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SOCI 461 (17)

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 461
Richard Koestner

The Sociological Imagination: -the ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures (C. Wright Mills) -Mills emphasized difficulty of developing this quality of mind Minority report: -people believe 2 contradictory ideas w/ equal conviction 1. They believe they are free to do whatever they want 2. They believe the “system” or society is so big they are unable to do anything to change it -neither is accurate -social structures exert powerful control on our behaviour -we are neither entirely free nor are we wholly predetermined -changing social structures is possible -require sociological imagination Origins of the Sociological Imagination: -sociological imagination was born due to 3 modern revolutions: 1. The Scientific Revolution -using evidence to make a case for a particular point of view -suggested that a science of society was possible 2. The Democratic Revolution -suggested that people control society -could help people find ways of overcoming social problems, improving the welfare of citizens and effectively reaching given goals -suggested that people could intervene to improve society 3. Industrial Revolution -presented social thinkers w/ a host of pressing social problems crying out for a solution Theory, Research, and Values -Auguste Comte coined the term sociology -conservative thinker and opposed to rapid change -urged slow change and preservation of all that was traditional in social life -never conducted research Herbert Spencer: -2nd founder of sociology -did not conduct research as well -believed he has discovered scientific laws governing the operation of society -thought societies comprised interdependent parts -included families, governments, and the economy -suggested that societies evolve in the same way as biological species do -survival of the fittest (evolved from barbaric to civilized) -“social Darwinism” -nowadays, few sociologists think that societies are biological systems 3 giants in the early history of sociology: 1. Karl Marx 2. Emile Durkheim 3. Max Weber -sociological ideas are usually expressed in the form of theories -once they formulate theories, they can conduct research -before formulating theories they must make certain judgments -largely shaped by sociologists’ values Sociological Theory and Theorists Functionalism: Durkheim: -his theory of suicide is early example of functionalism -functionalist theorie
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