SOC 600 Sociology as an Applied Discipline

March 8, 2022
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SOC 600 Sociology as an Applied Discipline

SOC 600 Sociology as an Applied Discipline

Application at issue across the discipline

On the Compatibility of Applied and Basic Sociological Research: An Effort in Marriage Counseling

Berk, Richard. 1981. “On the Compatibility of Applied and Basic Sociological Research: An Effort in Marriage Counseling.” The American Sociologist 16:204-211.

What did both sides of the debate add to your understanding of the challenges confronting applied sociology? Which articles and arguments did you find most persuasive? Why?

The primary focus of the debates is to apply ideas in the readings to the proposition to be debated: Sociology should be an applied discipline.

Prepare for the debate by meeting with the other debate participants and choosing a side to argue (oppose) as your particular focus. Conduct a preliminary discussion of points that your team might make—and of opposing points that you may have to refute. Review the reading(s) and jot down key points. Then outline a contribution to your team’s argument that builds on the reading(s). Make sure that both sides are developed, all appropriate readings are covered, and a logical presentation plan is developed.

Plan your debate so that both sides argue for opposing positions. In addition, make sure that both sides begin with opening statements that state their position and the types of evidence they have used. After the opening, the sides must, in turn, present their own arguments and then rebut the other team’s arguments (with planned criticism). Both sides should present a closing statement.

Your primary task in the debate is to review the relevant required and supplementary readings in a way that relates the readings to the question posed in the debate. You can also bring in some case study material, such as articles or reports from newspapers or other media or, if highly relevant, from the experiences of team members.

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Applied sociology is using the sociological tools to “understand, intervene, or enhance human social life” (Steele and Price, 2004: p. 4). People apply sociology when they use sociological methods, theories, concepts, or perspectives (tools) to address a social problem or issue (Steele and Price, 2008). Lots of social scientists ‘use’ sociological tools in their teaching or in their research. But only a subset uses those tools to plan or engage in direct, concurrent social intervention or enhancement. We generally refer to those that do as applied sociologists. Many different approaches to sociological application exist. We use the term ‘sociological practice’ or ‘practitioner’ to inclusively refer to applied, clinical, and public sociologists, as well as those who identify more with methodology used across the social sciences: community-based researchers, participatory-action researchers, and translational researchers (Weinstein and Goldman Schuyler, 2008).

Drawing on the works of David Cooper (2011) and Price et al. (2009), we argue that what unites these groups is their commonality in goals, tools, and conversations – all of them focus on ‘use;’ that is, use-based research and use-based applications. Members of all of these groups use sociological tools to “understand, intervene, or enhance human social life” (Steele and Price, 2004). These groups differ distinctly from academic sociology in that they usually do not work just for the purposes of publishing. With their work, they intend to impact a group of people in the present day. The types of groups they want to impact differ. And, the type of impact they want to make differs.

Sociology as a Discipline
The groups within which we spend our lives—in our families, schools, communities, workplaces, and societies—help to define us in the eyes of others, while defining us to ourselves as well.

Sociologists possess a quality of mind that helps them to use scientific knowledge and logical reasoning in order to develop understandings of what is going on in the world.

Sociology is a discipline that makes it possible to see how individual experiences—how we act, think, feel, and remember—are connected to the wider society.

To understand human experience better, we must understand all that we can about groups and social relationships.

Sociologists examine the shared meanings that humans attach to their interactions with one another, and they study human experience as it unfolds within societies over time. They study social patterns that are stable and also those that are changing.

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