SOAN 2111 Lecture Notes - The Sociological Imagination

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September 10, 2012
Monday and Friday 1:15-2:15, 617 MCKN office hours
Theoretical Approaches and Frameworks
Theorectical concepts have a role in
- shaping the direction of research
- directing observation
- guiding description
If theory is to be understood, we have to understand it’s nature: development, etc.
We’ll examine the successes and failures of theories.
The study of society on a high level of abstraction = SOCIOLOGY
Human beings in interdependence with one another = SOCIOLOGY
Interested in how we develop our culture and destroy culture = SOCIOLOGY
Patterns of behaviour, not individual behaviour = SOCIOLOGY
Philosophy = developed in Ancient Greece 18th century (1700s) late 1700s,
French Revolution age of enlightenment, birth of sociology
Sociologists study WHAT IS state of gender, etc. Look at the human past as a
sequence of unique events and processes. Sociologists are interested in recurring
The Value of Theory: Contemporary Relevance of Old Theories
- theories are explanations models
o the world in which people lived was ‘perfect’ – determined by fate
o views had undergone fundamental changes
discover of new world
protestants and catholics
new types and forms of economic behaviour
science, rational thinking, technology
laws were seen as made by humans, not by Gods
found that society was created by and served interests for
- social theories suggest causes (because theories are often models)
understand the whys models attempt to identify and depict patterns in
social life
- theories are road maps (Hurst)
- different sociological perspectives see problems in unique ways
- ‘The Sociological Imagination’ – social science should aim at helping
people understand their “private troubles” in terms of “public issues”
(these public issues refer to characters of social structure in society)
- Mills argues adequate social science should have practical importance
for the average citizen
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