Lecture 1

The Definitions of Sociology
--> "the study of human society" ~ some sociologists study primate societies as well
--> "Sociology is the scientific study of human social behavior and its origins, development, organizations, and institutions" ~ 'scientific' meaning that it is more objective and evidence based when looking at social phenomena
--> "Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior" (American Sociological Association) ~ What does 'social life' mean?
Sociology vs. Psychology
--> Psychology: "the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience - from the functions of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged"
--> both study 'humans' but psychology= mind and behavior while sociology= social
--> 'social' means focusing on social structure and how the arrangements of social structure affect the individual
The Sociological Imagination (Mills 1959)
--> "individuals, in the welter of their daily experience, often become falsely conscious of their social positions" ( C. Write Mills) ~ only seeing things from an individualistic point of view
--> "You can do anything to set your mind to" (Benjamin Franklin) ~ if you work hard you reap the benefits, if you don't work hard you reap nothing

Can you think of examples of how we use this individualistic logic to explain social issues involving race?
 
--> Social Imagination: the capacity to think systemically (sociologically) about how many things we experience as personal problems are really social issues shared by others. 
--> "the first fruit of this imagination is the idea that the individual can understand their own experience and gauge their own fate only by locating herself within her period, that she can know her own chances in life only by becoming aware of those of all individuals in her circumstances" (Mills)
--> sociological imagination helps "to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society"
--> 'the personal troubles of milieu' and 'the public issues of social structure' are crucial distinctions
--> "Troubles occur within the character of the individual and within the range of his or her immediate relations with others; they have to do with one's self and with those limited areas of social life of which one is directly and personally aware. Accordingly, the statement and the resolution of troubles properly lie within the individual as a biographical entity and within the scope of one immediate milieu - the social setting that is directly open to her personal experience and to some extent her willful activity. A trouble is a private matter: some value cherished by public is felt to be threatened." (Mills) ~ the sociological imagination helps us to see how we are shaped by our social environments

How have social environments influenced you in terms of who you are and why we are the way we are?

--> a popular way in defining who we are is to overemphasize individuality and under-emphasize social environments (and sociological imagination provides an important counter argument 
Michael Brown
--> Use this link to jog memory: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/08/13/us/ferguson-missouri-town-under-siege-after-police-shooting.html?_r=0 
--> Many people focus on the actions of Brown or whether or not Wilson was racist, but these are just individual factors
--> Public issues of social structure stats: In Ferguson, Missouri 67% of the population is African American, African Americans are 86% of all people subject to a vehicle stop, they are two times more likely to be searched, 2.3 times more likely to be arrested, and are 68% less likely to have their cases dismissed by the municipal judge.
--> "it is a lack of personal responsibility among African American members of the Ferguson community that causes African Americans to experience disproportionate harm under Ferguson's approach to law enforcement"
--> African Americans are 26% less likely to have contraband found on them during a search than other racial groups

 

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