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SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

CHAPTER 1 UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION The Sociological PerspectiveSociology o The systematic study of human groups and their interactionsSociological perspective o A view of society based on the dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network in which we all live Charles Wright Mills and the Sociological ImaginationSuggests that people who do not or cannot recognize the social origins and character of their problems may be unable to respond to these problems effectively Personal troubles o Personal challenges that require individual solutionsSocial issues o Challenges caused by larger social factors that require collective solutionsQuality of mind o Mills term for the ability to view personal circumstance within a social context o Has nothing to do with a persons intelligence or level of education o to improve Mills argued that sociologists need to expose individuals to what he called the sociological imaginationSociological imagination o CW Mills term for the ability to perceive how dynamic social forces influence individual livesDefines sociological perspective as the ability to view the world from two distinct yet complementary perspectives seeing general in the particular and seeing the strange in the familiar Seeing the General in the ParticularAccording to Berger seeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at seemingly unique events or circumstances and then recognize the larger or general features involvedAbility to move from the particular to the general and back again is one of the hallmarks of the sociological perspective Seeing the Strange in the FamiliarAccording to Berger sociologists also need to tune their sociological perspective by thinking about what is familiar and seeing it as strangeWhile something seems familiar and normal if you really think about it it is truly strangeAbility to see the general in the particular and the strange in the familiar is the cornerstone of the sociological perspectiveSociology is less about remembering details and specifics than about seeing the social world from a unique positionone that allows us to understand social context and to appreciate the position of othersWhat Makes You You Engaging the Sociological ImaginationTo some extent we all have what sociologists refer to as agency o The assumption that individuals have the ability to alter their socially constructed livesWe are all individuals we are also the culmination of many social forcesThere are ways to define ourselves Minority StatusPeople who are members of a visible minority groups who have a physical disability or a mental disability or who are lesbian gay or bisexual face various forms of discrimination o Social experiences would influence the person you would become GenderSociety treats men and women differentlyCanada and virtually all human societies remains patriarchal o A system of rule that translates to rule by the father in which men control the political and economic resources of society SocioEconomic Status SESTerm used to describe a combination of variables to position or score people on criteria such as income level level of education achieved occupation and area of residenceAscribed status o Attributes advantages and disadvantages assigned at birth eg sexAchieved status o Attributes developed throughout life as a result of effort and skill eg course grades Family StructureSocioeconomic status does influence a persons opportunitiesWellbeing of children is almost always associated with household income o Higher income tends to be related to better physical socialeconomical cognitive and behavioural wellbeingFamily structure influences a childs development o Female loneparent families tend to have lower incomes than twoparent family structures UrbanRural DifferencesNature of growing up in either location is more subtle and contextualThe Origins of SociologyChinese philosopher Kung futzu Confucius and ancient Greeks engaged in elaborate discussions and writings about society in general and the role of the individual citizen in particularSophists were the first thinkers to focus their efforts on the human being in contrast to the earlier tradition that concentrated on understanding the physical worldLate philosophers Socrates and his student Plato challenged the virtue of being pad for ones knowledge and advocated the necessity of deeper reflection on the human social conditionPlatos The Republic is one of the most important works in Western philosophy as it asks what social justice is and what the characteristics of a just individual areIdeas that form the foundation of sociology then have been around for a long timeComte is often referred to as the father of sociology o Auguste Comte coined the term sociologyThree Revolutions The Rise in SociologyEmergence of sociology was a product of the timeThree revolutionary events inspired the rise of sociology o Scientific revolution o Political revolution o Industrial revolution The Scientific RevolutionDevelopment of the scientific method during the Enlightenment period that followed facilitated the pace of social changeAuguste Comte considered himself a scientist and believed that the techniques used in the hard sciences physics chemistry etc to explain the physical world should be applied to the social world as wellTo believe the inner workings of society one needed to understand how human thinking has changed through time3 stages o Theological StageLongest period of human thinkingCharacterized by religious outlook that explains the world and human society as an expression of Gods will and views science as a means to discover Gods interactionsConcluded with emergence of the Renaissance and later the Enlightenment when science not religion was used to explain the world o Metaphysical StageStage of intellectual developmentA field of philosophy dedicated to an understanding of truth and the relationship between mind and matterCharacterized by assumption that people could understand and explain their universe through their own insight and reflectionTo explore what it meant to be a conscience being people tried to experience and understand their world through abstractions such as emotion and beauty o Positive StageBegan to emerge during Comtes lifetimeBelieved that the world would be interpreted through a scientific lensthat society would be guided by the rules of observation experimentation and logicArgued that sociologists would be ideal leaders for this emerging society because they would be trained fin the science of society sociologySociologists today do not grant much credibility to Comtes ideas o 3 stages assumes that human thinking is currently as good as it will ever get o Third and final stage was just emerging during Comtes lifetime is somewhat selfservingPositivism o A theoretical approach that considers all understanding to be based on science o Three primary assumptionsThere exists an objected and knowable realityPhysical and social worlds can be understood through observation experimentation and logicSuggests that reality is objective and beyond individual interpretation or manipulationPositivistic believe that we can understand our objective world is also grounded in the premise that we have the capacity to do sothat our physical and social existence is knowableSince all sciences explore the same singular reality over time all sciences will before more alike
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