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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

FACILITATING INSTRUCTOR GUIDE

16

Sociology might be defined as (1) a perspective and (2) an academic discipline that (3) examines the human being as a social being, (4) who is a product of social interaction, socialization, and social patterns. (5) Sociology tries to concern itself with the nature of the human being, the meaning and basis of social order, and the causes and consequences of social inequality. (6) It focuses on society, social organization, social institutions, social interaction, and social problems.

Sociology is a scientific discipline

The purpose of science is to understand the universe in a careful, disciplined manner.

Proof is the requirement for accepting ideas in science, and proof must be empirical.

Science is a community of scholars, checking each other’s work, criticizing, debating, and together slowly building a body of knowledge.

Science is an attempt to generalize.

Science is an attempt to explain events. (It attempts to develop ideas about cause-effect relationships.)

The Paradigms, Perspectives, and Theories of Sociology

Paradigm (Denisoff, Callahan, & Levine, 1974, p. 1-3)

Model or pattern of thinking

Taken-for-granted ideas and assumptions not debated by members of a scientific discipline

Once a paradigm is established, scholars engage in what Kuhn (1970) calls “mopping up operations”

the stress of one group of events and facts over another

The attempt to demonstrate agreement between the paradigm and reality

The further refinement of the paradigm

Sociology , as a science, has not developed a singular dominant paradigm. It currently accepts three major paradigms. At this time a fourth one is being considered. We will not study the fourth paradigm in this course.

Some sociological textbooks use the term theoretical perspectives in place of paradigms. In sociological theory, perspectives are a sub-category of paradigms. For general discussion in this course, the two terms will be used interchangeably.

Review the Paradigm Comparison Table (pages 3-4 of student guide)

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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