Transcript Chapter 1

Stark--Chapter 1
Groups and Relationships:
A Sociological Sampler
Science: Theory and Research
Science: A sophisticated and precise method for
describing and explaining why and how things work.
Theory: An abstract statement that explains why and
how certain things happen, or are as they are. (An
Research: Making appropriate empirical
observations or measurements.
– Test knowledge, or gather sufficient information
about some portion of reality.
The Discovery of Social Facts
Que’telet, Guerry--Founders of Moral
– Studied The Compte . Noted the stability
of crime, suicide rates
– Stable from year-to-year
– Varied greatly from place to place
Concluded powerful forces outside the
individual cause stability and variation.
Suicide rates in Europe (Morselli)
Morselli extended work of Que’telet, Guerry
– Why the variations in suicide, and a general increase?
Suicide rates in Europe
Morselli: It’s due to the shift from a society
based on small town, rural life to a modern,
industrialized society.
 Cities: Huge, impersonal, disorderly
 Morselli: some nations had higher rates b/c
they were more modernized; Modernization
was taking place throughout Europe
Suicide Rates in Europe (Durkheim)
Durkheim called himself a Sociologist;
expanded on Morselli’s thesis
 Durkheim: Modern societies are deficient in
the warm/secure personal relationships
typical of traditional rural life.
 Result: People lacked social resources to
carry them through times of trouble/despair.
Suicide Rates in Europe (Durkheim)
Durkheim: Suicide reflects weaknesses in
the web of relationships among members of
 Suicide, for Durkheim, was not a weakness
of character or personality.
The Sociological Imagination
The ability to see the link between incidents
in the lives of individuals and large social
forces. (C. Wright Mills)
 Peter Berger: Sociology is devoted to
discovering the general in the specific.
What is Sociology?
Sociology is one of several social sciences
(among them anthropology, economics,
political science, psychology, history).
 Sometimes difficult to distinguish among
them--even some psychologists do "social"
 Sociology is "The scientific study of patterns
and processes of human social relations."
Units of Analysis
Units of Analysis--the "things" being observed
by researchers.
 Units of Analysis can be: individuals, groups,
cities, counties, advertisements, countries,
 Sociologists aggregate these units--a
collection of a type of unit of analysis (usually
larger numbers) in which the search for
patterns is made.
Seeing the Patterns
Seeing the Patterns
Macro and Micro Sociology
Two Kinds of Sociology:
 Micro Sociology
– Small Groups, Individuals
 Macro Sociology
– Larger Groups, Structures
Scientific Concepts
– Names used to identify some set or class of things
said to be alike.
– Are the building blocks of theories--we link them
together to illustrate relationships between
Example: Groups are “Any set of two or more
persons who maintain a stable pattern of social
relations over a period of time.”
Groups: The Sociological Subject
Groups are not aggregates.
 Aggregates come together only briefly and
– Examples?
Types of Groups
– 2 Persons
 Triad
– 3 Persons
 Coalition formation
Is Chivalry Dead?
Chivalry: "...a readiness to help the weak
and protect women."
 Examples of Chivalrous behavior: Men
helping women with their chairs or coats,
opening doors for them.
 How might we study this?
Is Chivalry Dead?
Is Chivalry Dead?
Why would the environment make a
difference as to how people behave?
 What was different between McDonald's and
The Embers?
 The emergent quality of groups
Effects of Size of Groups
What happens to groups as they grow?
 Groups of size 7 or more have a tendency to
break into cliques.
 How big should committees be?
Primary and Secondary Groups
Primary Groups
– Characterized by great intimacy among
– People in primary groups know each other
well; strong emotional ties.
 Secondary Groups
– Less intimate social networks
– Involved in collective goal pursuit
– No powerful sense of belonging
Solidarity and Conflict
What binds us together?
 What separates us?
 Social Solidarity: Density and emotional
intensity of attachments within a group.
– Solidarity: “Glue”
Analyzing Social Networks
Network: Pattern of ties or connections
between some set of units.
 Social Network: Pattern of social links or
relationships among some set of social units.
 Social Relationship: Repeated actions
between social units or the persistence of
stable, shared features among units.
Social Networks
The pattern of social relations among
members of a group
 Sociograms
Depiction of a Social Network
= Person
= Social Link
Studying Self-aware Subjects
The difficulty of studying people.
 Reactiveness in research
 Unobtrusive Measures: Methods which
gather information without disturbing the
objects of research.
Validation Research: Sociologists will use
this ensure that they are getting accurate
 Self-Report data
– Checking against other records
 Using multiple measures to see if they return
the same results.
Reducing and Eliminating Bias
Essence of Scientific Method: Systematic
– Try to disprove things
 Many things we “know” turn out not to be
true. That’s where science comes in.
 Science is a control for bias, for if we follow
the methods correctly there is much less
likelihood of our fudging the results, either
intentionally or not.
 The public nature of science.
The Social Scientific Process
The Social Scientific Process, Cont’d
Sociology and Free Will
Are we robots whose behavior is
preordained? No.
 People make choices; people will attempt to
do the most reasonable thing
– Maximizing rewards, minimizing costs
 It's only because people's choices are
predictable that it's possible to claim people
have free will.
Sociology and Free Will
If behavior is not predictable, it must be
random, and thus people wouldn't be making
 DuBois: Sociology is the Science of Free
 Humans make choices; Sociologists study
why people make the choices they do