At the end of the session you will be able to:
• Describe the features of a sociological
approach to social issues.
• Recognise the difference between
sociology and other social sciences.
• Discuss the potential impact of
sociological research on people who
introduce social policies.
• AQA GCSE Sociology (2009)
by Grahame Coates et al Nelson Thornes
• Sociology GCSE for AQA (2010)
by Wilson, P. & Kidd, A. Collins
What is Sociology?
• Sociology is the study of the
society in which we live.
• It examines how we are
influenced and shaped
through being members of
groups and organisations.
It concentrates on:
• the way we make society
what it is, and
• the way society makes us
what we are.
• Very few of us live our lives on
our own – we are all in regular
contact with other people and
we interact with other people
in groups and in various
• Take two minutes to list all the
people, group you come into
• We are all members of groups such as
families, peer groups and friendship groups
and we will come into contact with
organisations such as the:
– legal system
– political system
– mass media
...examines the ways in which these forms of
– social categories (such as class, sex, age, or race),
– various social institutions (such as family, economic,
political, media or religious)
...affect human attitudes, actions, and
Is asks us to question...
• Why is the number of years you can expect to live still
associated with your occupation?
• The way that your gender, religion, and ethnic
background open up or close down opportunities in your
• What kinds of spiritual faith do people have in Britain
• How far do the media affect how personal lifestyle
choices are viewed by wider society?
• Is it just gossip in a modern form?
• Is it that it provides endless, easily obtained
content for our multiplying TV channels,
newspaper pages and magazines?
• Could it be both?
• Or even something much more profound
about the class system of modern Britain?
Do you wonder what
fuels our apparent
fixation with celebrity?
Sociology isn’t journalism!
• Journalists ask similar questions to the
ones we’ve just discussed – and like
sociologists they carry out research;
however sociology is different from
– Journalists’ research is less systematic
– They are often biased or one sided in
– Sociological research is subject to
Sociology isn’t psychology!
• Psychologists also study people, drawing on key
concepts such as personality or aggression and
using research techniques and experiments.
• However, while psychologists focus on the
behaviour of individuals, sociologists focus on
group behaviour, social structures and social
processes that influence us.
Sociology is a Social Science
• Sociologists try their best to be objective in
the work they do. They develop theories,
do practical research, collect and analyse
• In this way sociology is seen as a social
• The work that sociologists do helps to ‘bring into
the open’ some of the serious social issues that
are challenging our society at any particular
• They sometimes result in political discussions
that lead to the development of social policy
and sometimes to new laws that affect everyone.
• Can you recall any changes in social policy that
have taken place in the last few years?
• Debate, discussion and social
research could consider the
importance of good parenting.
• This might lead to changes in
paid maternity and paternity
leave or might lead to changes
in the tax and benefits system
for families with young children.
• Social science: the systematic study of
society and of human relationships within
• Social policy: important decisions made
by the government that aim to improve the
conditions of people living in their society.
Unit 1 Exam Jan 2012: 1hr 30mins
1. Studying Society
– culture, values, norms, roles, laws,
socialization, social structures, research
– Why we have schools, measuring
success/failure, different types of schooling,
hidden curriculum, social class
– Different family structures, marriage and
divorce, roles, social class
Unit 2 Exam June 2012: 1hr 30mins
1. Crime and Deviance
– Difference between the two terms, measuring
crime, explaining behaviour (biological/
psychological/ sociological), control.
2. Mass Media
– What is it? Who owns it? How do we use it?
3. Social Inequality
– Social stratification, class societies, slavery,
life chances, social mobility, gender and racial
• Being a member of a society means that
we all have something in common, and
that common thread is our culture
• It includes the laws, norms, values,
roles, customs, beliefs and languages of
Culture is not the same everywhere and you can often
see this by looking at food and diet
For example, roasted guinea pig is enjoyed as a delicacy in
Ecuador, while they are kept as family pets in the UK.
Laws & Norms
• Our everyday behaviour is shaped and
guided by a set of:
– formal, written rules (laws)
– and informal, unwritten rules (norms)
...that are special to our particular culture.
• Breaking a law would lead to punishment;
breaking a norm would be disapproved of.
• We all perform a number of roles in our
• These are special patterns of behaviour
expected of people in different situations.
• A teacher in front of a class will take on a
completely different role from when she is
interacting as a mother with her own
• A group of students will behave differently
when they are in the classroom, out with
their friends or at home with their parents.
• To feel a part of the society in
which we live there are likely to be
a set of values that are shared by
• We all have beliefs about what is
right and wrong, what is good and
bad, what is important and not
important and these form the basis
of our values.
• With a partner, agree on and note down
four norms that apply when:
1. Getting on a bus
2. At a party
3. In a doctor’s surgery
4. In a classroom
• What will be the norms and values of this group?
– Be punctual
– Respect – listen to each other, don’t speak over others, treat
people the way you want to be treated
– No eating or drinking
– Don’t be stereotypical / don’t use stereotypical language
– It’s OK to have your own opinion but it’s important to share it in a
way that doesn’t offend others
– Appreciate each others’ opinions or views
– Be patient
– Don’t use mobile phones / keep them on silent
– Please speak up if you don’t understand something or if you
don’t agree with something.