The Social World I - complete course notes

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29 Mar 2012
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SOCIOLOGY is the scientific study of human behaviour. It analyzes why people
feel, think and act the way they do, and examines the social context of behaviours.
- We study human behaviour to:
Improve the human condition
Understand why we do what we do
What we can do about it
- Human behaviour is patterned, predictable, and the result of social forces`
- The process of sociology:
1. Observable data (facts who, when, what, where)
2. Hypothesis (guessing on events and how they may be related)
3. Test hypothesis (research methods)
4. Theory (generalized explanation of why behaviours are occurring)
“COMMON SENSE” ASSUMPTIONS OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR
1. Biological perspective
- It is a natural, uncontrolled behaviour
- eg. gender roles: men are innately more aggressive than women
women are better at rearing children due to maternal instinct
Margaret Mead (1901 1978) found through her studies that gender roles vary cross-culturally, with no
fixed aggression in sexes or division of labour
a. Arapesh: neither sex aggressive
men and women similar in behavior
b. Mundugamor: both sexes similarly aggressive
sex aggressive
children treated brusquely by both sexes
c. Tchambuli: women the sexual aggressors and traders
men played “female” roles – adorned themselves, gossiped, created tools, etc.
2. Pseudo-psychological
- It is a personal characteristic of the individual that is erroneous/faulty
- eg. suicide: Emile Durkheim examined in 1867 the degree of social integration (the degree to which
individuals are tied to a group) of those who attempt suicide
Found the 3 types of suicide:
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a. egoistic: weak social ties and connections to others lead to high suicide rates
b. altruistic: highly integrated with a group - a self-sacrifice for the group, collective violence
(eg. cult suicides, suicide bombings)
- “Common sense” arguments for the phenomena of suicide bombing:
Bombers are mentally ill untrue, as these individuals are removed from the group
Bombers suffer extreme deprivation, either absolute (long-standing poverty) or relative (a
growing gap between what people want and what they really get, especially in
comparison to others) untrue, as the 9/11 bombers were well-educated, middle-class
men
- Sociological explanations for this issue:
The occupation of the homeland by foreigners, and their (deadly, increasingly violent)
interactions with these invaders this undoubtedly affects the bombers’ behaviours. In
fact, it is seen that bombings are strategically planned in response to occupations, to
liberate territory.
Both Palestine and Israel claim a historical and religious birthright to the territory
Clash of cultures between Christian West and Islam Middle East creates an issue of
religious fanaticism. American capitalism is seen as a negative impact
Brym argues that:
Objectives are not always clear: possibly driven by just revenge and retaliation
Timing is not always strategic: could be response to specific Israeli action
Results are not always successful: Palestinian attacks resulted in increased responses
from Israel, such as the building of a barrier and heavy military presence
His solution: increase capacity to empathize with the other party, and thus increase the
likelihood of peaceful solution
c. anomic: individual feels alienated from the surrounding world angst, social chaos, dislocation
3. Moralistic
- Ignores social and economic forces, focuses only on personal deviance of individual
- eg. crime is often driven by necessity created by poverty
C. W. MILLS’ (1916 – 1962) “SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION”
- The ability to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues (larger social forces), and to connect
societal and historical forces to one’s own life - personal troubles are framed by public issues.
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- Eg. the Depression stories:
PERSONAL - The women need extra financial support during times of hardship through sex work they are
economically dependent on it as a job source as a means of supporting themselves and their families.
PUBLIC - Women have limited job and education opportunities, and job opportunities go to the men first.
This sexist oppression means women must resort to whatever means they have left to support themselves.
The Depression was a country-wide epidemic that left most in poverty due to economic failure.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND HAITI
History
- Created through the division by European colonies in war, colonized by French settlers who then brought
black slaves to work
- First successful slave uprising in the Caribbean created an independent black Republic however, this
resulted in the island being economically blocked off by the surrounding French colonies, an issue which
was only solved by paying back the French motherland, resulting in debt to this day
- Political, economic, financial, and military instability and poor infrastructure makes Haiti a failed state
Statistics
- Poorest country in the Western Hemisphere
GDP per person: $1380 (Canada’s GDP: $38 5000)
Population below poverty line: 80%
Population in abject poverty: 54%
Literacy rate: 52.9%
- Industries: sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement, light assembly based on imported parts
- Labour force: 66% agriculture, 9% industry, 25% services - 2/3rd of population do not have formal jobs
- Population: 9 million 95% black, 5% mixed and white
0 14 yrs: 38.1%
15 64 yrs: 58.5%
65+ yrs: 3.4%
Urban population: 47%
Infant mortality rate: 59.69 deaths per 1 000 births (Canada: 5.4/1 000)
Life expectancy rate: 60.78 years (Canada: 81.23 years)
Sociological Imagination - Haiti
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