· to draw students’ attention to the overall goals and scope of the text that
will be used in the first term;
· to provide an opportunity for students to draft a “road map” of the route
and material they will cover over the course of the first term;
· to draw students’ attention to the difference between “the natural
attitude” and the “everyday stocks of knowledge” with which people
generally approach the world around them and a more systematic,
· to draw students’ attention to an event with which they are newly
familiar – the lecture setting – and the way in which it could draw them into
thinking about the experience more sociologically;
· to introduce students to C. Wright Mills’s conception of “the sociological
imagination;” discuss its main features so that students can identify, explain
and use them in the analysis of a social situation or event;
· to use Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as a vehicle for explaining and exploring
the main features of Mills’s conception of the sociological imagination so that
students can begin to see how a sociologist would “apply” the sociological
imagination to a specific problem, issue, event or situation.
1. Explain what is meant by “stocks of everyday knowledge,” “the natural
attitude” and the “web-like nature” of social relationships. 2. Who would you identify within the web-like nature of your current
3. According to Mills, do ordinary men and women have a good grasp of
the world around them? Why does he make that claim?
4. What is the particular “quality of mind” he feels people need to have –
describe that quality of mind in a phrase.
5. What does Mills mean by the term “imagination?”
6. In a sentence, what is sociology’s “task and promise?”
7. Describe the opening scene in Psycho and explain why it serves as an
ideal vehicle to illustrate the key features of Mills’s conception of the
sociological imagination. Think of a recent movie you’ve watched and
describe it from the perspective of the sociological imagination. Week 2
· to familiarize students with the three key questions that are central to
Mills’s sociological imagination;
· to introduce students to the important distinction Mills makes between
“personal troubles of milieu” and “issues of social structure” as well as the
importance of each for sociology;
· to examine the four essential components of Mills’s conceptions of
· to emphasize what is involved in Mills’s conception of social
Review Questions 1. How many sets or types of questions does Mills suggest that good
sociologists ask – to what do they refer?
2. Write three or four sentences that would explain to a friend why those
types of questions are important for sociological analysis.
3. Identify the main features of a “personal trouble of milieu” and use Sam
as an example of someone with a personal trouble.
4. Identify the main features of an “issue of social structure” and use Sam
as an example of someone whose personal trouble is also an issue of social
5. Are the two completely separate? If not, what is their interrelationship?
6. What is meant by the term “false consciousness?” Use Marion as an
example of someone in a state of false consciousness – what would be
necessary for her to escape her state of false consciousness and attain a
sense of “true” consciousness? 7. Identify a few of Mills’s personal characteristics – why might they be
relevant to first year students in sociology?
8. What are the key features of an intellectual craftsman (4 points)?
· to identify and discuss a profile of the “Millennials” as students, and
indicate the significance this has for the Millennials as university students;
· to identify and discuss the differences, strengths and limitations of
knowledge stemming from “eCulture” versus “printCulture;”
· to introduce McLuhen’s notions of hot and cold media and indicate their
significance for knowledge based on eCulture versus printCulture;
· to indicate the tensions that exist between the Millennials’ expectations
of their university experience and those of their instructors; · to highlight the challenges the Millennials will face in university study as
well as the potential rewards.
· to introduce students to the main arguments for instilling a “liberal
education” in university students;
· to introduce students to Matthew Arnold’s concept of “culture” and
encourage them to think about what he means by humankind’s “total
perfection” and what is entailed in “getting to know, on all the matters which
most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world;”
· to encourage students to think about the extent to which Arnold and
Mills share a common goal or project as well as considering how they
fundamentally differ from one another.
· to encourage students to reflect upon their own biography, the history of
social structure within the current education system and the impact they
have upon students’ interest in “a traditional liberal education” as well as the
possibilities of achieving one in the current educational environment.
1. Of all the different aspects to the “personal biography” of the Millennials
entering universities in 2009, what are the five or six most significant in
terms of the influence they will have upon their university learning
2. Michael Wesch’s video presents the university experience from the
perspective of his students – what are the strengths of that video? What are
its limitations? What is the dominant message in the video? Do you agree
with it? Why or why not?
3. What did Marshall McLuhen mean by the phrase “the medium is the
message?” 4. What is the distinction that McLuhen made between “hot” and “cold”
5. Do you agree that eCulture centres on media that are “molten ice?”
Why or why not?
6. Identify what you think are the three most important tensions that exist
between the “old school” and “new school” approaches to knowledge. Can
those tensions be resolved? If so how and if not, why not?
7. What are the “generic skills” that one should acquire in an
undergraduate education and how are they relevant upon graduation?
8. What are the three most important points related to Bloom’s argument
about the importance of a traditional, liberal education?
9. What does Arnold mean by the term “culture?” To what extent is his
notion of “culture” spreading to the masses feasible? On the basis of the
material you have covered in this chapter, what would a sociologist, using
Mills’s conception of the sociological imagination, emphasize in answering
Week 4 · to introduce students to the sociological aspects of the work of Karl Marx;
· to introduce students to some of the key figures in the early history of
political economy – Ferguson and Smith in particular – who influenced Marx;
· to introduce Kant and Hegel as key thinkers within German Idealist
philosophy who influenced Marx’s ideas;
· to introduce students to some of the aspects of history which influenced
the way Marx has been understood and the importance this holds for
· to explore the unstable, dialectical nature of Marx’s work and the
implications this has for his thought and sociology;
· to introduce and explore aspects of the intersection of Marx’s personal
biography and the history of social structure and indicate how this affected
the development of his particular ideas;
· to introduce students to aspects of the publication of Marx’s work and
the impact this had upon the different ways his work has been interpreted;
· to indicate how Marx developed the basic premises of his work and
began to focus heavily on the production process as the basis to social life,
different social formations, and the internal dynamics of social formations;
· to begin a careful analysis of the basic elements that constituted “the
guiding thread” of Marx’s analyses – including an exploration of the concepts
of the base (the economic structure of society), the superstructure, the
notion of determination, and the terms the relations of production and
material forces of production. Review Questions
1. Why is the “Preface” to Marx’s Towards a Critique of Political Economy
important to sociological analysis?
2. For Marx, production is fundamental to social life – what is the double
significance of this claim?
3. What are the two elements that constitute “the mode of production?”
4. What are “the social relations of production” and what is their
5. What are “the material forces of production” and what is their
6. What are the two provisional conclusions that emerge from Marx’s
presentation of the base and superstructure model?
Week 5 · to identify three different scenarios related to the latent tensions and
contradictions within the mode of production that Marx proposed in his 1859
· to introduce the notion of “technological determinism” that is often
associated with Marx’s work, examine what it means and entails as well as its
importance for Marx’s 1859 presentation;
· to introduce the notion of “economic determinism” that is often
associated with Marx’s work, examine what it means and entails as well as its
importance for Marx’s 1859 presentation;
· to introduce a more nuanced understanding of the elements that
constitute the “means of production” within Marx’s 1859 presentation;
· to introduce and explore the impact that living labour-power, and thus
the presence of conscious workers, as a constituent element in “means of
production” has upon Marx’s 1859 presentation;
· to examine the specific dynamics that could emerge within the base in
Marx’s 1859 conception when labour-power is recognized as a constituent
element of the means of production;
· to explore the implications that the presence of conscious workers, as
part of the means of production, has for the overall “base/superstructure”
model as a dialectical whole.
Review Questions 7. In the “orthodox” reading of Marx’s theory of social change, how does
change occur? Where is the source of dynamism?
8. What are the constituent parts of the “forces of production?”
9. What is the significance of recognizing “living labour-power” and
“spaces of production” as components of the forces of production?
10. What is the role of “the legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophical,
in short, ideological [superstructure]” in Marx’s theory of social change?
11. Put the key ideas from Marx’s 1859 Preface into a “Quick Facts about the
1859 Preface” summary chart or box – what 7 points should go in that
12. What nuances or subtleties are lost in your “1859 Preface in a box”?
· to indicate the importance that the Manifesto of the Communist Party
had in the overall development of Marx’s work as a whole;
· to introduce the notion that the Manifesto can be profitably read as an
insightful statement about modernity and its internal dynamics;
· to focus on aspects of the language and imagery Marx used in the
Manifesto to capture the dynamism and tensions of modernity as well as
drawing the reader into his particular analytical position; · to indicate the power and achievements of modernity that Marx
recognized, particularly in its “bourgeois phase;”
· to indicate and explore the potentially revolutionary contradictions that
Marx emphasized in his analysis of modernity in the Manifesto;
· to introduce and briefly explore the notion of “over-production” as a
major, “objective” contradiction within bourgeois modernity as Marx
presented it in the Manifesto;
· to introduce and explore the dynamic tension of the potentially
revolutionary contradiction that existed between the two great titans – the
bourgeoisie and the proletariat – that Marx presented in the Manifesto;
· to explore four aspects of the Manifesto that made it a ground breaking
contribution to sociology;
· to introduce Emile Durkheim as another “founder” of one of the
dominant macro-sociological frameworks used by sociologists;
· to locate Durkheim’s work within the Enlightenment, in general, and
French thought from Descartes to Montesquieu more specifically;
· to introduce Descartes, his notion of radical doubt, and the significance
of his thought had for the development of methodology in the social sciences;
· to introduce Montesquieu as one of the first “sociologists” and outline
why his study of law was an early precursor to sociological analysis;
· to explore the intersection of biography and social structure with respect
to St. Simon and his particular contributions to the development of sociology;
· to introduce and overview St. Simon’s main contributions to the development of sociology, including his emphasis upon empirical
observation, the three “orders” that constituted societies; his notion of three
stages in history; his organic image of social structure and function; his
analyses of industrial production;
· to introduce and overview Comte’s main contributions to the
development of sociology including his conception of the “three stages to
history,” his commitment to a positivist model for studying societies; his
concerns over stability and change; his notions of social statics and social
dynamics, the anatomy/physiology metaphor; his commitment to “the unity
of the sciences;”
· to introduce the changing social basis that emphasized the need for
increased empirical observation.
1. Within the Manifesto, what are the main features Marx attributes to the
bourgeoisie as one of the two main titans in the struggle for power?
2. What are some of the key images that Marx uses in the Manifesto that
suggest it is an insightful presentation of the dynamics of modernity?”
3. Within the Manifesto, what are the main features Marx attributes to the
proletariat as one of the two main titans in the struggle for power? 4. Why did Marx think the proletariat would become a revolutionary force?
To what extent was that one of the social consequences of the dynamic of
5. Explain the significance of “class consciousness” for understanding the
sociological theory Marx sketched out in the Manifesto.
6. Put the key ideas from the Manifesto into a “Quick Facts about
Manifesto” summary chart or box – what 5 to 7 points should go in that
7. What nuances or subtleties are lost in your “Manifesto in a box”?
8. In what ways are Marx’s and Durkheim’s theories similar? How do they
9. Draw up “Durkheim in a Summary Box” and “Marx in a Summary Box”
in which you list the key points for each as a sociologist; try to list the
appropriate points for each opposite the other for easy comparison and
1. What are the key components to the Cartesian method?
2. What three social types did Montesquieu identify and on what basis did
he make those distinctions? 3. What important dimension of social control did Montesquieu identify?
4. What are Saint-Simon’s three main contributions to sociology?
5. What is the importance of the structure of medieval society for Saint-
6. What were the three stages of history that Saint-Simon identified; what
were their characteristics; and why did he see the process as one of
7. What is meant by “positivism” and what are the most important
characteristics of Comte’s positivist position?
8. What were Comte’s three stages of history? 9. What was the relationship between social statics and social dynamics?
· to introduce and explore Durkheim’s key contributions to the
development of sociology as a science;
· to introduce Durkheim’s main concerns in studying the division of labour
in society, the key terms involved in that study, and its impact upon
Durkheim’s later discussions of methodology for sociology;
· to examine in some detail Durkheim’s conception of the conscience
· to introduce and explore the most important features of Durkheim’s
Rules of Sociological Method;
· to indicate how Durkheim saw sociology differing from psychology and
· to introduce and explore the key term “social fact” within Durkheim’s
Rules; · to examine how “social facts” are related to the notions of social control,
social constraint and the conscience collective;
· to examine the implications of Durkheim’s notions that societies have a
sui generis existence that pre-dates people and into which they are born;
· to indicate how Durkheim saw his study of suicide as central to
establishing sociology as a distinct social science;
· to identify the connection between Suicide, The Rules of Sociological
Method and Descartes’ method;
· to indicate the relationship Durkheim saw between “collective
representations” and the social propensity to commit suicide;
· to identify and briefly explore the three basic types of suicide identified
by Durkheim and his explanations for each;
· to indicate the sources Durkheim identified that might possibly reduce
the social propensity to