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Sociological Theories: Relevance

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Could you help me understand what a sociological theory is?
What is the difference between society and culture?
What methods do sociologists use to conduct research?
Where can I find information I can understand on Emile Durkheim's study of suicide so I can discuss his research question, his methods, and his theory regarding suicide? Could it be possible to agree with Durkheim's conclusions? Please help me undesrstand.

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Dear Student,
I usually do not give extensive guides on this subject matter when concise ones would suffice to the credit value you attached on this post. I understand however that you really need to have these concepts explained in detail especially since they can be overwhelming- too many terms with seemingly complex meanings. Don't worry, theyre easy enough to understand. Fortunately, sociology is my specialization and I would love to help you understand these concepts. The information below will guide you to understand the concepts presented in your posting. Remember that the Social Sciences is a continually evolving and utterly dynamic field. Unlike the natural sciences, the subject matter of the 'Social' cannot be studied 'under a microscope' with pure objectivity. That is plainly because of the nature of the subject - society, cultures, groups - human beings. Social scientists are 'learning' about society - what makes it tick, its dynamics by being a part of it. The Social Sciences is a huge field - history, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, economics, philosophy, etc. These fields or areas of specialization combine at times to further on explore new ideas and constantly 'borrow' from each other in terms of methods, perspectives and philosophies to follow because of their nature - they are 'social sciences'. I hope that this solution will guide you in the right path. Please note that the solution is written in an essay form and the sources & books from where all these ideas are referenced from are noted in the reference Section. Go on ahead and visit the links to expand the knowledge presented here.

OTA 105878/

Sociological Theories & Perspectives

What is a sociological theory? First off, let's define a theory. A theory is a belief or claim that aims to explain a particular phenomenon. In the social sciences, a theory signifies a conjecture or a hypothesis arrived at using scientific methods. When we say scientific method, it means that the 'hypothesis' of the theory was tested following set rules in terms of data gathering, testing and analysis. In the social sciences though, the concern is to arrive at theories that 'can explain' phenomenon more than theories that can be 'universally used'. Unlike in mathematics where a theory can be universal, like x=c²+b² where all the variables can be accounted for, the Social World is an Open system, meaning, not all variables can be accounted for or controlled. Therefore, social theories are used to 'solve' social phenomenon - events that require an explanation to arrive at a solution. Take for instance the problem of migration. Migration is a social phenomenon that social scientists tackle to find solutions to it. This is why the social sciences are of great importance to governments & policy makers. Society requires to be understood - how it works, so it can be governed with the ideals that is generally accepted by all its members as 'just' and 'good'.

Now, Sociological Theories evolve through time, generally, any theory used to explain social phenomenon is a Sociological theory. The earliest of this was 'positivism', an idea that surfaced during the Age of Enlightenment shared by August Comte, Hebert, Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Immanuel Kant & their ...

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The essay explains what sociological theories are and their relevance in research. Written in APA format, word version provided for easy printing.

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Compare the relevance of sociology and criminology for each other

There are several cognitive restructuring theories that are used in cognitive therapy to reform criminals. The objectives of these theories is to rectify "faulty thinking' so that the irrational beliefs of the person are replaced with more pertinent and useful ones. The cognitive restructuring theory assumes that the criminal's own unrealistic beliefs are directly responsible for generating dysfunctional emotions and the behaviors that emanate from it. The approach of cognitive restructuring theories is that if the irrational beliefs are taken apart, we will be rid of such dysfunctional emotions that give rise to such emotions. The criminal often has a set of unachievable goals and if these goals are replaced with achievable goals the criminal can be changed.
One of the therapies developed is a self-control therapy called the reality therapy. According to this approach the offenders must face their present reality and must assume responsibility for their behavior. Normally, most criminals blame someone else for their faults. For instance, a criminal may claim that she was molested when she was a child and may blame her present crimes on the childhood molester.
Another group of criminals attempt to blame their unacceptable behavior on family issues. On the other hand, cognitive restructuring attempts to replace harmful habits like drug abuse or prostitution with healthy alternatives. Cognitive restructuring is widely used to help criminals change their unreasonable and maladaptive thoughts in the criminal context. What cognitive restructuring does is to modify attitudes and ways of thinking that indicate criminal behavior. In other words, cognitive restructuring attempts to prevent criminals from committing crimes in the future.
One example of a sociological theory that can be used for reforming criminals is Cohen and Pauly's Sociological theories (1983). This theory emphasizes four sociological varieties namely learning, strain, control and labeling.
Another example of a sociological theory that can be used for reforming criminals is Metron's "Strain Theories". According to these theories, crime is not related to a clash in cultures but about agreement, the disparity between goals and mans of obtaining those goals, many reject these goals/means and mechanisms of selection.
Another example of a sociological theory that can be used for reforming criminals is Hirschi's (1969) Control Theory. He asserts that all human beings are barbarians and criminality is not an unnatural state. So criminality is controlled through personal commitment to social norms, roles and relationships that fulfill social needs, and through sufficient tolerance to frustration, and positive goal orientation.
According to cognitive restructuring theories if hard core criminals are to be transformed into good citizens, the metamorphosis needs to come from within. The criminals must accept responsibility for their behavior. For this according to cognitive restructuring theories self-awareness is required. Reality therapy is used on criminals. The criminals are compelled to become self aware. This is initiated by the process of making criminals self-aware. From one perspective at this stage the criminal must admit to his responsibility. After this the criminal must develop the desire to transform his behavior. If the criminal does not desire to change, nobody can make him change. If the desire to improve is kindled, the next step is to develop a positive attitude. This is a gradual process and involves lifting of the attitude. Next the criminal must develop the skills and knowledge of how to change. The criminal is then given the opportunity to master the above steps. The objective is that the new behavior pattern must get into the subconscious of the criminal so that he does positive things from that stage onwards.

Let us take a practical example of how cognitive restructuring theories are applied to real life criminals. The person who was arrested was following what his family had done in the past. Namely, addiction, prison, and financial shortage. Subconsciously, the person was programmed to believe that the criminal was no goods and could not achieve anything. The criminal is made to realize that even though he did not have control over his early development, he did have control over the present. He could take action every day to prevent the wrong done to him. He could decide to forgive the wrongs done to him in the past so that he could get on with his life. The criminal is made to realize in the next stage that he could not continue to blame his parents and others for his difficulties. The cognitive restructuring actions help the criminal see that he is a valuable man with great potential and that his life was wonderful gift packed with several excellent opportunities. He is made to feel that he has the opportunity to rise above drug addiction. The criminal is told and made to realize that his past sufferings can actually help him become a better and more emphatic person. His hardship will make him a stronger person. Finally, the criminal is made to believe that he is in control of his own life. He can either make a success of it or can make it more difficult.

References for sociological theories:
www.associatedcontent.com/article/243038/strain_cultural_deviance_and_selfcontrol_pg2.html www.centersite.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=9749&cn=353

Extra References:
www.accilifeskills.com/cognitiverestructuring.php www.djj.state.fl.us/faith/Cognitive-Behavioral_Therapy.html www3.psy.vu.nl/typo3/clp/fileadmin/user_upload/Accepted_procedures/cognitiverestructuring.pdf www.thefreelibrary.com/Cognitive+restructuring:+an+approach+to+dealing+with+violent+inmates-a015705509

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