Rural Land Tenure in the United States: A Socio-Economic Approach to Problems, Programs, and Trends

By Alvin L. Bertrand; Floyd L. Corty et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWOThe Conceptual Framework
of Sociology and Economics

THE FOLLOWING CHAPTER is a brief introduction to the conceptual framework of sociology and economics for those readers not especially familiar with these disciplines. To endeavor to condense the basic theory of a major discipline into a few pages is difficult. Perhaps this task is best approached by pointing out certain basic facts, defining several key terms, and introducing the reader to conceptual models used in the two disciplines.


The Sociological Approach

Two basic facts provide a raison d'être for sociology. The first is that human behavior is patterned or ordered similar to the patterning of natural phenomena. The second factual basis for sociology is that man is a social creature.

One has but to observe the everyday activities of men to see that certain acts are performed in a more or less standardized way. One may further convince himself that behavior can be anticipated by describing beforehand the eating and dressing habits of his associates.

The simple test outlined above brings out an important facet of sociological prediction. A member of a group is able to predict the behavior of his associates because he knows how they should act in given situations. It is thus that the four general concepts or ideas of the so-called " exact " sciences—regularity, structure, function, and change—do not suffice for sociological analysis. A fifth general concept or idea—meaning—must be added. 1 This concept refers to the fact that individuals behave according to their interpretation of a situation in the light of their cultural experience.

____________________
1
John W. Bennett and Melvin M. Tumin, Social Life ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1948), 82.

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