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Instructions for practical classes




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ТипInstructions

Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports of Ukraine

Sumy State University


3235 METHODOLOGICAL INSTRUCTIONS

for practical classes

on Sociology

for foreign students


Sumy

Sumy State University

2012

Methodological instructions for practical classes on Sociology / compiler A. M. Kostenko – Sumy : Sumy State University, 2012. – 19 p.


Political science, sociology and psychology department


CONTENTS





P.

PREFACE ………………………………………………………

4

Practical class 1. INTRODUCTION ……………………………

6

Practical class 2. SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH SKILLS AND METHODS ……………………………………………….


8

Practical class 3. FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLDS …………….

10

Practical class 4. Mass media ……………………………….

12

Practical class 5. Education ………………………………...

14

Practical class 6. Wealth, poverty and welfare …...

16

REFERENCES ………………………………………………….

18



PREFACE

Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science – a term with which it is sometimes synonymous – which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists the goal is to conduct research which may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, whilst others produce purely academic theory closer to that of philosophy. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.

Sociology is both topically and methodologically a very broad discipline. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification, social class, social mobility, religion, secularisation, law and deviance. As all spheres of human activity are sculpted by social structure and individual agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as health, medical, military, and penal institutions, the Internet, and even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge.

The lectures cover only the main issues due to the time limit. After completing the lecture course students are expected to know the basic terms and concepts of sociology.

^ Grade Determination


Grade

ECTS

Rating

5

A”

90 – 100

4

B”

85 – 89.99

C”

65 – 84.99

3

D”

55 – 64.99

E

50 – 54.99

2

FX

35 – 49.99

F

<34.99



Methodological instructions are designed to achieve the following objectives:

  • to initiate and encourage group discussions on important problems of sociology;

  • to explain and clarify any confusing or difficult materials in the lectures or in the individual readings;

  • to present and explain additional supplementary materials.

Students must be ready for practical classes; they are to discuss the assigned problems, reading, or cases. Students must also complete the problem sets and take part in the class discussions.

Students are encouraged to work in groups on the problem sets and problematic cases. Collaboration should be treated as an aid to individual learning, not a substitute to it. Individual work is also planned. Final examination is performed as an individual work, not a group exercise.


Practical class 1

INTRODUCTION


Plan of the lecture

  1. Key issues in sociology.

  2. Theoretical schools of thought.

  3. Types of theory in sociology.

  4. How has sociology changed over time?


Summary

Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science – a term with which it is sometimes synonymous – which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists, the goal is to apply findings directly to the pursuit of social welfare, while others seek purely academic or intellectual knowledge. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of the individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and groups social structures.

Sociology is both topically and methodologically a very broad discipline. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification, social class, social mobility, religion, secularisation, law, deviance. As all spheres of human activity are sculpted by social structure and individual agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as health, medical, military and penal institutions, the Internet, and even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge.

There are many different schools of thought that different sociologists collectively hold. They include the following: functionalism, Marxism, neo-Marxism, Weberian sociology, interpretive sociology (interactionism and phenomenology), the New Right, the New Left, feminisms, postmodernism, pluralism, poststructuralism, structurational sociology.

Sociologist Robert Merton (1957) talks of the existence of three different types or levels of theory in sociology:

  1. First order theory – simple hypotheses that we can try and test through research.

  2. Middle-range theory – ideas about how society works that are not simple hypotheses, but are less than a whole world view. Such ideas are models; they explain how and why something works as it does.

  3. Grand theory – described by Merton as “master conceptual schemes” meaning a total world view about the whole of society and how it works.


Key Concepts

Macrosociology, microsociology, functionalism, Marxism, neo-Marxism, Weberian sociology, interpretive sociology (interactionism and phenomenology), the New Right, the New Left, feminisms, postmodernism, pluralism, poststructuralism, structurational sociology.


Questions for Review

  1. What is sociology and what does it mean?

  2. What are the key debates in sociology?

  3. Why do you think there are so many different theoretical schools in sociology?

  4. Why might the large number of theoretical schools be both a problem, and a strength of the subject?

  5. What do structural theories say?

  6. What are the ideas of action sociology?

  7. What are the main differences between structural and action theories?

  8. What skills are important for studying sociology?



Practical class 2

^ SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH SKILLS AND METHODS


Plan of the lecture

  1. The reason sociologists are interested in research.

  2. The methods used by sociologists.

  3. The role of the sociologist in research.

  4. Validity and reliability.

  5. Types of data produced by sociologists.

  6. The way and reasons of questionnaires use.

  7. The way and reasons of interviews conduction.

  8. The way and reasons sociologists observe.

  9. The way and reasons sociologists use secondary sources.

  10. The problems of official statistics.

  11. The way sociologists can use life documents.

  12. The way and reasons some sociologists mix methods together.


Summary

Sociological research methods may be divided into two broad categories: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative designs approach to social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases (or across intentionally designed treatments in an experiment) to create valid and reliable general claims.

Qualitative designs emphasize understanding of social phenomena through direct observation, communication with participants, or analysis of texts, and may stress contextual and subjective accuracy over generality.

The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate. For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire to a representative sample population. By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individuals' social actions may choose ethnographic participant observation or open-ended interviews.

The following list of research methods is neither exclusive nor exhaustive: archival research or the historical method, content analysis, experimental research, longitudinal study, observation, survey research.


Key Concepts

Archival research or the historical method, content analysis, experimental research, longitudinal study, observation, survey research, validity and reliability.


Questions for Review

  1. What is data? Why do sociologists want to produce data?

  2. Is social research value free?

  3. What is representative?

  4. Why and how do sociologists choose the methods they use?

  5. What issues or aspects of society do you think would create the most problems for validity and reliability?

  6. Which do you think is the best type of data to produce, quantitative or qualitative? Why?

  7. What areas of social life would most suit using questionnaires?

  8. Why are interviews a useful research method to use?

  9. Why is observation a useful method for sociologists?

  10. What warnings come with the use of secondary sources?

  11. Why are official statistics criticised by some sociologists?

  12. How useful do you think using life documents are?



Practical class 3

^ FAMILY AND HOUSEHOLDS


Plan of the lecture

  1. The reasons sociologists are interested in the family.

  2. Is the family “natural”?

  3. Family.

  4. Types of family structure.

  5. Households.

  6. Ideology of the family.

  7. Families changes over time.

  8. The problems with looking at the family in history.

  9. Conjugal roles.

  10. The changing patterns of marriage and divorce today.

  11. A dark side of the family.

  12. Possible future of the family.

  13. Childhood as social construction.


Summary

The sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution and unit of socialization, with special concern for the comparatively modern historical emergence of the nuclear family and its distinct gender roles. The notion of “childhood” is also significant. As one of the more basic institutions to which one may apply sociological perspectives, the sociology of the family is a common component on introductory academic curricula. Feminist sociology, on the other hand, is a normative subfield that observes and critiques the cultural categories of gender and sexuality, particularly with respect to power and inequality. The primary concern of feminist theory is the patriarchy and the systematic oppression of women apparent in many societies, both at the level of small-scale interaction and in terms of the broader social structure. Social psychology of gender, on the other hand, uses experimental methods to uncover the microprocesses of gender stratification.


Key Concepts

Family, households, socialization, identity, self-identity, gender role, social control, imagined community, nuclear family.


Questions for Review

  1. How do you think, are families natural or cultural and why?

  2. What types of family do you know?

  3. How do you think, does an ideology of the family exist in the modern society?

  4. How do you think, what changes will the family go through next?

  5. Do conjugal roles still exist in the majority of families? Explain your point of view.

  6. What in your opinion is the main reason for divorce?

  7. How do you think, are father and mother’s gender roles natural? Why?

  8. What do you think the future of the family will be?

  9. What is childhood?

  10. Can you see anything contradictory about how your society presently thinks about children and their roles in the family?

Practical class 4

Mass media

Plan of the lecture

  1. The reasons sociologists are interested in sociology of the media.

  2. The way sociologists tried to measure media effects.

  3. The methods sociologists tend to use to study the mass media.

  4. Problems with definition taken into account during studying the media.

  5. Marxists’ attitude towards the control the mass media.

  6. Pluralist’s attitude towards the control of the media.

  7. The owners of the media.

  8. Who decides what counts as news and how is it selected?

  9. Do the media set an agenda for society?

  10. Is the media biased?

  11. Is the media sexist?

  12. Portrait of men and women in the media.

  13. Audiences’ responses to the mass media.

  14. Creation of moral panics by the media.

  15. Global culture created by the media.

  16. The effects of globalization on the media and society.

  17. The way the media has changed and the way it has changed us.


Summary

Sociologists are interested in the mass media because of the enormous power it seems to have over our lives. Sociologists want to address such questions as: how do the media influence the world of politics and how can politics influence the media? How does the media affect on our private lives and identities? How important is the fact that most of our knowledge of the world comes from the mass media?

Sociologists would say that since journalists (manipulated by news’ values) manufactured the “news”, the whole process of making news is socially constructed. Most sociologists, who have studied the mass media, have drawn the conclusion that as it’s true, it comes up the fact that media professionals have the power to present agendas (lists of issues) as what key issues should society take to consideration in any time.


^ Key Concepts

Mass media, Internet, news values, agenda setting, bias, stereotypic, audience, deviant, moral panic, globalization, public sphere.


Questions for Review

  1. Is Marxist analysis still relevant?

  2. How could people’s freedom to choose and interpret the media representations and images be constrained? How could this influence your assessment of the pluralist view?

  3. Do media owners take sufficient notice of viewers’ opinions? What factors encourage owners to listen to the public feedback?

  4. What effects can the bias have in the media and how important are these effects?

  5. Is it possible for the media to be unbiased?

  6. How can women use media’s representations as a source of identity and meaning?

  7. Are men being representing as object of sexual desire in the media? If it’s so, is it a good thing?

  8. Is there one audience for the mass media?

  9. Are media messages intended to influence the audience’s behavior?

  10. Do you agree with Thornton’s view that some groups now actively seek for scapegoats as deviant, since it gives their sub-culture authenticity? Can sub-cultures use moral panics for their own purposes?

  11. Is cultural globalization mainly the result of changes in technology?

  12. Does the development of the Internet mean that public debate will be more democratic?

Practical class 5

Education


Plan of the lecture

  1. The reasons sociologists are interested in education.

  2. The key problems of education in sociology?

  3. What is meant by education?

  4. The difference between informal and formal education.

  5. The meaning of intelligence.

  6. The meaning of “IQ”.

  7. Tripartite system.

  8. Criticizing the tripartite system.

  9. Comprehensive system.

  10. Other types of education.

  11. The way education socializes pupils.

  12. The meaning of in-school and out-of-school factors.

  13. Marketisation of education.


Summary

The sociology of education grabs the attention of all types of sociologists, whatever their theoretical background is. For some people, education manages to act as a way of socializing people into norms (eating food with correct hand or cutlery) and values (e.g. “ambition” or “honesty”) that seems to be important for particular society. For others it can be a source of conflict particularly when issues, surrounding gender, class and ethnicity, are put under the sociologists “microscope”.

Sociologists make the distinction between “formal” and “informal” education. Informal education is the kind of education that was mentioned above, but according to it, we receive a little reward. The other thing is with enjoyment that we get from the activity itself. You may learn to cook but, unless you have studied cookery at school or at college, you may not receive any certificates for it. By the “formal” education sociologists refer to different types of schools and learning environments, where pupils, in one way or another, will be taught, assessed and accredited with an exam award, certificate or merit.


Key Concepts

State education, informal and formal education, intelligence, parity of esteem, streams, socialize.


Questions for Review

  1. How do you think, what kind of education is more important: formal or informal? Why?

  2. Think of examples to show how you possess each of Gardner’s intelligences?

  3. Why many parents argue that grammar schools should not be abolished?

  4. How might teachers’ views about the type of school they work in affect the methods and ways of teaching their pupils?

  5. How do you think, what type of education is increasing?

  6. How would the major sociological theories explain the processes of socialization you have listed?

  7. How might a self-fulfilling be associated with all factors mentioned above?

  8. How do different schools in Europe finance and run their school systems?

  9. Why do so many sociologists criticize the education?

Practical class 6

Wealth, poverty and welfare

Plan of the lecture

  1. Key issues of wealth, poverty and welfare in sociology.

  2. Sociologists’ points of view of defining wealth and income.

  3. The owners of the greatest wealth.

  4. The way sociologists explain inequalities in wealth and income.

  5. Poverty.

  6. Sociologists’ definition of poverty.

  7. Does poverty still exist?

  8. Causes of poverty.

  9. Poverty between the sexes.

  10. The way class, ethnicity and poverty are linked.

  11. State actions, which are done to reduce poverty.

  12. Sociologists’ explanation of the welfare state.

  13. Welfare (dependency) culture.

  14. Other forms of welfare provision existing apart from the state.


Summary

The concepts of “wealth”, “poverty” and “welfare” are met in daily life and they are easily understood in everyday language. However, sociologists attempt to delve a little deeper for gaining greater understanding of these social concepts.

Sociology tends to be theoretical in that social behavior. It is understood in terms of theories. These theories are applied to contexts and they provide our understanding of particular social experiences. However, sometimes it can be difficult for the youth budding sociologist to fully grasp the “essence” of these concepts and gain a full appreciation of experiences such as being “poor”; being “wealthy” or being “dependent on welfare”.


Key Concepts

Wealth, poverty, absolute poverty, relative poverty, social exclusion, fatalism, welfare dependency, ethnicity, welfare state, underclass, welfare pluralism.

Questions for Review

  1. Why are sociologists interested in wealth, poverty and welfare?

  2. What is the most advantageous sort of wealth to have?

  3. Does the ownership of wealth always give its owner power?

  4. Which of the following points are the most important in determining person’s wealth: class, race or gender?

  5. Is it possible to eradicate poverty?

  6. Is it possible to measure poverty objectively?

  7. Is it impossible to eradicate poverty, if it is relative?

  8. To what extent can stratification be seen as the cause of poverty?

  9. Is gender more or less important as an indicator of poverty, than class? Why?

  10. What is the difference between poverty and inequality?

  11. Why has the welfare state failed to eradicate poverty?

  12. Is it possible for the welfare state to act as a referee and protect the welfare and rights of the poorest sections of society?

  13. How do you think, is the idea of an underclass sociologically useful or it is accurate?

REFERENCES


  1. Rogers A. A sociology of mental health and illness / A. Rogers, D. Pilgrim. – New York : Open University Press, 2005. – 269 p.

  2. Elias N. What Is Sociology? [Електронний ресурс] / Norbert Elias, Stephen Mennell, Grace Morrissey. – Columbia University Press, 1978. – Режим доступу : http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=6630238

  3. Strydom P. Discourse and Knowledge: The Making of Enlightenment Sociology [Електронний ресурс] / Piet Strydom. – Liverpool University Press, 2000. – Режим доступу : http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=102331378

  4. Alexander J. C. Self, Social Structure, and Beliefs: Explorations in Sociology [Електронний ресурс] / Jeffrey C. Alexander, Gary T. Marx, Christine L. Williams. – University of California Press, 2004. – Режим доступу : http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=105367022

  5. Bruce S. Sociology: A Very Short Introduction [Електронний ресурс] / Steve Bruce. – Oxford University Press, 1999. – Режим доступу : http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=22100043

  6. Albrow M. Sociology: The Basics [Електронний ресурс] / Martin Albrow. – Routledge, 1999. – Режим доступу : http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=102870242






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