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Conflict theory .docx

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 461
Richard Koestner

Conflict theory in North America: -had some advocates in NA -C. Wright Mills: laid foundations for modern conflict theory -conducted research on American politics and class structure -power is highly concentrated in American society and is less Democratic than we think Symbolic Interactionism: Weber, Mead, and Goffman: -Weber argued that early capitalist development was caused not just by favourable economic circumstances but that certain religious beliefs also facilitated robust capitalist growth -Protestant ethic -believed it had an unintended effect: people who adhered to it saved and invested more money than others -Verstehen = understanding -idea that subjective meanings and motives must be analyzed to gain clear sense of significance of people’s actions -important conflict theorist Herbert Mead: driving force behind the study of how the individual’s sense of self is formed in the course of interaction w/ other people -his and his colleagues work gave rise to symbolic interactionism -functionalists and conflict theorists assume that people’s group memberships influence their behaviour -however, people are not like that and often make choices Symbolic interactionism (named by Herbert Blumer): -focus on interpersonal communication in microlevel social settings distinguishes it from both functionalist and conflict theories -emphasizes that social life is possible only b/c people attach meanings to things -stresses that people help to create their social circumstances and do not merely react to them Ex. Erving Goffman -symbolic interactionist -analyzed many ways people present themselves to others in everyday life so as to appear in the best possible light -developed an international reputation for his “dramaturgical” approach to symbolic interactionism -by focusing on the subjective meanings people create in small social settings, symbolic interactionism sometimes validates unpopular and unofficial viewpoints Social Constructionism: -when people interact they typically assume things are naturally or innately what they seem to be -often sustained by social processes that very historically and culturally -by stressing importance and validity of subjective meanings, symbolic interactionists increase tolerance for minority and deviant viewpoints -by stressing how subjective meanings vary historically and culturally, social constructionism show that many seemingly natural features of social life actually require painstaking acts of social creation Feminist Theory: Martineau and Addams Harriet Martineau: called first female sociologist -wrote one of first books on research method -studied slavery, factory laws, and gender inequality (one of first feminists) Jane Addams: co-founder of Hull House (shelter for destitute in slums) -spent lifetime fighting for social reform Modern feminism: -feminist thinking had little impact until mid 1960s when rise of modern women’s movement -regarded as sociology’s fourth major theoretical tradition Feminist theory: -focuses on various aspect of patriarchy -holds that male domination and female subordination are determined by structures of power and social convention -examines the operation at both micro and macrolevel settings -contends that existing patterns of gender inequality can and should be changed for the benefit of all members of society *See table 1.1 Applying
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