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  • Explain concepts central to sociology
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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 are the patterns of social interaction with regard to gender, religion and education
Norman Reply
define functionalist perspective
Jalil
what is cultural
nusrat Reply
culture is the way of life of a particular group of people
Philemon
culture is the backbone of society.
shahnam
culture consists of the beliefs' behaviour' objects' and other characteristics common to the members of particular group of society.
Zahid
culture is our way of life, customs ,traditions ,norms nd behavoiur
musharaf
can anyone explain what is socialogy as science in detail ?
Sydish Reply
sociology is a science because it adoptes and applies the scientific method . sociology does make a scientific method in the study of its subject matter.hence sociology is a science
Zahid
because its study the systematically about society
Akak
in secince we use tools such as thermometers telescopes microscope verniercliper etc similarly in sociology we tools interview questionare servey case study sampling etc so sociology is a science.
shahnam
scientific study of society is called sociology it involves scientific method, observation, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusions , this study produces theories and facts about society , that's why it is science
sohrab
is caste system dangerous in politics? how
Zahid Reply
In present days the main caused for winning the election,after that they influence in any field
Akak
by those activities a father will become enemy to his son hence we should control it
Zahid
is it possible that marriage some places is being done between man's
Zahid Reply
No it is not possible.
umar_king
yeah itz hpns
musharaf
but in western some places it is possible as I considered a book there shows
Zahid
dear friends how then there born babies plz help me
Zahid
mee toooo
musharaf
dear friends I just know that there doesn't born babies
Zahid
they dont bother about thier offsprings nd it hpns in very rare cases in western societies
musharaf
ya right
Zahid
what is mean by ID
Bk Reply
what is counter culture
Jalil
what are the importance of social science on health care
Philemon Reply
the social sciences can contribute to preventing and treating illness by pinpointing the env.settings nd social relationships
musharaf
child poverty in social influences
Hash Reply
Often associated to food insecurity, children living below the poverty line are at an increased risk for becoming both malnourished and overweight. This can highly affect a child’s confidence. Moreover, evidence suggests that many of the effects of poverty on children are often added to by their fam
manisha
India is battling poverty for nearly 60 years now. And, with the help of new policies that strive to empower and spread awareness about the fundamental rights of children, along with participation and activities initiated by CRY – Child Rights and You, the children of India are sure to see a better
manisha
Does sociology have to deal with only interaction and society
Glory Reply
no
Illiasu
no it touches every aspect of social system...
Gh
hmm. :-)
manisha
it deals with society also but as whole....
Gh
tells about drawbacks and government plans..and makes us focus on what can be done for improvement. like for. eg. in agricultural practices what farmers need to do for better crops.
manisha
yeh absolutely
Gh
according to Emile Durkheim sociology is study of social institutions also.....
Gh
and financial institutions also like commercial banks
manisha
hmm also study about market as a social institution....
Gh
world topics like globalisation modernization and different movements. government plans.
manisha
socilogy also study process such as..... sanskritisatoion ,westernization and modernization also
Gh
yes
MRM
YES
Anas
yeah
gerardo
how we will define status and role?
Saqib
maybe
gerardo
what are the effects of sociology to education
Ndubuisi
what is culture integration
Tariq Reply
define socialization
Ndubuisi
Socialization iz a process of learning.
Dr
Education for effective citizens and civic responsibility discuss
Ndubuisi
Thank you Dr Muzammil
Ndubuisi
nature of social work , please
Shabir Reply
what is an institution? with examples please
Mriganka Reply
what 8 sociocultural practices which are harmful to woman specific in Tanzania
GREEBY Reply
in some cases defiance cames with positive change in the society
Auwal Reply
how
Shabir
it happens, some time society may accept some believes which are astray, but lately you may found certain people defiated those believes, and subtituted them with right ones.
Auwal
what is culture
Israel Reply
culture is the our life ,belief value ,norm language customs
Shabir
way
Shabir

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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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