LECTURE NOTES Introduction to Sociology

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LECTURE NOTES Introduction to Sociology For Health Extension Workers Fassika Melesse Defense University College In collaboration with the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, The Carter Center, the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Education November 2004 Introduction to Sociology UNIT ONE The Sociological Perspectives Learning Objectives: After completion of this unit, the student will be able to discuss: • The concept of sociology. • The study of sociology. • The relation between sociology and social sciences. • Sociology and common sense. • Historical development of sociology. Topic One: The Nature of Sociology 1.1.1 Sociology Defined. Sociology can be defined as the systematic study of human social interaction. Sociology focuses on the influence of social relationship upon people’s attitudes and behavior. 1.1.2 The Study of Sociology. Sociology aims at the understanding of social life and human interaction. Social life is complex. Look at the following: 2Introduction to Sociology • Some people do care about their health. Consequently, they use preventive method. However, others don’t worry about their health. They go to health centers after they are sick. • The number of HIV carriers in Ethiopian is greater than many African countries. • Some people give high priority to education while others don’t. • Why do some people act/behave differently from others? Facts and question such as these are numerous. The study of sociology not only broadens our view but also helps us to answer different question such as these. 1.1.3 Sociology and Social Sciences. All Social sciences are interested in patterned regularity in human beings’ social behavior. However, each field of social science has its own specific interest. For example, economics study human production, distribution and consumption. Political science focuses on government and power. Psychology studies the sciences of mind. History deals with past events. Sociology is one of the social sciences studying human social interaction. This means human interaction in all areas: interaction in production center, in political parties, in the family, in schools etc. Thus, sociology touches upon nearly 3Introduction to Sociology all social science fields. In this respect, sociology is one of the broadest fields of study. 1.1.4 Sociology and Common Sense Sociology is a science. This is because that it follows systematic procedures in studying society. Part of the knowledge that we get through common sense is not considered as scientific. Therefore, sociology doesn’t consider common sense as a source of fact. The knowledge that we get through common sense must be recorded, tested and analyzed. Then, we can take them as one of the sources of facts. Example: ● Common sense tells us that the expansion of health centers is the only solution to make society healthy. This common sense is only partially true. According to researchers, to make society healthy, the first and the best way is to make an effort on preventive measures than on curatives; i.e. not treatment after being sick. ● Common sense may tell us that people in the countryside are against modern way of thinking. This common sense is misleading; because as the experiences of many countries indicate, village men accept new idea as long as they acquire proper information. 4Introduction to Sociology Exercise: List down four common senses which cannot be the sources of facts. 1.1.5 Historical Development of Sociology. There are two significant social events that helped the emergence of sociology: The French revolution and The Industrial Revolution. ♦ The French Revolution The French Revolution was the bloodiest social movement that took the life of thousands of people. It avoided the old political, social and economic order through a lot of riots, and killings. The revolution, therefore, pushed many social scientists to think about society. This includes analyzing social behavior, the cause and results of revolution, alternative ways of social change and stability etc. Š The Industrial Revolution The discovery of electricity, telephone and the steam engine had brought rapid social and economic change. It also resulted in a lot of social problems. Peasants for examples lost their land and migrated to towns. Few became rich but the majority remained poor. Thus, many intellectuals determined to develop the scientific study of society. 5Introduction to Sociology The Founders of Sociology ♦ August Comte (1798-1857). He was the French philosopher who used the word sociology for the first time. He is called the father of sociology. ♦ Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). British philosopher. According to him understanding and explaining society should be the aim of sociology. ♦ Emil Durkheim (1859-1917). He was from Jewish family. Most of his works in sociology focused on understanding the stability of society. ♦ Max Weber (1864-1920). He was a German philosopher. He wrote books about religion and social change. ♦ Karl Marx (1818-1883). He was a Jewish origin, but born in Germany. Basically, he was different from the other philosophers. According to him, society is based mainly on economic relation. Thus, there is always conflict. Understanding conflict in all aspect of social life, therefore, should be the core element. 6Introduction to Sociology Topic Two: The Sociological Approach. Learning Objectives: At the end of this lesson students will be able to explain: • The major theoretical perspectives in society. • The use of sociology in the formation of social policy. 1.2.1 Major Theoretical Perspectives. There are three important sociological approaches in sociology. Š Structural Functional Theory Emil Durkheim and Herbert Spencer are the most influential persons in this theory. The theory focuses on the structure of the society. Moreover, it emphasizes how the structure functions. To put it in an example, when a researcher studies the family the focus would be on the structure of the family. Then, the function and the effect of the structure is analyzed. Š Conflict Theory Karl Marx is the most known person in this theory. The key idea of the theory is conflict. According to Marx, conflict always exists among society, among the family, between friends, workmates and between workers and factory 7Introduction to Sociology owners, etc. The most important source of conflict is economic. It is common, particularly, between the rich and the poor (the workers and the capitalist). In other words, conflict exists between different social groups. According to Marx, the solution for such conflict is revolution. Š Symbolic Interaction Theory. According to this theory, the study of society should focus on everyday aspects of social life. Particularly, inter personal relation in small groups of people help us to understand the larger society. Social order is kept by the day-to-day interaction and the shared behavior of groups of people. 1.2.2 Sociology and Social Policy The study of sociology and social policy are highly interrelated. Decision makers need social problems that are investigated scientifically. Thus, researches conducted by sociologists are the key inputs for designing social policy. For example, before starting a heath extension program, the role of sociologists is crucial. The norms, the values and the cultural practices of the community must be studied. Exercise: The government wanted to draft a policy which is aimed at helping HIV positive people. Discuses the role of sociologists. 8Introduction to Sociology UNIT TWO The Individual And The Society Learning Objectives: At the end of the lesson the trainee will be able to examine: • Culture and society. • Development of culture. • Elements of culture. • Culture integration and variation • Culture and the dominant ideology. Topic One: Culture 2.1.1 Culture and Society It is very difficult to totally separate culture from society. This is because that in the absence of society there is no culture. And without culture there is no society. However, culture and society are not the same or identical. Society is a large number of people who share similar culture and live in a certain territory. Culture is the behavior of society; it is learned and transmitted. Thus, culture and society are two different phenomena but strongly interconnected 9Introduction to Sociology 2.1.2 Development of Culture. The process of the development of culture begins when mankind began to use stone tools. Human beings started art, paintings, ceremonies such as birth and wedding 35,000 years ago. One form of the Development of culture is innovation. That is, creating or finding new things such as electricity. The other form is adoption. It is taking and using norms, ideas, and materials etc. from other cultures. The process is called culture diffusion. Trade, war, mass media are some of the means that facilitate diffusion. Example: The introduction of coffee from Ethiopia to the rest the world and firearms/guns from Europe to Ethiopia are good examples for culture diffusion. Exercise: A) Mention three discoveries and innovations that contribute to the development of culture. B) Identify three culture diffusions that contribute to the development of Ethiopian culture. 2.1.3 Elements of Culture. Culture is a very wide concept. The good way to understand culture is to see the elements of culture. In this lesson we 10Introduction to Sociology will see only some of the elements, Ideology, folklore, values and norms. ♦ Ideology It is a doctrine that justifies a course of action. For example, the feudal ideology reflects the feudal culture. The capitalist ideology shapes the capitalist social system. Competition, for example, is the ideology of capitalism. Thus, competition is the basic cultural value of the society in capitalist countries. ♦ Folklore is the traditions, stories, myth, customs, etc. of a community, or the study of these aspects. Understanding the folklore of a certain society tells us much about the people’s culture; In other words, folklore reflects the basic cultural practices. ♦ Values are shared ideas of different communities about desirable goals. For example: ●Patriotism among all nationalities of Ethiopia. ●Competition among all communities of America. ●Hard working among all communities of China are strong values (shared ideas). 11Introduction to Sociology ♦ Norms: To achieve a certain value different societies follow different means; that is what we call norms. In other words, norms are shared rules of conduct that a society follows to achieve common goals (values). Example: Ethiopian parents and /or society socialize children to be bald. This means children are not expected to fear, or avoid fighting. The development of this norm helps children to achieve the society’s value- in our case patriotism. Generally speaking there are two types of norms: folkways and mores. Folkways: are simple, normal and habitual practices of a society. ● Ways of dressing or dancing. ● Food choices (such as eating injera). ● Ways of thanks giving are examples of folkways. When persons act against folkways society may not take it seriously. This is because that they are simple types of norms. Mores are strong norms of society. Example: In Ethiopia dogs are not eaten; or like some Europeans same sexes do not get marry. When persons eat dog (like some societies) or when same sexes get married (like 12Introduction to Sociology Europeans) it is against the mores. Thus, for the Ethiopians it is serious; because it is immoral. The society punishes such persons in different ways for example by isolation. Exercise: A. Mention three violations of folkways and five mores related with health. B. In some communities, feces defecation in front of people is normal. However, in others it is the violation of mores: Do you agree? Discuss. 2.1.4 Culture Variation and Integration. Culture variation All societies in our world do not have identical cultural practices. This means, each culture has its own unique characters. This implies culture variation. Thus, it is expected that values and norms conflict each other. Culture integration Different societies with different cultures live together peacefully. Why? It is because that they are able to create different mechanisms. One way is the willingness of the different societies. They accept their difference and live in harmony and/or peace. The other is by enforcement. The dominant cultures integrate minority groups without 13Introduction to Sociology their consent. However, the introduction of technology greatly facilitated the integration of different cultures of the world. These days, all cultures are attracted toward the Western culture. Exercise: A) To what extent do you think that different communities in Ethiopia are integrated? B) To what extent do you think that Ethiopians are integrated with European culture? 2.1.5 Culture and Dominant Ideology. Dominant ideology maintains powerful social, economic and political interest. According to some scholars, dominant ideology is a mechanism of culture integration. It also stabilizes different societies to live together in harmony. According to conflict theory, dominant ideology serves only one powerful section of society; and it is a source of conflict. Ethnic and race conflict are good examples that arise as the result of dominant ideology. Example: These days, capitalism is the dominant ideology across the world. It serves as a mechanism of culture integration. Culture diffusion, changing view of young people, and globalization are bringing different cultures in to one “melting pot”. 14Introduction to Sociology Topic two: Socialization Learning Objectives: At the end of this topic the trainee will be able to describe: • The concept of socialization. • The role of socialization. • The self and socialization. 2.2.1 Socialization Defined. The process of learning which includes values, attitudes, knowledge, skill etc. that we learn beginning from childhood is called socialization. Children learn socially acceptable and un- acceptable behaviors from their family. The socialization process doesn’t stop after childhood, but it continuous until we pass away. 2.2.2 The Role of Socialization Little children, though not conscious, are highly self-centered. They assume that everything around them exist only to serve them. It is through socialization that they learn the opposite. And as time goes, they learn their limits. In schools and in peer groups, children learn the sense of friendship, competition etc. Thus, the role of socialization is to help people conform to the established cultural practices. It is through socialization that individuals become members of a society. 15Introduction to Sociology 2.2.3 The Self and Socialization. Any person is different from others. In other words, an individual is unique. The feeling (perception) that an individual has about her/himself is termed as the self. The feeling that we have about ourselves depends upon the process of socialization. This means, the way we consider ourselves could also come from how others perceive us. Example: The self-perception of a child can be influenced by others perception. This means, if we understand a child positively, then, she/he could feel positive abut her/him self. According to sociology, therefore, the perception of the self is mainly based on socialization which influences our self image. Exercise: A) How do you perceive a peasant? Careless about personal hygiene? Illiterate? Difficult to teach? Hard worker? Or What? Discuss by giving reasons. B) How do your friends perceive you? Brilliant or dull? Hard worker or lazy? Trust worthy or un trustworthy? Or what? C) Does this perception influence the way you think about yourself? How? Discuss. 16Introduction to Sociology 2.2.4 Socialization and the Life Cycle. Socialization begins immediately after birth. And it is a life long transformation. Socialization takes place at the family level, at the school, at work place, and at old age. At each stage, the content and intensity of the socialization differ. This means, the norms and values that we learn in the family and in the school is different. So is in the work place and at old age. Exercise: Give Examples concerning the kind of socialization that is practiced in the family, the schools, the work place and at old age. 2.2.5 Agents of Socialization. The socialization process takes places formally and informally by different institutes. The task of socialization is carried out by agents of socialization. Among others, the family, the school and peer group are the most important agents of socializations. The family: It is the basic agents of socialization. The family socializes children: • Manner of eating and drinking. • Toilet training. • Adapting sleeping time. • Developing the sense of self. 17Introduction to Sociology • Race and gender deference. • Determine basic behavior such as affection and/or hatreds. School: The school has a strong influence in socializing pupils. In schools, girls and boys are socialized to: • Conform the values and cultural practices of the society. • Modify the old self image and develop new ones. • Acquire new skills and to have new worldview. Peer Groups:-It is a group of young girls and/or boys of the same age. For young people, peer group is the most significant than the family. Peer groups socialize the young to: ● Practice independence. ● Carry adult hood responsibilities. ● Emotional intimacy. ● Group loyalty etc. Work place:-After child hood, young women /men enter in to occupation. Then, the process of socialization takes place in the work area. The work place socialize the young to: ● Conform to the adult status. ● Vocational/occupational training. ● Carry out new responsibilities. 18Introduction to Sociology Note: Religious and political institutions, the media, among others, are also agents of socializations. Exercise: A) Which agents of socialization do you think is effective in teaching personal hygiene? B) What are the aspects of socialization that people get from the media, religion and political institution? Give two examples for each. C) Which agent of socialization is more effective to teach preventive method so that people could attain good health? 19Introduction to Sociology Topic Three: Social Groups and Organizations 2.3.1 Understanding Groups No individual is an island. We spend much of our time within groups: with family, neighbors, friends, workmates, and travelers (in a bus, taxi etc). Thus, understanding groups helps us in determining our ideas, views and behaviors. A number of people with similar norms, values and expectations who regularly and consciously interact are called groups. Types of groups There are two types of groups: primary and secondary groups. Examples of primary groups are the family, best friends, gang members. Secondary groups include classmates, club/ association members. Characteristics of primary and secondary groups. Primary Secondary ● Small in number. ● Large in number. ● Cooperative, friendly. ● Superficial ● Strong sense of loyalty. ● Based on self interest. Exercise:- Identify five primary and five secondary groups in which you are a member. 20

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