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Sociology

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138 Terms

1

Sociology

The systematic study of social life  

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Society

A group of people who interact, reside in a definable area and share a culture

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The sociological imagination 

  • "...The vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society" (C. Wright Mills) 

  • Understanding the relationship between the individual (personal troubles, private challenges) and the broader workings of society (public issues, challenges that exist beyond our control, rooted at a societal level)  

  • Ex job loss --> economic downturn  

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Reification

The way in which abstract concepts, complex process or social relationships come to be thought of as or attributed to concrete things Ex a wedding ring is the reification of a couple's love. 

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Sociological problem

To see the individual as having agency, but recognizing their actions and responsibilities are socially defined. To see society as characterized by regular and predictable patterns independent of individual desires, however, at the same time, nothing but social relationships.  

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Figuration

(Elias)

The process of simultaneously analyzing the behaviour of an individual and the society that shapes the behaviour 

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Norm

Rules that regulate human behaviour 

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Disenchantment of the world

(Weber)

Development of science, logic and technology and movement away from spirits and gods.

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Positivism

(Comte)

A scientific approach to the study of social patterns based on the methodological principles of natural science 

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Principles of positivism

1) Rule of empiricism: You can't make claims about what is unobservable  

2) Rule of value neutrality (Weber): Scientists should remain value-neutral because the validity of values can't be scientifically tested (which goes back to 1)  

3) Unity of the scientific method: The same principles and practices that exist in natural science are followed in sociology 

4) Rule of law-like statements: The type of explanation sought scientific inquiry are general laws to explain specific social phenomena  

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Law of 3 stages

(Comte)

Three stages to the development of society 

1) Theological stage: Gods, spirits, magic  

2) Metaphysical stage: Belief in Gods but an understanding of the role of and attribution of problems to humans  

3) Scientific stage: Scientific knowledge, universal laws about the world  

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Paradigms

Frameworks used to think, formulate theories and perform research

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Conflict theory

Society is made of power struggles and conflict, systems of inequality that benefit some at the expense of others. Social change is rooted in conflict.  

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Historical materialism

Social change is driven by economic forces 

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Mode of production

The way human societies act upon their environment in order to meet their needs Ex Feudal, capitalist, hunter-gatherer

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Dialectics

Proposes that social contradiction, opposition and struggle drives social change 

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Class consciousness

Awareness of one's social/economic class relative to others'

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False consciousness

The inability to recognize inequality, oppression and/or exploitation in a capitalist society because of the prevalence within in it of views that legitimize the existence of social classes 

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Exploitation

Treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work. When owners are motivated to extract as much labour as possible out their workers and then underpay and undervalue them to increase profit. 

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Surplus labour

Labour performed in excess of what is necessary to make profit. 

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Alienation

Workers lack connection to the products of their labour, to each other (competition), to the process of labour (no control, only responsible for one part of the process ) and to themselves and their skills (limited) 

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Critical sociology's two value judgements

(Marcuse) 

1) Human life is worth living and ought to be made so 

2) Specific possibilities exist for the amelioration of human life as well as the specific ways of realizing them 

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Feminism

Belief in equality between genders 

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Patriarchy

A set of institutional structures in which men hold the power and women are excluded from it, based on the notion that men and women are dichotomous and unequal

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Standpoint theory

(Smith)

A person's experiences form a standpoint through which they see and understand the world

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Dual consciousness

A split between the world that an individual actually experiences and the dominant view they are supposed to adapt 

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Structural Functionalism

Society is a system of interrelated and interdependent structures and the functions, biological or social, that they serve to maintain social stability.

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Social structure

Influences, patterns, institutions and ideas that hold together/shape society

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Social facts

(Durkheim)

Institutions, norms and culture that controls the actions and beliefs of individuals and society

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Social solidarity

(Durkheim)

The social bond and interdependence that hold a group together

Mechanical solidarity: Based on common values and beliefs prevalent in pre-industrial societies. Constitutes a collective consciousness.  

Organic solidarity: Based on interdependence of individuals for one another's services prevalent in advanced societies  

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Collective consciousness

(Durkheim)

Values, beliefs and ideas members of a society share that causes them to cooperate

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Anomie

(Durkheim)

A state of normlessness that occurs during periods of rapid change.

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Manifest functions

(Merton)

Apparent and intended functions of institutions in society

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Latent functions

(Merton)

Less apparent, unintended and unrecognized functions of institutions in society

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Dysfunctions

(Merton)

Social processes that have undesirable consequences 

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Dynamic equilibrium

(Parsons)

A stable state of society in which all structures work together 

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AGIL schema

What a society must meet to be able to maintain stability  

Adaptation: How the system adapts to its environment  

Goal attainment: How the system determines its goals and how it will attain them  

Integration: How the system integrates its members  

Latent pattern maintenance: How cultural patterns, values, beliefs are maintained  

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Symbolic Interactionism

Society is made up of shared meanings and interaction based on shared meanings and understandings.  

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Social action

(Weber)

Society is a construction of interactions and subjective meanings created by its members

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Interpretive sociology

(Weber)

Wherein researchers seek to interpret and describe subjective meanings behind social processes, norms and values  

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Formal sociology

(Simmel)

Analysis of the basic forms of social interaction that underly more complex forms 

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Labelling theory

(Becker)

Individuals' social identity is established through the imposition of a label by authorities

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Epistemology

How do we come to know something? What constitutes knowledge and how can it be acquired? 

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Two approaches to sociological research

Durkheim: Social facts are the most important area of study for sociologists because they are observable phenomena that exist outside the individual 

Weber: Social science should uncover internal knowledge and should take a deep, empathetic understanding of how individuals come to understand their world (Verstehen) 

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Positivist interest

Qualitative factual evidence to determine effective policy decisions 

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Interpretive interest

Understanding the meanings of human behaviour to foster mutual understanding and consensus 

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Critical interest

Challenging power relations and emancipating people conditions of servitude 

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Casual observation

When we make observations without any systematic process or assessing the accuracy of what we've observed 

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Selective observation

When we see only what we want to see or when we assume only what we have experienced directly exists  

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Overgeneralization

When we assume a broader pattern exists even when our observations have been limited 

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Authority/Tradition

Socially defined source of knowledge that shapes our beliefs about what is true

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Sample

A smaller number of subjects who represent a larger population 

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Random sample

Every person in a population has the same chance of being chosen 

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Qualitative methods

Measure quality or what can't be counted or expressed using numbers. (Micro-level) 

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Interviews

Focused conversation with 1-2 people 

<p><span>Focused conversation with 1-2 people&nbsp;</span></p>
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Field research

Researcher observes and may participate partially or fully with the group they're researching 

<p><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.847)">Researcher observes and may participate partially or fully with the group they're researching&nbsp;</span></p>
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Ethnography

Extended observation where a researcher immerses themself in the life of a group by living and working with them. Participant observation but with the focus on how subjects view their social standing and understand themselves in their community 

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Institutional ethnography

(Smith)

Focuses on the study of the way everyday life is coordinated through institutional, textually mediated practices 

Textually mediated communication: Institutional forms of communication 

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Case study

In-depth analysis of a single unique event/situation/individual. 

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Focus groups

Focused conversation with a small group 

<p><span>Focused conversation with a small group</span><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; color: windowtext">&nbsp;</span></p>
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Quantitative methods

Data that can be measured or counted in numerical values

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Independent variable

What we think influences  

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Dependent variable

What we think is influenced  

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Surveys

Close-ended questions answered independently by participants 

<p><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.847)">Close-ended questions answered independently by participants&nbsp;</span></p>
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Experiments

Tests in a controlled environment to isolate variables 

<p><span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.847)">Tests in a controlled environment to isolate variables&nbsp;</span></p>
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Secondary data

Drawn from already-completed work of other researchers 

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Construct validity

Does a measurement tool actually represent what we are interested in measuring 

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Content validity

Whether all aspects of the construct are captured 

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Reliability

Consistency of research 

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Inter-rater reliability

Whether two researchers can consistently draw the same or similar conclusions 

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Operationalization

Defining concepts in terms how it can be objectively measured

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Falsifiability

(Popper)

Whether a possible empirical observation could prove the proposition wrong. A scientific proposition must be falsifiable 

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Interpretive approach

Seeks to understand the point of view of participants using qualitative data 

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Inductive approach

Where a hypothesis only after a period of observation 

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Deductive approach

Based on deriving a hypothesis from a theoretical perspective and testing its validity

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Correlation

Observed relationship between two variables.

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Causation

When variable directly causes change in the other

  • A correlation  

  • The cause comes before the effect  

  • Non-spuriousness (isn't caused by a third variable)  

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Hawthorne effect

People changing their behaviour because they know they're being watched and studied

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Recall bias

When participants don't accurately remember or omit details 

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Cognitive bias

The tendency of the human brain to simplify information based on personal experience and preference. Ex Trusting someone more if they’re an authority figure

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Social desirability bias

When participants behave according to society’s expectations

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Observation bias

When researchers’ expectations, opinions or prejudice influence their perceptions in a study

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Subject/participant bias

When subjects act in ways they think the researcher wants

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Backfire effect

When people are confronted by information that goes against their way of thinking, they double-down 

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Rationalization

(Weber)

Replacement of traditions, values and emotions as motivators for behaviour with concepts based on rationality and reason 

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Breaching experiments

Deliberately disrupting social norms in order to learn about them

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Culture

The beliefs, artifacts, ways of life and behaviours that a social group shares. Creates a sense of cohesion, solidarity and identity. Culture is socially constructed, not innate.

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Fundamental human predicament

(Berger)

Humans have to live in groups and culture comes from this cooperation 

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Ethnosphere

The entirety of all culture's ways of thinking, being, and orienting oneself on the Earth, collective cultural heritage as a species 

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Culture is innovative

The existence of different cultural practices reveals the ways in which societies find diverse solutions to problems Ex different forms of marriage as solutions to the problem of family organization to raise children/reproduce 

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Culture is restraining

Globalization restrains culture through homogenization, and culture has the capacity to restrain the changes produced by globalization i.e. different ways to adapt and respond according to culture 

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Socialization

Process through which individuals learn how to participate in their societies 

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Cultural universals

(Murdock)

Patterns or traits that are the same in all societies Ex the family unit

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Ethnocentrism

(Sumner)

Evaluating or judging another culture based on how it compares to one's own cultural norms, involves an attitude that own's culture is better than others 

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Cultural imperialism

Deliberate imposition of one's cultural values and norms on another culture 

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Culture shock

Disorientation or frustration when confronted with all the differences of a new culture 

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Cultural relativism

Not judging a culture through your own cultural lens of right and wrong, strange and normal

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Androcentrism

The perspective in which male concerns, attitudes and practices are presented as normal or define what is significant and valued. Male-centered 

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Values

Standards for discerning what is desirable, (what is good, just etc) They are deeply embedded, shape society

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