Thomas theorem

Last updated

The Thomas theorem is a theory of sociology which was formulated in 1928 by William Isaac Thomas and Dorothy Swaine Thomas (1899–1977) :

W. I. Thomas American sociologist

William Isaac Thomas was an American sociologist. With the help of Polish sociologist Florian Znaniecki, W.I. Thomas developed innovative work on the sociology of migration. Thomas then went on to formulate a fundamental principle of sociology, known as the Thomas theorem. Through his theorem, Thomas contended that, "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences".

Dorothy Swaine Thomas was an American sociologist and economist. She was the 42nd President of the American Sociological Association and the first woman in that role.

Contents

In other words, the interpretation of a situation causes the action. This interpretation is not objective. Actions are affected by subjective perceptions of situations. Whether there even is an objectively correct interpretation is not important for the purposes of helping guide individuals' behavior.

The Thomas theorem is not a theorem in the mathematical sense.

Theorem statement that has been proven on the basis of previously established statements in mathematics

In mathematics, a theorem is a statement that has been proven on the basis of previously established statements, such as other theorems, and generally accepted statements, such as axioms. A theorem is a logical consequence of the axioms. The proof of a mathematical theorem is a logical argument for the theorem statement given in accord with the rules of a deductive system. The proof of a theorem is often interpreted as justification of the truth of the theorem statement. In light of the requirement that theorems be proved, the concept of a theorem is fundamentally deductive, in contrast to the notion of a scientific law, which is experimental.

In 1923, W. I. Thomas stated more precisely that any definition of a situation would influence the present. In addition, after a series of definitions in which an individual is involved, such a definition would also "gradually [influence] a whole life-policy and the personality of the individual himself". [2] Consequently, Thomas stressed societal problems such as intimacy, family, or education as fundamental to the role of the situation when detecting a social world "in which subjective impressions can be projected on to life and thereby become real to projectors". [3]

See also

The definition of the situation is a fundamental concept in symbolic interactionism advanced by the American sociologist W. I. Thomas. It involves a proposal upon the characteristics of a social situation, and seeks agreement from others in a way that can facilitate social cohesion and social action. Conflicts often involve disagreements over definitions of the situation in question. This definition may thus become an area contested between different stakeholders.

The hypothesis of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers' world view or cognition. Also known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined to include two versions: the strong hypothesis and the weak hypothesis:

Placebo substance or treatment of no therapeutic value

A placebo is a substance or treatment of no intended therapeutic value. Common placebos include inert tablets, inert injections, sham surgery, and other procedures.

Related Research Articles

Socialization lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies

In sociology, socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained". Socialization is strongly connected to developmental psychology. Humans need social experiences to learn their culture and to survive. Socialization essentially represents the whole process of learning throughout the life course and is a central influence on the behavior, beliefs, and actions of adults as well as of children.

In anthropology, folkloristics, and the social and behavioral sciences, emic and etic refer to two kinds of field research done and viewpoints obtained: emic, from within the social group and etic, from outside.

A role is a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position. It is vital to both functionalist and interactionist understandings of society. Social role posits the following about social behaviour:

  1. The division of labour in society takes the form of the interaction among heterogeneous specialised positions, we call roles.
  2. Social roles included appropriate and permitted forms of behaviour and actions that recur in a group, guided by social norms, which are commonly known and hence determine the expectations for appropriate behaviour in these roles, which further explains the place of a person in the society.
  3. Roles are occupied by individuals, who are called actors.
  4. When individuals approve of a social role, they will incur costs to conform to role norms, and will also incur costs to punish those who violate role norms.
  5. Changed conditions can render a social role outdated or illegitimate, in which case social pressures are likely to lead to role change.
  6. The anticipation of rewards and punishments, as well as the satisfaction of behaving prosocially, account for why agents conform to role requirements.
Collective action action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective

Collective action refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective. It is a term that has formulations and theories in many areas of the social sciences including psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and economics.

Symbolic interactionism a sociological theory focused on cultural symbols exchanged during interpersonal interactions

Symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory that develops from practical considerations and alludes to people's particular utilization of dialect to make images and normal implications, for deduction and correspondence with others. In other words, it is a frame of reference to better understand how individuals interact with one another to create symbolic worlds, and in return, how these worlds shape individual behaviors. It is a framework that helps understand how society is preserved and created through repeated interactions between individuals. The interpretation process that occurs between interactions help create and recreate meaning. It is the shared understanding and interpretations of meaning that affect the interaction between individuals. Individuals act on the premise of a shared understanding of meaning within their social context. Thus, interaction and behavior is framed through the shared meaning that objects and concepts have attached to them.

In psychology, attitude is a psychological construct, a mental and emotional entity that inheres in, or characterizes a person. They are complex and an acquired state through experiences. It is an individual's predisposed state of mind regarding a value and it is precipitated through a responsive expression toward a person, place, thing, or event which in turn influences the individual's thought and action. Prominent psychologist Gordon Allport described this latent psychological construct as "the most distinctive and indispensable concept in contemporary social psychology." Attitude can be formed from a person's past and present. Key topics in the study of attitudes include attitude strength, attitude change, consumer behavior, and attitude-behavior relationships.

Antipositivism a theoretical stance, which proposes that the social realm cannot be studied with the scientific method of investigation applied to Nature

In social science, antipositivism is a theoretical stance, which proposes that the social realm cannot be studied with the scientific method of investigation applied to Nature, and that investigation of the social realm requires a different epistemology. Fundamental to that antipositivist epistemology is the belief that the concepts and language that researchers use in their researches shape their perceptions of the social world they are investigating, studying, and defining.

Herbert George Blumer was an American sociologist whose main scholarly interests were symbolic interactionism and methods of social research. Believing that individuals create social reality through collective and individual action, he was an avid interpreter and proponent of George Herbert Mead’s social psychology, which he labelled 'symbolic interactionism'. Blumer elaborated and developed this line of thought in a series of articles, many of which were brought together in the book Symbolic Interactionism. An ongoing theme throughout his work, he argued that the creation of social reality is a continuous process. Blumer was also a vociferous critic of positivistic methodological ideas in sociology.

Theory of planned behavior

In psychology, the theory of planned behavior is a theory that links one's beliefs and behavior.

The Theory of Reasoned Action aims to explain the relationship between attitudes and behaviors within human action. It is mainly used to predict how individuals will behave based on their pre-existing attitudes and behavioral intentions. An individual's decision to engage in a particular behavior is based on the outcomes the individual expects will come as a result of performing the behavior. Developed by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen in 1967, the theory derived from previous research in social psychology, persuasion models, and attitude theories. Fishbein's theories suggested a relationship between attitude and behaviors. However, critics estimated that attitude theories were not proving to be good indicators of human behavior. The ToRA was later revised and expanded by the two theorists in the following decades to overcome any discrepancies in the A-B relationship with the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Reasoned Action Approach (RAA). The theory is also used in communication discourse as a theory of understanding.

Sociological theory theory advanced by social scientists to explain facts about the social world

Sociological theories are statements of how and why particular facts about the social world are related. They range in scope from concise descriptions of a single social process to paradigms for analysis and interpretation. Some sociological theories explain aspects of the social world and enable prediction about future events, while others function as broad perspectives which guide further sociological analyses.

In epistemology, and more specifically, the sociology of knowledge, reflexivity refers to circular relationships between cause and effect, especially as embedded in human belief structures. A reflexive relationship is bidirectional with both the cause and the effect affecting one another in a relationship in which neither can be assigned as causes or effects.

Mathematical sociology

Mathematical sociology is the area of sociology that uses mathematics to construct social theories. Mathematical sociology aims to take sociological theory, which is strong in intuitive content but weak from a formal point of view, and to express it in formal terms. The benefits of this approach include increased clarity and the ability to use mathematics to derive implications of a theory that cannot be arrived at intuitively. In mathematical sociology, the preferred style is encapsulated in the phrase "constructing a mathematical model." This means making specified assumptions about some social phenomenon, expressing them in formal mathematics, and providing an empirical interpretation for the ideas. It also means deducing properties of the model and comparing these with relevant empirical data. Social network analysis is the best-known contribution of this subfield to sociology as a whole and to the scientific community at large. The models typically used in mathematical sociology allow sociologists to understand how predictable local interactions are and they are often able to elicit global patterns of social structure.

Social psychology (sociology) area of sociology focused on social actions

In sociology, social psychology, also known as sociological social psychology or microsociology, is an area of sociology that focuses on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind with social structure and culture. Some of the major topics in this field are social status, structural power, sociocultural change, social inequality and prejudice, leadership and intra-group behavior, social exchange, group conflict, impression formation and management, conversation structures, socialization, social constructionism, social norms and deviance, identity and roles, and emotional labor. The primary methods of data collection are sample surveys, field observations, vignette studies, field experiments, and controlled experiments.

Sociology of terrorism academic field that seeks to understand terrorism

Sociology of terrorism is an emerging field in sociology seeking to understand terrorism as a social phenomenon and how individuals as well as states respond to such events. It is not to be confused with critical terrorism studies which sometimes overlaps with the psychology of terrorism.

Social perception is the study of how people form impressions of and make inferences about other people as sovereign personalities. People learn about others' feelings and emotions by picking up information they gather from physical appearance, verbal, and nonverbal communication. Facial expressions, tone of voice, hand gestures, and body position or movement are a few examples of ways people communicate without words. A real-world example of social perception is understanding that others disagree with what one said when one sees them roll their eyes. There are four main components of social perception: observation, attribution, integration, and confirmation.

Deviance (sociology) action or behavior that violates social norms

In sociology, deviance describes an action or behavior that violates social norms, including a formally enacted rule, as well as informal violations of social norms. Although deviance may have a negative connotation, the violation of social norms is not always a negative action; positive deviation exists in some situations. Although a norm is violated, a behavior can still be classified as positive or acceptable.

Field theory is a psychological theory which examines patterns of interaction between the individual and the total field, or environment. The concept first made its appearance in psychology with roots to the holistic perspective of Gestalt theories. It was developed by Kurt Lewin, a Gestalt psychologist, in the 1940s.

Biographical research is a qualitative research approach aligned to the social interpretive paradigm of research. The biographical research is concerned with the reconstruction of life histories and the constitution of meaning based on biographical narratives and documents. The material for analysis consists of interview protocols (memorandums), video recordings, photographs, and a diversity of sources. These documents are evaluated and interpreted according to specific rules and criteria. The starting point for this approach is the understanding of an individual biography in terms of its social constitution. The biographical approach was influenced by the symbolic interactionism, the phenomenological sociology of knowledge, and ethnomethodology. Therefore, biography is understood in terms of a social construct and the reconstruction of biographies can give insight on social processes and figurations, thus helping to bridge the gap between micro-, meso-, and macro- levels of analysis. The biographical approach is particularly important in German sociology. This approach is used in the Social Sciences as well as in Pedagogy and other disciplines. The Research Committee 38 "Biography and Society" of the International Sociological Association (ISA) was created in 1984 and is dedicated "to help develop a better understanding of the relations between individual lives, the social structures and historical processes within which they take shape and which they contribute to shape, and the individual accounts of biographical experience ".

References

  1. The child in America: Behavior problems and programs. W.I. Thomas and D.S. Thomas. New York: Knopf, 1928: 571–572
  2. The Unadjusted Girl. With Cases and Standpoint for Behavioral Analysis. W.I. Thomas. N.Y.: Evanston; London: Harper & Row, 1967: 42
  3. Social Behavior and Personality. Contribution of Thomas to Theory and Social Research. Edmond H. Volkart [ed.] N.Y.: Social Research Council, 1951: 14

Further reading

Digital object identifier Character string used as a permanent identifier for a digital object, in a format controlled by the International DOI Foundation

In computing, a Digital Object Identifier or DOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to uniquely identify objects, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.

JSTOR subscription digital library

JSTOR is a digital library founded in 1995. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now also includes books and other primary sources, and current issues of journals. It provides full-text searches of almost 2,000 journals. As of 2013, more than 8,000 institutions in more than 160 countries had access to JSTOR; most access is by subscription, but some of the site's public domain and open access content is available at no cost to anyone. JSTOR's revenue was $86 million in 2015.