Sociology is the study of group life and those parts of our individual lives that are affected by social interaction. Its beginning point is the assumption that we are social animals from birth, that is, that we are powerfully influenced by other people's expectations. Sociologists would argue that you can't make sense of your own behavior, much less the patterns of behavior in families, corporations, or nations, without developing a quality of mind which sociologist C. Wright Mills termed "the sociological imagination."
Without that perspective, Mills said, we are apt to experience our private lives as a series of traps, largely beyond our understanding and control. So many of our possibilities are shaped by larger social forces that we can't function effectively either as individuals or as citizens unless we develop the capacity to understand social forces. Whether it's the prospects for your marriage, the safety of your neighborhood, the likelihood of success in your chosen occupation, or the future of your planet, these outcomes depend as much on world-historical changes taking place in society as on issues of ability and character at the individual level.
Our purpose in this course is to provide you with the tools of the sociological imagination. We (Rodney Stark, Jay MacLeod and I) will introduce you to the process by which sociological theories are developed and tested and show you how those theories may usefully be applied to major social problems. By the end of this course, you should be able:
1. To understand the basic concepts, language, and theories
2. To become familiar with the strategies sociologists use to study human society.
3. To describe and explain major features of your own society, beginning with
the institutions that are closest to your own experience.
4. To understand the social dimensions of inequality and difference.
5. To decide whether you have an interest in further coursework in sociology and if so, to provide you a solid basis for further study.
so, to have an excellent base for such coursework.