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SOC101 Lecture Notes - The Sociological Imagination, Auguste Comte, Sociological Inquiry

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Barry Mc Clinchey

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Introduction to SOC 101
Ravelli, Bruce and Michelle Webber (2009) Exploring Sociology, Pearson Canada,
Sociology – study of everything that people do… as part of a group
Major areas of sociological inquiry
- sociological theory
- culture
- socialization -> become the person that you are
- groups and organizations ->leaders
- crime and deviance -> who is a criminal
- social stratification and class
- global stratification
- race and ethnic relations
- sex and gender
- religion -> how religion works in society
Charles Wright Mills
Sociologists think about:
(1) Symbolic interactions
Small interactions, what guys doing, what girls doing, going into a prison and
interviewing them, not interested in big things
(2) Functionalist
makes sure institutions are working, education, jail, systems, society is functioning
basically how it should
(3) Conflict approach
Those who are well off do well and those who are disadvantaged don’t do very well,
middle class have good resources do well, middle class families tend to produce middle
class kids, disadvantage families tend to produce disadvantaged kids, questions
healthcare, education, etc
(4) Feminists
Disadvantage or advantage due to gender
The Sociological Imagination
-Developing an appreciation of how individual challenges are influenced by larger social
We all have opportunities and constraints put upon us by the larger society, we are part of
the larger society (way of thinking)
Peter Berger
Seeing the general in the particular
- when we see a social phenomena, we try to dig deeper – ex/ homeless because
they cant get a job, mentally ill, problem, no medication
Think about what is familiar and see it as strange
Ex/ what happens in a coffee shop -> what’s really going on? Business meetings, etc
Engaging Your Sociological Imagination
-Our perception of ourselves and other are the products of many factors, for ex/
1. Minority Status
2. Gender
3. Socioeconomic Status
4. Family Structure
5. Urban-Rural Differences
How have factors such as these affected the person your have become today
The Historical Development of Sociology
The Scientific Revolution: 1650-1800
Auguste Comte (the father of sociology)
Hard science should be applied to the social world
Law of 3 Stages
Theological – religious outlook, the world is an expression of God
Metaphysical – a period of questioning and challenging
Positive – rules of observation, experimentation and logic
Positivism and Anti-Positivism
1. There exists an objective knowable reality
2. Singular explanation
3. Value-free
- Rejects each of the positivists assumptions
Quantitative versus Qualitative Sociology
Quantitative Sociology
- Tends to be positivist in nature
- Measurable behaviour
- Eg. Crime rates over time
Qualitative Sociology
- Anti-positivist in nature
- Non-Measurable subjective behaviours
- Eg. Experiences of living in poverty
The Political Revolution: Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Promotion of individual rights and social responsibility, equality of opportunity and
the political ideology of democracy
-The Industrial Revolution: around 1750
-Often associated with technological advancement
-Profound social changes
-Resulted in new social problems
-Macrosociology refers to attempting to understand society as a whole
-Marx and Durkhein (quantitative sociologist)
-Microsociology refers to attempting to understand individual or small group dynamics
“Seeing” the World Theoretically
-Theory is a statement that tries to explain how facts or events are related
-Develop skills necessary to see the world from alternative perspectives
-Each theorist offers unique insights into our social world
-Objective (what we decide) vs. Subjective reality (how people understand their own
world/how does their community work = subjective)
-Epistemology, “ways of knowing”
Classical Sociological Theory (1600-1750)
-Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
-people are responsible for creating their social worlds
-Natural state: how humans existed ……………………
-John Locke (1632-1794)
-God was responsible for the emergence of society and government
-Tabula rasa: people are born as blank slates
-Right to self-preservation and to private property
-Individual autonomy and freedom
-Charles Montesquieu (1689-1755)
-People never existed outside, or without society
-Humans created and defined by society
-Laws define the spirit of the people; the Republic, the Monarchy, and Despotism