Essentials of Sociology by David В. Brinkerhoff & Suzanne T. Ortega – 8th ed.
What Is Sociology?
Each of us starts the study of society with the study of individuals. We wonder why women keeps getting involved with men who treat their badly, why most of people never learns to stop drinking before they gets sick, why our aunt puts up with our uncle, or why anybody ever liked the Spice Girls. We wonder why people we’ve known for years seem to change drastically when they get married or change jobs.
Sociology is the systematic study of human society, social groups, and social interactions. Of course, people act out this play a little differently each time, depending on the scenery, the people in the lead roles, and the century, but the essentials are the same. Thus, we can read nineteenth- or even sixteenth-century love stories and still understand why those people did what they did. They were playing roles in a play that is still performed daily.
More formal definitions will be introduced later, but the metaphor of the theater can be used now to introduce two of the most basic concepts in sociology: role and social structure. By role, we mean the expected performance of someone who occupies a specific position. Mothers, teachers, students, and lovers all have roles.
Each position has an established script that suggests appropriate gestures, things to say, and ways to interact with others. Discovering what each society offers as a stock set of roles is one of the major themes in sociology. Sociologists try to find the common roles that appear in society and to determine why some people play one role rather than another.
1 The Study of Society
4 Social Structure and Social Interaction
5 Groups, Networks, and Organizations
6 Deviance, Crime, and Social Control
8 Racial and Ethnic Inequality
9 Sex, Gender, and Sexuality
10 Health and Health Care
12 Education and Religion
13 Politics and the Economy
14 Population and Urbanization
15 Social Change
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