<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • Explain concepts central to sociology
  • Understand how different sociological perspectives have developed
A photo of a large group of people all sitting on stadium benches
Sociologists learn about society as a whole while studying one-to-one and group interactions. (Photo courtesy of Gareth Williams/flickr)

What are society and culture?

Sociology is the study of groups and group interactions, societies and social interactions, from small and personal groups to very large groups. A group of people who live in a defined geographic area, who interact with one another, and who share a common culture is what sociologists call a society    . Sociologists study all aspects and levels of society. Sociologists working from the micro-level study small groups and individual interactions, while those using macro-level analysis look at trends among and between large groups and societies. For example, a micro-level study might look at the accepted rules of conversation in various groups such as among teenagers or business professionals. In contrast, a macro-level analysis might research the ways that language use has changed over time or in social media outlets.

The term culture    refers to the group’s shared practices, values, and beliefs. Culture encompasses a group’s way of life, from routine, everyday interactions to the most important parts of group members' lives. It includes everything produced by a society, including all of the social rules. Sociologists often study culture using the sociological imagination    , which pioneer sociologist C. Wright Mills described as an awareness of the relationship between a person’s behavior and experience and the wider culture that shaped the person’s choices and perceptions. It’s a way of seeing our own and other people’s behavior in relationship to history and social structure (1959).

One illustration of this is a person’s decision to marry. In the United States, this choice is heavily influenced by individual feelings; however, the social acceptability of marriage relative to the person’s circumstances also plays a part. Remember, though, that culture is a product of the people in a society; sociologists take care not to treat the concept of “culture” as though it were alive in its own right. Reification is an error of treating an abstract concept as though it has a real, material existence (Sahn 2013).

Studying patterns: how sociologists view society

All sociologists are interested in the experiences of individuals and how those experiences are shaped by interactions with social groups and society as a whole. To a sociologist, the personal decisions anindividual makes do not exist in a vacuum. Cultural patterns and social forces put pressure on people to select one choice over another. Sociologists try to identify these general patterns by examining the behavior of large groups of people living in the same society and experiencing the same societal pressures.

Changes in the U.S. family structure offer an example of patterns that sociologists are interested in studying. A “typical” family now is vastly different than in past decades when most U.S. families consisted of married parents living in a home with their unmarried children. The percent of unmarried couples, same-sex couples, single-parent and single-adult households is increasing, as well as is the number of expanded households, in which extended family members such as grandparents, cousins, or adult children live together in the family home (U.S. Census Bureau 2013).

Questions & Answers

help me breakdown the theories
Liz Reply
please explain these theories of social change (Sociocultural evolution theory, cyclical theory, functionalist perspective theory and the Conflict theory)
Phiwa Reply
how to communicate with a group at clubhouse
Jeremy Reply
How do i answer this essay question : Analyze the assertion that crime and deviance are mere social construction
Memory Reply
crime and deviance are functional in society... keeping in mind not all deviance is criminal but all crime is deviance... case in point Rosa Parks and sitting on the bus... her deviant act was not deemed as a crime but it went against social norms and that deviant act brought about change
Andre
another example would be littering... think about when that became a statutory norm (law) in your country... before it was against the law it was a social norm not to litter, your garbage must be thrown in a bin and those who did otherwise were meet by ordinary social sanctions such as a frown...
Andre
littering as become a global problem and it was deemed necessary to make littering against the law so that the environment could not be polluted, and communities would be safer. drains would not be clogged up, rats and other pests won't find refuge, etc...
Andre
Thanks
Memory
who I understand types of worker,s
Raza
Crime and deviance are mere social construction in that society decides what a criminal behavior is and accord punishment according to the severity of the crime. Imagine! what is regarded as crime in country A may not be termed as a crime in country B.
Olu
sociological imagination
Jonathan Reply
whatdoyoumeanbysociology
Manav Reply
sociology is the study of human behaviour in society. And human beings actions, reaction, participation in societies.
Syed
How sociologists study human behavior
Mohamed
poverty is a result of economic factors discuss
Brian Reply
Guys what is Sociological imagination?
Omark Reply
Sociological imagination postulated by C. Wright Mills is the ability for an individual or institution to situate personal troubles within an informed social framework. Successive Sociology scholars after CWM have employed the world to mean the kind of insight offered by Sociology and its relevance
Marvis
In everyday life. In a different light, Sociological imagination could be described as the understanding tnat social outcomes are shaped by social contexts, interactions, action and actors
Marvis
perspective in sociology
ali Reply
Can you tell me what is perspective in sociology?
Alina
way of looking at different social realities and proposing definitions of them
Hanief
Sociological perspective is the basic insight of sociology that human behavior is shaped by the social interaction that takes place within those groups..
Omark
Sorry bro, that wasn't for you...
Omark
sociological problem
Abdulrahman Reply
when a high school student gets teased by her basketball team for receiving an academic award,she is dealing with competing
ABENA Reply
more explanation on the emergency of sociology
Ubaida Reply
please can someone explain more on french revolution
Ubaida
Sociology emerged because of negative aspects of French Revolution: an era of emerging intellectuals and reason........
Rafiq
explain sociology in relation to science
Glory
what is sociology of education?
Aliyu Reply
sociology of education is the study of how public institutions and individual experiences affect the education and it's outcomes
Iqra
what is an apparent excluder?.
sani
kashmir
Iqra
m also from Kashmir and that does not change how iqra tried to define the sociology of education
Trending
How long you people have been studying sociology?
Trending
I have been preparing for UPSC and took sociology as optional... Despite the fact I was a chemistry student
Trending
I am not... I hve never been a KU student
Trending
no
Iqra
u need to read previous 10 yrs question papers..there are 600 questions..these questions will help u
Muxiru
take ua syllabus read every topic gvn on ua syllabus, practice previous year question papers ...
Iqra
download pdf
Muxiru
Any answer u need just write in google u will get the snswer
Major
Hi..Greetings...by the way will it be good to opt for Ku...or outside for Masters in Sociology
rameez
oll questions aur there related to sociology ...sociology is same in ku and other outside universities
Muxiru
i think it's same the thing is how much uh get the knowledge abt ua subject how much effort uh gv to learn things.... otherwise university ka kaam h degree dena thapa lgana 😁
Iqra
na ....but I feel unv. also matters like it's rank n tag during interviews...n also it...percentage various across boards n universities.n at the end of the day...it's percentage which determines much...not degrees or thabas only
rameez
n thank you for responding jazakallah Khair!
rameez
ku@top rank...joke of the year... though I hav learned frm here n thr it's abt it's distinguishing product
rameez
for any examination either for IAS India's top exam uh should have only 50% so dt uh could be eligible .... nothing matters if smth matters dt is hard work give ua best...
Iqra
Take Principles of soc. by C N Shanker Roa
Khushboo
iqra I feel KU is not good..but indeed the worthy colleagues are...will miss them badly n it sounds like killing inside
rameez
Take Principles of soc. by C N Shanker Roa
Khushboo
read every topic in depth
Khushboo
hihii rameez aa uh talking abt colleagues dea itz lyf n it's dynamic... itz ok keep in contact vd them 😊
Iqra
ya...IQra...I mean colleagues which one gets there.... and um here...coz smtimes I gets the feeling like um in contact wd some of them here!
rameez
I am a psychology student but in this semester we also study sociology soo please all of you will help me
Arxoo
okay
Arxoo
Good morning Friends.
MUBARAK
plz b specific n precise in getting the desired info,,For God sake dont stretch...Meharbani hgi
Hanief
can anybody explain to me the concept of social facts by Durkheim
Zubair
what is functionalism in anthropology
Elijah Reply
hi
Salamatu
hi
Lisa
What is functionalism in anthropology? Answer: A theoretical orientation in anthropology, developed by Bronislaw Malinowski. Functionalism is similar to Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism, in that it is holistic and posits that all cultural "traits" are functionally interrelated and for
Lisa
In adelphic polyandry forms of marriage, the children belongs to whome?
Haami Reply
the mother know his father
Usama
but it's not mentioned in options....the options were.... maternal uncle paternal uncle youngest brother & eldest brother
Haami
I think....children belongs to eldest brother... but not conformed yet..!!
Haami
ist child to elder brother 2nd child to younger.....
Iqra
pls can someone help me with the contributions of the following founding Fathers of sociology. Karl max Aguste Comte Emile dukhelin harbart spencia pls
Elijah

Get the best Introduction to sociol... course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Introduction to sociology 2e' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask