Class Notes (808,494)
Canada (493,253)
SOAN 2112 (90)

Week 1 and 2: 2111

10 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Guelph
Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2112
Linda Hunter

Week 1 and 2 Lecture, Sept 6/2013 1. INTRODUCTION Theoretical concepts have a role in: Shaping the direction of research Directing observation Guiding description Comte: came up with the term (LOGY: study a high level, SOCIO: points to society) Social Philosophy is much older than sociology, came up in ancient Greece, blossomed during the  enlightenment. Social philosophers study what ought to be where as sociologists study what is Sociologists are often interested in reoccurring pattern; similar to historians they look at past events  but keep an eye out for patterns Historically, Sociological Classical theory written between the time of the great French Revolution  1789­1799 and WW1 (1919) Monday, September 9 , 2013 2. THE VALUE OF THEORY:THE CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE OF OLD THEORY theories are explanations – models, social theories suggest causes Identification of causes are the heart of theories. ‘Models’ are approximations of how society works.  Models are theories when we choose to see society in a particular way (i.e. society can be seen as  a complex computer system used as a means of communication).   theories are road maps (Hurst)  Hurst said theories are like road maps allowing us to explore reality and understand its terrain. This  is limiting in the way that some readers/road maps are better than others. Different perspectives  see it differently.  Applying different theoretical orientations will get different results.  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” (C. Wright Mills, early to mid 1900’s • Mills argues – adequate social science should have practical importance for the average citizen Mills: social science should allow us to solve our own personal issues. Social science theories  should have practical importance for everyday people.  What could be so practical about looking at these older theorists? 1) All living in societies undergoing wide ranging social changes  2) Each concerned with the character and direction of modern society  e.g. division of labor, bureaucracy, alienation, class struggle (these all examined these in different  ways) 3) All were involved in the societies of their time Marx – newspaper, he believed the division of labor wasn’t just, some have more opportunities than  others  Weber – political activities Durkhiem – socially involved, he thought the division of labor was just Simmel – love, conflict, life(We won’t be discussing him in the course), he reached out to non  academic audiences Harriet Martineau – women’s issues Large frameworks for sociology: Functional Conflict Interpretive: how people view or measure society and the meaning attached to them The Women Founders of the Social Sciences by Lynn McDonald (1996) Women: Women: did not have the institutions to support them that men did, excluded from universities, no  schools promote their work, few biographies Wednesday, September 11, 2013 3. THE NATURE AND TYPES OF SOCIOLOGICAL THOUGHT: POSITIVISM, INTERPRETIVE, CRITICAL Did not have the institutions men have had to support each other’s work excluded from universitiesno schools to promote their workfew biographies Positivism is nomothetic – it seeks generalizable, universally applicable laws prediction and control logic of explanation – ability to predict environments Interpretive Theory – study of society that focuses on the meanings people attach to their social worlds (hermeneutical theorists) human communication symbols are learned relies on qualitative data Critical Theory – focus on the need for social change • the concept of authority and power relations and power dynamics between individuals in society Didn’t become a part of human understanding until the enlightenment. It develops an understanding of how dominance is institutionalized in society. PracticalApplication of Positivism and CriticalApproach • positivist uses scientific method to study factory labourers • critical theorist looks at conditions of labour – is it just? th Social Philosophy was originally more descriptive, but once on the 18 century they realized it wasn’t solving problems and they then turned to science. 4. EXPANSION ON THEORTECTICAL FRAMEWORKS KEY CONCEPTS AND  TERMINOLOGY Positivism requires a commitment to determinism empiricism determinism – cause and effect relations ­ Empiricism (experience in greek) empirical knowledge about the external world is grounded in  what we learn from our sense perceptions ­ Still, the meaning of such info has to be interpreted Positivism and Empiricism is not the same. You can still be empirical and still hold a different  perspective.  Empiricism refers to the attempt at explanation of social phenomena, the search of regularities and,  as much as possible, the search for casual relations that determine them. determinism – cause­effect relations  empiricism (empeiria – Greek for experience) empirical knowledge about the external world is  grounded in what we learn from our  sense perceptions still, the meaning of such info has to be interpreted  empiricism refers to the attempt at explanation of social phenomena, the search for regularities  and, as much as possible, the search for  causal relations that determine them (McDonald, Women Founders, p.19) • probability Objectivity is never fully achieved because we can’t know everything, and there are so many  perspectives in some way there will be bias and influence  objectivity is a goal – never fully achieved  subjective views guide the choice of research questions, but we must be objective when looking at  the data. Every attempt at objectively is us trying to put our own beliefs away. Positivistic analysis contains several levels of description, including: 1) Abstract theory: theories which are specifically looking at patterns and relationships between  variables i.e. playing violent video games (because of these games, we are not more aggressive or  supportive of violence but desensitized). 2) Particular concepts: isolating important variables  3) Operational definitions: to do with measurement, i.e. how we decide to measure violence or any  abstract comment 4) Description of sense impressionssome argue all positivists , in a sense, are hermeneutists too  (interpretive theory). The positivists have to learn to interpret. Critical Evaluation of Positivism – particularly by critical theorists critical theorists – prefer to focus on human activity, they critique positivism, positivism lose the  people themselves and only pay attention to the numbers. They condemn positivism for being  passive and losing the idea that actors are critical.  Habarmas – positivism loses sight of the actors  it is inherently conservative, incapable of challenging the existing system  critics ask:  How can we assume that society has a “natural” order? Limitations of Positivism 1)  human behaviour is too complex for prediction, to allow sociologists to predict humans precisely  (it’s cant be the don
More Less

Related notes for SOAN 2112

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.