Sociology Essay

Keyshla Mercado- G. Mrs. Amanda Richard SYG 2000 Web Sept. 9, 2012 Essay #1 According to, Datin Sitti Haishah Abd Rahman, “development of sociology took place in Europe during 18th and 19th centuries as the results: of a new industrial economy, the growth of cities, the political change, and a new awareness of society.

” She adds that, “the term sociology was coined by a French social thinker Auguste Comte (1798-1857). In the book, Thinking Sociology by Carl, sociology is defined as, “a science guided by the basic understanding that the social matters: our lives are affected, not only by our individual characteristics, but by our place in the social world. ” Sociology should be studied using sociological imagination, “the ability to look beyond the individual as the cause for success and failure (micro, small scale) and see how one’s society influences the outcome (macro, large scale). ” Developing a sociological imagination, American sociologists C.Wright Mills (1916-1962) says, “helps you understand your place in a complex world. ” Furthermore, he adds that, “we must grasp both the history and the biography of the situation to generate this imagination. ” This comprehension enables us to do so. Sociology examines the relationship between individual choice and social forces.

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Carl writes that, “there are often several biographical and historical causes for every event. ” He adds that, “using a sociological imagination means that we consider the impact on the individual from these points of view. Suicide is the most personal type of death, and yet sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) proposed two social forces: “solidarity, the level of connectedness a person feels to others in the environment and social control, the social mechanisms that regulate person’s actions. ” These two forces are independent factors that help predict the type of suicide someone might commit: egotistic (depression), altruistic (obligation to the group), fatalistic (hopelessness), and anomic (insecurity) (Rahman).The relationship between individual choice and social forces should be studied using one of three theoretical paradigms: symbolic interactionism (focuses on how people interact in their daily lives with their society’s symbols), functionalism (views society as a system of interrelated parts), and conflict theory (studies issues such as race, gender, social class, criminal justice, and international relations). Carl added that, “symbolic interactionism is a micro orientation on the individual and how he or she interacts with the social environment. Furthermore, “the use of symbols, such as: words gestures, body language, and facial expressions, influence how people communicate, which our actions communicate meaning.

” Interactionists constantly seek to understand how small interactions influence the larger society. This is where Max Weber (1864-1920) comes in, “a German sociologist who emphasized the need to understand a setting from a point of view of the people in it. Rahman gave a great example of Weber’s point of view, “exploring the urban life that occurs at street level like how pedestrians respond to homeless people they pass on the street. ” Another great sociologist that contributed to symbolic interactions was George Herbert Mead (1863-1931), “who explored how our personalities develop as a result of social experience.

” Other sociologist founders who contributed to symbolic interactionism were Erving Goffman and Howard Beck.Carl also adds that, “functionalism is a macro orientation because it studies how social structures affect how a society works. ” It explains about social structure (any stable pattern of social behavior) and social functions (consequences of social pattern). Carl thought of functionalism as human bodies that have built in mechanisms that help it maintain normal body temperature. When cold, you will react by shivering.

Society is similar, “when something happens to throw a social system off-kilter; certain forces step in to help balance things out. Comte, as mentioned before above, “pointed out the need to keep the society unified at times when many traditions were breaking down; Durkheim’s work was based on this approach. ” Another great founder to functionalism was Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). He also “compared the society to human body (just as the structural parts of human body function to keep the entire organism survive, the social structures work together to preserve society).

” In addition, Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) “expanded the social function concept.He distinguished manifest functions (recognized, intended, openly stated functions) and latent function (unrecognized, unintended, hidden functions). Also acknowledge social dysfunction. Talcott Parsons was also another founder of this sociological paradigm. ” Carl defines conflict theory as “a macro orientation because it studies how the struggle for resources holds society together. ” He adds that, “this approach sees society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change.

Raham goes more in detailed by explaining, “Sociologists investigate how factors such as class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and age are linked to society’s unequal distribution of money, power, education, and social prestige. ” Raham goes deeper by looking at the ongoing conflict between dominant and disadvantaged categories of people (the rich and the poor, white and people of colors, men and women) particularly people on the top try to protect their privileges while the disadvantaged try to gain more for themselves.Types of social-conflict approaches are: feminism and the gender-conflict approach and race-conflict approach. “The gender-conflict approach focuses on inequality and conflict between women and men, while feminism focuses support on social equality for women and men. ” Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) and Jane Addams (1860-1935) were two sociologists that took these approaches.

“The race-conflict approach focuses on inequality and conflict between racial and ethnic categories. ” Sociologist W. E.

B.Du Bois (1868-1963) studied the black community in the United States applying this approach (Raham). Other significant founders for this approach were Karl Max and John Bellamy Foster. All in all, Carl gave a great explanation on the differences of these three paradigms: “symbolic interactionism labels are attached to certain individuals this practice sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy as people try to match their behavior to their labels. In functionalism everything in the social world exists because it has both an intended outcome and an unintended outcome.In conflict theory inequality exists in the social world because of differences between different groups’ wealth and power. ” He also compared symbolic interactionism and conflict theory in that, “both people in power create labels and assign them to others (conflict theory), and these labels influence the outcomes of the individual (symbolic interactionism); and functionalism and conflict theory compare in that both power differentials (conflict theory) often indicate for whom they are not (functionalism). References Carl, John D.

2011. Think Sociology. Pearson Prentice Hall. Macionis, John J. 2007. Sociology.

11th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. Norsham b. Firdaus. 2008.

Sociology. UiTM. Schaefer, Richard T. 2005. Sociology. 9th ed.

New York: McGraw-Hill


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