in the wedding knows what their roles are but if someone off the street with a broken down car comes in they can automatically know what kind of setting they are in and what is expected from them. Meaning, they can participate in that particular system
4. How does understanding how systems affect us both relieve some guilt for events of the past, and also make us more responsible for our future actions?
We can understand that when we were a part of a system and relied on that system to tell us what was right, then that was what we learned from. However, as we grow older and think for ourselves then we can realize that parts of our system may have been wrong. That is when we make choices and become more responsible. We can choose our actions based on mistakes of our past and realize that we are not the system. This is a world that I didn’t create and is not my fault but at the same time helps me to participate and see why those choices I make matter
5. What does Johnson mean when he says systems or social structures provide “paths of least resistance?” Give an example.
The path of least resistance is something that social structures provide and are what you’re supposed to do if you want to feel that you belong. When you play Monopoly you behave a certain way (greedy) and you go by its rules and values because it says so. It is a system that we cannot change at will. In this case the “rules” are the path of least resistance. If we go against the rules then other players will likely rise against but if we follow the rules then we will get little resistance. It is the “just go with it” concept.
6. According to Johnson, why don’t individualistic explanations for social phenomena work? You might refer back to our discussion of suicide.
Individualistic models are misleading because it misses most of what is going out and that shapes things or people. It also doesn’t answer the question of why differences exist such as in suicide rates. White people and males are more likely to commit suicide then black people and females. People in the United States are more likely than the people in Italy but less likely than the people in Hungary to commit suicide. But why? We have to look at how people feel and behave in relation to systems and how these systems work not patterns found in social systems. Systems don’t change unless relationships change. We also focus on our own personal needs as a path of least resistance. After we solve our own needs then we don’t continue on afterwards.
7. Do the effects of social systems mean that people are like robots without the possibility of doing something surprising?
No, we are all participating in this pre-imagined social system. We already know what the “norm” is for a regular school day and we generally follow that but that doesn’t mean that someone can’t do something surprising or out of the ordinary. However, school only happens as it happens. We don’t know what is coming next, just this pre conceived notion and guidelines. What happens depends on both the situation the people are in and how they choose to participate in it.
1. Be able to define and give examples of “culture” and “society.” How are they different? How are the ideas related
Culture: the values, norms, and material goods characteristic of a given group

Society: A group of people who live in a particular territory, are subject to a common system of political authority, and are aware of having a distinct identity from other groupsNo culture could exist without a society; equally, no society could exist without culture

2. Be able to distinguish values from norms. How are both related to culture?
Values: Ideas held by individuals or groups about what is desirable, proper, good, and bad. What individual’s value is strongly influenced by the specific culture in which they happen to liveNorms: Rules of conduct that specify appropriate behavior in a given range of social situations. All human groups follow definite norms. Norms vary widely across cultures
3. Within a given society, are the values and norms likely always to be constant throughout the population or over time? What happens when they’re not?
No, because different people from different places can live in the same society. This can create culture differences that can create misunderstandings between people like the ideal of “eye contact” and how it differs between cultures.
4. How do the members of a society seek to get people to conform to norms?
First, individuals learns the norms of their culture and it generally becomes internalized as a child so the norms become unquestioned ways of thinking and acting. Then social control helps which generally involves the punishment of rule breaking.
6. In what ways might environment or biology affect culture? To what degree is our behavior shaped by biology or culture (or an interaction of the two)?
There is the idea that genetically men are stronger than females and so tend to be the more dominate sex and we see that in human society’s men tend to hold positions of greater authority. Then there is the whole idea of reproductive strategy and how women will have to be more engaged in the production of a child and so are less likely to have more sexual partners.
7. Be able to define and give examples of the following: sub-culture, assimilation, multiculturalism. What sub-cultures are you a part of?
Subculture: values and norms distinct from those of the majority, held by a group within a wider society

- Ex. Goths, computer hackers, hippies, fans of hip hop

Assimilation: 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.

- Ex. The United States is a vast melting pot where all people living in the US take on many common cultural characteristicsMulticulturalism: the viewpoint according to which ethnic groups can exist separately and share equally in economic and political life

- Ex. The United States is a salad bowl with various ingredients mixed together yet retaining some of their original flavor and integrity

9. What is ethnocentrism? Why might it be a problem for sociologists? Why is it a problem for everybody? What is cultural relativism?
Ethnocentrism: the tendency to look at other cultures through the eyes of ones own culture, and thereby misrepresent them
10. Are there some things that are common across all (or nearly all) societies? What? And what do we call them?
Yes, these are called cultural universals. Marriage, for example is a cultural universal yet there can be variations within each category. All cultures incorporate ways of communicating and expressing meaning. All cultures also depend on material objects in daily life.
1. What is a symbol? Why are they important to understanding culture?
Symbols are what we use to give something meaning. According to Johnson they are the building blocks that we use to make sentences and sentences make ideas. When we name something we give it a meaning and a relationship to us
2. What does Johnson mean when he says that we “construct reality”?
Some words are just words that can have a deeper meaning. “Love” is displayed through actions but it is not a tangible thing. We know someone loves us through the things they say and do so we construct this reality from those actions and assign a word to it. There is something that I can’t see and never will but a word that names it somehow connects it to me like an atom.
3. How can language (as symbols) be used to support gender privilege?
Pronouns can be used to support gender privilege. Just by referring to the general population with the pronouns “he” or “him” we realize that it is talking about people in general but at the same time it creates this gender gap. Men don’t have to set themselves in a different mindset because it is referring to them but women have to realize the passage is referring to general people when it refers to us as “he”.
4. How can naming something lead us to believe that it is real? Give an example
By naming something it helps us realize that it is there. Just by realizing it is there and giving it a name it creates a connection to us. We have never seen an Atom before, nor has anyone else, but all of us who have taken a basic science class knows that it exists because that is what we have been taught. We gave it a name and therefore connected it to ourselves.
5. Explain how cultural values rank things and thus “help” us make choices (that is, how do they influence the options we see, and how we weight them)?
Values not only influence how we choose between one course of action or another but they also help how we perceive and treat ourselves and other people. We choose from a limited range of alternatives offered by our culture
6. Describe what norms are used for from both the functionalist perspective (including boundary maintenance) and the conflict perspective.
The functional perspective is based on the idea that every social system has certain requirements that must be met for it to work. Norms exist because without them systems would fall apart or foul up in one way or another. These norms also define a systems boundaries by showing us the difference between outsiders and insiders and by controlling who gets to be an insider/outsider. The conflict perspective is systematic patterns of exclusion, exploitation, domination, and abuse to people who don’t fit the ‘norms’
7. What is a cultural attitude?
Cultural attitude blends belief, value and emotion in ways that shape how we feel and behave toward people or anything else. The emotion they feel is an emotion rooted in a social system and the culture that goes with it. Attitudes are a complex blend of ideas and feelings that shape how people participate in social life.
How does an attitude like contempt or disgust develop?
Contempt and disgust only exist as expressions of negative judgments and you can’t judge something without using beliefs and values.
How is an unemotional attitude related to power and masculinity?
An unemotional attitude can mask great cruelty or make it easier for people to kill thousands in warfare.
8. In what ways can material culture, like some new technology, affect us?
The material world we create directly effects on our physical existence. Because of our creativity we can do things that were originally far beyond our reach such as fly or talk to someone miles and miles away
9. Johnson talks about a person’s learned culture as an invisible box that we each carry around with us. Discuss, using the word ethnocentrism.
Ethnocentrism is the idea they either other cultures don’t exist or, if they do, are either just like ours or not worth the bother of getting to know
1. What is the process of socialization? What would humans be like without proper socialization? Be able to discuss examples
Socialization is the process whereby an innocent child becomes a self-aware, knowledgeable person, skilled in the ways of the culture into which he or she was born. Socialization allows children to learn the ways of their elders, thereby carrying on their values, norms, and social practices. This process connects the different generations to one another.
2. How does socialization primarily occur?
The process of socialization primarily occurs through a child growing up and learning the values and the norms of the elders that came before it
1. Does Johnson consider a person’s self as something real and “thing-like” or is it an idea? Explain.
Johnson says that a person’s self is an idea we have about our own existence but we act as though our self is real.
2. Explain how a person’s self locates that person in relation to other people and social systems.

- We learn to think of ourselves as selves by discovering the inner lives of other people

- Language helps us understand our relation to people; we also make our place in social systems and are related to by the statuses that we hold. We are who people think we are.

3. Refer to Johnson’s discussion of Mead and Cooley’s idea of the “looking-glass self”, and describe how a person comes to have a sense of self. What is a “generalized other”?
We create ideas of what we are on the inside from what we see and hear from others on the outside. A generalized other is our perception of how people in general view a social situation and the people who occupy different statuses within it.
4. How is our sense of self (and others’ views of us, see above) related to our status (or position)? From this discussion you should also get a sense of Johnson’s definition of a social role. What is it?
Statuses and roles connect us to the social world and overlap our lives with other people’s lives.