What is sociology? Describe sociology and its relationship to studying other social sciences.
Theories usually seem fairly boring to students. Theories are abstract, require some critical thinking, can seem complex to grasp or understand, and may not appear to be related to the real world or to your world. Yet, whether you are aware of it or not, you are constantly testing theories (and hypotheses) on your social world.
For example, if a friend behaved in an unusual manner, you would likely start wondering why they were behaving that way. Did they have an argument with someone? Were they not feeling well? Did they not have coffee that morning? Did they not get enough rest the night before? You would start asking questions that are actually very basic research questions, testing different variables (sleep, caffeine, illness, relationship troubles) to see if any might be relevant to your friendâ€™s behavior. And, if you found out, for example, that your friend did have an argument with someone close to them, then the structural-functionalist, social conflict, or symbolic interactionist theories could be a frame for the rationale of your friendâ€™s behavior.
In this example, because your friend has had conflict in a relationship, he or she may now be in a stressed frame of mind and interact with others in a similar manner. This is putting conflict theory in a very simplistic way because it is used more to examine conflicts (or stresses, pressures, or tensions) among larger systems in society, but the basic premise is still appropriate. Consider, too, this statement from Tweedell: â€œConflict is necessary to produce social changeâ€ (2010, p. 17). What might be occurring with your friend and the conflicts they are experiencing could actually lead to positive changes!
Similarly, the structural-functionalist perspective proposes that systems interact (or react) to attempt to restore balance. If your friendâ€™s argument offset the usual balance in their relationship, that can then upset the balance in other relationships. Keep in mind that sociologists donâ€™t usually apply the conflict and structural-functionalist theories to personal relationships; however, the example can still provide you with some idea of how these theories apply in your own life. You can utilize them to understand society at a larger or broader level.
Finally, the interactionist perspective, which is a micro theory in which individual social interactions are the focus, can shed light on your friendâ€™s argument and how it can impact others because people interpret these interactions differently and, thus, respond to them differently. For example, if your friend said something curt or hurtful to you, you could react or respond in several different ways, depending on your interpretation of the interaction, as well as on your own mood and other factors. You could empathize with your friend, snap back at them, ignore them, or any other number of possibilities. The interactionist perspective helps you evaluate individual interactions, as well as the meanings people create from them and how they then impact others.
Upon successful completion of this assignment, you will be able to:
- Apply principles of scientific investigation to gather data about the social world.
- Use oral and written communication skills effectively in social situations.
As you write your paper on the topic of sociological theories, consider as well how your interactions with others are shaped by your interpretations in your daily life. For example, if you assume that a behavior or words mean one thing, why couldnâ€™t they mean something different? You will also continue to explore and grow in your understanding of theoretical perspectives and how to apply them to societal issues.
This first paper on sociology will enable you to think more critically about the concepts, perspectives, and the sociological imagination as described in your textbook.
- Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
- In your textbook, Sociology: A Christian Approach for Changing the World, review:
- Chapter 1, â€œThe Sociological Perspectiveâ€
- Chapter 2, â€œSociological Theory and Methodsâ€
- Chapter 3, â€œHuman Cultureâ€
- View the video: What is Sociology?(new tab)
- Write a three- to four-page paper addressing the following:
- What is sociology? Describe sociology and its relationship to studying other social sciences.
- Summarize each way of viewing society:
- Structural-functional perspective
- Social conflict perspective
- Interactionist perspective
- Create a dictionary of the â€œComponents of Cultureâ€ containing the following terms and their definitions. Additionally, provide at least one real-life example for each to support or demonstrate your definition:
- Cultural relativism
- Identify at least one norm in American society and specify the values behind the norm(s).
- The three- to four-page paper should be in 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced. Follow APA formatting. Correct use of citations and references is required.