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Giáo trình sociology a brief indotructyion 12e schaefer 1

a brief introduction
12th edition

Richard T. Schaefer
DePaul University

To my grandchildren, Matilda and Reuben. May they enjoy exploring life’s possibilities.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Schaefer, Richard T., author.
Title: Sociology: a brief introduction / Richard T. Schaefer, DePaul
Description: 12th edition. | New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, [2016]
Identifiers: LCCN 2016027896 | ISBN 9781259425585 (alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Sociology.
Classification: LCC HM585 .S324 2016 | DDC 301—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016027896
The Internet addresses listed in the text were accurate at the time of publication. The inclusion of a website does not indicate
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about the author
Richard T. Schaefer:  Professor, DePaul University 
B.A. Northwestern University M.A.
Ph.D. University of Chicago
Growing up in Chicago at a time when neighborhoods were going through transitions in
ethnic and racial composition, Richard T. Schaefer found himself increasingly intrigued
by what was happening, how people were reacting, and how these changes were
affecting neighborhoods and people’s jobs. His interest in social issues caused him to
gravitate to sociology courses at Northwestern University, where he eventually received
a BA in sociology.
“Originally as an undergraduate I thought I would go on to law school and become
a lawyer. But after taking a few sociology courses, I found myself wanting to learn more
about what sociologists studied, and fascinated by the kinds of questions they raised.”
This fascination led him to obtain his MA and PhD in sociology from the University of
Chicago. Dr. Schaefer’s continuing interest in race relations led him to write his master’s
thesis on the membership of the Ku Klux Klan and his doctoral thesis on racial prejudice
and race relations in Great Britain.
Dr. Schaefer went on to become a professor of sociology at DePaul University in
Chicago. In 2004 he was named to the Vincent DePaul professorship in recognition
of his undergraduate teaching and scholarship. He has taught introductory sociology
for over 35 years to students in colleges, adult education programs, nursing programs,
and even a maximum-security prison. Dr. Schaefer’s love of teaching is apparent in his
interaction with his students. “I find myself constantly learning from the students who
are in my classes and from reading what they write. Their insights into the material we
read or current events that we discuss often become part of future course material and
sometimes even find their way into my writing.”
Dr. Schaefer is the author of the thirteenth edition of Sociology (McGraw-Hill, 2012),
Sociology in Modules, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 2018), the sixth edition of Sociology
Matters (McGraw-Hill, 2014), and, with Robert Feldman, Sociology and Your Life with
P.O.W.E.R. Learning (2016). He is also the author of Racial and Ethnic Groups, now in
its fourteenth edition (2014), Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the USA (first edition, 2014),
and Race and Ethnicity in the United States, seventh edition (2013), all published by
Pearson. Together with William Zellner, he coauthored the ninth edition of Extraordinary
Groups, published by Waveland Press in 2015. Dr. Schaefer served as the general editor
of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, published by Sage
in 2008. These books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and
Spanish, as well as adapted for use in Canadian colleges.
Dr. Schaefer’s articles and book reviews have appeared in many journals, including
American Journal of Sociology; Phylon: A Review of Race and Culture; Contemporary
Sociology; Sociology and Social Research; Sociological Quarterly; and Teaching Sociology. He served as president of the Midwest Sociological Society in 1994–1995.
Dr. Schaefer’s advice to students is to “look at the material and make connections
to your own life and experiences. Sociology will make you a more attentive observer of
how people in groups interact and function. It will also make you more aware of people’s different needs and interests—and perhaps more ready to work for the common
good, while still recognizing the individuality of each person.”


brief contents
Chapter Opening Excerpts  x
Boxed Features  xi
Social Policy Sections  xiii
Maps xiii
Tracking Sociological Perspectives Tables  xiv
Summing Up Tables  xiv




1 1

Understanding Sociology . . . 1
Sociological Research . . . 25
Culture . . . 49
Socialization and the Life Course . . . 71
Social Interaction, Groups, and Social Structure . . . 93
The Mass Media . . . 121
Deviance, Crime, and Social Control . . . 143
Stratification and Social Mobility in the United States . . . 169
Global Inequality . . . 197
Racial and Ethnic Inequality . . . 217
Stratification by Gender and Sexuality . . . 249
The Family and Household Diversity . . . 273
Education and Religion . . . 297
Government and the Economy . . . 327
Health, Population, and the Environment . . . 355
Social Change in the Global Community . . . 387

Glossary 411
References 419
Name Index  453
Subject Index  459
Applications of Sociology’s Major Theoretical Perspectives  475
Coverage of Race and Ethnicity, Gender, and Social Class  476


Chapter Opening Excerpts  x
Boxed Features  xi
Social Policy Sections  xiii
Maps xiii
Tracking Sociological Perspectives Tables  xiv
Summing Up Tables  xiv

2 Sociological
Research 25

What Is the Scientific
Method? 27

1 Understanding
Sociology 1

What Is Sociology?  3
The Sociological Imagination  3
Sociology and the Social Sciences  3
Sociology and Common Sense  6

What Is Sociological Theory?  6
The Development of Sociology  7
Early Thinkers  7
Émile Durkheim  8
Max Weber  8
Karl Marx  9
W. E. B. DuBois  10
Twentieth-Century Developments  10

Major Theoretical
Perspectives 12
Functionalist Perspective  12
Conflict Perspective  12
Interactionist Perspective  14
The Sociological Approach  15

Taking Sociology with You  15
Applied and Clinical Sociology  15
Research Today: Looking at Sports from
Five Sociological Perspectives 16
Developing a Sociological Imagination  18
Sociology in the Global Community: Your
Morning Cup of Coffee 19

Appendix: Careers in Sociology  20

Defining the Problem  27
Reviewing the Literature  28
Formulating the Hypothesis  28
Collecting and Analyzing Data  29
Developing the Conclusion  30
In Summary: The Scientific Method  31

Major Research Designs  32
Surveys 32
Our Wired World: Surveying Cell
Phone Users  33
Ethnography 34
Experiments 34
Research Today: Visual Sociology 35
Use of Existing Sources  36

Ethics of Research  36
Confidentiality 37
Conflict of Interest  37
Taking Sociology to Work: Dave
Eberbach, Associate Director,
Iowa Institute for Community
Alliances  38
Value Neutrality  39

Feminist Methodology  39
Queer Theory and
Methodology 40
The Data-Rich Future  40
Our Wired World: Lying for Love
Online 42


3 Culture 49

What Is Culture?  51
Cultural Universals  52
Ethnocentrism 52
Cultural Relativism  52
Sociobiology and Culture  52

Role of Language  53
Language: Written and Spoken  54
Nonverbal Communication  54

Norms and Values  55
Norms 55
Sociology in the Global Community:
Symbolizing 9/11 56
Values 58
Sociology on Campus: A Culture of
Cheating?  59

Global Culture War  59
Sociological Perspectives on
Culture 60
Cultural Variation  61
Subcultures 61
Countercultures 62
Culture Shock  62

Development of Culture around
the World  63
Innovation 63
Globalization, Diffusion, and Technology  63
Sociology in the Global Community: Life
in the Global Village 64
Sociology in the Global Community:
Cultural Survival in Brazil  65


Appendix I: Using Statistics and
Graphs 44
Appendix II: Writing a Research
Report 45




Socialization and the
Life Course  71
The Role of Socialization  73
Social Environment: The Impact of
Isolation 73
The Influence of Heredity  74

The Self and Socialization  76
Sociological Approaches to the Self  76
Sociology on Campus: Impression
Management by Students 78
Psychological Approaches to the Self  78


Social Interaction,
Groups, and Social
Structure 93
Social Interaction and Reality  95
Elements of Social Structure  96
Statuses 96
Social Roles  97
Research Today: Disability as a Master
Status 98
Groups 99

Family 79

Taking Sociology to Work: Sarah Levy,
Owner, S. Levy Foods  101
Social Networks  102

Research Today: Rum Springa: Raising
Children Amish Style  80
School 80

Research Today: Social Networks and
Obesity 103
Social Institutions  103

Taking Sociology to Work: Rakefet
Avramovitz, Program Administrator,
Child Care Law Center 81
Peer Group  81
Mass Media and Technology  81
Workplace 82

Organizations 104

Agents of Socialization  79

Sociology on Campus: Unplugging the
Media: What Happens? 83
Religion and the State  84

Socialization throughout the Life
Course 84
The Life Course  84
Anticipatory Socialization and
Resocialization 85

Role Transitions throughout the
Life Course  85
The Sandwich Generation  86
Adjusting to Retirement  86


Formal Organizations and Bureaucracies  104
Characteristics of a Bureaucracy  105
Sociology in the Global Community:
McDonald’s and the Worldwide
Bureaucratization of Society  108
Bureaucracy and Organizational Culture  108


The Mass Media  121

Sociological Perspectives on the
Media 123
Functionalist Perspective  123
Conflict Perspective  126
Our Wired World: Inside the Bubble:
Internet Search Filters 127
Taking Sociology to Work: Lindsey
Wallem, Social Media Consultant  130
Sociology in the Global Community: The
Global Disconnect  131
Feminist Perspective  131
Interactionist Perspective  132
Our Wired World: Can Cell Phones
Solve the Refugee Crisis? 133

The Audience  134
Who Is in the Audience?  134
The Segmented Audience  135
Audience Behavior  135

The Media’s Global Reach  136

Social Structure in Global
Perspective 109
Durkheim’s Mechanical and Organic
Solidarity 109
Tönnies’s Gemeinschaft and
Gesellschaft 110
Lenski’s Sociocultural Evolution
Approach 110
Our Wired World: Becoming Social in a
Gesellschaft 111
Sociology in the Global Community:
Disney World: A Postmodern Theme
Park 113



Deviance, Crime, and
Social Control  143
What Is Deviance?  145
Deviance and Social Stigma  146
Deviance and Technology  147

Social Control  147
Conformity and Obedience  147
Informal and Formal Social Control  149
Sociology on Campus: Binge
Drinking  150


Law and Society  150
Research Today: Debtors’ Jails in the
Twenty-first Century 152

Sociological Perspectives on
Deviance 152

Sociological Perspectives on
Stratification 176
Karl Marx’s View of Class Differentiation  176
Max Weber’s View of Stratification  177
Interactionist Perspective  178

Functionalist Perspective  152

Is Stratification Universal?  178

Research Today: Does Crime Pay?  154
Interactionist Perspective  155
Labeling Perspective  156
Conflict Perspective  157
Feminist Perspective  157

Functionalist Perspective  179
Conflict Perspective  179
Lenski’s Viewpoint  180

Crime: A Sociological
Approach 158

Objective Method of Measuring Social
Class 180
Gender and Occupational Prestige  181
Multiple Measures  182

Victimless Crimes  158
Professional Crime  158
Sociology on Campus: Packing Firearms
on Campus  159
Organized Crime  159
White-Collar and Technology-Based
Crime 160
Hate Crimes  160
Transnational Crime  161

Crime Statistics  162
Index Crimes and Victimization Surveys  162
Crime Trends  162
Taking Sociology to Work: Stephanie
Vezzani, Special Agent, U.S. Secret
Service  163
International Crime Rates  163


Stratification by Social
Class 180

Income and Wealth  182


Millennium Development Goals  204
Sociology in the Global Community:
Walking the Last Mile in Uganda: The
Avon Approach 205 
Multinational Corporations  205
Modernization 207

Stratification within Nations: A
Comparative Perspective  209
Distribution of Wealth and Income  209
Social Mobility  209
Sociology in the Global Community:
Stratification in Brazil  210


Poverty 183
Studying Poverty  184
Research Today: Precarious Work 185
Who Are the Poor?  186
Feminization of Poverty  186
The Underclass  186
Explaining Poverty  187

Life Chances  187
Sociology on Campus: Student Debt 188

Social Mobility  189
Open versus Closed Stratification
Systems 189
Types of Social Mobility  189
Social Mobility in the United States  190



Racial and Ethnic
Inequality 217
Minority, Racial, and Ethnic
Groups 219
Minority Groups  219
Race 219
Ethnicity 221

Prejudice and
Discrimination 222
Prejudice 222
Color-Blind Racism  223
Discriminatory Behavior  223
The Privileges of the Dominant  224


Stratification and
Social Mobility in the
United States  169
Systems of Stratification  171
Slavery 171
Castes 173
Estates 173
Social Classes  174
Research Today: The Shrinking Middle
Class 175

9 Global Inequality 197
The Global Divide  199

Sociology in the Global Community: It’s
All Relative: Appalachian Poverty and
Congolese Affluence 200

Stratification in the World
System 200
The Legacy of Colonialism  200
Poverty Worldwide  203

Taking Sociology to Work: Prudence
Hannis, Associate Director, First
Nations Post-Secondary Institution,
Odanak, Québec 225
Institutional Discrimination  226
Research Today: Institutional
Discrimination in the Voting
Booth  227

Sociological Perspectives on Race
and Ethnicity  228
Functionalist Perspective  228
Conflict Perspective  228
Labeling Perspective  228
Interactionist Perspective  229



Spectrum of Intergroup
Relations 230
Genocide 230
Segregation 231
Amalgamation 231
Assimilation 232
Pluralism 232

Race and Ethnicity in the United
States 232
African Americans  232
Native Americans  233
Sociology in the Global Community: The
Aboriginal People of Australia  234
Asian Americans  235
Research Today: Asian Americans: A
Model Minority?  236
Arab Americans  238
Latinos 239
Jewish Americans  241
White Ethnics  242

Immigration and Continuing
Diversity 242


Stratification by
Gender and Sexuality  249
Social Construction of
Gender 251
Gender Roles in the United States  251
Sociology in the Global Community:
Women in Combat Worldwide  254
Cross-Cultural Perspective  255
Sociology in the Global Community: No
Gender, Please: It’s Preschool! 256

Labeling and Human
Sexuality 256
Gender and Human Sexuality  257
Labeling and Identity  257

Sociological Perspectives on
Gender 258

Functionalist Perspective  258
Conflict Perspective  258
Feminist Perspective  259
Intersections with Race, Class, and Other
Social Factors  259
Interactionist Perspective  260

Women: The Oppressed
Majority 261
Sexism and Sex Discrimination  261
The Status of Women Worldwide  261
Sociology in the Global Community: The
Head Scarf and the Veil: Complex
Symbols  262

Feminist Perspective  279

Marriage and Family  280
Courtship and Mate Selection  280
Our Wired World: Love Is in the Air and
on the Web 281
Variations in Family Life and Intimate
Relationships 282
Child-Rearing Patterns  284
Research Today: Transracial Adoption:
The Experience of Children from
Korea  285

Divorce 287

The Workforce of the United
States 263

Statistical Trends in Divorce  287
Factors Associated with Divorce  288
Impact of Divorce on Children  288

Labor Force Participation  263
Compensation 264

Lesbian and Gay
Relationships 288

Research Today: Give Me a Male Boss,
Please  265
Social Consequences of Women’s
Employment 266

Emergence of a Collective
Consciousness 266

Diverse Lifestyles  289
Cohabitation 289
Remaining Single  290
Marriage without Children  290


13 Education

The Family and
Household Diversity  273
Global View of the Family  275
Composition: What Is the Family?  275
Kinship Patterns: To Whom Are We
Related? 276
Authority Patterns: Who Rules?  276
Sociology in the Global Community: One
Wife, Many Husbands: The Nyinba 277

Sociological Perspectives on the
Family 278
Functionalist Perspective  278
Conflict Perspective  279
Interactionist Perspective  279

and Religion   297

Sociological Perspectives on Education  299
Functionalist Perspective  300
Conflict Perspective  301
Feminist Perspective  304
Sociology on Campus: The Debate over
Title IX 305
Interactionist Perspective  305

Schools as Formal
Organizations 306
Bureaucratization of Schools  306
Teachers: Employees and Instructors  307
Taking Sociology to Work: Diane Belcher
Gray, Assistant Director of Volunteer
Services, New River Community
College 308
Student Subcultures  309


Homeschooling 310

Durkheim and the Sociological
Approach to Religion  311
World Religions  311
Sociological Perspectives on
Religion 313
The Integrative Function of Religion  313
Religion and Social Support  314
Religion and Social Change  315
Religion and Social Control: A Conflict
Perspective 316
Feminist Perspective  316

Components of Religion  317
Belief 317
Ritual 317
Experience 318

Religious Organization  319
Ecclesiae 319
Denominations 319
Sects 319
New Religious Movements or Cults  320
Comparing Forms of Religious
Organization 320
Research Today: Wicca: Religion or
Quasi-Religion? 321


Oligarchy 334
Dictatorship and Totalitarianism  335
Democracy 335

Political Behavior in the United
States 335
Participation and Apathy  335
Sociology in the Global Community:
Sovereignty in the Aloha State  336
Race and Gender in Politics  337
Research Today: The Latino Political
Voice 338

Models of Power Structure in the
United States  339
Power Elite Models  339
Pluralist Model  340

War and Peace  341

Interactionist Perspective  359
Labeling Perspective  360

Social Epidemiology and
Health 361
Social Class  361
Race and Ethnicity  362
Gender 363
Age 363

Health Care in the United
States 363
A Historical View  364
Physicians and Patients  364
Research Today: Health Care, Retail
Style 365
Alternatives to Traditional Health Care  365
The Role of Government  366

War 341

What Is Mental Illness?  367

Our Wired World: Politicking
Online 342
Peace 342

Theoretical Models of Mental Disorders  368
Patterns of Care  369

Taking Sociology to Work: Joseph W.
Drummond, Management Analyst,
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense
Command  343
Terrorism 344

Demography: The Study of Population  370
World Population Patterns  371

Changing Economies  345
Research Today: Affirmative
Action 346
The Changing Face of the Workforce  346
Deindustrialization 347
The Sharing Economy  348
The Temporary Workforce  348
Offshoring 348


Population 369

Sociology in the Global
Community: Population Policy in
China 373
Fertility Patterns in the United States  374

Migration 375
International Migration  375
Internal Migration  375

Sociological Perspectives on
the Environment  376
Human Ecology  376
Conflict Perspective on the Environment  376
Ecological Modernization  377
Environmental Justice  378

Environmental Issues  378
Air Pollution  378
Sociology in the Global Community:
Environmental Refugees 379
Water Pollution  379
Climate Change  380


Government and the
Economy 327
Economic Systems  329
Capitalism 329
Socialism 331
The Informal Economy  332

Power and Authority  333
Power 333
Types of Authority  333

Types of Government  334
Monarchy 334



Health, Population,
and the Environment  355
Sociological Perspectives on
Health and Illness  357
Functionalist Perspective  357
Conflict Perspective  358




Communications and the
Globalization of Social
Movements 394
Our Wired World: Organizing for
Controversy via Computer-Mediated
Communication 395

Theories of Social Change  395


Social Change in the
Global Community  387
Social Movements  390
Relative Deprivation Approach  391
Resource Mobilization Approach  391
Gender and Social Movements  392
New Social Movements  393
Sociology in the Global Community:
Women’s Social Movements in South
Korea and India  393

Technology and the Future  401
Computer Technology  401
Our Wired World: The Internet’s Global
Profile 403
Privacy and Censorship in a Global
Village 404
Biotechnology and the Gene Pool  405

Evolutionary Theory  396
Functionalist Perspective  397
Conflict Perspective  397


Resistance to Social
Change 398

Glossary   411
References   419
Name Index   453
Subject Index   459
Applications of Sociology’s Major
Theoretical Perspectives  475
Coverage of Race and Ethnicity,
Gender, and Social Class  476

Economic and Cultural Factors  398
Resistance to Technology  399

Global Social Change  399
Anticipating Change  399
Social Change in Dubai  400

chapter opening excerpts
Every chapter in this textbook begins with an excerpt from one of the works listed here. These excerpts convey the excitement and
relevance of sociological inquiry and draw readers into the subject matter of each chapter.
Chapter 1
Alone Together: Why We Expect More
from Technology and Less from Each
Other by Sherry Turkle   2

Chapter 7
Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing
Baltimore’s Eastern District by Peter
Moskos   144

Chapter 2
The Tender Cut: Inside the Hidden
World of Self-Injury by Patricia A. Adler
and Peter Adler   26

Chapter 8
Speech at the Federal Reserve Bank
of Boston by Janet Yellen  170

Chapter 3
“Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by
Horace Miner   50
Chapter 4
The Wolfpack by Crystal Moselle  72
Chapter 5
“Pathology of Imprisonment” by Philip
Zimbardo   94
Chapter 6
Electronic Media by Lynne
Gross   122

Chapter 9
Portfolios of the Poor: How the
World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day by
Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch,
Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda
Ruthven   198
Chapter 10
“Iyeska: Notes from Mixed-Blood
Country” by Charles E. Trimble   218
Chapter 11
Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing
Up Iranian in America and American
in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni   250

Chapter 12
The Accordion Family: Boomerang
Kids, Anxious Parents, and the
Private Toll of Global Competition by
Katherine S. Newman   274
Chapter 13
The Death and Life of the Great
American School System by Diane
Ravitch 298
Chapter 14
Who Rules America? The Triumph of
the Corporate Rich, 7th edition, by G.
William Domhoff   328
Chapter 15
Shopping Our Way to Safety: How
We Changed from Protecting the
Environment to Protecting Ourselves
by Andrew Szasz   356
Chapter 16
Social Movements and New
Technology by Victoria Carty  388

boxed features

Looking at Sports from Five Sociological
Perspectives 16
Visual Sociology  35
Rum Springa: Raising Children Amish Style  80
Disability as a Master Status  98
Social Networks and Obesity  103
Debtors’ Jails in the Twenty-first Century  152
Does Crime Pay?  154
The Shrinking Middle Class  175
Precarious Work  185
Institutional Discrimination in the
Voting Booth  227
Asian Americans: A Model Minority?  236
Give Me a Male Boss, Please  265
Transracial Adoption: The Experience of
­Children from Korea  285

© Ingram Publishing/Alamy Stock Photo


Wicca: Religion or Quasi-Religion?  321
The Latino Political Voice  338
Affirmative Action  346
Health Care, Retail Style  365


Your Morning Cup of Coffee  19
Symbolizing 9/11  56
Life in the Global Village  64
Cultural Survival in Brazil  65
McDonald’s and the Worldwide
Bureaucratization of Society  108
Disney World: A Postmodern
Theme Park  113
The Global Disconnect  131
It’s All Relative: Appalachian
Poverty and Congolese
Affluence 200
9-2Walking the Last Mile in Uganda:
The Avon Approach  205
Stratification in Brazil  210

© Don Hammond/Design Pics


10-2     The Aboriginal People of Australia  234
11-1      Women in Combat Worldwide  254
11-2     No Gender, Please: It’s
Preschool! 256
11-3     The Head Scarf and the Veil:
Complex Symbols  262
12-1     One Wife, Many Husbands:
The Nyinba  277
14-1     Sovereignty in the Aloha
State 336
15-2      Population Policy in China  373
Environmental Refugees  379
Women’s Social Movements in South Korea
and India  393



Surveying Cell Phone Users  33
Lying for Love Online  42
Becoming Social in a
Gesellschaft 111
Inside the Bubble: Internet Search
Filters 127
6-3Can Cell Phones Solve the
Refugee Crisis?  133

12-2Love Is in the Air and on the
Web 281
Politicking Online  342
16-2Organizing for Controversy
via Computer-Mediated
Communication 395
16-3The Internet’s Global
Profile 403

© Eric Audras/ONOKY/Superstock


A Culture of Cheating?  59
Impression Management by Students  78
Unplugging the Media: What Happens?  83
Binge Drinking  150
Packing Firearms on Campus  159


Dave Eberbach, Associate Director, Iowa Institute for
Community Alliances  38
Rakefet Avramovitz, Program Administrator, Child Care
Law Center  81
Sarah Levy, Owner, S. Levy Foods  101
Lindsey Wallem, Social Media Consultant  130
Stephanie Vezzani, Special Agent, U.S. Secret
Service 163

© Andersen Ross/Blend Images

Prudence Hannis, Associate Director, First Nations
Post-Secondary Institution, Odanak, Québec  225
Diane Belcher Gray, Assistant Director of Volunteer
Services, New River Community College  308
Joseph W. Drummond, Management Analyst, U.S. Army
Space and Missile Defense Command  343

© Hemera Technologies/Fotosearch


Student Debt  188
The Debate over
Title IX  305

social policy sections
Chapter 2

Chapter 8

Chapter 11

Social Policy and Sociological Research:
Studying Human Sexuality  42

Social Policy and Stratification: Executive
Compensation  192

Chapter 3

Chapter 9

Social Policy and Gender Stratification:
The Battle over Abortion from a Global
Perspective  267

Social Policy and Culture:
Bilingualism 65

Social Policy and Global Inequality:
Rethinking Welfare in Europe and North
America  212

Social Policy and the Family: Family Leave
Worldwide  291

Chapter 4
Social Policy and Sociological Research:
Child Care around the World  88

Chapter 5

Chapter 12

Chapter 10

Chapter 13

Social Policy and Racial and Ethnic
Inequality: Global Refugee Crisis  243

Social Policy and Education: Charter
Schools  322

Chapter 14

Social Policy and Organizations: The State
of the Unions Worldwide  114

Social Policy and the Economy:
Microfinancing  349

Chapter 6

Chapter 15

Social Policy and the Mass Media:
The Right to Privacy  137

Social Policy and the Environment:
Environmentalism  382

Chapter 7

Chapter 16

Social Policy and Social Control: The
Death Penalty in the United States
and Worldwide  164
© Last Resort/Getty Images

Social Policy and Globalization:
Transnationals  406

Mapping Life Nationwide

Mapping Life Worldwide

Educational Level and Household Income in the
United States  29

Countries with High Child Marriage Rates  53

Seeing Boston’s Housing Issues  41
Percentage of People Who Speak a Language Other Than
English at Home, by State  66
The Status of Medical Marijuana  151
Executions by State since 1976  165
The 50 States: Contrasts in Income and Poverty Levels  172
Voter ID Requirements  227

Branding the Globe  126
Gross National Income per Capita  201
Poverty Worldwide  203
The Global Divide on Abortion  269
Global Peace Index  344
Global Terrorism Index  345
Labor Migration  406

Minority Population by County  233
Average Salary for Teachers  309
Charter Schools  322
Percentage without Health Insurance  362


tracking sociological
perspectives tables
Major Sociological Perspectives  15

Sociological Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity  230

Sociological Perspectives on Culture  61

Sociological Perspectives on Gender  261

Theoretical Approaches to Development of the Self  79

Sociological Perspectives on the Family  280

Sociological Perspectives on Social Institutions  105

Sociological Perspectives on Education  306

Sociological Perspectives on the Mass Media  135

Sociological Perspectives on Religion  317

Sociological Perspectives on Deviance  158

Sociological Perspectives on Health and Illness  361

Sociological Perspectives on Social Stratification  180

Sociological Perspectives on Social Change  398

Sociological Perspectives on Global Inequality  208

summing up tables
Existing Sources Used in Sociological Research  36

Merton’s Deviance Theory  153

Major Research Designs  37

Major World Religions  312

Norms and Sanctions  57

Components of Religion  319

Mead’s Stages of the Self  77

Characteristics of Ecclesiae, Denominations, Sects,
and New Religious Movements  321

Comparison of Primary and Secondary Groups  100
Characteristics of a Bureaucracy  107
Comparison of the Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft 111
Stages of Sociocultural Evolution  112


Characteristics of the Three Major Economic
Systems 332
Contributions to Social Movement Theory  394

Taking Sociology with You . . .
Wherever You Go
Why Does Sociology Matter?
Whether you’re a first-time student, someone who is returning
to the classroom, or even an instructor leading a discussion,
you’ve probably thought about that question. Sociologists
examine society, from small-scale interactions to the broadest
social changes, which can be daunting for any student to take
in. Sociology: A Brief Introduction, 12th Edition, bridges the
essential sociological theories, research, and concepts and the
everyday realities we all experience. The program highlights
the distinctive ways in which sociologists explore human
social behavior—and how their research findings can be used
to help students think critically about the broader principles
that guide their lives. In doing so, it helps students begin to
think sociologically, using what they have learned to evaluate
human interactions and institutions independently.

What do a police officer, a nurse, and a local business
owner need to know about the community that they serve?
It turns out quite a lot. And Sociology: A Brief Introduction
is poised to give students the tools they need to take
sociology with them as they pursue their studies and their
careers, and as they get involved in their communities and
the world at large. Its emphasis on real-world applications
enables students to see the relevance of sociological
concepts to contemporary issues and events as well as
students’ everyday lives. In addition, the digital tools
in Connect foster student preparedness for a more
productive and engaging experience in class and better
grades on exams.

Help Your Students Succeed with Connect
McGraw-Hill Connect® is an integrated
educational platform that includes assignable
and assessable quizzes, exercises, and interactive
activities, all associated with learning objectives for
Sociology: A Brief Introduction, 12th Edition. Videos, interactive assessments, links to news articles
about current issues with accompanying questions
(“NewsFlash”), and scenario-based activities engage
students and add real-world perspective to the introductory sociology course. In addition, printable,
exportable reports show how well each student or
section is performing on each course segment.
Put students first with Connect’s new, intuitive mobile interface, which gives students and
instructors flexible, convenient, anytime-anywhere
access to all components of the Connect platform.
It provides seamless integration of learning tools
and places the most important priorities up front in
a new “to-do” list with a calendar view across all
Connect courses. Enjoy on-the-go access with the
new mobile interface designed for optimal use of
tablet functionality.


Provide a Smarter Text and Better Value
with SmartBook
Available within Connect, SmartBook® makes study
time as productive and efficient as possible by
identifying and closing knowledge gaps. SmartBook
is powered by the proven LearnSmart® engine, which
identifies what an individual student knows and doesn’t
know based on the student’s confidence level, responses
to questions and other factors.  It then provides focused
help through targeted learning resources (including
videos, animations and other interactive activities). 
SmartBook builds an optimal, personalized
learning path for each student, so students spend less
time on concepts they already understand and more
time on those they don’t. As a student engages with
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adapts by highlighting the most impactful content
a student needs to learn at that moment in time.
This ensures that every minute spent with
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More confidence, better grades, and greater

Access Performance Data Just in Time
Connect Insight® is Connect’s new one-of-akind visual analytics dashboard, now available
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results, Connect Insight gives the user the a­ bility
to take a just-in-time approach to teaching and
learning, which was never before available.
Connect Insight presents data that empowers
students and helps instructors improve class
performance in a way that is efficient and


What’s New?
Changes to the Twelfth Edition reflect new research findings,
updated statistics, and hot topics and issues. Revisions to the
print and digital program were also guided by student performance data anonymously collected from the thousands of
students who have used LearnSmart with Sociology: A Brief
Introduction. Because virtually every text paragraph is tied to
several questions that students answer while using LearnSmart,
the specific concepts that students are having most difficulty
with can be pinpointed through empirical data. 

Chapter 1: Understanding Sociology
∙ Expanded introduction of the term sociological imagination
∙ Updated coverage of sociological study of post-Katrina New
∙ Key Term treatment of mesosociology and global sociology
∙ Updated table, “Major Sociological Perspectives”
∙ Updated research data throughout section on “Applied and
Clinical Sociology”
∙ Discussion of contributions to feminist thought by Patricia
Hill Collins
∙ Updated figure, “Occupations of First-Year Sociology Majors”
∙ Taking Sociology with You question

Chapter 2: Sociological Research
∙ Updated figures, “Educational Level and Household Income
in the United States,” “Impact of a College Education on
Income,” and “Changing Attitudes toward the Legalization
of Marijuana”

∙ Research Today box, “Visual Sociology,” with key term
treatment of visual sociology and applied sociology
∙ Inclusion of transgender issues in section on “Queer Theory
and Methodology”
∙ Discussion of 2015 study showing decline of television coverage of women in sports
∙ Thinking Critically question in section on “Queer Theory
and Methodology”
∙ Expanded discussion of portrayal of gender in movies in
“Social Policy: Studying Human Sexuality” section
∙ Taking Sociology with You question

Chapter 3: Culture

∙ Updated figure, “Countries with High Child Marriage
Rates,” and added Think about It question
∙ Added photo and Think about It question to “Role of Language” section
∙ Updated data in section on values and in figure, “Life Goals
of First-Year College Students”
∙ Figure, “Values: Acceptance of Non-Marital Cohabitation”

Chapter 4: Socialization and the Life Course
∙ Opening excerpt, The Wolfpack, based on interview with
filmmaker Crystal Moselle

∙ Think about It question in table, “High School Popularity”
∙ Photo of Marine basic training to illustrate concept of total
∙ Taking Sociology with You question

Chapter 5: Social Interaction, Groups,
and Social Structure

∙ Enhanced discussion and new examples in section on
“Ascribed and Achieved Status”
∙ Think about It question in discussion of role exit
∙ Photo of Denali to illustrate role conflict
∙ Photo from Survivor: Cambodia to illustrate coalition building
∙ Thinking Critically question in “Elements of Social Structure” section
∙ Discussion of how gender influences ascribed status within
formal organizations elaborated with new research
∙ Discussion of “flat” hierarchies in section “Bureaucracy and
Organizational Culture”
∙ Our Wired World box, “Becoming Social in a Gesellschaft”
∙ Coverage of 2015 U.S. labor rulings in Social Policy feature

Chapter 6: The Mass Media

∙ Chapter-opening photo emphasizing worldwide reach of
Western media
∙ Enhanced discussion of conferral of status through social
media, including Think about It question
∙ Think about It questions about brand recognition and marketing through social media and in figures “Who’s on the Internet?” and “Media Penetration in Selected Countries”
∙ Updated data in tables “Status Conferred by the Media” and
“Networked Readiness Index”
∙ Updated figures, “Branding the Globe” and “Who’s on the
∙ Let’s Discuss question in box, “Inside the Bubble: Internet
Search Filters”
∙ Enhanced discussion of dominant ideology in the media and
expanded Use Your Sociological Imagination exercise
∙ Enhanced discussion of feminist research and perspectives
on media 
∙ Our Wired World box, “Can Cell Phones Solve the Refugee

Chapter 7: Deviance, Crime, and Social Control
∙ Enhanced discussion of solitary confinement in section on
“Social Control”

∙ Research Today box, “Debtors’ Jails in the Twenty-first
∙ Thinking Critically question in “Law and Society” section
∙ Think about It questions in tables, “Sociological Perspectives
on Crime” and “Types of Transnational Crime”
∙ Updated figures “The Status of Medical Marijuana,” “Categorization of Reported Hate Crimes,” and “Victimization Rates”

∙ Updated tables, “National Crime Rates and Percentage
Change” and “Types of Transnational Crime”
∙ Sociology on Campus box, “Packing Firearms on Campus”
∙ Social Policy section, “The Death Penalty in the U.S. and

Chapter 8: Stratification and Social Mobility in
the United States
∙ Chapter-opening excerpt from Federal Reserve chair Janet
Yellen’s remarks about income and social inequality
∙ More comprehensive definition of income
∙ Research Today box, “The Shrinking Middle Class”
∙ Think about It question about sociological perspectives on
stratification, risk factors for poverty, and intergenerational
∙ Added figures, “Distribution of Family Wealth in the United
States” and “U.S. Minimum Wage Adjusted for Inflation,
∙ Updated tables, “Human Trafficking Report” and “Who Are
the Poor in the United States?”
∙ Updated figures, “Mean Household Income by Quintile” and
“Poverty in Selected Countries” 
∙ Sociology on Campus box, “Student Debt”
∙ Social Policy section, “Executive Compensation”

Chapter 9: Global Inequality
∙ Sociology in the Global Community box, “It’s All Relative:
Appalachian Poverty and Congolese Affluence”
∙ Section on the United Nations’ Millennium Development goals
∙ Updated figures, “Foreign Aid per Capita in Nine Countries,” “Multinational Corporations Compared to Nations,”
and “Distribution of Income in Nine Nations”

Chapter 10: Racial and Ethnic Inequality
∙ Discussion of effects of social media on attitudes toward
police treatment of minorities
∙ Discussion of Black Lives Matter movement and of attitudes
toward Muslims during the 2016 presidential campaign in
section on racial profiling
∙ Think about It questions about racial and ethnic makeup of
U.S. population, differences in earning power between ethnic
groups, sociological theories of discrimination, treatment of
Native Americans (with new illustration), religious affiliation of Arab Americans
∙ Key Term treatment for redlining, asylee, and refugee
∙ Expanded discussion of redlining as an effect of the Great
∙ Main section, “Immigration and Continuing Diversity in the
United States,” with illustrations and Thinking Critically
∙ Discussion of the effects of renewed relations between the
United States and Cuba in material on migration

∙ Main section  “Immigration and Continuing Diversity,” including Social Policy section, “Global Immigration Crisis” with
figure, “Legal Immigration to the United States, 1820–2014”
and table, “Top Sources of Refugees to the United States”
∙ Updated table, “Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United States,
∙ Updated figures, “Racial and Ethnic Groups in the United
States, 1500–2060 (Projected),” “U.S. Median Income by
Race, Ethnicity, and Gender,” “Mapping Life Nationwide:
Voter ID Requirements,” “Asian American and Pacific
Islander Population by Origin, 2014,” and “Hispanic Population by Origin, 2014”

Chapter 11: Stratification by Gender and Sexuality
∙ Think about It questions about conventional gender behavior,
social implications of the matrix of domination, and women’s labor force participation
∙ Key term treatment for gender identity and sexual identity
∙ Discussion of gender identity as a spectrum
∙ Main sections, “Gender and Human Sexuality” and “Labeling and Human sexuality,” with Thinking Critically question
∙ Figure, “Women’s Labor Force Participation Rates, Selected
∙ Sociology in the Global Community box, “No Gender, Please:
It’s Preschool!”
∙ Updated table, “U.S. Women in Selected Occupations”
∙ Updated figure, “Mapping Life Worldwide: The Global Divide
on Abortion”

Chapter 12: The Family and Household Diversity
∙ Main section, “Gay and Lesbian Relationships”
∙ Figure, “U.S. Households by Type, 1967 and 2014,” with
Think about It question
∙ Discussion of Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex
marriage and its social implications
∙ Discussion of cross-cultural attitudes toward divorce
∙ Key term treatment of flexibility stigma
∙ Updated figures “Median Age at First Marriage in Eight
Countries,” “Rise of Single-Parent Families in the United
States, 1970–2015,” “Trends in Marriage and Divorce in the
United States, 1920–2014”

∙ Social Policy section, “Family Leave Policy Worldwide”
with figures, “Paid Maternity Leave, Selected Countries,”
“Paid Paternity Leave, Selected Countries,” and “Acceptance
of Parental Leave, Selected Countries”

Chapter 13: Education and Religion
∙ Chapter-opening excerpt from Death and Life in the Great
American School System by Diane Ravitch
∙ Think about It questions about costs of college education,
theoretical perspectives on education, disparities in teacher
salaries, functions of religious practices

∙ Elaboration of material on hidden curriculum, with example
linked to queer theory
∙ Discussion of new research on effects of tracking
∙ Figure, “Religious Affiliation 2010–2050”
∙ Research Today box, “Wicca: Religion or Quasi-Religion?”
∙ Discussion of impact of the Internet on religion
∙ Key term treatment of charter school and quasi-religion

∙ Updated figures, “Current Higher Education Graduation
Rates, Selected Countries,” “Tuition and Room and Board
Costs, 1963–2013,” “Mapping Life Nationwide: Average
Salary for Teachers,” “College Campuses by Race and Ethnicity: Then, Now, and in the Future,” and “Mapping Life
Nationwide: Charter Schools”
∙ Social Policy section, “Charter Schools”

Chapter 14: Government and the Economy
∙ Think about It questions about rank order of world’s largest
economies and global terrorism index
∙ Section on the sharing economy
∙ Discussion of recent political trends in the United States

∙ Research Today box, “The Latino Political Voice,” with
figure, “Latino Participation in Presidential Elections,
∙ Discussion of criticism of pluralist model of American politics
∙ Discussion of growing importance of online politicking
∙ Figure, “Global Terrorism Index”
∙ Discussion of terrorism and labeling theory
∙ Updated figures, “World’s Largest Economies,” “Voter Turnout Worldwide,” “Women in National Legislatures, Selected
Countries,” “Mapping Life Worldwide: Global Peace Index”

Chapter 15: Health, Population, and the
∙ Two main sections on population and migration
∙ Key Term treatment of birthrate, census, death rate, demographic transition, demography, environmental refugee,
fertility, growth rate, life expectancy, migration, population
pyramid, total fertility rate, vital statistics, and zero population growth
∙ Discussion of interactionist perspective on provider–patient
relationship, with emphasis on role of class and race and on
the role of technology
∙ Discussion of stigma associated with illness, with emphasis
on confidentiality of electronic patient records
∙ Think about It questions about infant mortality rates, AIDS
mortality and morbidity, alternative medicine, and trends in
CO2 emissions
∙ Thinking Critically questions about social stigma of mental
illness and social issues associated with population growth
and decline
∙ Discussion of trend toward jailing of the mentally ill

∙ Taking Sociology to Work box about deputy director of the
Department of Statistics, Government of Bahamas
∙ Figures, “Population Growth Rate in Selected Countries,”
“Demographic Transition,” “Population Structure of Afghanistan, Italy, and the United States, 2017,” and “Change in
CO2 Emissions in Selected Countries, 1990–2015”

∙ Table, “Estimated Time for Each Successive Increase of
1 Billion People in World Population”
∙ Discussion of China’s new two-child policy
∙ Sociology in the Global Community box, “Environmental
∙ Discussion of 2015 Paris environmental summit
∙ Updated figures, “Infant Mortality Rates in Selected Countries,” “AIDS by the Numbers Worldwide,” “Mapping Life
Nationwide: Percentage without Health Insurance,” “Total
Health Care Expenditures in the United States, 1970–2020
(Projected),” “Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” and “The Environment vs. Energy Production”

Chapter 16: Social Change in the Global
∙ Chapter-opening excerpt from Social Movements and New
Technology by Victoria Carty
∙ Figures, “Declining Drive-Ins 1954–2012,” “Walking to Work
1960–2012,” “The Changing U.S. Economy,” and “Estimated
Global Sale of Industrial Robots, 2010–2018”
∙ Discussion of the importance of gender in understanding
social movements
∙ Example of vested interests
∙ Example of culture lag
∙ Discussion of women’s role in migration of families
∙ Updated figures, “Internet Users by World Region,” “Internet Penetration by World Region,” and “Internet’s Top Ten

Teaching Resources
Instructor’s Manual.  The Instructor’s Manual includes detailed
chapter outlines and chapter summaries; learning objectives; a
chapter-by-chapter bulleted list of new content; key terms; essay
questions; and critical thinking questions.
PowerPoint Slides.  The PowerPoint Slides include bulleted
lecture points, figures, and maps. They can be used as is or modified to meet the instructor’s individual needs.
Test Bank.  The Test Bank includes multiple-choice, true-false,
and essay questions for every chapter. TestGen software allows
the instructor to create customized exams using either publishersupplied test items or the instructor’s own questions.

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Author Acknowledgments
Since 2010, Elaine Silverstein has played a most significant role
in the development of my introductory sociology books. Fortunately for me, in this Twelfth Edition, Elaine has once again
been responsible for the smooth integration of all changes and
For over 30 years, I have enjoyed and benefited from the
friendship and sage professional counsel of Rhona Robbin. Fortunately, she has continued to contribute to the Twelfth Edition
in her capacity as lead product developer.
I deeply appreciate the contributions made by all those who
assisted me in making this edition even better than the last. I
received strong support and encouragement from Gina Boedeker,
managing director, higher education group; Kaitlyn Lombardo,
marketing manager; Marianne Musni, program manager; Susan
Trentacosti, lead content project manager; Katie Klochan, senior
content project manager; Briana Porco, senior product developer.
Debra Kubiak, design manager; Peter de Lissovoy, copyeditor;
and Susan Pierre-Louis, digital product analyst.

This edition continues to reflect the many insightful suggestions made by reviewers of the 13 hardcover editions and 11
brief paperback editions. Earlier editions also benefited from the
creative ideas of Betty Morgan, Thom Holmes, and Jinny Joyner.
As is evident from these acknowledgments, the preparation
of a textbook is truly a team effort. The most valuable member
of this effort continues to be my wife, Sandy. She provides the
support so necessary in my creative and scholarly activities.
I have had the good fortune to introduce students to sociology for many years. These students have been enormously helpful
in spurring on my sociological imagination. In ways I can fully
appreciate but cannot fully acknowledge, their questions in class
and queries in the hallway have found their way into this textbook.
Richard T. Schaefer

Academic Reviewers
This current edition has benefited from constructive and thorough evaluations provided by sociologists from both two-year
and four-year institutions.
Dawn Aliberti, Cleveland State University
Angie Andrus, Fullerton College
Andrew J. Bark, Mt. San Antonio College
Georgia Bianchi, University of Florida
Annette Chamberlin, Virginia Western Community College
Tamu Chambers, Hudson Valley Community College
Margaret Choka, Pellissippi State Community College
Ronald Ferguson, Ridgewater College
Brenda Montgomery Freeman, Ohlone College
Mark J. Guillette, Valencia Community College
Marta Henriksen, Central New Mexico Community College
John P. Hutchinson, Community College of Baltimore County
Laura Johnson, Southeast Missouri State University
Nicole Jolly, Delgado Community College
Jason J. Leiker, Utah State University
Royal Loresco, South Texas College
Victor A. Martini, Schenectady Community College
Melinda Messineo, Ball State University
Daniel W. Milligan, University of South Carolina,
Heidi Morehead, New River Community College
Kelly Mosel-Talavera, Texas State University, San Marcos
Wendy North-Ollendorf, Northwestern Connecticut
  Community College
James Peterson, Tidewater Community College–Norfolk
Robert Reed, Tarrant County College
Latasha Sarpy, Bunker Hill Community College
Paula J. Snyder, Chaffey College
Sherry Steiner, Indiana University–Purdue University
  Fort Wayne 
Maggie Stone, Marshall University
Brooke Strahn-Koller, Kirkwood Community College
Vicki Tankersley, Mercer University
Kenrick Thompson, Central New Mexico Community



© Cathy Yeulet/123RF

One of the things sociologists study is how people organize themselves into groups to perform tasks necessary to society. In California,
volunteers pick up debris for eventual recycling.

What Is Sociology?

Major Theoretical Perspectives

What Is Sociological Theory?

Taking Sociology with You

The Development of Sociology

Appendix: Careers in Sociology



Chapter 1

Did you ever suspect that you were hiding from people while you were
online with them?
MIT sociologist and psychologist Sherry Turkle thinks that the web may
actually distance us from others.

Computers no longer wait for humans to project meaning onto
them. Now, sociable robots meet our gaze, speak to us, and learn
to recognize us. They ask us to take care of them; in response, we
imagine that they might care for us in return. Indeed, among the most
talked about robotic designs are in the area of care and companionship. And Microsoft demonstrates a virtual human, Milo, that recognizes the people it interacts with and whose personality is sculpted
by them. Tellingly, in the video that introduces Milo to the public, a
young man begins by playing games with Milo in a virtual garden; by
the end of the demonstration, things have heated up—he confides in
Milo after being told off by his parents.
We are challenged to ask what such things augur. Some people are looking for robots to clean rugs and help with the laundry.
© Ira C. Roberts/Chad Enterprises Corporation
­Others hope for a mechanical bride. As sociable robots propose
themselves as substitutes for people, new networked devices offer
us machine-mediated relationships
richer than they are in first life and a lot
with each other, another kind of subyounger, thinner, and better dressed.
Digital connections and the sociable
stitution. We romance the robot and
And we are smitten with the idea of
robot may offer the illusion of
become inseparable from our smartsociable robots, which most people
companionship without the demands
phones. As this happens, we remake
first meet in the guise of artificial pets.
of friendship.
ourselves and our relationships with
Zhu Zhu pet hamsters, the “it” toy of
each other through our new intimacy
the 2009–2010 holiday season, are
with machines. People talk about web access on their BlackBerries
presented as “better” than any real pet could be. We are told they
as “the place for hope” in life, the place where loneliness can be
are lovable and responsive, don’t require cleanup, and will never die.
defeated. A woman in her late sixties describes her new iPhone:
Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vul“It’s like having a little Times Square in my pocketbook. All lights. All
nerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We
the people I could meet.” People are lonely. The network is seducare lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections and the sociable
tive. But if we are always on, we may deny ourselves the rewards
robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of
of solitude.
friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even
as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk.
From the start, people used interactive and reactive computers to
(Turkle 2011:1–3) Quotation from Sherry Turkle. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Techreflect on the self and think about the difference between machines
nology and Less from Each Other. NY: Basic Books. Copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of
Basic Books, a member of The Perseus Books Group.
and people. Were intelligent machines alive? If not, why not?
Technology proposes
itself as the architect of our
intimacies. These days, it
suggests substitutions that
put the real on the run. The
advertising for Second Life,
a virtual world where you
get to build an avatar, a
house, a family, and a social
life, basically says, “Finally,
a place to love your body,
love your friends, and love
your life.” In Second Life,
a lot of people, as represented by their avatars, are

Think about your life before you owned a cell phone: How did
you connect with others then? How do you connect with them
now? In this excerpt from Alone Together: Why We Expect More
from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle
writes that modern technology—especially communications
technology—is changing the way we relate to others. Today,
our digital communications devices tend to preoccupy us, often
burying us in a deluge of information, both audio and video.
Yet in the end, they cannot substitute for the ties that bind, the
face-to-face relationships that hold family and friends together.
Ironically, in an effort to dig out from the communications overflow, we are constantly seeking new networking gadgets (Turkle

We’ve come a long way from the days when home entertainment meant black-and-white television, and “reaching
out” involved a landline telephone and voice messages. Today,
we not only carry the telephone with us; we use it to watch
­television and movies delivered over the Internet. Social life is
being impacted by and carried out through an object we hold
in our hand.
As a field of study, sociology is extremely broad in scope.
You will see throughout this book the range of topics sociologists investigate—from suicide to TV viewing habits, from
Amish society to global economic patterns, from peer pressure
to genetic engineering. Sociology looks at how others influence
our behavior; how major social institutions like the government,

Understanding Sociology


religion, and the economy affect us; and how we ourselves affect
other individuals, groups, and even organizations.
How did sociology develop? In what ways does it differ from
other social sciences? This chapter will explore the nature of sociology as both a field of inquiry and an exercise of the “sociological imagination.” We’ll look at the discipline as a science and
consider its relationship to other social sciences. We’ll meet four

pioneering thinkers—Emile
Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx,
and W. E. B. DuBois—and examine the theoretical perspectives
that grew out of their work. We’ll note some of the practical applications for sociological theory and research. Finally, we’ll see
how sociology helps us to develop a sociological imagination. For
those students interested in exploring career opportunities in sociology, the chapter closes with a special appendix.

What Is Sociology?

public issues. Divorce, for example, is unquestionably a personal hardship for a husband and wife who split apart. However,
C. Wright Mills advocated using the sociological imagination
to view divorce not as simply an individual’s personal problem but rather as a societal concern. Using this perspective, we
can see that an increase in the divorce rate actually redefines
a major social institution—the family. Today’s households frequently include stepparents and half-siblings whose parents
have divorced and remarried. Through the complexities of the
blended family, this private concern becomes a public issue that
affects schools, government agencies, businesses, and religious
The sociological imagination is an empowering tool. It allows
us to look beyond a limited understanding of human behavior to
see the world and its people in a new way and through a broader
lens than we might otherwise use. It may be as simple as understanding why a roommate prefers country music to hip-hop, or
it may open up a whole different way of understanding other
populations in the world. For example, in the aftermath of the
terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001,
many citizens wanted to understand how Muslims throughout
the world perceived their country, and why. From time to time
this textbook will offer you the chance to exercise your sociological imagination in a variety of situations.


hat has sociology got to do with me or with my life?” As
a student, you might well have asked this question when
you signed up for your introductory sociology course. To answer
it, consider these points: Are you influenced by what you see on
television? Do you use the Internet? Did you vote in the last
election? Are you familiar with binge drinking on campus? Do
you use alternative medicine? These are just a few of the everyday life situations described in this book that sociology can shed
light on. But as the opening excerpt indicates, sociology also
looks at large social issues. We use sociology to investigate why
thousands of jobs have moved from the United States to developing nations, what social forces promote prejudice, what leads
someone to join a social movement and work for social change,
how access to computer technology can reduce social inequality,
and why relationships between men and women in Seattle differ
from those in Singapore.
Sociology is, simply, the scientific study of social behavior
and human groups. It focuses on social relationships; how those
relationships influence people’s behavior; and how societies, the
sum total of those relationships, develop and change.

The Sociological Imagination
In attempting to understand social behavior, sociologists rely
on a particular type of critical thinking. A leading sociologist,
C. Wright Mills, described such thinking as the ­sociological
­imagination—an awareness of the relationship between an
individual and the wider society, both today and in the past
(Mills [1959] 2000a). This awareness allows all of us (not just
sociologists) to comprehend the links between our immediate,
personal social settings and the remote, impersonal social world
that surrounds and helps to shape us.
A key element in the sociological imagination is the ability to view one’s own society as an outsider would, rather than
only from the perspective of personal experiences and cultural
biases. Consider something as simple as sporting events. On college campuses in the United States, thousands of students cheer
well-trained football players. In parts of South America and the
Caribbean, spectators gather around two cages, each holding a
finch. The covers are lifted, and the owner of the first bird to
sing 50 songs wins a trophy, a cash prize, and great prestige. In
speed singing as in football, eager spectators debate the merits
of their favorites and bet on the outcome of the events. Yet what
is considered a normal sporting event in one part of the world is
considered unusual in another part (Rueb 2015).
The sociological imagination allows us to go beyond personal experiences and observations to understand broader

use your sociological imagination
You are walking down the street in your city or hometown.
In looking around you, you can’t help noticing that half or
more of the people you see are overweight. How do you
explain your observation? If you were C. Wright Mills, how
do you think you would explain it?

Sociology and the Social Sciences
Is sociology a science? The term science refers to the body of
knowledge obtained by methods based on systematic observation. Just like other scientific disciplines, sociology involves the
organized, systematic study of phenomena (in this case, human
behavior) in order to enhance understanding. All scientists,
whether studying mushrooms or murderers, attempt to collect
precise information through methods of study that are as objective as possible. They rely on careful recording of observations
and accumulation of data.


Chapter 1

© James Marshall/The Image Works

Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior and human groups.

people’s attitudes and behavior and
the ways in which people interact and
shape society. Because humans are
social animals, sociologists examine
our social relationships scientifically.
The range of the relationships they
investigate is vast, as the current list of
sections in the American Sociological
Association suggests (Table 1-1).
Let’s consider how different social
scientists might study the impact of
the global recession that began in
2008. Historians would stress the
pattern of long-term fluctuations in
world markets. Economists would discuss the roles played by government,
the private sector, and the world monetary system. Psychologists would
study individual cases of emotional
stress among workers, investors, and
business owners. And political scientists would study the degree of cooperation among nations—or lack of
it—in seeking economic solutions.
What approach would sociologists take? They might note a change
in marital patterns in the United
States. Since the recession began, the
median age of first marriage has risen to 28.7 years for men
and 26.7 years for women. Sociologists might also observe that
today, fewer people are making that trip to the altar than in the
past. If the U.S. marriage rate had remained the same as it was
in 2006, about 4 million more Americans would have married
by 2010.

Of course, there is a great difference between sociology and
physics, between psychology and astronomy. For this reason,
the sciences are commonly divided into natural and social sciences. Natural science is the study of the physical features of
nature and the ways in which they interact and change. Astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, and physics are all natural
sciences. Social science is the study of the social features of
humans and the ways in which they
interact and change. The social sciences
include sociology, anthropology, economics, history, psychology, and political science.
These social science disciplines have
a common focus on the social behavior
of people, yet each has a particular orientation. Anthropologists usually study
past cultures and preindustrial societies
that continue today, as well as the origins of humans. Economists explore
the ways in which people produce and
exchange goods and services, along with
money and other resources. Historians
are concerned with the peoples and
events of the past and their significance
for us today. Political scientists study
international relations, the workings of
government, and the exercise of power
and authority. Psychologists investigate © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
personality and individual behavior. So As the nation struggled to recover from a deep and lengthy recession, recently laid-off workers jostled the
what do sociologists focus on? They long-term unemployed at a crowded job fair in San Francisco. Sociologists use a variety of approaches to
study the influence that society has on assess the full impact of economic change on society.

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