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Sociology I: The Study of Human Relationships

Human beings are complex creatures; however, when they interact and begin to form relationships and societies, things become even more complicated. Are we more likely to act differently in a group than we will when we’re alone? How do we learn how to be “human”? Sometimes it can feel as if there are more questions than answers. Sociology I: The Study of Human Relationships seeks to answer these questions and many more as it explores culture, group behavior, and societal institutions and how they affect human behavior. You’ll learn how social beliefs form and how this shapes our lives. How does this happen? Join us and find out!

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Units at a Glance

Unit 1: An Invitation to the World of Sociology

In this unit, we will define what sociology is, learn about the sociological imagination, and discuss sociology’s relationship to other social sciences. We will also examine three of sociology’s founding fathers, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, and their contributions to the development of sociology. Finally, we will discuss three perspectives that are used by sociologists to explain social behavior and society.

Unit 2: Culture

In this unit, we will learn what culture is and how it affects our daily lives. We’ll examine several different aspects of culture including language, norms, values, and sanctions. We’ll also discuss how culture develops in a society through innovation and diffusion. Finally, we’ll look at why cultures differ from each other and how sociologists study these different cultures around the world.

Unit 3: Socialization

In this unit, we will examine how culture is transmitted to a society’s new members. We’ll discuss the process of socialization and how this process continues through the life course. In doing so, we’ll encounter the nature vs. nurture debate and look at various examples, including isolated children, to illuminate this debate. In addition, the unit will discuss how socialization and culture help to shape the self and individual personalities. Finally, several agents of socialization are discussed, to illustrate some of the ways that culture is transmitted.

Unit 4: Social Structure & Group Behavior

In this unit, we will examine the building blocks of society, including groups, statuses, roles, networks, and social institutions. We’ll discuss the different types of groups in society and how the statuses that we have influence our lives in various ways. In addition, the unit looks at how the internet is changing the way that we network in society and our involvement in social groups. Finally, we’ll trace the development of social structure and institutions from preindustrial societies to the present period of time.

Unit 5: Deviance & Crime

In this unit, we will examine deviant behavior, social control, and crime and the relationships between these three elements in society. Sociologists and other scientists have put forth a number of theories on why deviance happens and the consequences for both individuals and society. The unit will also discuss the techniques and strategies that society and individuals use to encourage conformity and discourage deviance. Finally, we’ll look at the different types of crime in society and how crime relates to social statuses like age, race, and gender.

Unit 6: Social Stratification & Class

In this unit, we will examine social stratification and class. We’ll discuss three systems of social stratification, including slavery, castes, and social classes, and look at the different social classes that exist in the United States and Canada. We will also look at the functions that social stratification may play in society and some of the negative consequences for society, including conflict. Finally, we will examine poverty in North America and which groups of people are more likely to live in poverty.

Unit 7: Inequalities of Race & Ethnicity

In this unit, we will examine race and ethnicity in society. We will look at what a minority group is and the prejudice, stereotypes, racism, and discrimination that a minority group might face. In this unit, we will also investigate different types of group relationships in a society, including genocide, segregation, amalgamation, assimilation, and pluralism. Finally, we will look at how a minority group may respond to the repression and discrimination that it faces in society.

Unit 8: Gender

In this unit, we will discuss gender in society and how it influences our lives. We’ll examine what gender is, how it is used to stratify society, and how society organizes men and women. In addition, we will look at the idea of gender as a social construction and think about how we “do gender” in our daily lives. We’ll also examine gender socialization and how families, peers, and the media influence and shape our identities, behavior, and thoughts in connection with our gender. Finally, we’ll examine how gender inequality affects men and women in the workforce, home, and politics.

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