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SOC 203
Tonya Davidson

Chapter 1 – Sociology and the study of society Society – consists of a group of people within a limited territory who share a common set of behaviours, beliefs, values, material objects, and social institutions that exist as a coherent system. Emile Durkheim – studied suicide and found patterns: men more likely than women, single/divorced more likely than married, city people more likely than country Sociocultural system – term for combination of society, social structure, and culture Power – the ability of an individual/group to carry its will even when opposed by others; hard to locate where it is and what it is. Proximal relations of power – within personal relationship; easier to feel (parents, teachers) Distal relations of power – more abstract level as society as a whole; often we blame ourselves for not getting a job rather than discriminatory hiring practices, corporate globalization, etc (Smail) C. Wright Mills –personal troubles of mileu: a person in poverty. Public issues of social structure: many people in poverty Human agency – possibility of individual behaviours Key elements of science: 1) Knowledge must be based on empirical observation; data observed through senses 2) Information must be analyzed through logic and rational thought Auguste Comte – one of first social theorists to apply scientific principles to social analysis; created term “social science” Philosophical materialism – an analytical framework that asserts that the material world is primary, and the mind/consciousness is a property of matter; focuses on external, objective phenomena (Thunderstorms caused by banging together in clouds) Philosophical idealism – assumes mind, idea, or spirit is primary and basis for material world (Thunderstorms caused by anger of the gods) Dialectics – change is result of internal stresses (goes as far back as Heraclitus; 2500 years ago) • Everything is related. Nothing is isolated, but rather dependent on everything else. • Change is constant; nothing in the universe is final and in continual process of passing away • Change proceeds from quantitative to qualitative (Increase heat (quantitative), water turns to gas (qualitative). • Change is the result of unity and struggle of opposites. Things can embody 2 opposing tendencies, nothing is black/white, wrong/right Order theories – focus and support current order of things (big fish) Ex. Biological determinism Change theories – focus on how things have changed in past/can change in future; easier to identify than order theories (little fish) Marx and Engels – Change theorists • Engels focused more on the sociological aspect • Marx grew up in world of rapid social, political, and economic change • Political economy approach to sociology: focus on economic conditions of people’s lives Biological determinism – explaining human behaviour in some aspect of physiology (hormones, genes) Functionalism/Structural functionalism – became widely accepted after WW2 to late 1970’s. Argues that everything serves a purpose in society: war is functional because it fuels economy, unites population Macrosociology – focus on ways individual behaviour is influenced by broader society Microsociology – focus on ways individual behaviour/perceptions influence society; human agency is primary. Chapter 2 – Is human behaviour the result of our biology? Instinct – inborn complex pattern of behaviour that must normally exist in ever
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