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  • 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

what is sexism
Gelana Reply
I'm not sure of the exact definition. I will define it as: the sociological term that refers to inequality and bias between the two genders.
Elizabeth
what are the main contributions of Emile Durkheim to sociology
Alkemi Reply
what is meant by egoistic suicide
Ghulam
jh
kamran
discuss man's ability to function in the that ensure his survival
Beatrice
what are social facts
Gideon Reply
what is social facts
Gideon
what is social facts
Gideon
social facts: a thing originating in the institutions or culture of a society which affects the behaviour or attitudes of an individual member of that society.
the
So facts are in the institutions or culture of society that affects the behaviour or attitudes of an individual in society.
Holly
what is the scope of introduction to sociology
Ambrose Reply
what is sociol class and how sociol class is achieved
Ghulam
I understand that sociologists study society looking at its pattern. Is the pattern of a society or social world a fixed one? Please help me out.
Jimmy Reply
hi guys,am Eva,its the first am doing sociology. its new to me
evadne Reply
same
Holly
West Midlands UK you
Holly
yh me too
eroll
same here
Justbe
Kingston, Jamaica
evadne
yh and me to
Elizabeth
any input on it
evadne
me too
Abshar
me too😊
the
hlooo
Ghulam
cool
Holly
no its not new for you may be for other
Gelana
what are the types of cultures in sociology
Isreal Reply
can I just have the terms of the different families
Its Reply
Thanks a lot for welcoming me on board as we all interact and learn from each other.
Jimmy
there are many different types of families from two parents & children, single parent which consists of one parent raising one or more children on her/his own. then you the extended family structure from two or more adults who are related, either by blood or marriage, living in the same home.
Holly
important of sociology in the society
Maxine Reply
what are the need of sociology for uneducated people like velliger people who living beside the cities?
Abshar Reply
who is durkheim
Sherie Reply
Émile Durkheim One of the Founding Father (1858-1917) His ideas on the • Division of Labor • Sociological Method • Suicide • Religion
Christopher
what do you mean by the perspective of education
aditya Reply
educational perspectives is a not-for-profit international education  research organizations, which extends to institutions & organizations who wish to enroll international students, license someone who has completed their education in another country, or even offer them employment
Holly
can you suggest any sociologist who gave this idea in brief
aditya
what is optimum theory
Ghulam
Auguste Comte. The French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857) First founder
Holly
Auguste Comte is seen as the father of sociology. He was well versed in Comte: Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species
Holly
The three founding fathers of sociology are Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx.
Holly
there is also mother founders too who was Harriet Martineau. She was considered the "Mother" of sociology & the first to be able to translate the work of the early sociological theorists into English. Harriet's translations were very crucial to the development of American sociology.
Holly
Emile Durkheim (1858—1917) was a Frenchman sociologist. Whom rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies.
Holly
The optimum theroy is a population that had appeared as a reaction to the Malthusian theroy, which had criticizing the approach of the Malthusian theroy of Population, modern economists Edwin Cannan & Carr Saunders of London.
Holly
what is the subject matter of sociology?
Ajazul
the subject matter of sociology is to process human association. When Comtel came up with the name of "sociology," & parallel. it was subsequent attempts a definite content & one mode of attack was upon the proposed science has been denial.
Holly
tell me more about George Hebert Mead please
Taina
he is the schooler
Tanimu
George Herbert Mead was believed to have thought peoples develop self-images via interaction with other people. He argued that the self, which is the part of a person's personality consisting of self-awareness & self-image, is a product of social experience.
Holly
thanx a lot Holly Marie.
Ajazul
what's about the history of sociology?
Ajazul
who is George Herbert Mead ?
Ajazul
a sociologist
Taina
is father founder.
Tanimu
what's about. George Herbert Mead ?
Ajazul
who is the father of sociology? you know we are dealing with the fathers.
Tanimu
August Comte
Rhoda
Please suggest me topics for thesis?
WAJID Reply
what is the relevent important of sociology of education in a training teacher
ADAM
socio-cultural problem of single mother's ?
Sumbul
Wajid which locality do you belong to? It should be relavent to the issues you and your community experiences.
Sadiq
Adam Adamu what do you mean by a training teacher?
Sadiq
what is need of sociology in Pakistani culture
Abshar
Sumbul Khan there are numerous problums faced by the single mothers in a particular society. Most of the times when there is no support and protection, They both will be unsecure in numerous ways i.e educationaly, financialy, health wise, and will be prone to moral degradation and harrasment...
Sadiq
Is sociology a good optional subject for upsc ?
sohit
At Abshar khan, see, a layman cannot understand the society the way a sociologist did..a critical understand is necessary for solving the core issues or problems of the society.
Sumbul
On the other hand as we know that cultur is a way of life so the single mother with her children would be devalued if there is lack of morality there should be numerous factors contributing to the it, different social setup creats different cultural problems as it is a relative phenomenon.
Sadiq
At sadiq,thank you for your explanation but that's the topic name I am suggesting to Wajid for his thesis.
Sumbul
Oh! Realy anyway it is a good one.
Sadiq
sumbul why we will learning eng. Eng is not our colligue language. our culture is following English normally when we study in schools college it's will most important that we will learn English but I think this is not imptnt that if we will learn our colegue language I mean Hindi,chinese,pushto ?
Abshar
The Socio-Psychological impacts of internet uses on illiterate teenagers.
Sadiq
@Abshar see It's a truth that we are using English language more than even our own language,but today's generation want job and money(vch is must for our survival)vch our country is unfortunate wouldn't able to provide us..and fr the better standard of living v have to move in some other countries.
Sumbul
to create a peaceful environment all country members and others should come together and resolve all the problems that occurs across the countries
aditya
okkk tnx Mam
Abshar
Hey, I am very thankful for your support and guidance.
WAJID
Sadiq, My supervisor rejected that topic because many students have already done it. You can please suggest another one to me.
WAJID
when you talk of sociology, it's too large to talk about
AUDU
My supervisor rejected almost 20 topics which i have recommended.
WAJID
I am very thankful for ur better guidance and ur material
Ghulam
u can suggest sir another topics plz
Ghulam
Sociology
Ghulam
Sir tomarrow i have exam plz send me caste and class topic
Ghulam
is sociology have any relationship with geology
Ghulam
sociology is the mother of all social sciences and yes there are some basic relationship of sociology with geology.
Roohullah
yes definitely
Sadiq
geology is a general science or particular science
Ghulam
sociology has a pattern of social relationships, social interaction & culture. The term was introduced by a Frenchman called Auguste Compte during the 1830s, in which he suggested a synthetic science uniting allknowledge about human activity. It development, structure & functioning of human society
Holly
Roohullah khan, Can you please elaborate further?
WAJID
Holly, suggest me topics for thesis?
WAJID
send me topics of caste and class system
Ghulam
sociology job details please
Bilal
anybody knows Spanish🙁
Nolissa Reply
little words Google translater helps lol
Holly
this is not a language forum
Floxy
define stereotype with an example?
Bernard Reply
it's a mistaken idea or belief that several people have about something.
aditya
what kind of idea? please be more specific
Bernard
stereotypes can be seen by an over-generalized belief about a particular group of people i.e when we make quick decisions, they may be erroneous when applied to particular individuals. It can also encourage prejudice & may arise for a number of reasons.
Holly
the generalization of group of streotype because of the certain beliefs of other groups?
Bernard
Identifing someone or something based on race, ethnicity, gender, etc (generally physically) therefore (for example) if there is a Muslim kid wearing traditional clothing, you cannot identify that person as a terrorist based on their appearance. You cannot judge a book by its cover basically...
SATROHAN
if i say stereotypes based on race lead to racism, gender lead to sexism/ masculinity/feminism, and ageism like young and adults is that correct?
Bernard
What is Cultural Revivalism ?
aditya
It refers to the formation of a group identity which is around a common culture. Which is recovered after losses that are due to colonization, forced or voluntary relocation, oppression, or modernization
Holly

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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