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naming sociology) should adopt the study and experimental techniques of the physical sciences.

August Comte’s philosophy based on his conclusion that an intellectual discipline progresses only to the degree that it is grounded in facts and experience, i.e., rests on information about which one can reasonably make positive statements. . . (Hoult, 1974, pp. 243-244)

Positivism . . . seeks to describe only what “obviously” is, what one can really be positive about, that is, sense data. A strict positivist, seeing a black sheep on a meadow could not say, “There is a black sheep.” He could only say, “I see a sheep, one side of which is  black.”

In other words, Comte saw a need for a scientific approach toward studying structures of and interactions within society. While many aspects of society are “obvious” to us in a vague manner, the scientific method uncovers sociological phenomena that are not always so obvious. One primary purpose of SOC1013 Introduction to Sociology is to learn about these sociological phenomena.

Chapter 14: The Meaning and Uses of Sociology

Human Beings Are Social and Socialized

We are born dependent on others. We survive because of them; we learn how to survive from them; we are socialized by them. Socialization is no small matter. Through socialization, we take on the ways of society and become members of society. We learn to control ourselves through the rules and perspective of society, thus making society possible. Through socialization, we develop symbols, self, and mind, qualities that make us both human and to some extent, free. Finally, either because of socialization or because of our nature, humans come to live their whole lives around others, subject to the rules that dominate all social life.

Humans Are Social Actors: We Interact and We Create Social Patterns

Because we act around others, they become important influences on what we do. We consider them as we act; we are social actors in almost every situation. Interaction—mutual social action—socializes us, influences our actions and ideas, and, over time, influences the development of social patterns. Social patterns, once created, take on a life of their own, influencing actors in interaction. It is such patterns that form the basis of social organization.

Humans Live Their Lives Embedded in Social Organization

We are in the center of many organizations, most of which we had no part in creating. Dyads, groups, formal organizations, communities, and society are, to some extent, the walls of our prison. Each represent rules we are expected to follow.

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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