SOLUTION: CUNY Queensborough Community College Sociological Research Methodologies Paper

City University of New York (CUNY)
CUNY Academic Works
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Queensborough Community College
2021
Introduction to Sociology Textbook
Amy Traver
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Introduction to
Sociology
SOCY-101
Amy E. Traver, Ph.D.
Queensborough Community College, CUNY
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0
license.
Table of Contents
1– Definition and History of Sociology………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
1.1 What Is Sociology? ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
1.2 Approaches to the Sociological Study of Society and Culture ……………………………………………….. 6
1.3 The History of Sociology…………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
2 – Sociological Research Methods…………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
2.1 Introduction to Sociological Research Methods ………………………………………………………………… 13
2.2 Research Methods ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
2.3 Ethical Concerns ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 20
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
3 – Sociological Theories and Paradigms …………………………………………………………………………………………. 24
3.1 Theoretical Perspectives on Society ………………………………………………………………………………… 24
3.2 Sociological Theory Today………………………………………………………………………………………………. 30
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 31
4 – The Sociological Imagination………………………………………………………………………………………………. 32
4.1 The Sociological Imagination ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 32
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 36
5 – Culture and Socialization………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 37
5.1 What is Culture?……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 37
5.2 Categories of Culture …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 39
5.3 Socialization …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 45
5.4 Agents of Socialization …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 47
5.5 Socialization Across the Life Course …………………………………………………………………………………. 50
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 53
6 – Social Structure ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 54
6.1 What is Social Structure? ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 54
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 62
7 – Social Stratification ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 63
7.1 What Is Social Stratification? ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 63
7.2 Class Stratification …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 64
7.3 Racial and Ethnic Stratification ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 68
7.4 Stratification by Sex, Gender, and Sexuality ……………………………………………………………………… 72
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 75
8 – Social Change ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 77
8.1 Macro-Level Social Change …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 77
8.2 Causes of Social Change …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 80
Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 88
1 – Definition and History of Sociology1
1.1 What Is Sociology?
Sociology is the study of human social life. It involves the study of groups and group
interactions, from small and personal groups to very large groups and societies. Society refers
to a population of people who live in a defined geographic area, share a common culture and
identity, and are subject to the same political authority.
Sociologists study all aspects and levels of society. Sociologists working on the micro level study
small groups and individual interactions, while those working on the macro level look at trends
among and between large groups and societies.
Sociologists also study culture. The term culture refers to a 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.
Studying Social Influence and Patterns:
How Sociologists View Society
Sociologists believe that society and culture influence individuals’ attitudes and behavior.
Moreover, sociologists believe that an individual’s attitudes, behavior, and life chances depend,
to some degree, on their location in society (i.e., their gender, race, social class, religion, and so
forth). Does this mean that sociologists believe that society totally determines our attitudes,
behaviors, and life chances? No; sociologists believe that individual differences matter, and that
1
Except where otherwise indicated, the text in this chapter comes from OpenStax (2017).
we do have free will, but that our individuality and freedom are shaped and limited by society’s
expectations.2
For example, society and culture put pressure on people to make one decision over another.
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 a
person’s circumstances also plays a part, as revealed by trends in if, when, how, and whom we
marry. Sociologists try to identify general social patterns by examining the behavior of large
groups of people living in the same society and experiencing the same societal pressures.
Changes in the American family structure offer an example of patterns of interest to
sociologists. A “typical” family now is vastly different than in past decades when most American
families consisted of married parents living in a home with their unmarried children. The
percentage of unmarried couples, same-sex couples, single-parent and single-adult households
is increasing, 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).
Some sociologists might study the social expectations and cultural rules that govern social life,
which may contribute to these changes in patterns of family form and life. Do people in the
United States view marriage and family differently than before? Do employment and economic
conditions play a role? How has culture influenced the choices that individuals make in living
arrangements?
Other sociologists might study the consequences of these new patterns, such as the ways
children are affected by them or how they are changing other aspects of society, like education,
housing, and healthcare.
2
This text is from University of Minnesota (2010).
1.2 Approaches to the Sociological Study
of Society and Culture
When sociologists study society, no topic is off limits. Sociologists question every aspect of the
world that humans have created. To study these topics and best answer these questions,
sociologists conduct research. This research typically follows one of two approaches: the first
approach relies on the scientific method; the second approach engages a more interpretive
framework. These two approaches provide the foundation for quantitative sociology and
qualitative sociology, respectively.
Approach One: Use of the Scientific
Method
A great deal of sociological research engages the scientific method. The scientific method is a
procedural technique followed in the natural, physical, and social sciences to help yield the
most accurate and reliable research conclusions possible, especially ones that are free of bias
(or prejudice) and error.
The scientific method involves a series of prescribed steps that have been established over
centuries. These basic steps include: (a) formulating a hypothesis (i.e., a testable educated
guess about predicted outcomes between two or more variables) that answers a research
question, (b) using research methods to collect empirical evidence (i.e., evidence that comes
from direct experience, scientifically gathered data, or experimentation) to test that hypothesis,
(c) analyzing these data, and (d) drawing appropriate conclusions.3
Quantitative sociology, which involves the use statistical methods such as surveys with large
numbers of participants, relies heavily on the scientific method. Quantitative sociologists
3
This text is from University of Minnesota (2010).
analyze data using statistical techniques to see if they can uncover patterns of – and even
predict – human behavior.
Approach Two: Use of an Interpretive
Framework
Other sociologists operate from an interpretive framework. While this framework also uses
sociological research methods to collect empirical data, it doesn’t follow a hypothesis-testing
model or seek generalizable truths. Instead, sociologists working within the interpretive
framework aim to understand social worlds from the point of view of participants, which leads
to in-depth knowledge.
Interpretive research is generally more descriptive – and less predictive – in its findings. Thus,
this approach aligns well with qualitative sociology, which seeks to understand human behavior
by conducting in-depth interviews, focus groups, ethnographic research or observational
methods, and analysis of content sources (like books, magazines, journals, and popular media).
Researchers in this framework tend to learn as they go, often adjusting their research question
and methods to optimize their findings and results.
1.3 The History of Sociology
Since ancient times, people have been fascinated by the social. As a result, many topics studied
in modern sociology were also studied by ancient philosophers in their desire to describe an
ideal society, including theories of social conflict, economics, social cohesion, and power
(Hannoum 2003).
Following are brief descriptions of six thinkers credited with creating sociology as a discipline,
or area of study. As you read each description, note the thinker’s sociological interest in social
influence and patterns, as well as their embrace of one of the two approaches – scientific or
interpretive – to sociological research.
Auguste Comte (1798–1857)
The term sociology was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès
(1748–1836) in an unpublished manuscript (Fauré et al. 1999). In 1838, the term was
reinvented by Auguste Comte (1798–1857). Comte originally studied to be an engineer, but
later became a pupil of social philosopher Claude Henri de Rouvroy Comte de Saint-Simon
(1760–1825). Both Comte and Saint-Simon thought that social scientists could study society
using the same scientific methods utilized in the natural sciences. Comte also believed in the
potential of social scientists to work toward the betterment of society. He held that once
scholars identified the laws that governed society, sociologists could address problems such as
poor education and poverty (Abercrombie et al. 2000).
Comte named the scientific study of social patterns positivism. He described his philosophy in a
series of books called The Course in Positive Philosophy (1830–1842) and A General View of
Positivism (1848). He believed that the scientific method could be used to reveal the laws by
which societies and individuals interact, and that this knowledge could lead to the prediction
and control of human behavior.
Harriet Martineau (1802–1876)
Harriet Martineau was a writer who addressed a wide range of social science issues, including
economics, social class, religion, suicide, government, and women’s rights. She is widely
considered the first woman sociologist. Her writing career began in 1931 with a series of stories
titled Illustrations of Political Economy, in which she tried to educate ordinary people about the
principles of economics (Johnson 2003).
Martineau was the first to translate Comte’s writing from French to English, thereby
introducing sociology to English-speaking scholars (Hill 1991). She is also credited with the first
systematic international comparisons of society: Society in America (1837) and Retrospect of
Western Travel (1838). Martineau found the workings of capitalism, an economic system in
which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private interests for profit, at odds with
the professed moral principles of people in the United States. She further noted that
Americans’ belief in equality was inconsistent with the lack of women’s rights.
Karl Marx (1818–1883)
Karl Marx (1818–1883) was a German philosopher and economist. In 1848 he and Friedrich
Engels coauthored the Communist Manifesto. This book is one of the most influential political
manuscripts in history. It also presents Marx’s theory of society: social conflict leads to social
change.
Marx believed that societies grew and changed as a result of the struggles of different social
classes over the means of production. At the time of his writing, the Industrial Revolution and
the rise of capitalism led to great disparities in wealth between the owners of factories and
their workers. Marx predicted that the inequalities of capitalism would eventually become so
extreme that workers would revolt. This would lead to the collapse of capitalism, and the
ascendance of communism (i.e., an economic system in which everything is owned communally
and distributed as needed).
Émile Durkheim (1858–1917)
Durkheim helped establish sociology as a formal academic discipline by creating the first
European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux (1895) and by publishing Rules
of the Sociological Method (1895). In another important work, Division of Labour in Society
(1893), Durkheim laid out his theory on how societies transformed from a primitive state into a
capitalist, industrial society.
Durkheim argued that sociologists should study social facts, or those aspects of society and
culture that exist outside of the individual but direct or constrain individual action. In 1897,
Durkheim demonstrated the relevance of this argument when he published Suicide. In this
book, Durkheim examined suicide rates across societies, revealing patterns in who was most
likely to die by suicide, when, and where. Given these patterns, he came to attribute suicide to
social – rather than to individual or psychological – causes.
Durkheim also believed that it was possible to determine if a society was “healthy” or
“pathological.” He saw healthy societies as stable, while pathological societies experienced a
breakdown in social norms, or expectations for behavior.
Max Weber (1864–1920)
Max Weber established a sociology department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians
University of Munich in 1919. Weber wrote on many topics related to sociology, including
political change in Russia and the social forces that affect factory workers. He is perhaps best
known for The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904), which argues that Protestant
Christianity, especially Calvinism, led to the creation of capitalism.
Unlike Comte, Weber didn’t think that the scientific method could be used to accurately predict
human behavior in groups. Weber saw culture as a social force that made human behavior too
difficult to predict. In fact, Weber argued that sociologists’ cultural biases, if not controlled,
could also influence their research. To deal with culture, Weber introduced the concept of
verstehen, a German word that means to understand in a deep way. In seeking verstehen,
sociologists try to understand a social world, like an entire culture or a small setting, from an
insider’s point of view.
In this way, Weber and other like-minded sociologists advanced a philosophy of antipositivism,
in which sociological research methods are used not to generalize or make predictions but to
systematically gain an in-depth understanding of different social worlds.
W. E. B. DuBois (1868-1963)
4
William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born free in Massachusetts in 1868. After graduating
from Fisk University, he earned a Ph.D. (in sociology) from Harvard University – becoming the
first black American to do so (USHistory.org). From academic positions at Wilberforce University,
the University of Pennsylvania, and Atlanta University, DuBois vociferously attacked the Jim
Crow laws and practices that inhibited black suffrage. His most famous books include: The
Philadelphia Negro (1896), which used statistical methods to study society’s impacts on
individuals and communities; The Souls of Black Folk (1903), which focused on AfricanAmericans’ “double consciousness” and demand for equal rights; and Black Reconstruction in
America, 1860-1880 (1935), which analyzed how race impacted workers’ solidarity in the
Reconstruction south (Cole 2019).
In 1905, DuBois met with a group of 30 men at Niagara Falls, Canada. As the “Niagara
Movement,” they drafted a series of demands essentially calling for an immediate end to all
forms of discrimination. Four years later, members of …
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