Sociological Perspective on Social Behavior

The focus for this paper comes from material discussed in Section 1, Lecture 1

and 2. Consider the differences between two sociological concepts {social facts

and verstehen} that relate to two methods {scientific and interpretive}

that can be used to study within the discipline of sociology:

1) “Social facts” are the key to recognizing patterns of behavior, belief systems

and how people categorize facts in their worldview. This concept was developed

by French sociologist Emile Durkheim as part of his Scientific Sociology method

of studying human behavior and society. One of his most famous books Suicide

[1897] examined the impact of social elements on individual behavior. He

focused on social structure, social control, social change and scientific


2) “Verstehen”, German for “understanding”, was an idea developed by the

early German sociologist Max Weber. He believed that people have subjective

experiences that influences their behavior; subjective being something that only

that person experiences and then interprets events according to the meaning

(which can include symbols and ritualized behavior) they give to particular

events and their own personal motives for their behavior and ways of thinking.

This methodology is called Interpretive Sociology. Keep in mind that ritualized

behavior can be anything from specific, even repetitive behavior in a place of

worship to you drinking your coffee on Sunday morning and reading the paper

before you start your day. You may have created rituals that help you study

such as listening to a certain type of music or singer as you do homework or

even talking a walk before starting your work. Rituals bring us comfort by

helping us feel we have at least some control over our social environment.

For this assignment: Apply the concepts of social facts and verstehen to the

topic of binge drinking among college students.

Compare and contrast this specific behavior using each of these two concepts.

Analyze and explain why this behavior occurs in this particular social group

within this sociocultural context or environment.

{SEE Pg. 2 for Guidelines}

– 2 –

Guidelines for Paper

If you cite any statistics, facts on this topic, etc., then you need to add a

bibliography at the end which should include a book, a news article, website, etc.

that you might have used to write this paper.

Your paper should be 2 pages, double-spaced, #12 font and standard 1”

margins. No title page is needed. Be articulate and concise in your discussion.

Your examination should be logically presented using the information provided

for you here and in lectures

Additionally, you may include direct quotes, but no more than two, and only

1 or 2 sentences long for each quote. Make sure you include a citation at the

end of the quote(s) in parenthesis Example = (Baker, pg. 2, 2015).

If you use more or longer quotes, this will result in a loss of points. Your

assignments are to be in your own words, not another author’s, and they are to

reflect your understanding of the material you are reading.

As with any paper, check for grammar, syntax, spelling and punctuation before

you submit any final piece of work. Excessive mistakes will result in a lower

grade on this assignment.