Posted: March 15th, 2023

Week: Durkheim, DuBois, Social Facts and Research Methodology The main Sociolog

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Week: Durkheim, DuBois, Social Facts and Research Methodology
The main Sociology scholars we will focus on are Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and DuBois.
Sociological Imagination- your ability to connect seemingly impersonal and remote/historical forces to the most basic incidents of an individuals life. Being able to see how the Norms are created to support a social structure that benefits the people in power. Racism and Homophobia are perfect examples of this.
The Sociological Imagination is used to connect seemingly impersonal and remote historical forces to the most basic incidents of an individual’s life. Looking at all the random facets of our lives and making the connection to how they effect out on a global scale. For example, our fast-foods are connected to the world on a global level, from the deforestation of the Amazon forest to raise more cattle for beef, to the exploitation of migrant workers to provide cheap fruit, cruelty to livestock animals, or dumping pesticides into our soil and water systems. All these are factors related to every cheeseburger! It’s a lot to consider. How do we make sense of it all.
The Sociological Imagination enables people to distinguish between individual people causing trouble and institutions causing public issues. We use our Sociological Imagination to draw the connections to see where we exist in that dynamic and what we can do to create the necessary change.
Using the Sociological Imagination helps you gain a better understanding of who you are and how you relate with others. This allows us to become global citizens and bridge the gap between local and global communities. By exercising these critical thinking skills, we engage in logical discussions to analyze different cultural, national, and historical perspectives and identify how social institutions shape the everyday experience of individuals and communities, both locally and globally.
Once you can describe fundamental sociological concepts, theories, and theorist, you can apply them to real-life situations and reflect on how life experiences differ according to race, class, gender, and sexuality.
You will learn to refrain from judging others based on personal biases of how others live around the world, and learn to examine local and global cultural differences and social landscapes.
The Sociological Imagination helps us understand the way that our social structure is constructed, how it is shaped by the time and place. What is considered “normal” changes with time, and changes according the where you are. It is important to note that everything that is “normal” is always in flux. To recognize the social construction of reality is the first step in using our Sociological Imagination.
It is important to start with the discussion that Sociology is a science. This important fact needs to be address because the science of studies social problems like Homophobia, Racism, and Sexism. Often times, these issues are argued under the basis of “opinion”, as in, “well, that’s just your opinion and my opinion is as important as yours”; by using the tools of scientific study we can present Social Facts with data collection and analysis, thus, not as “opinion” but rather as proven scientific findings. Racism can be scientifically proven by collecting data on police brutality, homophobia can be scientifically proven by collecting data on job discrimination, and sadly by collecting data on many more social issues. In this way, Sociology can be used to scientifically study the ways in which our Social Structure actively limits people’s access to Life Chances.
Social Structure is the systematic process in which people are placed into hierarchal arrangements which affects their access to Life Chances. Your placement in the Social Structure affects your access to food, clothing, shelter (Can you afford to eat organic produce? Are your clothes new, can you wear the clothes you like? Can you afford your rent?), and access to Health Care, Education, and Employment.
Sociological data scientifically proves that Race and Gender are used in the Social Structure to keep people in poverty, in turn, they have a harder time accessing the resources of Life Chances.
Research is a fact-gathering and fact-explaining enterprise governed by strict scientific rules.
Research Method is a technique that Sociologist and other scientist use to formulate meaningful research questions and to collect, analyze, and interpret facts in ways that allow the other researchers to check results.
Research Design is a plan for gathering data that specifies the population and method of data collection.
Methodology refers to the procedures by which data is collected. In this section we will look as two early Sociology scholars, Durkheim and DuBois, and look into the Research Methodology they used to collect their data.
Emile Durkheim
“The Division of Labor in Society” is one of Durkheim’s first major works, in it he explains how industrialization brought on a more complex division of labor and how in turn it brought about a new Social Structure. As mention in our class notes on week 9/21 Agricultural Revolution and The Age of Imperialism, we learned that society is form with the surplus of agricultural production and trade. For thousands of years, global Social Structures are formulated by human-paced skilled production with local resources and external resources that are perilous and time consuming to acquire. Meaning that people everywhere for the most part stay in the area where they were born and create a society based on skills of production with what they have available around them, and if external elements of production are introduced, it is because someone traveled by horseback or sailboat to acquire them and this was often a very dangerous job to do so. Thousands of years of established Social Structure also meant thousands of years of established ideologies. (Ideology: A set of beliefs that are not challenged or subjected to scrutiny by the people who hold them.) Colonization imposes the Western European colonizers ideology on the rest of the world.
Colonization and industrialization means that as the means of production shift away from skilled labor to unskilled labor, (mentioned in upcoming class notes on week-Industrial Revolution and The Emergence of Sociology,) mass production means bringing parts and materials needed for production from the different parts of the world that have been colonized. Thus, industrialization creates a global interdependence. This is why, (as mentioned in week- Introduction to Sociology and the Sociological Imagination), we use a Sociological Imagination to understand the complexities of our ideologies and consumption habits.
Social Facts
Durkheim explains that the way that the Social Structure had existed for thousands of years now takes a shift with industrialization because of the newly developed complex division of labor. TheAgricultural Revolution developed a Social Structure based on a simpler division of labor and a society where people shared the same culture, religion, and common beliefs. Durkheim demonstrated how the complex division of labor introduced by industrialization shifted the way people related to each other because they were now interdependent with people on an unprecedented wider range while decreasing their similarity. Durkheim used this societal shift to discuss the term:
Social Facts- ideas, feelings, and ways of behavior that exist outside the consciousness of the individual. From the moment you are born, people around you impose a way of life, a way of thinking, feeling, rituals, religions, notions of “right & wrong”. These Social Facts change according to time and place. In Sociology we refer to this as the Social Construction of Reality. Whatever it is that we consider “normal” is only relative to our placement in history and geography. This means that norms change when you travel to a different location or look at a different time in history.
By recognizing that social norms are constructed, we can use our Sociological Imagination to deconstruct them and use scientific methodology to prove our findings.
Quantitative Methodology- Statistics
• Quantitative methodology is a system of counting commonly using the statistic as its tool of data collection. A research design is created in order to collect information and analyze it to make an informed theory. A current example of this would be the 2020 Census. A research design was made to ask specific questions so that we could collect information and analyze it in order to determine the needs of different populations.
Qualitative Methodology- Ethnography
• Qualitative methodology is referred to as an Ethnography. Ethnographic field research involves in-person contact with interviews and observations. People are asked to tell their story and the data is then analyzed based on the similarities. An ethnography has to be conducted over a longer period of time whereas a statistical tool can be a one-time inquiry.
Sociological Theory- Theoretical Analysis
• Whereas both an Ethnography and Statistical tools are relative to the time and place where they were conducted, a Theory transcends time and place. Data is collected through ethnographic field research or statistical tools, and that data is used to create a social Theory on the creation of Social Facts.
An example of this is W.E.B. DuBois research.
W.E.B. DuBois
“The Philadelphia Negro” and “The Souls of Black Folk”
W.E.B. DuBois is an US Sociologist who wrote about his experience as a biracial American. After graduating from Harvard, DuBois moved to Philadelphia to conduct his ethnographic field research on the African-Americans living there. He conducted interviews and observations asking them about their experiences with racism. The data collected in the ethnography was published in 1899 in the book “The Philadelphia Negro, detailing the Black experience in Philadelphia at that time.
Using this data, DuBois then wrote his theory book, “The Souls of Black Folk” in 1903. In this book he discredits the idea of race as a valid way of categorizing humanity and reminds us that biracial or multiracial people are not a recent phenomenon. He introduced his race theory of double-consciousness, the idea of always looking at oneself through the eyes of others, by measuring your soul by the standards of a world that looks upon you with amused contempt and pity – where your “dogged strength alone keeps you from being torn asunder”. He was describing the difficulties faced by the individual that cannot fully own their own identity because they are being constantly bombarded by the negative impact of a society that hold them in amused contempt, meaning that people enjoy making fun of them, and pity, meaning that people see them as charity and feel sorry for them.
Theory transcends time and place. This means that double-consciousness not only related to the Negro population in Philadelphia but also in Boston, in Alabama, in Texas; and not just in 1903 but also in 1915, 1955, 2020.
In this realization of noticing that Theory transcends time and place, we can then realize that theory can also transcend the identity formation it was specified to. An example of this would be a transwoman’s experience today. How her identity is not her own, she knows she is a woman but her womanhood is dependent on how she is seen in the eyes of others. She has to deal with transphobia and discrimination in a society that looks upon her with amused contempt and pity –where her “dogged strength alone keeps her from being torn asunder”.
Essay 1 Writing Assignment:
Use BOTH articles below and apply the theory of double-consciousness to the trans experience; where a trans person has to deal with transphobia and discrimination in a society that looks upon them with “amused contempt and pity” –where her “dogged strength alone keeps her from being torn asunder”.
Make the association between DuBois’ theory of Double Consciousness and the Trans Stories you read below.
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