September 19 2012
Functionalism started in the 1800s
Very particular, broad understanding of how society works.
It works the way we designed it to work. The way we understand it to.
Isn’t applicable today
Social world is a dynamic system of interrelated and interdependent parts.
o Social structures exist to help people fulfill their wants and desires
o Human society is similar to an organism, when it fails to work together, the “system” will fail. If
education falls apart, the economy will fall apart, etc.
o Society must meet the needs of the majority
Dominant theoretical paradigm between the late 1920s and the early 1960s
o Survival of the fittest justifies why only the strong should survive
o Societies evolve because they need to change in order to survive
Environmental pressures allow beneficial traits to be passed on to future generations.
o Social Darwinism draws upon Darwin’s idea of natural selection; asserts societies evolve according
to the same principles as biological organisms
o Laissez faire approach (opposes regulation of or interference with natural processes)
o Firs t sociological hero o Positivist
o Founder of modern sociology
o Human action originates in the collective rather than in the individual.
o Behaviour is driven by the collective conscience
o Many decisions are already made for us. We already know what we’re supposed to do.
o Social facts are general social features that exist on their own and are independent of individual
Anomie – 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.
Durkheim studied suicide
o “What affects suicide rates in France?”
o Mechanic Solidarity describes early societies based on similarities and independence.
o Organic Solidarity – describes later societies organized around interdependence and the increasing
division of labour.
o Interested in explaining why people do what they do
o Social Action Theory – a framework which attempts to separate behaviours form actions to explain
why people do what they do
o Social structures have many functions
o Manifest functions – intended consequences of an action or social pattern. All institutions have
o Latent Functions – the unintended consequences of an action or social pattern.
Criticisms of functionalist approaches:
o Inability to account for social change
o Overemphasis on the extent to which harmony and stability actually exist in society
Society is grounded upon inequality and competition o Power is the core of all social relationships; scarce and unequally divided among members of society.
o Social values and the dominant ideology are the vehicles by which the powerful promote their own
interests at the expense of the weak.
o Rooted in the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau
o The Wall Street protest
o Dialectics – a way of seeing history and society as the result of oppositions, contradictions and
tensions from which social change can emerge (Hegel)
o Idealism – human mind and consciousness are more important in understanding the human condition
than is the material world.
o Human consciousness and human interaction with the material world could change society.
o Relations of production based on power
Base/Superstructure Dynamic relationship between the material and social elements of society
o Base: The material and economic foundation for society, made up of the forces of production and the
relations of production
o Superstructure: can be understood as all of the things that society values and aspires to once its
material needs are met (e.g., religion, law, politics)
o Proletariat (the workers) bourgeoisie (rich owners)
Alienation – the process by which workers are disconnected from what they produce
o Exploitation – the difference between what workers are paid and the wealth they create for the
o Ideology – set of beliefs and values that support and justify the ruling class.
o Dominant ideology maintains the position of the ruling elite (politicians, owners of corporations)
o False Consciousness – belief in and support of the system that oppresses you
o Class Consciousness – recognition of domination and oppression and the collective action that
occurs to address it.
This approach to how societies work has nothing much in common with functionalism or conflict theory.
o Micro versus macro approach
o Highlight the ways in which meanings are created, constructed, mediated and changed by members of
a group or society
o Verstehen – a deep understanding and interpretation of subjective social meanings.
o Society is the summation of human experience and its patterned interactions
George Herbert Mead
o Focused on the relationship between the individual human, the environment, and society.
“Mind, Self, and Society” (1934) – the social organism is not an organic individual but a social
group of individual organisms (p. 130)
o We can’t survive as individuals.
o Human mind results from the individual’s ability to respond and engage with the environment. Charles H. Cooley
o Sympathetic introspection – putting yourself into someone else’s shoes.
o Looking glass self – develop our self image through the cus we receive from others
o How people see us as
o Selffulfilling prophecy SOCIOLOGY 101 CHAPTER 1 09/12/2012
Course ID for Soc lab :mcclinchey42678
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• Explain what the sociological perspective is
• Describe and reflect upon Mills’ conception of the sociological imagination
• Explain Peter Berger’s use of the terms general, particular, strange and familiarun
Explore the social factors that influence who you are
• Understand the historical development of sociology
• Define and explain the differences between positivism and antipositivism
• Explain microsociology and macrosociology
• Describe the defining features of Canadian sociology
• Review the importance of a global perspective
1. WHAT IS SOCIOLOGY?
Sociology is the systematic study of human groups and their interactions. study of society. Not social
workers. Sociologists study everything people do. Ie) Global issues, religion, gender. They do research.
Sociological Perspective refers to the unique way in which sociologists see our world and can dissect the
dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network in which we all live.
2. CHARLES WRIGHT MILLS
• Sociological Imagination – Developing an appreciation of how individual challenges are influenced by
larger social forces.
• Personal troubles result from individual challenges.
• Social issues are caused by larger social factors.
The trick is in understanding how these personal troubles may indeed be due to larger social issues.
• Quality of mind refers to one’s ability to look beyond personal circumstance and into social context SOCIOLOGY 101 CHAPTER 1 09/12/2012
3. PETER BERGER
Seeing thegeneral in thparticular is the ability to look at seemingly unique events (particular) and then
recognizing the larger (general) features involved.
Think about what familiar and see it astrange .
4. WHAT MAKES YOU, YOU?
Agency refers to the idea that each of us has, to some extent, the ability to alter our socially constructed
Structure is the network of relatively stable opportunities and constraints influencing our individual
Can you see, in your own life thus far, that both agency and structure have played a role in who you are?
Which is more influential? Why?
ENGAGING YOUR SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION
Our perception of ourselves and others are the products of many factors, for example:
• Minority status
• Socioeconomic status
• Family structure
• UrbanRural differences
How have factors such as these affected the person you have become today?
ASSESS YOUR PRIVILEGE SOCIOLOGY 101 CHAPTER 1 09/12/2012 SOCIOLOGY 101 CHAPTER 1 09/12/2012
5. THE HISOTIRICAL DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIOLOGY
Scientific Revolution: 16501800 – August Comte (father of sociology)
Law of 3 Stages:
• Theological – religious outlook
• Metaphysical – a period of
• Positive – rules of
QUANTITATIVE VS. QUALITATIVE SOCIOLOGY
• Tends to be positivist in nature
• Measurable behavior
E.g. Crime rates over time
Understand that there is some sort of truth out there.
• Anti positivist in nature
• Non measurable subjective behaviours
• E.g. Experiences of living in poverty
Cannot reduce what people do to numbers.
True or False Qualitative sociologists often investigate the relationship between variables.
The Political Revolution – Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Machiavelli – human behavior
Descartes, Locke – SOCIOLOGY 101 CHAPTER 1 09/12/2012
6. POSITIVISM AND ANTIPOSITIVISM
Positivism is the theoretical approach that considers all understanding to be based on science.
• There exists an objective knowable reality
• Singular explanation
AntiPositivism is a theoretical approach that considers knowledge and understanding to be the result of
Rejects each of the positivist assumptions.
7. MACRO AND MICRO APPROACHES
Macrosociology refers to attempting to understand society as a whole.
Marx, Durkheim and Weber
Microsociology refers to attempting to understand individual or small group dynamics.
What type of approach would you use to examine poverty in Canada?
8. SOCIOLOGY IN CANADA
Four features which define Canadian Sociology
1. Geography and Regionalism
Role of regionalism
2. Political Economy
Clement – interest in the interactions of politics, government and the social and cultural constitution of
markets, institutions and actors
3. Canadianization Movement
Influenced by American sociology SOCIOLOGY 101 CHAPTER 1 09/12/2012
4. Radical Nature
Greater focus on macrosociology as well as feminist ideas
9. SOCIOLOGY IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Looking beyond our own boundaries to consider the dynamic forces of globalization.
Globalization is a worldwide process involving production, distribution and consumption of goods and
Capitalism as a defining feature of the global economy
Connecting local realities to global collective consciousness
Explain the differences between macro and microsociology
What are the defining features of Canadian sociology?
What are some of the ways that globalization affects the issues that Canadian sociologists investigate?
Textbook Chpt 1 Understanding the Social
Seeing the General in the Particular
• Peter Berger
• The ability to look at seemingly unique events or circumstances and then recognize the larger (or
general) featres involved.
• Ie) think about the last time you saw a street person asking people for spare change. This is a specific
and particular incidient; it occurred at a specific time and place. To see the general is also to recognize
that while you may have only seen one street person, you know that there are many more you do not
Seeing the Strange in the Familiar
• Sociologists need to tune their sociology perspective by thinking about what is familiar and seeing it as
• Ie) students studying seems normal, but it’s strange. Is a student who gets an A in a course smarter
than someone who receives a C?
While we are all individuals, we are also the culmination of many social forces.
Five social factors:
People who are of a visible minority, a physical disability or a mental disability, or homosexual face various
forms of discrimination.
How would you react to these experiences if you were a minority?
Partriarchal society, men control economics and politics
Women make significantly less
SES is a term used to describe a combination of variables to score people on criteria such as income level,
level of education, occupation, and area of residence.
Kids born into rich families have an advantage
While wealth and opportunity are certaifamiliar, isn’t it astrange how lucky these people were to
be born into these families? Textbook Chpt 1 Understanding the Social
Ascribed status – Situation in which a person is assigned advantage, or disadvantage, through birth.
Achieved status – the status a person has been able to gain through personal attributes and qualities. (Ie;
parents assign sex, but achieving high grades are achieved)
The majority of those born poor remain poor, there are exceptions.
Female loneparent families tend to have low incomes.
Child wellbeing is almost always associated with household income.
The nature of growing up in either locations is more subtle and contextual
Only real difference is structural, ie) intertainment, access to healthcare
Origins of Sociology
Chinese Confucius studied society
Sophists traveled the country and catered to the rich who wanted to learn how to live well and be happy.
They were the first to focus on the human being.
Socrates and Plato
Marcus Aurelius, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Shakespeare, John Locke all explored the role of the individual in
Ibn Khaldun is recognized as the first sociological perspective
Auguste Comte coined the phrase sociology
The Three Revolutions: The Rise of Sociology
Social change during the Englightenment after the development of the scientific method
Auguste Comte – Techniques to explain physical world should be applied to social world as well. One
needed to understand how human thinking has changed through time to understand society. Law of Three
Stages (how advances of the mind created three types of societies)
Theological – religious outlook, ended with the emergency of the Renaissance
Metaphysical Stage – people began to question everything and to challenge power of Church. We can use
feelings and emotions to understand ourselves better
Positive Stage – world could be interpreted through a scientific lens; society would be guided by the rules of
observation, experimentation, and logic. Textbook Chpt 1 Understanding the Social
A theoretical approach that considers all understanding to be based on science. A positivist approaches
the world through three primary assumptions
1. There exists an objective and knowable reality
2. Since all sciences explore the same, singular reality, over time all sciences will become ore alike.
3. There is no room in science for value judgments.
A theoretical approach that considers knowledge and understanding to be the result of human subjectivity.
Arguments against three points:
1. The social world cannot be understand solely through numbers and formulas.
2. All sciences will not merge over time and no single methodological approach can reacha complete
understanding of our world.
3. Science cannot be separated from our values.
The Political Revolution
The Enlightenment inspired a great deal of social and scientific change.
Society evolved to endorse democratic principles once it separated from the teachings of the church
Niccolo Machiavelli, René Descartes and Thomas Hobbes – challenged social convention and inspired new
ways of understanding the social world.
Machiavelli’sThe Prince suggests that human behaviour is motivated by self interest, it was banned by
Descartes is famous for his “I think, therefore, I am.” All human beings were able to understand their world
through rational reflection. This idea was revolutionary at the time.
Thomas Hobbes – also reflected that position, he believed that people were driven by fear of death and the
desire for power. Our lives are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. True nature of humankind is self
Locke – assertion that ideas are not innature and all knowledge is the result of experience. Tabula Rasa.
Must gather more information about the material world through sciece and experiments.
Rousseau – challenge to the true nature of social life. Before society, humans existed in a natural statude
where human’s desire was solitary and selfcentered. Social contract – humans saw the benefits of
Industrial Revolution Textbook Chpt 1 Understanding the Social
• 1750 – industrial revolution replaced agriculture as our dominant means of supporting ourselves and
• Steam engine – farmers abandoned village life and moved into cities in search of factory jobs.
• Rural to urban
Four Defining Features of Sociology in Canada
Geography and Regionalism
• Maintenance of a community in the face of hostile elements (Brym & St. Pierre)
Quiet Revolution – fade of Catholic Church in Quebec influence.
Focus on Political Economy
• Political Economy – the interactions of politics, government and governing, and the social and
cultural constitution of markets, instutions, and actors.
• Harold Innis – first sociologist to study Canada’s political Staples thesis – Canadian
development was based on the exploitation of raw materials that were sent to Europe.
• America already had sociology practiced at U of Chicago
• Sociologists felt pressure to define sociology from a Canadian perspective
• Greater focus on macrosociology in Canada than America
• Greater support for feminist ideas and social change
Sociology in a Global Perspective
Globalization – a worldwide process involving the production, distribution, and consumption of
technological, political, economic and sociocultural goods and services.
Global village – Marshall McLuhan electronic media collapse space and time and enable people
everywhere to interact and experience life on a global scale.
Implies a realization of the primary of capitalism as a defining feature of the global economy
Is capitalism the right option or the only one available? Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
Theory – a statement that tries to explain how certain facts or variables are related to predict future events
1) Philosophical Roots of Classical Sociological Theory
Hobbes believed that society was the result of human agency
Natural state was warlike
Locke believed God was responsible for the emergence of society and government.
Natural state was peaceful
Charles de Montesquieu – people never existed outside, or without, society.
Ideal Types – Classic or pure forms of a given social phenomenon (e.g., to some, the United States is an
ideal type of capitalism.
The spirit behind the Republic – virtue
Monarchy – honour
Depotism – fear
Rousseau – “Natural man is simply man divested of what he has acquired in society”
Natural state – people exist in a symbolic and idyllic relationship based on equality
A perfect society would mirror our natural state.
When our social arrangements are inconsistent with these natural rules, we suffer social problems (ie high
crime and suicide)
Government was needed to protect people from each other
Philosophes – French philosophers during the Enlightenment who advocated critical thinking and
Challenged 300 years of Christian scholarship
Isaac Newston – universe as orderly and could be understood by science and human reason.
Philosophes fought limit of free thinking and expression.
The ability of the masses to take control of their lives and challenge oppressors led to the American and
Conservative Reaction to Enlightenment Thinking: The Birth of Sociology
Conservative challenged the very basis of Enlightenment thinking – they wanted to go back to times when
society was more stable.
Zeitlin’s 10 propositions of conservation reaction thinking. Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
Functionalists view the social world as a dynamic system of interrelated and interdependent parts.
Social structure exist to help people fulfill their desires as defined by social values.
Organic analogy Functionalists view society as being similar to an organism with interdependent and
Survival of the Fittest – Spencer’s interpretation of biological principles to justify why only the strong
should survive. Once the population is too much the strong will survive by obtaining the resources.
Natural Selection – Charles Darwin – the biologically based principle that environmental pressures
allow certain beneficial traits to be passed on to future generations.
Evolution – the biological process by which genetic mutations are selected for, and against, through
Social Darwinism – Spencer’s assertion tat societies evolve according to the same principles as do
Laissezfaire – a point of view that opposes regulation of or interference with natural processes.
He doesn’t believe in helping the poor
Founder of modern sociology
Individual behaviours are inspired by collective social forces – conservative reaction thinking
Culture and society exist outside of the individual, are independent of the individual, and outlive the
Collective Conscience – Durkheim’s concept highlighting the totality of a society’s beliefs and
sentiments. Drives your behaviours without you being aware of it.
Social facts – General social features that exist on their own and are independent of individual
manifestations. Ie) laws, beliefs, morals
Societies with levels of integration or regulation that are too high or too low will suffer from higher suicide
rates. Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
Mechanical solidarity – describes early societies based on similarities and independence. People
were still independent of each other since they were largely selfsufficient. Example of this society – hunter
Organic solidarity – describes later societies organized around independence and the increasing
division of labour. IE) Today people are no longer selfsufficient, they depend on the collective to meet their
individual and social needs.
We no longerchoose to coexist, need each other to survive.
Explained why people do what they do Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
Social action theory – an attempt to separate behaviours from actions to explain why people do what
Behaviours – For Parsons, the almost mechanical responses to specific stimuli
Actions – For Parsons, the results of an active and inventive process
Viewed people as actors in that they played roles as either individuals or as collectives.
Four stage process to explain why people do what they do, it also outlines the mechanisms for maintaining
1. Adaption: The social system must be able to gather and distribute sufficient resources and adjust to
changes in its environment
2. Goal attainment: the system needs to establish clear goals
3. Integration: The system needs to maintain solidarity while allowing the aspirations of subgroups
4. Latency: The system needs to motivate individuals to release their frustration in socially appropriate
o Tension maintenance – recognizes the internal tensions and strains that influence all actors
o Pattern maintenance – involves socially appropriate ways to display tensions and strains
Socialization and social control allow all 4 imperatives to operate harmoniously.
Robert K Merton
• Stressed that social structures have many functions, some more obvious than others.
• Analysis of manifest and latent functions
• Manifest functions – the intended consequences of an action or social pattern
• Latent functions – the unintended consequences of an action or social pattern.
• How can functionalism account or social change when the organism’s natural state is homeostasis?
This perspective overemphasizes the extent to which harmony and stability actually exist in society.
3) Conflict Theory
Based on the assumption that society is grounded on inequality and competition over scarce resources that
ultimately result in conflict, which often inspires social change.
Two basic principles:
1. Power is the core of all social relationships and is scarce and unequally divided among members of
2. Social values and the dominant ideology are vehicles by which the powerful promote their own interests
at the expense of the weak Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
Rousseau – two kinds of inequality among people
1. Natural or physical inequality – inequality based on physical differences established by nature (e.g.,
2. Moral or political inequality – inequality based on human classification of valuable things (e.g., money,
o Society imposes some forms of inequality that are not based on natural differences but instead on
elements that we decide are important. Ie) Why are taller people more successful?
o Inequality is the original evil and explains all forms of conflict between individuals or society.
Marx and Engels: Conflict Theorists
o They together investigated the nature of human condition and defined a theory that was an alternative
o Influenced by Hegel – religion limited the achievement of human potential and must be eliminated
o To understand social development and history you have to understand dialectics and idealism
o Dialectics – Hegel’s view of society as the result of oppositions, contradictions, and tensions
from which new ideas and social change can emerge. Conflict can result in positive change.
o Idealism – the belief that the human mind and consciousness are more important in
understanding the human condition than is the material world. The material world does not
affect what we are, the only thing that is truly knowable is consciousness itself. At odds with
Engels argued initially that social revolution was the inevitable result of capitalism
Marx and Engels – human interaction with the material world could change society – opposite of
conservative reaction theory Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
o Base – The material and economic foundation for society, made up of the forces of production and the
relations of production
o Forces of Production – The physical and intellectual resources a society haswith which to make a
o What people do for a living influences their perceptions of the world.
o Relations of production – the relationship between workers and owners. A relationship based on
power that defines a society’s use of productive assets
o Social class – A group who share a similar relationship to labour and who are aware of their conflict
with other classes
o Class Conflict – when the interests of one class are in opposition to another
o In a capitalist society, there are the workProletariat)and the rich ownerbourgeoisie ).
They have a dialectal relationship – owners do not care about workers well being, only money they
make. Workers do not care about product quality, only money they get paid. Owners exploit workers
o Exploitation – the difference between what workers are paid and the wealth they create for the
owner Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
o The superstructure was made possible upon the base of society. The superstructure can be
understood as all of the things that society values and aspires to once its material needs are met (e.g.,
religion, law, politics)
o Canadian society is built on our desire for equality and fairness, but where are these standards
defined? To understand how these social values develop, Marx investigated ideology in society
o Ideology – a set of beliefs and values that support and justify the ruling class of a society.
o Ideological Assumptions – Parkinson and Drislane
1. Capitalist ideologies assert the value of competition, morality, and achievement
2. Socialist ideologies advocate against capitalist oppression and see the value of collective
ownership and economic equality
3. Patriarchal ideologies advocate the primacy of everything male ad the social domination of the
4. Racist ideologies are used to justify slavery and/or colonial expansion
o All of these ideologies have one group dominating another, thus allowing those in power to define what
is right and wrong.
o Canada’s political economic and social elite are white men.
Marx & Engels – How do the rich and powerful maintain control over the majority of society? They use false
and class consciousness to explain it.
o False Consciousness – belief in and support of the system that oppresses you
o Class Consciousness – Recognition of domination and oppression and collective action to address
Critiquing Conflict Theory
o The conflict approach tends to diminish the many areas of our livs where we experience an uncoerced
consensus about things we feel are important.
o Conflict theorists tend to believe more strongly that they should become actively involved in advocating
for those people in society who lack social power. Critiques argue that this may violate scientific
objectivity, it seems more like social activism.
o Criticized for its insistence on the primary an ddriving role of economics and materialist interpretations
of social life.
4) Symbolic Interactionism
o Based on works of Mead and Cooley, named by Herbert Blumer Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
o Emphasize that society and all social structures are nothing more than the creations of interacting
people and that they can, therefore, be changed.
o Thomas theorem – assertion that things people define as real are real in their consequences.
o Ritzer’s seven principles present a very different view of the individual and his or her relationship to
society than functionalism or conflict do. – see p 55
o Meanings and understandings of our social world are the result of our interactions with others and how
we choose to construct the social world we live in.
Verstehen – Weber’s term for a deep understanding and interpretation of subjective social meanings.
o Human actors are not seen as the product of external forces that direct their lives, but instead as active
agents who engage with others to organize their world and give it meaning.
o Put yourself in another person’s shoes and see the world from his position – sociological imagination
o Society was not a living thing, nor was it an abstract creation of the intellect
o Simmel viewed society as the summation of human experience and its patterned interactions.
o Promotedformal sociology simmel’s theory that argues that different human interactions, once
isolated from their content, can be similar in form.
George Herbert Mead
o “The social organism” is not an organic individual but a “social group of individual organisms”
o To help understand the social nature of the individual, Mead defined the differeIces between the and
o Human behaviour is always the product of interactions with others.
o I– the unsocialized part of the self
o Me – The socialized part of the self
o The I represents the individual’s response to the actions of othersand the Me controls the response of
Charles H. Cooley
o Best way to study the social world was through a metSympathetic Introspection – His
concept of the value of putting yourself into another person’s shoes and seeing the world as he or she
o Lookingglass Self – an active, imaginative process by which we develop our selfimage through
the cues we receive from others. Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
Critiquing Symbolic Intractionism
• Macrosociologists, especially conflict theorists, argue that symbolic interactionists fail to acknowledge
how difficult it is to change long established social arrangements
• Symbolic interactionism doesn’t account for the importance of social structures and institutions in
defining the world we live in.
5) Marginalized Voices and Social Theory
No one wanted to listen to people other than white men.
Contributions by Women
• Many women who made substantial contributions to classical theory are finally being recognized
• Their writing often focused on promoting social equality and activism
Significant in the development of Western society generally and of sociology specifically
• Mary Wollstonecraft – suggested marriage was a form of legal prostitution. Only way to achieve
equality was to educate boys and girls together. Women accepted powerlessness because they could
rely on their sexual power to seduce men.
• Harriet Martineau – supporter of feminism and passionate against slavery. First to explore social
methodology. “What constitutes a better life for people?”
Contributions by Visible Minorities
• Anna Julia Cooper – born a slave. Confronted racism and exclusion. Taught her students about it.
• Ida Wells Barnett – civil rights leader, suffragist. Her parents were born slaved. Wanted ot understand
the experience of black women in America
W .E. Dubois – civil rights leader, social scientist, political militant, founded National Association for
the Advancement of Coloured People.Doubleconsciousness – way of seeing one’s self through
the eyes of someone else that for American blacks resulted in a sense of twoness
Contributions by NonWestern Scholars
• Frantz Fanon – black identity, colonial rule, decolonization. Language influences how people view
themselves – traditional languages are replaced by the language of colonizers, the colonized, over
time, begin to accept and support the culture of the colonizer as represented through language.
• C .L.R. James – ontributed to anticolonial struggler. Explored the damage and suffering caused by
slavery as well as challenged the mythology surrounding racial inferiority. Blueprint of how to challenge
colonial rulers. Textbook Chpt 2 – Classical Social Theories 09/12/2012
• Gerge Padmore – gave new voice to the exploited and oppressed working class. Radicaled
Caribbean working class and was a leading advocate for colonial revolution. Sociology and its Classical Theoretical
1. Describe the early contributions of social philosophers and their relevance to classical sociological
2. Review and critique functionalism and the contributions of its principal theorists
3. Review and critique conflict theory and the contributions of its founding theorists
4. Review and critique symbolic interactionism and the contributions of its founding theorists
5. Describe how marginalized voices contributed to sociological theory
“SEEING” THE WORLD THEORETICALLY
Theory is a statement that tries to explain how facts or events are related.
Theory helps us develop skills that are necessary to see the world from alternative perspectives.
Each theory has both strengths and weaknesses.
Each theorist offers unique insights into our social world.
1.CLASSICAL SOCIOLOGY THEORY (16001750)
Thomas Hobbes (15881679)
People are responsible for creating their social worlds.
Natural state – how humans existed prior to the emergence of social structures.
People are motivated by self interest and the pursuit of power
John Locke (16321794)
God was responsible for the emergency of society and government
Tabula rasa – people are born as blank slates.
Right to selfpreservation and to private property
Individual autonomy and freedom Modern Social Theories 09/12/2012
What are modern social theories? Modern Social Theories 09/12/2012
o Should not be thought of as completely separate from classical theories
o Draw on each other’s work in their formulations
o Theme of power runs through modern theories.
o Western Marxism
o Feminist theories
o Queer Theory
o PostColonial Theory
o AntiRacist Theory
o Antonio Gramsci
o How does power work
o How do we manipulate others without them knowing that we’ve done it?
o How does the government get people to not as questions?
o Domination – physical and violent coercion
o Hegemony – ideological control and manipulation.
o Common way that we come to expect the way everything works
o Uses our collective beliefs to get us to comply
o Society’s dominant ideas reflect the interests of the ruling class
o Involves consent
Superstructure divided into the state and civil society
Prevailing consciousness internalized by population and becomes common sense.
o Feminists differ in their explanations of women’s oppression and the nature of gender and in their ideas
about women’s emancipation. Modern Social Theories 09/12/2012
o Core concern for gender oppression
o Women and men should be equals
o Men have social power and thus an interest in maintaining their social privilege over women
o A Second Wave feminist
o Sociology for women
o Can’t study sociology with regular practices on women because they were developed by men.
o Qualitative Researcher
o “The Everyday World as Problematic”
o Begins in the “actualities” of people’s lives, and addresses problems of how we are influenced
by ‘extralocal’ relations
o Actual” – where people live and where their reality is constituted through discourse
o Discourse: social organized activity among people
o Everyday world contains different experiences and thus sees it as the stating point of inquiry
o How do you and I understand our everyday world that we live in?
o Standpoint theory– preserves the presence of the subject as an active and experiencing
• Decided for her own reasons to spell her name this way
• African American
• Black feminist thought
• Rarely recognized black women as separate from black men
Criticized feminist theorizing that automatically positions households as places of patriarchate
oppression for women
• Hooks argues against universal assumptions about women’s experiences.
Michael Foucault’s PostStructuralism
• Concerned with how knowledge is socially produced Modern Social Theories 09/12/2012
• Foucault Power, Knowledge, and Discourse
• Power created within social relationships, multidimensional, found everywhere and always at work.
o Power is knowledge – doctors have power to take a scalpel and redesign someone. Doctor’s
can take away someone’s license for seizures.
• Knowledge can never be separated from relations of power
• Discourses guide how we think, act, and speak.
o Tell us how the world is and how it out to be
• Talks about surveillance as power in one of his books
o To control you just have to make people think you’re watching them all the time
• The Panoptigon
• How do you efficiently control prisoners in prison?
• Minimize number of people to take care of mass amount of people.
Central viewpoint can see what everyone else is doing without them knowing they’re being watched
• Discipline is how we come to be motivated to produce particular realities
• Power operates by producing some behaviours while discouraging others
o Formal or informal sanctions
• Discipline (form of power) works through surveillance
o In China they keep tabs on everyone in a village by recruiting grannies and encouraged them
to make regular reports about what goes on in the village.
• Surveillance: acts of observing, recording, and training.
• Normalization: a social process by which some practices and ways of living are deemed normal and
• Problematizes the standard of equality based on sameness
o Society If you’re male or you’re female, you should share some similar characteristics that
define yourself Modern Social Theories 09/12/2012
o Their argument Sameness isn’t normal
• Three main area of queer theory:
Aim to disrupt categories of normal and acceptable sexuality
Drop the notions of “a normal male/female”
Unable to capture whole truth of reality
Normal vs. abnormal
Constructed through social relations and discourse
• Focus on the political and cultural effects of colonialism
Imperialism: “What happens at home”
• Colonialism: “What happens away from home” ie England and France coming to Canada
• Post suggests a focus on events that happened after formal colonialism ended in the early 1960’s.
• Canada and internal colonialism – Aboriginal Peoples
• Has postcolonialism been realized in Canada?
o Last week harper made arrangements with the British to share some embassies. Many are
arguing that colonial power of England is back in play.
o When the Royals come there’s a big fuss – there’s a tremendous interest in the royal family.
Canada and Colonialism
• Canada has its own colonial history
Consider our Aboriginal population – arepost colonial?
Canada and Gendered Orientalism – Park’s research on media reports of Asian girls and women in
Asian women born in Canada we’re put in camps, all belongings taken from there, for the duration of the
Canada’s past practices with respect to Asian immigration have been less than exemplar
Critical Race Theory
• We have to understand what’s going on in our society today as a consequence of a historical racism
that’s been in place for hundreds of years Modern Social Theories 09/12/2012
• Racism is endemic to American life
• Acts of racism are not individual, isolated, or random acts
They’re part of a society’s history
o Negative view of how society actually works
Insists on contextual/historical analysis of the law
Can’t argue historical racism when we study what has happened in the law
Value in drawing on experience
Interdisciplinary – have to use sociology, history, political science to understand how racism works
Intersectional – have to look at many different institutions in society to see how they play a role in racism Textbook Chapter 3 09/12/2012
Western Marxism Textbook Chapter 3 09/12/2012
• Two forms of political control – domination and hegemony.
o Domination – direct physical and violent coercion exerted by the police to maintain social
boundaries and enforce social rules
o Hegemony – ideological control and consent.
• The rule of the dominant class involves ideological control and consent
• Society’s dominant ideas reflect the interests of the ruling class and help to mask social inequalities.
• No regime would by able to maintain its rule by relying on organized state power and armed force.
Regime must have the alliance of the masses.
Women’s common experiences could be used as the basis for a political project of emancipation
• Concept ofRuling – the exercise of power that shapes people’s actions and their lives.
• Challenges the coherence of the category of “woman”; recognizes the diversity of women
• The singular voice that supposedly represents all women is really the voice of white, middleclass,
heterosexual, educated women.
• Power, knowledge, disourse, discipline
• Power is productive – it produces particular forms of behaviour. The production of knowledge cannot
stand outside of power relations
• Knowledge – to know something is to exercise power
• Truths and facts come together in systems referreddisoucrses – system of meaning that
governs how we think, act, and speak about a particular thing or issue.
• Discipline – the means by which we become motivated to produce particular realities Textbook Chapter 3 09/12/2012
Draws on insights from Michael Foucault
• Seeks to destabilize and deconstruct sexual identities. Sexuality is socially constructed.
• Queer theory wants to open up the concept and realidesire (our sexual attractions and wants) as
wide as possible
• Concerned with how language is related to power – it is impossible to disentangle language from
knowledge since language is the vehicle of knowledge.
• Identity is not some coherent entity that emerges from within our “souls” making us who we are. It is
socially produced, is fluid, and is multiple.
• Political and cultural effects of colonialism
• Orientalism is a Western style of thought that creates a false difference between the Orient (east) and
the Occident (West).
• Orientalism is a discourse of power that has the effect of naturalizing the East as being inferior to the
Critical Race Theory
• Charles Lawrene, Mari Matsuda, Richard Delgado, Kimberele Crenshaw
• Racism is widespread in North America. Challenges the supposed neutrality of law and principles such
as objectivity and colourblindness.
• Explores transformations in our lives dealing with time and space. Globalization is an economic, social,
cultural, and political process
• Timespace distanciation – The separation of time and space, which allows social relations to shift
from a local to a global context.
• Disembedding mechanism – A mechanism that aids in shifting social relations from local to global
• Symbolic token – A medium of exchange (such as money)
Summary Textbook Chapter 3 09/12/2012
• Gramsci’s concept of hegemony holds that the ruling class dominates through the permeation of its
ideology. Its prevailing philosophy, culture, and morality become internalized by the population and
appear as common sense. In this way, the subordinate classes never feel wholly oppressed by ruling
• As an example of secondwave feminism, Dorothy Smith’s feminist theory begins with the actualities of
people’s lives and addresses how they are influenced by social relations outside their particular worlds.
Bell hooks, our thirdwave feminism example, critiques the erasure of black women’s identities in the
context of the women’s movement, and focuses on the inseparability of race and gender.
• Michael Foucault understands power not as an entity, but as constituted within social relations. This
approach thus perceives individuals as having the agency to resist and even change power relations.
Foucault links power with knowledge through his concept of discourse, a system of “truths” that serve to
structure how people think about certain subjects. Discipline, according to Foucault, is a form of
modern power that works through normalizing judgment rather than force or coercion
• Queer theory’s three principal areas of critique are desire, language, and identity. With regard to
desire, queer theorists aim to disrupt categories of normal and acceptable sexuality and allow for its
multiple expressions. Language is understood as having the power to create reality in that far from
being neutral, language is laced with implicit values. Identity is perceived not as inherent within us but
rather as constructed: it is fluid, multiple and emerges through our relationships with others.
• Postcolonial theory is concerned with relations of power, whether past or present, between colonizing
powers and those colonized. Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism outlines the West’s false opposition
between it and the Orient (or the East) where by the West is considered superior to the East. This
Orientalism takes three forms: academic, imaginative, and institutional.
• Canada has its own colonial past. Internal colonialism for Aboriginals in Canada has resulted in severe
forms of marginalization – economic, social, and political.
• Giddens understands globalization as occurring through the separation of time and space, whereby
social relations shifted from local to global contexts. Two mechanisms associated with the process are
symbolic tokens (money) and expert systems of knowledge. Giddens also links globalization to such
institutions as capitalism, industrialism, and world military order. Research Methodology, and Ethics 09/12/2012
Sociology theory and research questions are inextricably linked: the theoretical perspective a researcher
uses will influence the type of research questions he or she asks.
Sociological research entails using either a quantitative (numerical) or qualitative (nonnumerical, richly
detailed) approach, or a combination of the two. Researchs employ teither deductive reasoning (moving
from theory to data) or inductive reasoning (moving from data to theory.)
• The overall research process begins with an area of interest. A literature search helps with the
development of a research question. The question leads to the research design and conduction of the
research. One then analyzes the data and disseminates the findings.
• The essential concepts involved in formulating a research project are hypothesis, independent and
dependent variables, validity and reliability, correlation and causality, and research population.
• The seven main research methods used in sociological research are surveys, interviews, participant
observation, content analysis, secondary analysis, participatory action and a mix of two or more of
• Just as the theoretical perspective informs the questions a researcher asks, the research questions in
turn influence the choice of research methods.
• Sexism has been prevalent in academic research. According to Margrit Eichler, the seven types of
sexism found in research are androcentricity, overgeneralization/over specificity, gender insensitivity,
double standard, sex appropriateness, familism, and sexual dichotomism.
Key principles in ethical research include respect for others, upheld through informed consent, and
balancing participant risk with benefits to the wider society. Culture 09/12/2012
Defining Features of Culture
1. Culture is learned
2. Culture is shared
3. Culture is transmitted
4. Culture is cumulative
5. Culture is human.
• Culture – a complex collection of values, beliefs, behaviours and material objects shared by a group
and passed on from one generation to the next – possesses five defining features: it is learned, shared,
transmitted, cumulative, and human.
• Ethnocentricism is the tendency to perceive one’s own culture as superior to all others; cultural
relativism, in contrast, appreciates that all cultures have intrinsic worth.
• Language, comprising a system of symbols having agreedupon meanings shared by a group of
people, can distinguish one culture from another; with the death of its language, a culture loses one of
its survival mechanisms.
• A subculture is a group that shares common attributes that distinguish it from the larger population; a
counterculture is a type of subculture that opposes the widely held cultural patterns of the larger
• Canadian culture has been defined by its vast and, in places, harsh physical environment, by the
coexistence of and conflict between French and English, and by its primary and enduring differences
from the United States.
• Cultural change occurs through 1) discovery, whens something previously unrecognized or understood
is found to have social or cultural application, 2) invention/innovation, when existing cultural items are
manipulated or modified to produce something new and socially valuable, and 3) diffusion, when
cultural items or practices ar etransmitted from one group to another
Functionalists hold that cultural traditions develop and persist because they are adaptive and main
stability. Conflict theorists on the other hand, view cultural systems as a means of perpetuating
social inequality, with the dominant culture assimilating less powerful cultures. Symbolic
interactionists understand culture as being actively created and recreated through social interaction. Research, Methodology and Ethics
– Chapter 4 09/12/2012
Connecting Theory to Research Questions
• Macrosociological theories ask “large questions”
o Conflict theorists, struggles over scarce resources
o Functionalists, smooth functioning of society
Microsological theories ask questions about experiences and meanings
Symbolic Interactionists, meanings people use to facilitate social life.
Does punishment scare people out of committing crimes?
Prime minister says we need more jails to convict more people
Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches
• Quantitative Approaches (numerical data)
o Determining significant relationships between variables
o Comparative – we can compare different groups in a study
o We can take our studies and apply them to a larger pool.
Qualitative Approaches (nonnumerical data)
Smaller sample sizes
Interviewing and observation
Researchers are research “instruments”
Can’t generalize to any population
Systems of Reasoning
• Move from data collected to theory
• Gather information about a topic before developing theories about how to explain particular aspects.
o Interviewed 50 parole officers, when they started talking to them they had no idea what they
were going to say to them. Once they analyze data from interviews, they start to see overall
patterns in their observations. That’s how they come up with theories.
• Most often use qualitative approach Research, Methodology and Ethics
– Chapter 4 09/12/2012
• Move theory to data
o Does vitamin c reduce the incidents of colds of the course of a year for people?
• You gather the data, and see if it confirms or rejects the hypothesis
• Develop a theory or set of theories to explain or predict a pattern and then test the theory
• Sheldon from the big bang uses this method
• Most often use a qualitative approach
In quantitative research one begins with a testable theory
A tentative statement about a particular relationship that can be tested empirically.
Variables are used to measure relationships
Independent variable – can be varied or manipulated
Dependent variable – is the reaction (or lack thereof) of the manipulation
Operational Definition describes how a variable is measured
Accuracy of a given measurement
Consistency of a given result
Isn’t necessary valid Research, Methodology and Ethics
– Chapter 4 09/12/2012
Measures how strongly two variables are related
As one variable changes it causes a change in the other variable
A false correlation between two or more variables, even if it appears to be true
The group of people that a researcher wishes to lean something about
Youth in Waterloo
A subset of the population
Applying the concepts
Research the relationship between drug addiction and homelessness
How would you go about researching this?
What is your hypothesis?
Independent and dependent variables?
The research population?
Respondents answer preset questions Research, Methodology and Ethics
– Chapter 4 09/12/2012
Ask questions about what people do or think
SelfAdministered Questionnaires – do it yourself and send it in
What are the pros and cons of each type of survey?
Telephone – only access to phone numbers we have is the phonebook – most people don’t use a landline
phone anymore? Sample is no longer random. SelfAdministered surveys are too expensive, in person
surveys are too labour intensive
Structured – each respondent asked the same question – quantitative in nature
Semistructure – use a set of questions, however, allow respondents to guide the interview in areas they
think are important
Unstructured – no predetermined questions, interview proceeds conversationally.
Involves active participation in the daily life activities of those he or she is observing
Researcher goes to a place where people are and observe
Qualitative in nature
Covert: those in the field are not informed of the researcher’s status.
Semicovert: only some people involved are aware.
Open: everyone is aware of the researcher’s status
The analysis of the texts including movies, TV shows, magazines, blogs etc.
How many times does a woman in TV shows show up as the role of a heroine?
Historical Research – looking at what historical documents have to say ie) newspapers
Secondary Data Analysis – you don’t go out and gather original research, you use existing research. Ie) all
the Stats Canada surveys – we have access to all of that data
Participatory Action Reaction – we show them how to do it so they can do it themselves. Ie) teachers in a
school who want to see if one method of teaching geography is better than another. Researcher will go in
and help them find out. Research, Methodology and Ethics
– Chapter 4 09/12/2012
Mixed Methods – researchers use whatever it is they think will help understand what’s going in. They can
use interviews, observations, anything. More popular today. Many people argue that this is a wise trend
because what we’re looking at there is not just taking info from one method, but a number of methods, and
seeing if all these methods fit together. This istriangulation .
The Ethics of Research
Ethical principles are essentially statements about right and wrong
Policies are in place to protect participants
TriCouncil on Ethics Involving Human Subjects
Respect for others
Risks or harms
Protection of rights
Voluntary participation Culture 09/12/2012
What is Culture?
Culture is a complex collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, and material objects shared by a group
passed on rom one generation to the next.
Five Defining Features
Culture is learned
Culture is shared
Culture is transmitted
Culture is cumulative
Culture is human
The tangible artefacts and physical objects found in a given culture
The intangible and abstract components of a society, including values and norms
Beliefs about ideal goals and behaviours
Rules that outline appropriate behaviour
Informal norms that suggest customary ways of behaving
Norms that carry a strong sense of social importance Culture 09/12/2012
Norms that are formally defined and enacted in legislation
A penalty for norm violation
Laws are formal sanctions
Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
Tendency to view one’s own culture as super to others
Restrictive in the sense that it does not allow one to appreciate diversity
Appreciating that all cultures have intrinsic worth and need to be evaluated and understood on their own
Avoid judging other cultures’ customs and traditions before trying to understand them
Being aware of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism helps you become a more informed and critical
Language and Culture
A symbol is something that stands for or represents something else
A language is a shared symbol system of rules and meaning
those symbols that we develop are unique to our culture.
Key feature of culture
Shared cultural symbols allow us to interact, language is a key identifier of cultural boundaries.
people dress differently in Alberta
3500 languages in danger of extinction; when a language dies so do its related cultural myths, folk songs,
legends etc., resulting cultural amnesia . Culture 09/12/2012
Does Language Define Thought?
• Linguistic determinism
o SapirWhorf hypothesis:
o Language does in fact determine thought
o Perceptions of the world are influenced by the limitations of our thought
o Contemporary research shows little support for this theory
Nonverbal communication includes a whole spectrum of body language
Body language, proximity, haptics, oculesics, chronemics, olfactics, vocalics, sound symbols, adornment,
• A group within a population whose values, norms, folkways or mores set them apart form the
• Smaller groups within cultures that are unique in their own way
• IE) in waterloo we have the Mennonite and Amish communities.
• Often based on race, ethnicity and religion
• A type of subculture that strongly opposes the widely held cultural patterns of the larger population.
• People that have such unique values, they do not share the value systems with the rest of the society
• IE) Hells Angels
Is there a unique Canadian Culture?
• Canadians are really nice, kind to each other, supportive, law abiding
• What do we value that other values may not the same way?
o Universal health care Culture 09/12/2012
• Belief in equality and fairness in a democratic society
Belief in consultation and dialogue
• Importance of accommodation and tolerance.
• Support for diversity
• Compassion and generosity
• Attachment to Canada’s natural beauty
• Commitment to freedom, peace and nonviolent change
• Cultures are constantly changing to adapt to new social and technological changes.
• Technology has had a huge impact on culture change. When TV came people started sitting around
• 3 sources inspire cultural change:
o Something previously unrecognized or understood is found to have social or cultural application
o In the 1960’s, Russia the states and Britain were all developing atomic weapons – whole
countries could be wiped out – this changed the way we thought and how dangerous it could
o Existing cultural items are manipulated or modified to produce something new and socially
o Cultural items or practices are transmitted from one group to another
o This supposedly threatens Canadian cultural
o Certain website videos (ie ABC) is blocked to prevent us from being too much influenced by
Think of some examples of the ways in which discovery, invention/innovation and/or diffusion have changed
your own culture.
Sociological Approaches to Culture Culture 09/12/2012
• Culture plays a part in helping people to meet needs
• Cultural universals
o Age grading
o Property rights
o Personal names
o Music and dance
Environmental pressures are addressed through changes in practices, traditions and behaviours as a way
of maintaining stability and equilibrium (cultural adaptation)
Culture is functional, we adapted to solve these universal problems
• Views society based on tension and conflict over scarce resources.
Those who hold power define and perpetuate a culture’s ideology
IE, residential school system for Aboriginal children
• How culture is created and recreated through social interaction
• Culture is modified according to the negotiation of reality
• Minority status is a social category created by interacting individuals
• Culture is a set of symbols to which we collectively assign values
What are some critiques of the functionalism, conflict and symbolic interactionist approaches to culture?
How do cultures, subcultures and countercultures differ? What are the defining features of each? Socialization and Social Interaction 09/12/2012
Nature vs. Nurture
• Nature – represented today b evolutionary psychologists, holds that our genetic makeup determines
much of out behaviour
• Nurture – while appreciating the role that biology plays in some aspects of our behaviour, holds that
socialization is a more important force in determine who we are. Some suggest that this simple
binary between nature and nurture may be overly simplistic.
Understanding Ourselves and Others: Mead
• The sociological perspective holds that the self develops through social interaction in a series of stages
• Me – Mead’s term tfor the socialized element of the self
• Preparatory Stage (birth – 3) – imitate what they see others doing. They want to please the significant
others in their lives (usually their parents) Through positive and negative reinforcement, children begin
to develp the I, but the me is also forming in the background
• Play Stage (35) learn about themselves and society through play. They assume the rules of others
and move beyond simple imitation and assume the imagined roles of characters theyre playing. Me
continues to grow because children want to receive positive reinforcement. Language skills are
• Game Stage (Elemetary School) – proficient at taking on multiple roles at once (student, son, friend)
and identify with the generalized other. Participating in complex games that require them to play a
particular role teaches them to understand their individual position as well as the needs of the group.
o Primary Socialization occurs – occurs when people learn the attitudes, values, and
appropriate behaviours for individuals in their culture
o Secondary Socialization occurs later – occurs through participation in more specific
groups with defined roles and expectations
4 Principle Agents of Socialization
Agents of Socialization – individuals, groups, and social institutions that together help people to
become functioning members of society.
We are defined, according to sociologists, most significantly by the society around us.
• Families are the most important agents of socialization because they are the centre of children’s lives.
• In the first 5 years of life, families are responsible for children’s emerging identities, self esteem and