Khrushchev wrote his memoirs and quietly lived out the remainder of his days before dying of a heart attack in September Nonetheless, his spirit of reform lived on during the perestroika era of the s. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, leaders of the U. In a TV address on October 22, Cuban leader Fidel Castro established the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere after leading an overthrow of the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in He ruled over Cuba for nearly five decades, until handing off power to his younger brother Nixon visited the secretary-general of the Perestroika refers to a series of political and economic reforms meant to kickstart the stagnant s economy of the Soviet Union. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to On August 5, , representatives of the United States, Soviet Union and Great Britain signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in outer space, underwater or in the atmosphere.
The treaty, which President John F. Kennedy signed However, the relationship between the two nations was a tense one.
An arms race denotes a rapid increase in the quantity or quality of instruments of military power by rival states in peacetime. The first modern arms race took place when France and Russia challenged the naval superiority of Britain in the late nineteenth century. This Day In History. Khrushchev Begins the De-Stalinization Process Once a loyal Stalinist, Khrushchev gave a long speech in February that criticized Stalin for arresting and deporting opponents, for elevating himself above the party and for incompetent wartime leadership, among other things.
Kennedy Speaks Before Meeting Khrushchev. Eisenhower on the Second Berlin Crisis.
Introduction to Sociology/Print version
The author wants to affect the way people think of her. The author wants to make people jealous of him or his life. The author is feeling lonely and wants Facebook to make it better. This is the least heinous of the five—but seeing a lonely person acting lonely on Facebook makes me and everyone else sad. Facebook is infested with these five motivations—other than a few really saintly people, most people I know, myself certainly included, are guilty of at least some of this nonsense here and there.
Bragging is such a staple of unfortunate Facebook behavior, it needs to be broken into three subsections:. Somewhere in the middle would be you calculatingly crafting your words as part of an unendearing and transparent campaign to make people see you in a certain way. On the other hand, they have the same exact core motivations as the blatant braggers and looking at these examples actually makes the first group seem almost lovable in comparison. The image-crafting and jealousy-inducing motives here are transparent. But really?
The fun part of these is watching the inevitable comments and then watching how the author responds to them, if at all. This process slots the author into one of four sub-categories:. What are you looking for here? Off to the gym, then class reading. I really want to get to the bottom of this. At some point between leaving work and arriving at the gym, you had an impulse to take out your phone and type this status. Then you put your phone away. Tell me what was accomplished. A weird part of the life of a major celebrity is that people are obsessed with everything about them, even their blue territory.
My grandmother aside, there is no good reason to ever do this. That kind of malice is so extreme it crosses over the far line and becomes awesome. I refuse to believe you feel a genuine outpouring of love for your Facebook friends. Hug me! I am one who knows the secrets of life—allow me to teach you so that you too can one day find enlightenment. They view quantitative and qualitative approaches as complementary.
Results from one approach can fill gaps in the other approach. For example, quantitative methods could describe large or general patterns in society while qualitative approaches could help to explain how individuals understand those patterns. Similarly, qualitative patterns in society can reveal missing pieces in the mathematical models of quantitative research while quantitative patterns in society can guide more in-depth analysis of actual patterns in natural settings.
In fact, it is useful to note that many of the major advancements in social science have emerged in response to the combination of quantitative and qualitative techniques that collectively created a more systematic picture of probable and actual social conditions and experiences. Sociologists, like all humans, have values, beliefs, and even pre-conceived notions of what they might find in doing their research.
Because sociologists are not immune to the desire to change the world, two approaches to sociological investigation have emerged. By far the most common is the objective approach advocated by Max Weber. Weber recognized that social scientists have opinions, but argued against the expression of non-professional or non-scientific opinions in the classroom.
Weber did argue that it was acceptable for social scientists to express their opinions outside of the classroom and advocated for social scientists to be involved in politics and other social activism. The objective approach to social science remains popular in sociological research and refereed journals because it refuses to engage social issues at the level of opinions and instead focuses intently on data and theories.
The objective approach is contrasted with the critical approach, which has its roots in Karl Marx's work on economic structures. Anyone familiar with Marxist theory will recognize that Marx went beyond describing society to advocating for change. Marx disliked capitalism and his analysis of that economic system included the call for change. This approach to sociology is often referred to today as critical sociology see also action research. Some sociological journals focus on critical sociology and some sociological approaches are inherently critical e.
Building on these early insights, the rise of Feminist methods and theories in the 's ushered in an ongoing debate concerning critical versus objective realities. Drawing on early Feminist writings by social advocates including but not limited to Elizabeth Cady Stanton , Alice Paul , Ida Wells Barnett , Betty Friedan , and sociological theorists including but not limited to Dorothy Smith , Joan Acker , and Patricia Yancey Martin , Feminist sociologists critiqued "objective" traditions as unrealistic and unscientific in practice. Specifically, they - along with critical theorists like Michel Foucault , bell hooks , and Patricia Hill Collins - argued that since all science was conducted and all data was interpreted by human beings and all human beings have beliefs, values, and biases that they are often unaware of and that shape their perception of reality see The Social Construction of Reality , objectivity only existed within the beliefs and values of the people that claimed it.
Stated another way, since human beings are responsible for scientific knowledge despite the fact that human beings cannot be aware of all the potential biases, beliefs, and values they use to do their science, select their topics, construct measurements, and interpret data, "objective" or "value free" science are not possible. Rather, these theorists argued that the "personal is political" e.
Whether or not scientists explicitly invoke their personal opinions in their teaching and research, every decision scientists make will ultimately rely upon - and thus demonstrate to varying degrees - their subjective realities. Some examples of the subjective basis of both "objective" and "critical" sociology may illustrate the point. First, we may examine the research process for both objective and critical sociologists while paying attention to the many decisions people must make to engage in any study from either perspective.
These decisions include:. As you can see above, the research process itself is full of decisions that each researcher must make. As a result, researchers themselves have no opportunity to conduct objective studies because doing research requires them to use their personal experiences and opinions whether these arise from personal life, the advice of the people that taught them research methods, or the books they have read that were ultimately subject to the same subjective processes throughout the process.
As a result, researchers can - as Feminists have long argued - attempt to be as objective as possible, but never actually hope to reach objectivity. This same problem arises in Weber's initial description of teaching. For someone to teach any course, for example, they must make a series of decisions including but not limited to:. As a result, Weber's objectivity dissolves before the teacher ever enters the classroom. Whether or not the teacher or researcher explicitly takes a political, religious, or social stance, he or she will ultimately demonstrate personal stances, beliefs, values, and biases implicitly throughout the course.
Although the recognition of all science as ultimately subjective to varying degrees is fairly well established at this point, the question of whether or not scientists should embrace this subjectivity remains an open one e. Further, there are many scientists in sociology and other sciences that still cling to beliefs about objectivity, and thus promote this belief political in and of itself in their teaching, research, and peer review.
As a result, the debate within the field continues without resolution, and will likely be an important part of scientific knowledge and scholarship for some time to come. Ethical considerations are of particular importance to sociologists because of the subject of investigation - people. Because ethical considerations are of so much importance, sociologists adhere to a rigorous set of ethical guidelines. The most important ethical consideration of sociological research is that participants in sociological investigation are not harmed.
While exactly what this entails can vary from study to study, there are several universally recognized considerations. For instance, research on children and youth always requires parental consent. Research on adults also requires informed consent and participants are never forced to participate. Confidentiality and anonymity are two additional practices that ensure the safety of participants when sensitive information is provided e.
To ensure the safety of participants, most universities maintain an institutional review board IRB that reviews studies that include human participants and ensures ethical rigor. It has not always been the case that scientists interested in studying humans have followed ethical principles in their research. Several studies that, when brought to light, led to the introduction of ethical principles guiding human subjects research and Institutional Review Boards to ensure compliance with those principles, are worth noting, including the Tuskegee syphilis experiment , in which impoverished black men with syphilis were left untreated to track the progress of the disease and Nazi experimentation on humans.
A recent paper by Susan M. Reverby  found that such unethical experiments were more widespread than just the widely known Tuskegee study and that the US Government funded a study in which thousands of Guatemalan prisoners were infected with syphilis to determine whether they could be cured with penicillin. Ethical oversight in science is designed to prevent such egregious violations of human rights today.
Sociologists also have professional ethical principles they follow. Obviously honesty in research, analysis, and publication is important. Sociologists who manipulate their data are ostracized and can have their memberships in professional organizations revoked. Conflicts of interest are also frowned upon. A conflict of interest can occur when a sociologist is given funding to conduct research on an issue that relates to the source of the funds. For example, if Microsoft were to fund a sociologist to investigate whether users of Microsoft's product users are happier than users of open source software e.
Unfortunately, this does not always happen, as several high profile cases illustrate e. But the disclosure of conflicts of interest is recommended by most professional organizations and many academic journals. A comprehensive explanation of sociological guidelines is provided on the website of the American Sociological Association.
Having discussed the sociological approach to understanding society, it is worth noting the limitations of sociology. Because of the subject of investigation society , sociology runs into a number of problems that have significant implications for this field of inquiry:. While it is important to recognize the limitations of sociology, sociology's contributions to our understanding of society have been significant and continue to provide useful theories and tools for understanding humans as social beings. Charmaz, Kathy. Blumer, Herbert. Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method.
Sociologists develop theories to explain social phenomena. A theory is a proposed relationship between two or more concepts. In other words, a theory is explanation for why or how a phenomenon occurs. An example of a sociological theory is the work of Robert Putnam on the decline of civic engagement. While there are a number of factors that contribute to this decline Putnam's theory is quite complex , one of the prominent factors is the increased consumption of television as a form entertainment.
Putnam's theory proposes:. This element of Putnam's theory clearly illustrates the basic purpose of sociological theory: it proposes a relationship between two or more concepts. In this case, the concepts are civic engagement and television watching. The relationship is an inverse one - as one goes up, the other goes down. What's more, it is an explanation of one phenomenon with another: part of the reason why civic engagement has declined over the last several decades is because people are watching more television.
Putnam's theory clearly contains the key elements of a sociological theory. Sociological theory is developed at multiple levels, ranging from grand theory to highly contextualized and specific micro-range theories. There are many middle-range and micro-range theories in sociology. Because such theories are dependent on context and specific to certain situations, it is beyond the scope of this text to explore each of those theories. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce some of the more well-known and most commonly used grand and middle-range theories in sociology. In the theory proposed above, the astute reader will notice that the theory includes two components: The data, in this case the findings that civic engagement has declined and TV watching has increased, and the proposed relationship, that the increase in television viewing has contributed to the decline in civic engagement.
Data alone are not particularly informative. If Putnam had not proposed a relationship between the two elements of social life, we may not have realized that television viewing does, in fact, reduce people's desire to and time for participating in civic life. In order to understand the social world around us, it is necessary to employ theory to draw the connections between seemingly disparate concepts. Another example of sociological theorizing illustrates this point. In his now classic work, Suicide ,  Emile Durkheim was interested in explaining a social phenomenon, suicide , and employed both data and theory to offer an explanation.
By aggregating data for large groups of people in Europe, Durkheim was able to discern patterns in suicide rates and connect those patterns with another concept or variable : religious affiliation. Durkheim found that Protestants were more likely to commit suicide than were Catholics. At this point, Durkheim's analysis was still in the data stage; he had not proposed an explanation for the different suicide rates of the two groups.
It was when Durkheim introduced the ideas of anomie and social solidarity that he began to explain the difference in suicide rates. Durkheim argued that the looser social ties found in Protestant religions lead to weaker social cohesion and reduced social solidarity. The higher suicide rates were the result of weakening social bonds among Protestants. While Durkheim's findings have since been criticized, his study is a classic example of the use of theory to explain the relationship between two concepts. Durkheim's work also illustrates the importance of theory: without theories to explain the relationship between concepts, we would not be able to hypothesize cause and effect relationships in social life or outline processes whereby social events and patterns occur.
As noted above, there are many theories in sociology. However, there are several broad theoretical perspectives that are prominent in the field they are arguably paradigms. These theories are prominent because they are quite good at explaining social life. They are not without their problems, but these theories remain widely used and cited precisely because they have withstood a great deal of criticism. As the dominant theories in sociology are discussed below, you might be inclined to ask, "Which of these theories is the best? In fact, it is probably more useful and informative to view these theories as complementary.
One theory may explain one element of society better than another. Or, both may be useful for explaining social life. In short, all of the theories are correct in the sense that they offer compelling explanations for social phenomena. Structural-Functionalism is a sociological theory that originally attempted to explain social institutions as collective means to meet individual biological needs originally just functionalism.
Later it came to focus on the ways social institutions meet social needs structural-functionalism. Structural-functionalism draws its inspiration primarily from the ideas of Emile Durkheim. He sought to explain social cohesion and stability through the concept of solidarity. In more "primitive" societies it was mechanical solidarity , everyone performing similar tasks, that held society together. Durkheim proposed that such societies tend to be segmentary, being composed of equivalent parts that are held together by shared values, common symbols, or systems of exchanges.
In modern, complex societies members perform very different tasks, resulting in a strong interdependence between individuals. Based on the metaphor of an organism in which many parts function together to sustain the whole, Durkheim argued that modern complex societies are held together by organic solidarity think interdependent organs. The central concern of structural-functionalism is a continuation of the Durkheimian task of explaining the apparent stability and internal cohesion of societies that are necessary to ensure their continued existence over time.
Many functionalists argue that social institutions are functionally integrated to form a stable system and that a change in one institution will precipitate a change in other institutions. Societies are seen as coherent, bounded and fundamentally relational constructs that function like organisms, with their various parts social institutions working together to maintain and reproduce them. The various parts of society are assumed to work in an unconscious, quasi-automatic fashion towards the maintenance of the overall social equilibrium. All social and cultural phenomena are therefore seen as being functional in the sense of working together to achieve this state and are effectively deemed to have a life of their own.
These components are then primarily analysed in terms of the function they play. In other words, to understand a component of society, one can ask the question, "What is the function of this institution? Thus, one can ask of education, "What is the function of education for society?
Durkheim's strongly sociological perspective of society was continued by Radcliffe-Brown. Explanations of social phenomena therefore had to be constructed within this social level, with individuals merely being transient occupants of comparatively stable social roles. Thus, in structural-functionalist thought, individuals are not significant in and of themselves but only in terms of their social status : their position in patterns of social relations.
The social structure is therefore a network of statuses connected by associated roles. Structural-functionalism has been criticized for being unable to account for social change because it focuses so intently on social order and equilibrium in society. For instance, in the late 19th Century, higher education transitioned from a training center for clergy and the elite to a center for the conduct of science and the general education of the masses.
As structural-functionalism thinks about elements of social life in relation to their present function and not their past functions, structural-functionalism has a difficult time explaining why a function of some element of society might change or how such change occurs. However, structural-functionalism could, in fact, offer an explanation in this case.
Also occurring in the 19th Century though begun in the 18th was the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution, facilitated by capitalism, was increasingly demanding technological advances to increase profit. Technological advances and advanced industry both required more educated workforces. Thus, as one aspect of society changed - the economy and production - it required a comparable change in the educational system, bringing social life back into equilibrium. Another philosophical problem with the structural-functional approach is the ontological argument that society does not have needs as a human being does; and even if society does have needs they need not be met.
The idea that society has needs like humans do is not a tenable position because society is only alive in the sense that it is made up of living individuals. What's more, just because a society has some element in it at the present that does not mean that it must necessarily have that element. For instance, in the United Kingdom, religious service attendance has declined precipitously over the last years. Today, less than 1 in 10 British attend religious service in a given week. Another criticism often leveled at structural-functionalist theory is that it supports the status quo.
According to some opponents, structural-functionalism paints conflict and challenge to the status quo as harmful to society, and therefore tends to be the prominent view among conservative thinkers. Robert K. Merton proposed a distinction between manifest and latent functions. Latent functions are the unintended functions of a phenomenon in a social system. An example of manifest and latent functions is education.
The manifest purpose of public education is to increase the knowledge and abilities of the citizenry to prepare them to contribute in the workforce. A latent function of the public education system is the development of a hierarchy of the learned. The most learned are often also the most affluent. Thus, while education's manifest function is to empower all individuals to contribute to the workforce and society, it also limits some people by creating boundaries of entry into occupations.
A prominent sociological theory that is often contrasted with structural-functionalism is conflict theory. Karl Marx is considered the father of conflict theory. Conflict theory argues that society is not best understood as a complex system striving for equilibrium but rather as a competition. Society is made up of individuals competing for limited resources e. Broader social structures and organizations e. Conflict theory was developed in part to illustrate the limitations of structural-functionalism.
The structural-functionalist approach argued that society tends toward equilibrium, focusing on stability at the expense of social change. This is contrasted with the conflict approach, which argues that society is constantly in conflict over resources. One of the primary contributions conflict theory presents over the structural-functional approach is that it is ideally suited for explaining social change, a significant problem in the structural-functional approach.
A heuristic device to help you think about society from a conflict perspective is to ask, "Who benefits from this element of society? Because higher education in the U. Thus, the educational system often screens out poorer individuals not because they are unable to compete academically but because they cannot afford to pay for their education.
Because the poor are unable to obtain higher education, this means they are also generally unable to get higher paying jobs which means they remain poor. This can easily translate into a vicious cycle of poverty. Thus, while the function of education is to educate the workforce, it also has built into it an element of conflict and inequality, favoring one group the wealthy over other groups the poor. Thinking about education this way helps illustrate why both structural-functionalist and conflict theories are helpful in understanding how society works.
Not surprisingly, the primary limitation of the social-conflict perspective is that it overlooks the stability of societies. While societies are in a constant state of change, much of the change is minor. Many of the broader elements of societies remain remarkably stable over time, indicating the structural-functional perspective has a great deal of merit. As noted above, sociological theory is often complementary.
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This is particularly true of structural-functionalism and social-conflict theories. Structural-functionalism focuses on equilibrium and solidarity; conflict-theory focuses on change and conflict. Keep in mind that neither is better than the other; when combined, the two approaches offer a broader and more comprehensive view of society.
In contrast to the rather broad approach toward society of structural-functionalism and conflict theory, Symbolic Interactionism is a theoretical approach to understanding the relationship between humans and society. The basic notion of symbolic interactionism is that human action and interaction are understandable only through the exchange of meaningful communication or symbols. In this approach, humans are portrayed as acting as opposed to being acted upon. The main principles of symbolic interactionism are: . This approach stands in contrast to the strict behaviorism of psychological theories prevalent at the time it was first formulated in the s and s.
According to Symbolic Interactionism, humans are distinct from infrahumans lower animals because infrahumans simply respond to their environment i. Additionally, infrahumans are unable to conceive of alternative responses to gestures. Humans, however, can. This perspective is also rooted in phenomenological thought see social constructionism and phenomenology. According to symbolic interactionism, the objective world has no reality for humans, only subjectively-defined objects have meaning.
Meanings are not entities that are bestowed on humans and learned by habituation. Instead, meanings can be altered through the creative capabilities of humans, and individuals may influence the many meanings that form their society. Neurological evidence based on EEGs supports the idea that humans have a "social brain," that is, there are components of the human brain that govern social interaction.
A good example of this is when people try on clothes before going out with friends. Some people may not think much about how others will think about their clothing choices, but others can spend quite a bit of time considering what they are going to wear. And while they are deciding, the dialogue that is taking place inside their mind is usually a dialogue between their "self" that portion of their identity that calls itself "I" and that person's internalized understanding of their friends and society a " generalized other " called the "me".
Such an individual has incorporated the "social" into the "self" and will thus experience the world through an ongoing internal communication process that seeks to determine "if I do this, what will be thought of me. It should also be noted that symbolic interactionists advocate a particular methodology. Because they see meaning as the fundamental component of human and society interaction, studying human and society interaction requires getting at that meaning. Thus, symbolic interaction tends to take two distinct, but related methodological paths.
Processual Symbolic Interaction seeks to uncover the elaboration and experience of meanings in natural settings of social interaction through primarily qualitative methods e. Symbolic Interaction arose through the integration of Structural Functionalism and Conflict Theories. Specifically, Symbolic Interaction seeks to uncover the ways "meanings" are deployed within interactions and embedded within larger social structures to facilitate social cohesion Structural Functionalism and social change Conflict Theories.
To use the case above, Symbolic Interaction may be used to explain the distinction between Conflict and Structural Functionalist approaches to education. If people act toward education based on the meaning they have for it, for example, then people that believe or are taught to believe that education serves an important function for all of society e.
On the other hand, if people believe or are taught to believe that education transmits social inequalities from generation to generation e. In either case, societies and the people that form them will move towards cohesion Structural Functionalism or conflict Conflict Theory concerning educational structures based upon the meanings these people have for the current educational structure. Central to Symbolic Interaction is the notion that selves and societies exist in an ongoing reciprocal relationship wherein each acts back upon the other. Stated another way, Symbolic Interactionism argues that people become selves by learning and internalizing the symbolic materials of the social and historical context and culture they are born into and raised within e.
As a result, Symbolic Interactionists argue against the division of society into micro, meso, and macro forms, and instead focus on the ways that interconnected people continuously construct, alter, signify, and affirm themselves and others in ways that create, sustain, and change existing social structures. They thus argue that society is always an ongoing information exchange between individuals, groups, and social structures that each depend on the other for their meaning and by extension their existence and survival.
The most significant limitations of symbolic interactionism relate to its primary contribution: it focuses on the ongoing construction and contestation of meanings in society e.
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As a result, Symbolic Interactionism typically focuses on "how" things are done e. As a result, Symbolic Interaction is more adequately suited to explaining how the world is, but is unable to demonstrate and document predictions about how the world might differ, if circumstances were hypothetically altered.
Another more micro-oriented approach to understanding social life that also incorporates the more structural elements of society is Role Theory. Role theory posits that human behavior is guided by expectations held both by the individual and by other people. The expectations correspond to different roles individuals perform or enact in their daily lives, such as secretary, father, or friend.
For instance, most people hold pre-conceived notions of the role expectations of a secretary, which might include: answering phones, making and managing appointments, filing paperwork, and typing memos. These role expectations would not be expected of a professional soccer player. Individuals generally have and manage many roles. Roles consist of a set of rules or norms that function as plans or blueprints to guide behavior.
Roles specify what goals should be pursued, what tasks must be accomplished, and what performances are required in a given scenario or situation. Role theory holds that a substantial proportion of observable, day-to-day social behavior is simply persons carrying out their roles, much as actors carry out their roles on the stage or ballplayers theirs on the field.
Role theory is, in fact, predictive.
It implies that if we have information about the role expectations for a specified status e. What's more, role theory also argues that in order to change behavior it is necessary to change roles; roles correspond to behaviors and vice versa. In addition to heavily influencing behavior, roles influence beliefs and attitudes; individuals will change their beliefs and attitudes to correspond with their roles.
Many role theorists see Role Theory as one of the most compelling theories bridging individual behavior and social structure. Roles, which are in part dictated by social structure and in part by social interactions, guide the behavior of the individual. The individual, in turn, influences the norms, expectations, and behaviors associated with roles. The understanding is reciprocal. Role theory has a hard time explaining social deviance when it does not correspond to a pre-specified role.
For instance, the behavior of someone who adopts the role of bank robber can be predicted - she will rob banks. But if a bank teller simply begins handing out cash to random people, role theory would be unable to explain why though role conflict could be one possible answer; the secretary may also be a Marxist-Communist who believes the means of production should belong to the masses and not the bourgeoisie.
Another limitation of role theory is that it does not and cannot explain how role expectations came to be what they are. Role theory has no explanation for why it is expected of male soldiers to cut their hair short, but it could predict with a high degree of accuracy that if someone is a male soldier they will have short hair.
Additionally, role theory does not explain when and how role expectations change. As a result, role theorists typically draw upon insights from Symbolic Interaction Theory and Historical Comparative analyses to address these questions. An extension of role theory , impression management is both a theory and process. The theory argues that people are constantly engaged in controlling how others perceive them. The process refers to the goal-directed conscious or unconscious effort to influence the perceptions of other people by regulating and controlling information in social interaction.
If a person tries to influence the perception of her or his own image, this activity is called self-presentation. Erving Goffman , the person most often credited with formally developing impression management theory, cast the idea in a dramaturgical framework. Aware of how they are being perceived by their audience, actors manage their behavior so as to create specific impressions in the minds of the audience. Strategic interpersonal behavior to shape or influence impressions formed by an audience is not a new idea.
Plato spoke of the "great stage of human life" and Shakespeare noted that "All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players". Social constructionism is a school of thought introduced into sociology by Peter L. Social constructionism focuses on the description of institutions and actions and not on analyzing cause and effect. Socially constructed reality is seen as an on-going dynamic process; reality is re-produced by people acting on their interpretations of what they perceive to be the world external to them.
Berger and Luckmann argue that social construction describes both subjective and objective reality - that is that no reality exists outside what is produced and reproduced in social interactions. Religion is seen as a socially constructed concept, the basis for which is rooted in either our psyche Freud or man's need to see some purpose in life or worship a higher presence. One of the key theorists of social constructionism, Peter Berger, explored this concept extensively in his book, The Sacred Canopy. Social constructionism is often seen as a source of the postmodern movement, and has been influential in the field of cultural studies.
Following the establishment of women's academic conferences and coordinated protests of the American Sociological Association's annual meetings during the 's, women made significant inroads into Sociology. For example, women such as Dorothy E. Smith , Joan Acker , Myra Marx Ferree , Patricia Yancey Martin , and bell hooks were all pioneers in Sociology who developed insights and empirical findings that challenged much of existing sociological practice, knowledge, and methods.
These early scholars also founded women's academic organizations like Sociologists for Women in Society to lobby for the admittance and inclusion of minority people and perspectives within scientific disciplines. The theoretical perspectives these and subsequent scholars developed is broadly referred to as Feminist Theory. The name derives from the ties many of these individuals had and continue to have with women's movement organizations, the promotion of minority perspectives, their experience in relation to the subjective nature of scientific practice, and commitment to principles of social justice.
Feminist Theory uncovered a vast "herstory" of women's and other minority academic thinking, writing, and activism, and integrated insights from these essays and studies into the scientific enterprise. In so doing, these scholars uncovered many ways that Feminist theorists from as far back as the 's had already introduced insights - such as Social Constructionism , Intersectionality , and the subjective nature and critical possibilities of scientific work - that have become crucial to scientific research and theorizing across disciplines.
Further, historical research into the history of Feminist Thought has uncovered a litany of social theorists - including but not limited to early abolitionists and women's rights proponents like Maria W.