Understanding Sociological Theory & the Sociological Imagination

Activity #1
Understanding Sociological Theory & the Sociological Imagination

Learning Objectives:

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At the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • Explain the foundations of sociology and its importance as an academic discipline.
  • Summarize and explain the most important aspects of the three major theoretical perspectives in sociology.
  • Explain the importance of the sociological imagination and relate this concept to his/her own life.

Specifics of the Activity:

Please answer all three of the following question prompts in paragraph formation. Be sure to write in complete sentences. You should cite (using proper MLA citation) from at least one of the assigned readings or videos provided in Module 1’s Learning Assignments, at least two times for each question prompt (i.e. that’s at least two parenthetical citations in each of the three prompts). Your answers should be between 350 and 475 words in length for each question prompt. When you are finished, please submit your answers as one Word or PDF document before the deadline posted on the course schedule.

  1. What is sociology? What does it cover as an academic field/discipline? How do sociologists explain society and social interaction (be sure to include brief mention of a specific explanation for society and/or social interaction as provided by Durkheim, Marx, and Weber in your explanation). What is the significance of sociology? How can sociology help us –and what can this perspective offer understandings of social institutions, ourselves, and the broader social world?
  2. Explain the basics of each of the three sociological paradigms (structural functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism).  Which of these is/are macro-sociological and which is/are micro-sociological? How do each of these perspectives view and approach society and social interaction?
  3. What is the sociological imagination and how do history and personal biography affect it? C. Wright Mills argues that the life of an individual can only be understood in relation to the history of a society. In what ways has the history and culture of our society shaped you as an individual? How has your family’s history and experience been shaped by this country’s history or by large-scale social patterns? Pick two specific individual struggles you have experienced and explain how you can connect these specific personal struggles, troubles, and/or challenges you experienced to specific larger, public issues by identifying and explaining how certain social patterns are improving or hindering your current situation(s).

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