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SOCIOL 1A06 (712)

social theory

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McMaster University
Douglas Davidson

Sociology Lecture 2 th September 20 Social Theory: Theories in sociology are abstract, general ideas that help organize and make sense of the social world. To be able to speak about large phenomenon rather than just minute events Classical social theory: • the enlightenment • political revolutions -America Revolution - French Revolution Enlightenment 1500-1700's • We can know about the world through rational thought and observation, not just faith • Scientific discoveries- in particular Copernicus, Galileo.. • Intellectual developments- Descartes- cogito ergo sum”- supported the idea that human beings have the capacity for rational thought Political Revolutions • American Revolution 1775-1783 -USA cut off ties with colonial rulers • French Revolution 1789-1799 -French monarchy was overthrown • Both revolutions inspired more widespread adoption of democratic principles, the rights of citizens ect.. Industrial Revolution • Began mid 1700 to early 1900 • Development of cotton ginny, steam power, other technologies • THREE KEY EFFECTS: • Dramatic, rapid urbanization • change in family relations/gender relations • Increased secularization (decreased reliance on the church.. others debate this) Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) Founder of Functionalism • Following Comte, was a positivist (thinker who believes we can study the world as it is a series of observable facts) • Saw society as analogous to a body • Concerned with social solidarity- • developed the idea of the “social fact” “The role of sociologists is to act as a social doctor” • took the idea of suicide and said it was a social fact Social Solidarity: Division of Labour How is society managing to stay stable? In traditional societies there is a type of social solidarity he called mechanical. In traditional people do the same times of things/same jobs/same attitudes Organic Mechanical • Present in modern societies • Present in traditional societies • high dynamic density • low dynamic density • high degree of labour specialization • low degree of labour specialization In modern societies people have different functions- we have faith that the society is going to work • allows for change/progression Social Solidarity: Similarity in belief • A similarity in believe leads to the development of a conscience collective • 2 meanings: • 1. Collective conscience: similar ideas of morality • 2. collective consciousness: similar ideas about space, time, reality. What is a Social Fact? A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of excerpting on the individual an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a society while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations – Durkheim 1964) Social Fact • External to the self • Some examples of social facts... • beyond the biography of the self • religion • affects individual actions, behaviours, thoughts • fashion/modes of dress • education we think of them as facts,
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