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The Sociological Perspective and Research Methods


and Research Methods Answer: A Durkheim identified four types of suicide. They are: Altruistic, ... 2. Using the Sociological Imagination allows us to: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Sociological Perspective and Research Methods

Chapter 1
  • The Sociological Perspective and Research Methods

Have you ever wondered
  • About the structure and organization of society?
  • How all the pieces of society fit together?
  • What makes society function? What causes it to
    be dysfunctional?
  • How people are influenced by factors in their
    social environment including their family, the
    media as well as educational, political and
    economic institutions, etc.?

Sociology Students
  • Explore these questions everyday in an attempt to
    understand why people do the things they do
    within the structure of a particular society from
    a sociological perspective.
  • Welcome to an elite group of scholars.

The So What and Who Cares Factor
  • Sociologists study what has happened, what
    patterns can be observed and what social factors
    may have contributed to the existing social
  • The discipline of Sociology also studies who
    cares and who is affected by the social condition
    right now.

Election 2008
  • What are the issues that you think sociologists
    would analyze regarding the presidential race of
  • How do you think the following issues would be
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Social Class

The Sociological Imagination
  • (1) What is the structure of this particular
    society as a whole?
  • (2) Where does this society stand in human
  • (3) What varieties of men and women now prevail
    in this society and in this period? And what
    varieties are coming to prevail?

Are We A Product of Our Environment
  • The sociological perspective says that we are a
    product of the socialization we receive in our
  • Family is the primary agent of socialization in
    this life long process.

Chapter Outline
  • Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives
  • The Sociological Research Process
  • Research Methods
  • Ethical Issues in Sociological Research

Putting Sociological Life into Perspective
  • Sociology is the systematic study of human
    society and social interaction.
  • Sociologists study societies and social
    interactions to develop theories about
  • How behavior is shaped by group life
  • How group life is affected by individuals

Why Study Sociology?
  • Helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves
    and our social world.
  • Helps us see how behavior is shaped by the groups
    to which we belong and our society.
  • Promotes understanding and tolerance by helping
    us look beyond personal experiences and gain
    insight into the larger world order.

  • A large social grouping that shares the same
    geographical territory, and is subject to the
    same political authority and dominant cultural
  • We are all affected by global interdependence, a
    relationship in which the lives of all people are
    intertwined and any nations problems are part of
    a larger global problem.

Fields That Use Social Science Research
How Much Do You Know About Suicide?
  • True or False?
  • In the United States, suicide occurs on the
    average of one every 17 minutes.

How Much Do You Know About Suicide?
  • True.
  • A suicide occurs on the average of every 17
    minutes in the United States.
  • This differs with respect to the sex,
    race/ethnicity, and age of the individual.
  • Men are four times more likely to kill themselves
    than are women.

How Much Do You Know About Suicide?
  • True or False?
  • More teenagers and young adults die from suicide
    than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth
    defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and
    chronic lung disease combined.

How Much Do You Know About Suicide?
  • True.
  • Suicide is a leading cause of death among
    teenagers and young adults.
  • It is the third leading cause of death among
    young people between 15 and 24 years of age,
    following unintentional injuries and homicide.

  • As a Personal Trouble
  • Many people consider suicide to be the result of
    personal problems.
  • As a Public Issue
  • Sociologist Emile Durkheim related suicide to the
    issue of cohesiveness in society instead of
    viewing it as an isolated act that could be
    understood by studying individual personalities
    or inherited tendencies.

Suicide Rates by Race and Sex
Importance of a Global Sociological Imagination
  • The future of our nation is intertwined with the
    future of other nations on economic, political,
    environmental, and humanitarian levels.
  • Understanding diversity and developing tolerance
    for people who are different from us is important
    for our personal, social, and economic well-being.

High-Income Countries
  • These are nations with highly industrialized
    economies technologically advanced industrial,
    administrative, and service occupations and high
    levels of national and personal income.
  • Examples United States, Canada
  • They generally have a have a high standard of
    living and a lower death rate due to advances in
    nutrition and medical technology.

Middle-Income Countries
  • Sometimes referred to as developing countries,
    these are nations with industrializing economies,
    particularly in urban areas, and moderate levels
    of national and personal income.
  • Examples Nations of Eastern Europe and many
    Latin American countries, where nations such as
    Brazil and Mexico are industrializing rapidly.

Low-Income Countries
  • Low-income countries are primarily agrarian
    nations with little industrialization and low
    levels of national and personal income.
  • Examples Many of the nations of Africa and Asia,
    particularly India and the Peoples Republic of

Race, Ethnicity, and Class
  • Race is a term used to specify groups of people
    distinguished by physical characteristics.
  • Most sociologists consider race a social
    construction used to justify inequalities.
  • Ethnicity refers to cultural identity and is
    based on factors such as language or country of
  • Class is based on wealth, power, prestige, or
    other valued resources.

Sex and Gender
  • Sex refers to the biological and anatomical
    differences between females and males.
  • Gender refers to the meanings, beliefs, and
    practices associated with sex differences,
    referred to as femininity and masculinity.

  • The process by which societies are transformed
    from dependence on agriculture and handmade
    products to dependence on manufacturing
  • First occurred during the Industrial Revolution
    in Britain between 1760 and 1850.
  • Resulted in massive economic, technological, and
    social changes.
  • People were forced to leave rural communities to
    seek employment in the emerging cities.

  • The process by which an increasing proportion of
    a population lives in cities rather than rural
  • The factory system led to a rapid increase in the
    number of cities and the size of populations.
  • People from diverse backgrounds began working in
    the same factory and living in the same
  • This led to the development of new social
    problems inadequate housing, crowding,
    unsanitary conditions, poverty, pollution, and

August Comte
  • Considered the founder of sociology.
  • Comtes philosophy became known as positivism a
    belief that the world can best be understood
    through scientific inquiry.
  • Comte believed objective, bias-free knowledge was
    attainable only through the use of science rather
    than religion.

Two Dimensions of Comtes Positivism
  • Methodological
  • The application of scientific knowledge to
    physical and social phenomena.
  • Social and political
  • The use of such knowledge to predict the likely
    results of different policies so the best one
    could be chosen.

Harriet Martineau
  • Believed society would improve when
  • women and men were treated equally
  • enlightened reform occurred
  • cooperation existed among all social classes

Herbert Spencer
  • Contributed an evolutionary perspective on social
    order and social change.
  • Social Darwinism
  • The belief that the human beings best adapted to
    their environment survive and prosper, whereas
    those poorly adapted die out.

Emile Durkheim
  • Believed the limits of human potential are
    socially based.
  • One of his most important contributions was the
    concept of social facts.
  • Social facts are patterned ways of acting,
    thinking, and feeling that exist outside any one
    individual but exert social control over each

Karl Marx
  • Viewed history as a clash between conflicting
    ideas and forces.
  • Believed class conflict produced social change
    and a better society.
  • Combined ideas from philosophy, history, and
    social science into a new theory.

Max Weber
  • Believed sociological research should exclude
    personal values and economic interests.
  • Provided insights on rationalization, bureaucracy
    and religion.

Georg Simmel
  • Theorized about society as a web of patterned
    interactions among people.
  • Analyzed how social interactions vary depending
    on the size of the social group.
  • Developed formal sociology, an approach that
    focuses attention on the universal recurring
    social forms that underlie the varying content of
    social interaction.

Jane Addams
  • Founded Hull House, one of the most famous
    settlement houses, in Chicago.
  • One of the authors of a methodology text used by
    sociologists for the next forty years.
  • Awarded Nobel Prize for assistance to the

W.E.B. Du Bois
  • One of the first to note the identity conflict of
    being both Black and American.
  • Pointed out that people in the U.S. espouse
    values of democracy, freedom, and equality while
    they accept racism and group discrimination.

Theoretical Perspectives
  • Theoretical perspectives are based on ideas about
    how social life is organized.
  • The major perspectives in U.S. sociology are
  • Functionalist
  • Conflict
  • Symbolic Interactionist
  • Postmodernist

Major Theoretical Perspectives
Theory View of Society
Functionalist Composed of interrelated parts that work together to maintain stability.
Conflict Society is characterized by social inequality social life is a struggle for scarce resources.
Major Theoretical Perspectives
Theory View of Society
Symbolic Interactionist Behavior is learned in interaction with other people.
Postmodernist Postindustrialization, consumerism, and global communications bring into question assumptions about social life and the nature of reality.
Polling Question
  • Which sociological perspective do you think
    explains the concept of inequality in our
    society the most accurately?
  • Structural-functionalist
  • Conflict
  • Symbolic interactionist
  • Feminist

The Sociological Research Process
  • Research is the process of systematically
    collecting information for the purpose of testing
    an existing theory or generating a new one.
  • The relationship between theory and research has
    been referred to as a continuous cycle.

Theory and Research Cycle
Quantitative and Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative research focuses on data that can be
    measured numerically.
  • Example comparing rates of suicide
  • Qualitative research focuses on interpretive
    description rather than statistics to analyze
    underlying meanings and patterns of social

Conventional Research Model
  1. Select and define the research problem.
  2. Review previous research.
  3. Formulate the hypothesis.
  4. Develop the research design.
  5. Collect and analyze the data.
  6. Draw conclusions and report the findings.

Hypothesized Relationships Between Variables
Hypothesized Relationships Between Variables
Inverse Causal
Hypothesized Relationships Between Variables
Multiple Causes
Qualitative Research Method
  1. Researcher begins with a general approach rather
    than a highly detailed plan.
  2. Researcher has to decide when the literature
    review and theory application should take place.

Qualitative Research Method
  1. The study presents a detailed view of the topic.
  2. Access to people or other resources that can
    provide necessary data, is crucial.
  3. Appropriate research methods are important for
    acquiring useful qualitative data.

Research Methods Survey Research
  • Describes a population without interviewing each
  • Standardized questions force respondents into
  • Relies on self-reported information, and some
    people may not be truthful.

Research Methods Analysis of Existing Data
  • Materials studied may include
  • public records, official reports, and raw data
    collected by other researchers
  • books, diaries, poems, and graffiti
  • movies, television shows, advertisements,
    greeting cards
  • music, art, and even garbage

Research Methods Field Research
  • Study of social life in its natural setting.
  • Observing and interviewing people where they
    live, work, and play.
  • Generates observations that are best described
    verbally rather than numerically.

Approaches to Field Research
  • Participant observation
  • Collecting observations while part of the
    activities of the group being studied.
  • Ethnography
  • Detailed study of the life and activities of a
    group of people over a period of years.

Research Methods Experiments
  • Study the impact of certain variables on
    subjects attitudes or behavior.
  • Designed to create real-life situations.
  • Used to demonstrate a cause-and-effect
    relationship between variables.

Polling Question
  • If you possessed the money, skill, and other
    necessary resources, in which one area would you
    like to conduct research?
  • Racial profiling
  • The cause(s) of sexual orientation
  • Sexual assault and abuse
  • The effects of divorce on children

ASA Code of Ethics
  1. Disclose research findings in full and include
    all possible interpretations of the data.
  2. Safeguard the participants right to privacy and
    dignity, while protecting them from harm.

ASA Code of Ethics
  1. Protect confidential information provided by
  2. Acknowledge research collaboration and disclose
    all financial support.

Quick Quiz
  • 1. Sociology helps us get a better understanding
    of ourselves and our world by
  • enabling us to see how behavior is shaped by the
    groups to which we belong and the society in
    which we live.
  • enabling us to see how behavior is shaped by the
    large social structures that comprise society.
  • enabling us to see how behavior is shaped by the
    social institutions and close knit friendships in
    which we belong.
  • enabling us to see how behavior is shaped by a
    combination of pathological and social forces.

Answer A
  • Sociology helps us get a better understanding of
    ourselves and our world by enabling us to see how
    behavior is shaped by the groups to which we
    belong and the society in which we live.

  • 2. Using the Sociological Imagination allows us
  • bridge knowledge between Psychology and
  • make personal troubles public issues.
  • make in-roads into finding absolute truth.
  • bridge the gap between micro and macro processes.

Answer B
  • Using the Sociological Imagination allows us to
    make personal troubles public issues.

  • 3. The approach that begins with a theory and
    uses research to test the theory is called
  • qualitative
  • deductive
  • quantitative
  • inductive

Answer B
  • The approach that begins with a theory and uses
    research to test the theory is called deductive.

  • 4. Durkheim identified four types of suicide.
    They are
  • Altruistic, Egoistic, Anomic, Fatalistic
  • Altruistic, Egocentric, Anomic, Fatalistic
  • Altruistic, Anthroscopic, Egocentric, Fatalistic
  • Altruistic, Egoistic, Anthroscopic, Egocentric

Answer A
  • Durkheim identified four types of suicide. They
    are Altruistic, Egoistic, Anomic, Fatalistic.