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HIST 121
Rob Beamish

Week 1 · 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, sociological perspective; · 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. Review Questions 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 existence? 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 “intellectual craftsmanship;” · to emphasize what is involved in Mills’s conception of social commitment. 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 structure. 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)? Week 3 · 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. Review Questions 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 experience? 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” media? 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 that question? 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 contemporary sociology; · 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 significance 5. What are “the material forces of production” and what is their significance? 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 Preface; · 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 summary tabulation? 12. What nuances or subtleties are lost in your “1859 Preface in a box”? Week 6 · 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. Review Questions 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 modernism?” 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 summary tabulation? 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 differ? 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 contrast. 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- Simon’s thought? 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 development? 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? Week 7 · 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 collective; · 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 biology; · 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
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