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Reading (p 16-21, 232-236).pdf

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SOCI 1001
Michael Graydon

September 24, 2010 Reading (p 16-21, 232-234) Sociological Theory and Theorists Functionalism Durkheim -functionalism: ▯ -human behaviour is governed by stable social structures ▯ ▯ ▯ (expectant; routine becomes regular) ▯ ▯ ▯ -social structures maintain social stability ▯ ▯ ▯ -social structures based on shared values/preferences ▯ ▯ ▯ -re-establishing equilibrium can solve social problems Functionalist theories have four theories: a) human behaviour is governed by stable patterns of social relations/structures Eg. Durkheim said, suicide rates were due to patterns of social solidarity -social structures analyzed by functionalists are macrostructures b) show how social structures maintain/undermine social stability Eg. Durkheim showed how growth of industries lowered social solidarity, and increased suicide rates c) social structures based on shared values/preferences Eg. Durkheim thought of social solidarity as moral cement binding people together, or frequency and intensity of social interaction d) re-establishing equilibrium can best solve social problems Eg. Durkheim said social stability could be restored by employing new employers that would lower workerʼs expectations of what to get out of life. More people would agree on wanting less and thus regain social solidarity. *Functionalism; conservative response to social unrest in late 19th C *liberal response: people are discontent because they are getting less out of life than they expect, so letʼs find ways to get more out of life Functionalism in North America -functionalism took deep root during Great Depression -conservative mind: many workers unemployed, social unrest; how can we restore social equilibrium? September 24, 2010 -Talcott Parsons N.A of functionalism: various institutions must work together to benefit society as a whole. Eg. School must teach children values and skills, religions create a shared moral code for people -critisized how members share same values, and institutions contribute to social harmony -Robert Merton different consequences for different groups. Some groups may be dysfunctional (effects of social structures that create social instability) and some are manifest (visible and intended effects of social structures), and others are latent (invisible and unintended effects of social structures). Conflict Theory features: - focuses on large structures; “class relations”, struggle b/w people of high/low standing - shows how patterns of inequality in society produce social stability/social change - how members of privileged groups try to maintain advantages and subordinate try to increase theirs - suggestion that eliminating privilege will lower the level of conflict Marx -originated thinking Conflict Theory -saw discontent produced by Industrial Revolution, so produced argument how societies develop -class conflict: the struggle b/w classes to resist and overcome the opposition of other classes -thought that as new innovations became relevant, they needed less workers in factories, were able to keep wages low, and invest little into working conditions; thus, a large class of poor workers opposes a lessening class of wealthy owners -”class consciousness” - workers become aware of belonging to same exploited class -eventually a “communist” society would emerge, so that there was no private property and everyone shared property/wealth Weber -Marx predictions about collapse of capitalism were questioned -Weber was the first to find flaws about his theory -argued that class conflict not the only driving force of history (politics and religion also) -other writers said Marx didnʼt realize how technology would mean less hours of work and less oppressive conditions -thus seeing that many sociologists questioned Marxʼs theory September 24, 2010 Conflict Theory in North America -Conflict Theory was somewhat evident before the 60ʼs; C. Wright Mills conducted research on american politics and class structure -argued that power highly concentrated in American society, which is therefore less of a democracy than we are lead to believe -other than Mills, this theory did not take place until 1960ʼs b/c of labour unrest, separatism, anti-Vietnam War protests, black power movements, and feminism -riots and strikes were very normal -sociologists thought it was an era of conflict; very essence of society Symbolic Interactionism Weber, Mead, and Goffman -Weber argued capitalism not just caused by economic circumstances but by certain religious beliefs too -Protestant ethic: religious doubts could be reduced if they worked hard and lived modestly. -said people who followed this ethic, saved more money; thus capitalism grew -emphasized importance of empathetically understanding peopleʼs motives -Weber; mportant conflict theorist -his emphasis on subjective meanings was popular in late 19th-20th C b/c ideas settled with individualism of American culture -Work of Mead and colleagues gave birth to symbolic interactionism, a distinctively American theoretical tradition that continues to be a major force in sociology today *Functionalist/conflict theories assume that peopleʼs group memberships influence their behaviours... moreover, two people with similar group memberships may react differently to similar social situations because they interpret those circumstances differently -symbolic interactionism: focuses on interaction in microlevel social settings and emphasizes that an adequate explanation of social behaviour requires understanding the subjective meanings people attach to their social circumstances it incorporates these features: -focuses on interpersonal communication in microlevel social settings
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