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INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY

STUDENT GUIDE

19

Many of our individual qualities depend on interaction.

Each of us develops ideas, values, goals, interests, morals, talents, emotions, and tendencies to act in certain ways. These individual qualities are directed through interaction. Our society, community, family, and friends encourage some directions and discourage others. We are not perhaps exact copies of what others want us to be, but their expectations and teachings are important for our choices in life.

Human beings are social actors.

This means, like it or not, that we constantly adjust our actions to others around us. Yes, we try to impress others some of the time, but we also try to communicate to others, we try to influence them, avoid them, or at the very least, adjust our acts so that we can do what we want without being bothered by them. However, because we live around other people, our acts are formed with them in mind, we are social actors, we must take their acts into account when we act. We do not live in isolation—what we do results in part in what others around us do.

Humans Exist Within Social Patterns

We are born into society. We live, we die. Society exists before we are born; it continues to exist after we die.

These patterns (sometimes called sociological phenomena) are “bigger” than us.  

There are rates for social events. Durkheim isolated suicide rates in society. Each society has a different suicide rate from every other society. In fact, these rates tend to stay stable from year to year. If they change, something else has changed and has caused the rates to change. You and I are born into a society; it has a suicide rate, a crime rate, a birth rate, and a death rate. We enter colleges that have dropout rates, and we marry in a society that has a divorce rate. These rates are important to all of us. They exist as a force on us; their existence encourages or discourages our choices in life.

Social Class

Culture

Social Institutions

Politics

Economic

Religion

Education

Family

Humans Are Socialized

For society to function without serious conflict, the human being must be socialized. Socialization is the process by which the society, community, formal organization, or group teaches its members its ways. The family and school socialize the child, the

Copyright © 2005 Mount Vernon Nazarene University Adult and Graduate Studies

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