3. What is a society?
A society is any set of people living together in a
group comprising of a single community and
whose members are interdependent (Mustapha
Sociology = Studies human society and social
behaviour in a scientific manner.
4. Society is divided into:
1. Social interactions – how people relate to one
another and how they influence each others
2. Social Institutions – a group of people banded
together for a common purpose.
3. Social Phenomena – observable facts or events
that occur in human society.
5. SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS
In the social sciences, institutions are the
structures and mechanisms of social order
and cooperation governing the behavior of a
set of individuals within a given human
Institutions include the family, religion,
education, peer group, economic systems, legal
systems, penal systems, political systems, and
6. SOCIAL PHENOMENA
There are many issues and phenomena that are
addressed in sociology. These include:
› Social Media
7. Understand how behaviour is influenced by
Learn how to view the world through other’s
eyes (sociological perspective).
Attempt to connect the larger world with
personal life (sociological imagination).
Find your place both within society and
8. A theory is a set of ideas that seeks to
explain how something works.
A sociological theory seeks to explain
how society or aspects of society work.
Most “facts” as we understand it in today’s
society are based on theory.
9. Theories are extremely selective and as
such varying perspectives have its own
Thus, only a partial or one-sided view of
reality is presented.
10. Analyses society as a whole and how it
Human behaviour is affected or influenced by
the institutions, structures and society as a
Society Human Behaviour (interaction)
Life, interactions and social behaviour are all
determined by the institutions (school, religion,
government) and structures (norms, values,
customs, traditions) of society.
One such Macro theory is Functionalism.
12. One of the first sociological theories to evolve.
Became most dominant social theory in the
1940s & 50s, especially in the USA
Society can be compared to a living organism –
INSTITUTIONS resemble ORGANS
Functionalism investigates the impact society
and institutions have on the individual and
13. 1. View society as a system of highly
interrelated parts that function together
14. 2. Although societies differ and culture is
relative, Functionalists believe in a general
consensus (agreement) in society.
15. 3. Society seeks stability and the status quo
and avoids conflict. Conflict is dysfunctional
16. Developed the idea of positivism
Conducted the first sociological study on
Suicide, where he compared rates of
suicide in different countries.
He examined social facts (phenomena) as
constraints; also examined the causes and
functions of these facts. He posits that social
facts constrain or determine human actions
17. Social order (status quo) and stability
Threats to social solidarity:
› Mechanical – Traditional Society
› Organic – Modern Society
Anomie (state of normlessness)
Everything has a function and all
functions are positive!
18. There are four functional prerequisites
(basic needs) in order to survive called
1. Goal Attainment
19. 1. Goal Attainment – The Government or political
systems are responsible for setting goals.
2. Adaptation – The economy is the main institution
concerned with this function.
3. Integration – Adjustment and conflict in society is
maintained by the legal system or the law.
4. Latency (Pattern Maintenance) – maintenance of
basic patterns or norms/values in society.
Socializers or institutions responsible for
socialization perform this role. For example – family,
education, religion. Religion was the most
important for Parsons.
21. Pattern Variables – in order to understand how
society changed and evolved over time, Parsons
compared traditional and modern societies by using
Pattern Variables A and Pattern Variables B.
TRADITIONAL SOCIETY MODERN SOCIETY
25. Like the Functionalists, conflict theory is a
structural or Macro- sociological perspective.
However, this is their ONLY similarity.
Marxism offers a radical or revolutionary
alternative to Functionalism.
Their MAIN tenet is that society is in a perpetual
state of conflict because there are different groups
with different needs and interests.
According to Tischler (2007, 21), conflict theorists
view society as constantly changing in response
to social inequality and social conflict.
26. Conflict is normal and desirable
Social equilibrium or order is the dominant or
ruling class ploy of maintaining control
According to Marxists, there are two groups in
› Ruling Class (BOURGEOISIE or Capitalists)
› Lower/Subordinate Class (PROLETARIAT or
History always had two groups opposing each
other with differing interests (dialectic
27. Conflict theory has been condemned
by several critics:
› Too ideologically based
› Too economically deterministic
› There are more than two classes (growing
30. While Functionalism and Marxism insist that
the structure or institutions are responsible
for the manner in which individuals behave,
social action or interpretive perspectives see
structure as being influenced by the action of
Max Weber challenges the view that society
exists outside or independently of the
31. Social Action or Individual Behaviour should
be the focus of the study of society.
THE PROTESTANT ETHIC AND THE SPIRIT
OF CAPITALISM (1904)
Social Action is an action carried out by an
individual to which a person attached meaning.
It is as a result of conscious thought where an
individual logically and rationally gives a reason
to an action in a public sphere.
Verstehen – understanding of the meaning
attached to an action.
32. Also remembered for his work on Bureaucracies.
A bureaucracy was the dominant institution on
It is a rational organization with a hierarchy of paid,
full-time professionals who formed a top-down chain
Bureaucracies are everywhere – government,
Humans rationally & logically think before they
Saw three spheres that affect life – economic,
political and cultural.
33. Symbolic Interactionism (by George H Mead)
Society is the product of interaction between
people which takes place through the use of
symbols which have meaning for the individuals
34. Dramaturgy (by Erving Goffman)
It is the belief that life is a stage and we
are all players or actors. We are not our
“real” selves in public.
35. Ethnomethodology (by Harold Garfinkel)
Society has a particular order in life based on
certain rituals that people use in order to make
sense of their world.
36. Phenomenology (Alfred Schutz)
How people make sense of their environment
and surroundings by classifying objects based
on their understanding.