The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology / Edition 1

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The Practical Skeptic, a concise introduction to sociology, focuses on core concepts as the central building blocks for understanding sociology. Lisa McIntyre's straightforward, lively, even humorous style and her emphasis on critical thinking make this an engaging and user-friendly text for students of all levels. Through this conversational narrative, students are able to grasp key sociological concepts and learn the essential lesson that there is much that goes on in the social world that escapes the sociologically untrained eye.

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Editorial Reviews

A collection of 36 readings for an introductory sociology course. Accounts for the difference between the professional sociologists' writing and the student's newness with introductions outlining the authors' aims and points of view, footnotes explaining concepts that may be unfamiliar to students, and end questions to help them make sense of what they have read. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559349543
  • Publisher: Mayfield Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 247

Meet the Author

Lisa J. McIntyre is associate professor in sociology at Washington State University. She received the PhD in sociology from The University of Chicago. She is the author of three books including The Public Defender: The Practice of Law in the Shadows of Repute; Law in the Sociological Enterprise and The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology and the editor of The Practical Skeptic: Readings in Sociology. With Marvin Sussman, McIntyre edited Families and Law. An enthusiastic teacher and popular lecturer, McIntyre is a winner of Washington State University’s William F. Mullen Teaching Medal and numerous departmental teaching awards. Her central research focus is on how law and social behavior interact.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Responding to chaos : a brief history of sociology 5
Inquiries into the physical world 6
Technology, urbanization, and social upheaval 10
The origins of modern sociology in France : Emile Durkheim 12
Excerpt : Emile Durkheim, from Suicide (1897) and The rules of the sociological method (1904) 14
The origins of modern sociology in Germany : Ferdinand Tonnies, Max Weber, and Karl Marx 16
Excerpt : Ferdinand Tonnies, from Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (1887) 17
Karl Marx 20
The origins of modern sociology in England : Herbert Spencer 21
Sociology in the United States 23
The place of sociology in modern society 25
Ch. 2 The sociological eye 28
The focus on the social 28
Skepticism 33
Ch. 3 Science and fuzzy objects : specialization in sociology 38
Dividing up the task 40
Topic area or subject matter 41
Theoretical perspectives (paradigms) : functionalist, conflict, and symbolic interactionist 41
Which paradigm is correct? 43
Levels of analysis : microsociology and macrosociology 44
Ch. 4 Who's afraid of sociology? 47
The empirical world and inconvenient facts 47
Ethnocentrism 49
Avoiding ethnocentrism can be difficult 52
Cultural relativism 53
Ch. 5 The vocabulary of science 55
Variables 55
Hypotheses 57
Kinds of variables : independent versus dependent 59
Kinds of relationships : directionality 61
Operational definitions 62
Ch. 6 Doing social research 75
Two traditions : quantitative and qualitative research 75
First things first : the lit review 76
The survey 78
The experiment 82
Observation 85
Unobtrusive (nonreactive) research 86
The importance of triangulation 89
Ch. 7 Culture 95
Material and nonmaterial culture 96
How it adds up 103
Culture as a product of action 104
Culture as a conditioning element of further action 105
Social institutions 107
Social change : cultural diffusion and leveling 108
Subcultures and countercultures 108
Excerpt : Margaret Visser, from Much depends on dinner (1986) 110
Ch. 8 Social structure 114
Statuses 114
Roles 116
Master status 120
Groups 120
Ch. 9 Society and social institutions 129
Societal needs 132
The nature of social institutions 135
Social change : the trend toward increasing specialization 141
Ch. 10 Socialization 144
Nature and nurture : biological and social processes 144
How socialization works 146
Excerpt : George Herbert Mead, from Play and games in the genesis of self (1934) 152
Resocialization and total institutions 158
Ch. 11 Deviance and social control 161
The relativity of deviance (what we already know) 161
Nonsociological theories of deviance 163
Sociological theories of deviance : Emile Durkheim and suicide 164
More structural strain : Robert Merton and anomie 168
Learning to be deviant : Howard Becker's study of marijuana use 172
The societal reaction perspective : labeling theory 176
The functions of deviance : maintenance of the status quo and social change 179
Ch. 12 Stratification and inequality 183
Caste systems 184
Estate systems 187
Class systems 190
Theoretical conceptions of class 191
Some words about slavery 195
Social mobility and open versus closed systems 196
Ch. 13 Inequality and achievement : social class 201
Explaining social stratification 206
The Pygmalion effect : the power of expectations 214
The fallacy of hard work 216
Social mobility, social structure, and social change 217
Ch. 14 Inequality and ascription : race, ethnicity, and gender 222
Why a dollar is not always a dollar 223
Prejudice 228
Discrimination 229
Discrimination and "isms" 232
The social construction of minority groups 237
Gender 240
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