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Lecture 2

SOC101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Talcott Parsons, Émile Durkheim, Symbolic Interactionism

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Barry Mc Clinchey

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Sociology Lecture 2
Symbolic Interactionism
Feminist Theory
formed the basic foundation for sociology
Institutions we have created as a society work because we have made them
though consensus. Society is how we designed it to work
Prepares people for the school and work
Social world is a dynamic system of interrelated and interdependent parts
Society is how we designed it to work
Social structures exist to help people fulfill their wants and desires e.g
governmental take care of country, religious institutions take care of religion
Human society is similar to an organism when it fails to work together the
“system” will fail. society has to do its part
Functionalists know that things can go wrong but believe it can be fixed
Society must meet the needs of the majority
Dominant theoretical paradigm between the late 1920s and the early 1960s
Functionalist Theorists
Herbert Spencer
Survival of the fittest justifies why only the strong should survive
Social Darwinism draws upon Darwin’s idea of natural selection
oLaissez-faire approach (opposes regulation of or interference with natural
**Emile Durkheim
Human action originates in the collective other than the individual
Behaviour is driven by the collective conscience
Social Facts are general social features that exist on their own and are
independent of individual
Anomie is a state of normlessness that results from the lack of clear goals and
creates feelings of confusion that may ultimately result in higher suicide rates
Found that roman catholics have a more supportive background; whereas,
Protestants did not
First professor of education
Mechanic solidarity describes early societies based on similarities and
Small community, people depending on others

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Organic solidarity describes later societies organized around interdependence
and the increasing division of labour
Talcott Parsons
Social Action Theory is a framework which attempts to separate behaviours from
actions to explain why people do what they do
Four Functional Imperatives (AGIL)
1. Adaptation
2. Goal Attainment
3. Integration
4. Latent
Robert K. Merton
Developed “functionalism”
Social structures may have many functions
Shared many concepts with Talcott Parsons
Manifest Functions of Societal Institutions : Institutions are thought to perform
the functions for which they were designed. Intended functions.
Latent Functions : Institutions actually perform a number of functions not in their
intended design. Non-intended functions.
Critiques of functionalist approaches
Inability to account for social change
Overemphasis on the extent to which harmony and stability actually exist in
society (we don’t always agree)
Conflict Theory
Society is grounded upon inequality and competition
Power is the core of all social relationships; scarce and unequally divided among
members of society
Social values and the DOMINANT IDEOLOGY are the vehicles by which the
powerful promote their own interests at the expense of the weak
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Dynamic relationship between the material and social elements of society
Base: material and economic foundation for society. Includes the forces and
relations of production
Superstructure: all of the things that society values and aspires to once its
material needs are met. Includes religion, politics and law. (institutions we’ve
created once we’ve met the basic needs)
Key to human history is class; class is founded in conflict (we are in conflict for
the basic needs of life food, shelter etc)
Bourgeoisie – those that own means of production (capital, land, machines,
factories) are in conflict with the
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