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Presentation from a graduate seminar on sociological practice, describing the field, how I came to be a clinical sociologist, some key concepts informing clinical and applied sociology as well as levels of social organization


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USING SOCIOLOGY Presented by Roger A. Straus, PhD., C.C.S. at Humboldt State University April 4-5, 2005 (Updated 5/2009) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Friday: All About Me (Sort Of) : 

Friday: All About Me (Sort Of) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

HSU and Me : 

HSU and Me Wanted to return to college and I could get in! They knew me before I knew I was a sociologist T. Lane Skelton (my mentor… flaming leftist in tweeds and spit-shined shoes) Dick Hanson (blame him and grounded theory) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

On to UC Davis… : 

On to UC Davis… “We Are Not An Employment Agency” John Lofland What can we do with sociology? Translation: What do I do NOW? Use it, maybe? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

My Discovery of Clinical Sociology : 

My Discovery of Clinical Sociology Found myself starting American Clinic hypnosis practice in Sacramento I was a sociologist starting a clinical practice, so I made up business cards “Roger A. Straus, Clinical Sociologist” Thought I invented the term “clinical sociologist”! Tip: Empowering clients to take care of themselves is not a good way to make money in a private practice… © 2009 Roger A. Straus

How Everyone Else Discovered Clinical Sociology : 

How Everyone Else Discovered Clinical Sociology John Glass had been talking about the concept, had an ASA roundtable, developed a name list I put together a newsletter and sent it to those names American Sociological Association meetings 1978 Formed the Clinical Sociology Association (now Sociological Practice Association) Society for Applied Sociology was also present Both now merged into Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology Sociological Practitioners coming out in (small) droves Sociological Practice Section of ASA (now Sociological Practice and Public Sociology) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

… And Then We Discovered Our Forgotten History : 

… And Then We Discovered Our Forgotten History Practical Sociology Clinical Sociology & the “Chicago School” 1931 AJS lead article by Louis Wirth entitled “Clinical Sociology” Ernest W. Burgess (courses 1928-33) W.I. & D.S. Thomas, etc. © 2009 Roger A. Straus

And Then There Was Columbia University… : 

And Then There Was Columbia University… Bureau of Applied Social Research—value free, methodology based Lazarsfeld & the social survey Merton—focused interview I got through a PhD with nobody mentioning any of this… © 2009 Roger A. Straus

But back to ME : 

But back to ME “Have Ph.D. Seek Gainful Employment” Alfred University Started Applied Sociology Concentration “Too applied,” “non-standard” How I became a Marketing Researcher (and still are) National Analysts (a few sociologists in the corners) Opinion Research Corp (Claude Robinson founded it) TVG (more psychs) SMC (full of Columbia sociologists) V2 (a bunch of us) Just drove up after a day of interviewing ER docs re: how to communicate about an drug used to treat heart attacks © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Enough about Me!!! : 

Enough about Me!!! What about this: Anemone fish and Her Anemone (Yap) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

And these? : 

And these? Ben or Jerry (Little Cayman) Mr. Moray (Saba) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

And especially…. : 

And especially…. “Joe’s Cleaning Station” Yellow Finned Grouper (Little Cayman) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Where Is The Boundary Between Organisms? Between Ourselves? : 

Where Is The Boundary Between Organisms? Between Ourselves? Sociology: Double Vision--We are each ourselves, ourselves are embedded in and reflect social wholes that we continually construct through our interactions It’s the operational definition of the situation, stupid; let’s stand back and be experts on everybody else’s lives… or (gasp) get involved and do something about it Psychology: We are individuals who form collectivities and are influenced by (and influence) both the proximal and the distal environment It’s the objective patterns of behavior; or maybe attitudes; or maybe we had better study transactions… heck, let’s do an experiment and find out Anthropology: Why are you asking this question, we’re scientists? There are all these complex systems… It’s the way things have evolved, let’s examine them © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Multiple Levels of Focus : 

Multiple Levels of Focus Individual Person © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Groups : 

Groups © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Organizations/Systems…. : 

Organizations/Systems…. © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Social Worlds : 

Social Worlds © 2009 Roger A. Straus

So What Can/Should a Sociologist DO? : 

So What Can/Should a Sociologist DO? Study it? The conventional answer Practice sociology Apply our concepts/perspectives, knowledge and methods to understand and/or do something about real-world problems and challenges © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Sociological Practice! : 

Sociological Practice! Change it Public sociology ( or “activism, “ the outer boundary of “professional”) Intervene and help to optimize it Clinical sociology Work with/within it, be a problem-solver Applied sociology © 2009 Roger A. Straus


USING SOCIOLOGY From Theory to Practice (And Lots of Points In-Between) © 2009 Roger A. Straus


FOUNDATIONS © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Professional Sociologists Know and Apply Theory (We’re Not Just Technicians) : 

Symbolic Interactionism Definition of the Situation Individual/Groups Meanings Roles Virtual AND Operational You are your act The way to be changed is act changed Action Reaction = Interaction (Cohen) Professional Sociologists Know and Apply Theory (We’re Not Just Technicians) Systems/NeoFunctionalism Social structures Roles/statuses Linkages & processes How people/things decisions /information flow You become your role (Jaques) Change roles/linkages, change the system Structure Function © 2009 Roger A. Straus

My Pet Theory: Ecological Systems : 

My Pet Theory: Ecological Systems We cannot ignore the material world Can’t live with it, can’t live without it Humans construct social reality within the boundaries of our proximal and distal environments Interactions and transactions A world of far-from-equilibrium systems Keep in mind the “tragedy of the commons” Find a way to make it all work Whatever it takes… Don’t leave your sense of humor at the door Eat your lunch but don’t eat your seed grain… Each of us is pretty smart, together we’re a lot smarter still There are sheep and there are wolves but there’s also us cats; neither libertarians nor communitarians be! © 2009 Roger A. Straus

One big idea: “Tensegrity” : 

One big idea: “Tensegrity” Buckingham Fuller Clinical sociology is not about changing the building blocks… But rearranging the shape of things by modifying the meanings/roles/interactions that tie things together = Changing the operational definition of the situation © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Another: We All Live in Far-From-Equilibrium Systems* : 

Another: We All Live in Far-From-Equilibrium Systems* Things form into systems-like patterns at a certain level of “energy” and within specific boundary conditions Change the energy state or boundary conditions and the system will eventually collapse into chaos—and then a new system will spontaneously emerge We can help guide the change * Ilya Prigogine with Isabel Stengers, Order Out of Chaos, 1984 © 2009 Roger A. Straus

One More: It’s All About Stories : 

One More: It’s All About Stories We make sense out of the world by telling stories about it Start with metaphors and similes: X is like Y, something we know (via General Semantic Magic that becomes “X is Y”) Not only at the cognitive level, also perceptual We then tell ourselves and one another stories to make sense out of what is going on The highest art of the researcher and consultant—and teacher—is to make the data tell stories Not laundry lists of “facts” and “figures” Not reams of disconnected stuff (e.g., sociology texts…) The art of the clinician is to understand and help people change the(ir) story © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Sociological Practice is… : 

Sociological Practice is… Using sociological practice, theory, concept, knowledge and method to do something in the world © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Sociological Practitioner Roles : 

Sociological Practitioner Roles SI + Systems + Conflict & Exchange Chicago School More qual than quant Idealistic/ Humanistic Systems + Conflict & Exchange Columbia More quant than qual Pragmatic, “Value free” Strategic and/or tactical input to clients re: how to manage the present, build the future Actionable, theoretically and empirically guided © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Clinical Sociology : 

Clinical Sociology What clinical sociologists have been doing Individual counseling Family counseling (Hurvitz) Systems/organizations intervention Community Medical/Healthcare NGO/nonprofits Social world interventions Development Social impact asessment/abatement Ideas and examples??? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Applied Sociology : 

Applied Sociology What applied sociologists have been doing Evaluation research Market and marketing research HR Business (e.g., Marc Smith at Microsoft) Education Government work Ideas and examples??? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

What I Know: Marketing Research : 

What I Know: Marketing Research Market research vs. marketing research Two threads: Qualitative/Quantitative It’s the problem, not the technique New business/concept development and early market assessment Developing products and brands Launching products Tracking, fine-tuning and feedback Life-cycle issues © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Two Basic Types of Settings/Roles : 

Two Basic Types of Settings/Roles In-house (“client side”) Conducts some research, Often more co-ordination, synthesis of suppliers, interfacing with product management, etc. Supplier side Provides tactical and/or strategic research to clients Custom vs. “product” based Strategic vs. tactical Primary vs. secondary Recent emergence of global MR organizations vs. “boutiques” and consultants/small shops © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Qualitative MR : 

Qualitative MR More specialized in many ways, least understood as it seems so obvious and easy.. To find out what’s going on, scope out a world or area of interest, understand what people are doing and, above all else, why Individual depth interviews Group depth interviews (Focus Groups) Case studies Mall intercepts Ethnographic/other naturalistic methods Opportunity for the Sociologically trained Naturalistic/Field research Systematic qualitative analysis © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Key Marketing Concepts: Qualitative Focus : 

Key Marketing Concepts: Qualitative Focus Branding—imbuing a product with a sense of promise, personality, relationship Positioning Right out of Symbolic Interactionism Defining the meaning of a product for users Anatomy: Main theme: It is XXXXXXX Functional benefit: Because it XXXXXX Payoff: So that XXXXX © 2009 Roger A. Straus

A Positioning Statement : 

A Positioning Statement The Clamtones are the best bar band in the world Because Nobody writes songs like Jeffrey Frederick Jeff is stellar performer They have the tightest rhythm section around They fill the room every time they play They make people of all ages laugh and dance their butts off So that you’re guaranteed to have a great time and forget all your troubles © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Quantitative MR : 

Quantitative MR Where the $$$ and largest demand tends to be, demands the most sophisticated skill set Columbia-style large surveys, advanced analytics (e.g., ASR methodologies) Mail, face-to-face and CATI structured interviews increasingly giving way to Internet Other data-collection (e.g., bar code, web traffic) © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Key Marketing Concepts: Quantitative Focus : 

Key Marketing Concepts: Quantitative Focus Segmentation—what are the behaviors of different types of users/buyers Attitudinal vs. Occasion-based Tracking studies—longitudinal capture of market behavior, attitudes, etc. Market modeling—simulating markets statistically to model the impact of competition, various product configurations on share/business, etc. Trade-off studies (conjoint, discrete choice) Show different configurations of attributes and levels Get simulated choice Use this to model relative importance, utilities and build simulations © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Example of Trade-Off Exercise (Refrigerator) : 

Example of Trade-Off Exercise (Refrigerator) Scenario X Size: 22 cubic feet Color: White Style: French Door In-door water/ice: No Retail price: $1899 On a 1-7 scale how likely are you to buy this: ____3____ Scenario Y Size: 22 cubic feet Color: Stainless Steel Style: Two-Door In-door water/ice: Yes Retail price: $1699 On a 1-7 scale how likely are you to buy this: ____5____ © 2009 Roger A. Straus

The Rational Choice Issue : 

The Rational Choice Issue Trade-off methods are based on a rational choice premise People add up component utilities and make a choice that gives them the most of what they would like through a rational calculation I and others question this logic It is the story, the meanings and situational aspects that prompt behavior © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Exercise I : 

Exercise I What should a sociological practice program at the MA level teach and do? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Exercise II : 

Exercise II What is the story sociological practitiones need to tell Ourselves? Other professionals (including social scientists)? Students? The public? © 2009 Roger A. Straus

Exercise III : 

Exercise III What are the most interesting and approachable problems or challenges the sociological practitioner might tackle? Narrow to 5 Breakout groups work out a report on what it is, objectives, how it might be approached Report Vote on the winner © 2009 Roger A. Straus

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