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What is Sociology?
(Что такое социология?)






1. Прочитайте и переведите текст, составьте аннотацию, подготовьте устное сообщение.

Text 1.1. What is Sociology?

Sociology is the scientific study of the nature and development of society and social behaviour, the study of human social life. Because human social life is so expansive, sociology has many sub-sections of study, ranging from the analysis of conversations to the development of theories to try to understand how the entire world works.

The word sociology itself actually derives from the Latin word socius (companion) and the Greek word logos (study of). Thus, sociology is most literally the study of companionship. A textbook definition often expands that literal definition of sociology to something close to the scientific study of the development, structure, interaction, and collective behavior of social relationships. But so what? What does that definition actually mean? Why is sociology important? Why should anyone study sociology? What does sociology offer to us in our personal lives? And what does it offer to wider society?

The social world is changing. Some argue it is growing; others say it is shrinking. The important point to grasp is: society does not remain unchanged over time. Sociology has its roots in significant societal changes (e.g., the industrial revolution and the creation of empires). Early practitioners developed the discipline as an attempt to understand societal changes.

Some early sociological theorists (e.g., Marx, Weber, and Durkheim were disturbed by the social processes they believed to be driving the change, such as the quest [поиск(и)] for solidarity, the attainment [достижение] of social goals, and the rise and fall of classes, to name a few examples. It is important to note at this point that the founders of sociology were some of the earliest individuals to employ what C. Wright Mills (1959) labeled the sociological imagination: the ability to situate personal troubles within an informed framework of social issues.

Mills proposed that "what the people need... is a quality of mind that will help them to use information and to develop reason in order to achieve lucid [прозрачный, ясный] summations [совокупности] of what is going on in the world and of what may be happening within themselves. The sociological imagination enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals" (Mills 1959). As Mills saw it, the sociological imagination could help individuals cope with the social world by helping them to step outside of their personal worldview and thus seeing the events and social structure that influence their behavior, attitudes, and culture.

The sociological imagination goes beyond armchair [‘кабинетная’] sociology or common sense. Most people believe they understand the world and the events taking place within it. Humans like to attribute causes to events and attempt to understand what is taking place around them. This is why individuals have been using religious ceremonies for centuries to invoke [заклинать, вызывать духов] the will of the gods - because they believed the gods controlled certain elements of the natural world (e.g., the weather). Just as the rain dance is an attempt to understand how the weather works without using empirical analysis, armchair sociology is an attempt to understand how the social world works without employing scientific methods.

It would be dishonest to say sociologists never sit around (even sometimes in comfy [= comfortable] armchairs) trying to figure out how the world works. But in order to test their theories, sociologists get up from their armchairs and enter the social world. They gather data and evaluate their theories in light of the data they collect. Sociologists do not just propose theories about how the social world works. Sociologists test their theories about how the world works using the scientific method.

Sociologists, like all humans, have values, beliefs, and even pre-conceived [представляемые, воображаемые заранее] notions [понятия] of what they might find in doing their research. But, as Peter Berger (1963) argued, what distinguishes the sociologist from non-scientific researchers is that "the sociologist tries to see what is there. He may have hopes or fears concerning what he may find. But he will try to see, regardless of his hopes or fears. It is thus an act of pure perception..." (Berger 1963).

Sociology, then, is an attempt to understand the social world by situating social events in their corresponding environment (i.e., social structure, culture, history) and trying to understand social phenomena by collecting and analyzing empirical data.


Источник: edu.learnsoc.org

2. Прочитайте и переведите текст, составьте аннотацию, подготовьте устное сообщение.

Text 1.2. What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of how society is organized and how we experience life. It has been taught in British universities since the very beginning of the twentieth century, first at the London School of Economics and soon after at Liverpool University. These and other pioneering departments did groundbreaking research in major social issues such as poverty (бедность) and crime.

Sociology today is one of the most popular subjects. Many sociological ideas, such as ‘moral panic’ and charisma, are now in everyday use. But the questions sociology asks have lost none of their challenge and excitement. Some of them are so important that we are still grappling with them in new ways.

It was the sociology of deviance that proposed the startling idea that some forms of punishment (наказание) make it more likely that people will commit further offences. Once branded a criminal (преступник), they argued, it is very difficult to remake a successful life within the law. This is exactly the point made by opponents of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

Do you wonder what fuels our apparent fixation with celebrity? Is it just gossip in a modern form? Is it that it provides endless, easily obtained content for our multiplying (преумножающиеся) TV channels, newspaper pages and magazines? Could it be both? Or even something much more profound about the class system of modern Britain? You may be already thinking ‘But class doesn’t mean anything any more’. Are you sure? Why is the number of years you can expect to live still associated with your occupation? What about the way that your gender, religion, and ethnic background open up or close down opportunities in your life? What kinds of spiritual faith do people have in Britain today? And how far do the media affect how personal lifestyle choices are viewed by wider society?

Sociology is not just about Britain. It also deals with global issues like the environment, migration and 'globalization’ itself. How do these social changes affect people at every level of their social life? Is it possible to be a true citizen of Europe or must you be British or French or Polish? What if your parents came from Trinidad, Bangladesh or Wales? Which comes first? Or are there other ways to look at identity? How important is the job that you do for your sense of self and your future? Are national governments able to ensure that most people have a job and will be supported with health and social care when they need it? Or are most government policies made with the demands of vast transnational corporations in mind?

These are vital questions. If you become a sociology student you will not be provided with quick answers. What you will discover is how to think about these issues (вопросы, проблемы) for yourself: what are the questions behind the questions? Generations of students have found that sociology makes them look at the world in new ways and this is why so many of us who teach it feel passionately about it – and why it is still pioneering after more than a hundred years.


Источник: www.britsoc.co.uk

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