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See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266001678 Introduction to Sociology: Lecture Notes Book · June 2005 DOI: 10.13140/2.1.4222.0809 CITATIONSREADS 070,568 1 author: Zerihun D Doffana Hawassa University 10 PUBLICATIONS 0 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: The role of sacred natural sites in conflict resolution View project The conservation of African Yellowood Tree Podocarpus falcatus in the sacred sites of SIdama, Ethiopia View project All content following this page was uploaded by Zerihun D Doffana on 24 September 2014. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface ............................................................................. i Acknowledgement............................................................. v Table of Contents ............................................................. vii List of Illustrative Boxes, List Tables and List of Figures . xiv CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION Learning Objectives ......................................................... 1 1.1. Definition and Subject Matter of Sociology ............... 2 1.1.1. What is Sociology? ................................... 2 1.1.2. Brief Historical Overview............................ 6 1.1.3. Subject Matter, Scope and Concerns of Sociology.................................................... 14 1.1.4. Levels of Sociological Analysis and Fields of Specializations in Sociology ...................... 16 1.1.5. Major Theoretical Perspectives ................. 20 1.2. The Significance of Learning Sociology ................... 34 1.3. Sociological Research Methods ................................ 38 1.3.1. The Scientific Method ................................ 38 1.3.2. Steps in Sociological Research ............... 41 1.4. The Relationship between Sociology and Other Disciplines ................................................................ 55 1.5. Chapter Summary ..................................................... 57 Review Questions ........................................................... 60 vii CHAPTER TWO: SOCIETY AND CULTURE Learning Objectives ......................................................... 61 2.1. The Concept of Society:............................................. 62 2.1.1. Definition.................................................... 62 2.1.2. Basic Features of Society .......................... 64 2.1.3. Conceptualizing Society at Various Levels 66 2.1.4. Types of Society......................................... 67 2.2 The Concept of Culture............................................... 69 2.2.1 Definition..................................................... 69 2.2.2. Basic Characteristics of Culture................. 72 2.2.3. Elements of Culture ................................... 76 2.2.4. Cultural Variability and Explanations ......... 83 2.2.5. Ethno-centrism and Cultural Relativism and Culture Shock...................................... 86 2.2.6. Cultural Universals, Alternatives and Specialties ................................................. 90 2.2.7. The Concepts of Culture Lag and Culture Lead............................................................ 94 2.2.8. Global Culture an Cultural Imperialism ...... 95 2.3 Chapter Summary ...................................................... 96 Review Questions ............................................................ 98 viiiIntroduction to Sociology CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Learning Objectives At the end of this chapter, students will be able to: • Define the term sociology; • Describe the subject-matter, scope and basic concerns of sociology; • Understand how sociology emerged and developed; • Appreciate the personal and professional benefits derived from learning sociology; • Understand the methods and approaches of sociology; • Describe macro-sociology and micro-sociology; • Appreciate the various views and concepts formulated by the founding fathers of sociology; • Describe the relationship of sociology with other fields of study; and • Appreciate the application of sociology in addressing contemporary societal problems. 1Introduction to Sociology 1.1. Definition and Subject Matter of Sociology 1.1.1. What is Sociology? Before attempting to define what sociology is, les us look at what the popular conceptions of the discipline seem. As may be the case with other sciences, sociology is often misconceived among the populace. Though many may rightly and grossly surmise that sociology is about people, some think that it is all about “helping the unfortunate and doing welfare work, while others think that sociology is the same as socialism and is a means of bringing revolution to our schools and colleges” (Nobbs, Hine and Flemming, 1978:1). The first social scientist to use the term sociology was a Frenchman by the name of Auguste Comte who lived from 1798-1857. As coined by Comte, the term sociology is a combination of two words. The first part of the term is a Latin, socius- that may variously mean society, association, togetherness or companionship. The other word, logos, is of Greek origin. It literally means to speak about or word. However, the term is 2Introduction to Sociology generally understood as study or science (Indrani, 1998). Thus, the etymological, literal definition of sociology is that it is the word or speaking about society. A simple definition here is that it is the study of society and culture. Box 1.1. A simple definition of sociology Sociology is the study of society Although the term “sociology” was first used by the French social philosopher august Comte, the discipline was more firmly established by such theorists as Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx and Max Weber (Nobbs, Hine and Flemming, 1978). Before going any further, let us note that the concepts “society and “culture” are central in sociology. While each concept shall be dealt with later in some detail, it appears to be appropriate here to help students differentiate between these two important concepts. Society generally refers to the social world with all its structures, institutions, organizations, etc around us, and specifically to a group of people who live within some 3Introduction to Sociology type of bounded territory and who share a common way of life. This common way of life shared by a group of people is termed as culture (Stockard, 1997). Box 1.2. Distinguishing between society and culture Society: a group of people who live within some type of bounded territory and who share a common way of life Culture: is common way of life shared by a society or a group. Now, turning to the definitional issues, it is important that in addition to this etymological definition of the term, we need to have other substantive definitions. Thus, sociology may be generally defined as a social science that studies such kinds of phenomena as: • The structure and function of society as a system; • The nature, complexity and contents of human social behavior; • The fundamentals of human social life; 4Introduction to Sociology • Interaction of human beings with their external environment; • The indispensability of social interactions for human development; • How the social world affects us, etc. A more formal definition of sociology may be that it is a social science which studies the processes and patterns of human individual and group interaction, the forms of organization of social groups, the relationship among them, and group influences on individual behavior, and vice versa, and the interaction between one social group and the other (Team of Experts, 2000). Sociology is the scientific study of society, which is interested in the study of social relationship between people in group context. Sociology is interested in how we as human beings interact with each other (the pattern of social interaction); the laws and principles that govern social relationship and interactions; the /influence of the social world on the individuals, and vice versa (Ibid.). It deals with a factually observable subject matter, depends upon empirical research, and involves 5Introduction to Sociology attempts to formulate theories and generalizations that will make sense of facts (Giddens, 1982). Regarding the detective and expository nature the science, Soroka (1992:34) states that “Sociology is a debunking science; that is, it looks for levels of reality other than those presented in official interpretations of society and people’s common sense explanations of the social world. Sociologists are interested in understanding what is and do not make value judgments.” 1.1.2. Brief Historical Overview Sociology and other social sciences emerged from a common tradition of reflection of social phenomena; interest in the nature of human social behavior and society has probably always existed; however, most people in most past societies saw their culture as a fixed and god-given entity. This view gradually was replaced th by more rational explanations beginning from the 17 century especially in Western Europe (Rosenberg, 1987). The sociological issues, questions and problems 6Introduction to Sociology had been raised and discussed by the forerunners starting from the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers' and Hebrew prophets' times. th Sociology as an academic science was thus born in 19 century (its formal establishment year being 1837) in Great Britain and Western Europe, especially in France th and Germany, and it greatly advanced through out 19 th and 20 centuries. The development of sociology and its current contexts have to be grasped in the contexts of the major changes that have created the modern world (Giddens, 1986). th Further, sociology originated in 18 century philosophy, political economy and cultural history (Swingwood, 1991) The major conditions, societal changes, upheavals and social ferments that gave rise to the emergence and development of sociology as an academic science include the Industrial Revolution which began in Great Britain, the French Political Revolution of 1789, the Enlightenment and advances in natural sciences and 7Introduction to Sociology technology. These revolutions had brought about significant societal changes and disorders in the way society lived in the aforementioned countries. Since sociology was born amidst the great socio-political and economic and technological changes of the western world, it is said to be the science of modern society. The pioneering sociologists were very much concerned about the great changes that were taking place and they felt that the exciting sciences could not help understand, explain, analyze and interpret the fundamental laws that govern the social phenomena. Thus sociology was born out of these revolutionary contexts. The founders or the pioneering sociologists are the following (Henslin and Nelson, 1995; Giddens, 1996; Macionis, 1997): • Auguste Comte, French Social Philosopher (1798- 1857) Comte was the first social philosopher to coin and use the term sociology (Nobbs, Hine and Flemming, 1978). He was also the first to regard himself as a sociologist. 8Introduction to Sociology He defined sociology as the scientific study of social dynamics and social static. He argued that sociology can and should study society and social phenomena following the pattern and procedures of the natural science. Comte believed that a theoretical science of society and the systematic investigation of human behavior were needed to improve society. He argued that the new science of society could and should make a critical contribution towards a new and improved human society. Comte defined sociology as the study of social dynamic and social static, the former signifying the changing, progressing and developmental dimensions of society, while the latter refers to the social order and those elements of society and social phenomena which tend to persist and relatively permanent, defying change. • Karl Marx (German, 1818-1883) Marx was a world-renowned social philosopher, sociologist and economic historian. He made remarkable contributions to the development of various social sciences including sociology. He contributed greatly to sociological ideas. He introduced key 9Introduction to Sociology concepts in sociology like social class, social class conflict, social oppression, alienation, etc. Marx, like Comte, argued that people should make active efforts to bring about societal reforms. According to Marx, economic forces are the keys to underestimating society and social change. He believed that the history of human society has been that of class conflict. He dreamed of, and worked hard towards realizing, a classless society, one in which there will be no exploitation and oppression of one class by another, and wherein all individuals will work according to their abilities and receive according to their needs. Marx introduced one of the major perspectives in sociology, called social conflict theory (Macionis, 1997) • Harriet Martineau, British Sociologist (1802- 1876) At a time when women were greatly stereotyped and denied access to influential socio-political and academic arena, it is interesting to ha a female academic to be numbered among the pioneering sociologists. Harriet was interested in social issues and studied both in the United States and England. She came across with the 10Introduction to Sociology writings of Comte and read them. She was an active advocate of the abolition of slavery and she wrote on many crosscutting issues such as racial and gender relations, and she traveled widely. She helped popularize the ideas and writings of Comte by translating them into English (Henslin and Nelson, 1995). • Herbert Spencer, British Social Philosopher, (1820-1903) Spencer was a prominent social philosopher of the 19th century. He was famous for the organic analogy of human society. He viewed society as an organic system, having its own structure and functioning in ways analogous to the biological system. Spencer's ideas of the evolution of human society from the lowest ("barbarism") to highest form ("civilized") according to fixed laws were famous. It was called "Social Darwinism", which is analogous to the biological evolutionary model. Social Darwinism is the attempt to apply by analogy the evolutionary theories of plant and animal development to the explanation of human society and social phenomena (Team of Experts, 2000). 11Introduction to Sociology • Emile Durkheim, French Sociologist, (1858- 1917) Durkehiem was the most influential scholar in the academic and theoretical development of sociology. He laid down some of the fundamental principles, methods, concepts and theories of sociology; he defined sociology as the study of social facts. According to him, there are social facts, which are distinct from biological and psychological facts. By social facts, he meant the patterns of behavior that characterize a social group in a given society. They should be studied objectively. The job of a sociologist, therefore, is to uncover social facts and then to explain them using other social facts. Some regard Durkheim as the first sociologist to apply statistical methods to the study of social phenomena (Macionis, 1997; Clahoun, et al, 1994). • Max Weber, German Sociologist (1864-1920) Weber was another prominent social scientist. According to him, sociology is the scientific study of human social action. Social action refers to any “action oriented to influence or influenced by another person or persons. It is not necessary for more than one person to 12Introduction to Sociology be physically present for action to be regarded as social action….” (Team of Experts, 2000). It is concerned with the interpretive understanding of human social action and the meaning people attach to their own actions and behaviors and those of others. Weber was a renowned scholar who like Marx, wrote in several academic fields. He agreed with much Marxian theses but did not accept his idea that economic forces are central to social change. Weber argues that we cannot understand human behavior by just looking at statistics. Every activity and behavior of people needs to be interpreted. He argued that a sociologist must aim at what are called subjective meanings, the ways in which people interpret their own behavior or the meanings people attach their own behavior (Henslin and Nelson, 1995; Rosneberg, 1987). 13Introduction to Sociology Box 1.3. Pioneering founders of sociology August Comte, French, 1798-1857; key concepts: social static and social dynamic Karl Marx, German, (1818-1883), key concepts: class conflict, alienation, historical materialism, etc Emile Durkheim, French, 1858-1917; key concept: social fact Max Weber, German, 1864=1920; key concepts: social action; subjective meanings Herbert Spencer, British, 1820-1903; key concept: social Darwinism Harriet Martineau, British, 1802-1876; active advocate of abolition of slavery and gender issues 1.1.3. Subject Matter, Scope and Concerns of Sociology The scope of sociology is extremely wide ranging, from the analysis of passing encounter between individuals on the street up to the investigation of global social processes The discipline covers an extremely broad range that includes every aspect of human social 14Introduction to Sociology conditions; all types of human relationships and forms of social behavior (Indrani, 1998). Sociologists are primarily interested in human beings as they appear in social interaction and the effects of this interaction on human behavior. Such interaction can range from the first physical contacts of the new born baby with its mother to a philosophical discussion at an international conference, from a casual passing on the street to the most intimate of human relationships (World Book Encyclopedia 1994. Vol. 18, PP. 564-567). Sociologists are interested to know what processes lead to these interactions, what exactly occurs when they take place, and what their short run and long run consequences are. The major systems or units of interaction that interest sociologists are social groups such as the family or peer groups; social relationships, such as social roles and dyadic relationships, and social organizations such as governments, corporations and school systems to such territorial organizations as communities and schools (Broom and Selzinki, 1973). 15Introduction to Sociology Sociologists are keen to understand, explain, and analyze the effect of social world, social environment and social interaction on our behavior, worldviews, lifestyle, personality, attitudes, decisions, etc., as creative, rational, intelligent members of society; and how we as such create the social reality. 1.1.4. Levels of Sociological Analysis and Fields of Specializations in Sociology There are generally two levels of analysis in sociology, which may also be regarded as branches of sociology: micro-sociology and macro- sociology (Henslin and Nelson, 1995). Micro-sociology is interested in small- scale level of the structure and functioning of human social groups; whereas macro-sociology studies the large-scale aspects of society. Macro-sociology focuses on the broad features of society. The goal of macro-sociology is to examine the large-scale social phenomena that determine how social groups are organized and positioned within the social structure. Micro-sociological level of analysis 16Introduction to Sociology focuses on social interaction. It analyzes interpersonal relationships, and on what people do and how they behave when they interact. This level of analysis is usually employed by symbolic interactionist perspective. Some writers also add a third level of analysis called meso-level analysis, which analyzes human social phenomena in between the micro- and macro-levels. Reflecting their particular academic interest sociologists may prefer one form of analysis to the other; but all levels of analysis are useful and necessary for a fuller understanding of social life in society. Box 1.4. Levels of analysis in sociology Micro-sociology: Analyzing small scale social phenomena Macro-sociology: analyzing large-scale social phenomena Meso-sociology: analysis of social phenomena in between the micro- and macro- levels. 17

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