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) :

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.

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

Related Research Articles

Frequentist probability interpretation of probability

Frequentist probability or frequentism is an interpretation of probability; it defines an event's probability as the limit of its relative frequency in many trials. Probabilities can be found by a repeatable objective process. This interpretation supports the statistical needs of many experimental scientists and pollsters. It does not support all needs, however; gamblers typically require estimates of the odds without experiments.

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".

Social norm group-held belief about how members should behave

Social norms are regarded as collective representations of acceptable group conduct as well as individual perceptions of particular group conduct. They can be viewed as cultural products which represent individuals' basic knowledge of what others do and think that they should do. From a sociological perspective, social norms are informal understandings that govern the behavior of members of a society. Social psychology recognizes smaller group units may also endorse norms separately or in addition to cultural or societal expectations.

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 behavior 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 behavior:

  1. The division of labor in society takes the form of the interaction among heterogeneous specialized positions, we call roles.
  2. Social roles included appropriate and permitted forms of behavior and actions that recur in a group, guided by social norms, which are commonly known and hence determine the expectations for appropriate behavior 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. From this view, people live in both natural and symbolic environments.

The zeitgeist is a concept from eighteenth- to nineteenth-century German philosophy, meaning "spirit of the age" or "spirit of the times". It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a given epoch in world history.

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.

W. I. Thomas American sociologist

William Isaac Thomas was an American sociologist. With the help of Polish sociologist Florian Znaniecki, W.I. Thomas developed and influenced the use of empirical methodologies in sociological research and contributed theories to 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". This microsociological concept served as a theoretical foundation for the field of symbolic interactionism which was developed by Thomas's younger peers - primarily at the University of Chicago.

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.

Floyd Henry Allport was an American psychologist who is often considered "the father of experimental social psychology", having played a key role in the creation of social psychology as a legitimate field of behavioral science. His book Social Psychology (1924) impacted all future writings in the field. He was particularly interested in public opinion, attitudes, morale, rumors, and behavior. He focused on exploration of these topics through laboratory experimentation and survey research.

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.

In control theory, affect control theory proposes that individuals maintain affective meanings through their actions and interpretations of events. The activity of social institutions occurs through maintenance of culturally based affective meanings.

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.

Naïve cynicism cognitive bias

Naïve cynicism is a philosophy of mind, cognitive bias and form of psychological egoism that occurs when people naïvely expect more egocentric bias in others than actually is the case.

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.

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