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SOCI 100 Lecture Notes - Montesquieu, Logica, Belief

Course Code
SOCI 100
Chris Mac Kenzie

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Week 2, Class 2 Lecture
Sept. 17/09
Origins of Sociology
Sociology: an Enlightenment discipline
True and not true:
True - the way we practise it today, it is true
But not true to say that it just magically appeared. Construction of knowledge,
societies etc. - is a continual process of coming together of ideas
Sociology has been practised as long as weʼve been living in societies. Have been
asking question: what is society? How do we make it work/fix whatʼs problematic?
focuses on changes in our society that came about as a product of 3 revolutions in
human history - occurred 1700-1800s
Why sociology has focused on these past 350 years - in this time period, have
experienced social, political, economic changes that would be inconceivable to people
living before that.
+ Enlightenment
Changed the way we thought about ourselves, relationships between us, where our
abilities come from, how we should order our societies, how we should treat each
other, the way we should think about things (analyze, understand)
New way of organizing/thinking about ourselves - this time period has fundamentally
created our society today
Key Ideas
that individuals have certain inalienable rights - human rights, freedoms
Case: some people had privileges, some didnʼt. Privileges known as rights werenʼt
distributed throughout population
During Enlightenment, idea that everybody should have rights
Living in Scientific Age - starts to emerge in our thought processes that illogical that
some people had privileges, others didnʼt
People began moving to cities: Much easier to keep population under control if
dispersed. Bringing people to dense areas - communication passes quicker. More
people talking/making demands. Need to regulate these people
The centralizing of governmental power
Not the creation of govt, but the reformulation of it. Need to impose social order of
a different kind. Notions of democracy beginning to emerge
The reformation and centralization of education
Public education - education for everybody
Prior to this, people were being educated - but only certain groups receiving formal
education, no standardization
The growth of bureaucracies and administrative professionals
Emergence of modern bureaucracies - new scale/sophistication

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Administrative professions now popping up - beginning of “white collar” work
(service industry - not trades/craftsmen) part of bureaucratic/administrative
The diminishing importance of religion, tradition, and customs
Decline in role that religion/old customs/old traditions falling by wayside
Role that religion/customs play in shaping social policy
Personal religion still alive, but societies reluctant to use those principles to shape
social policy - much because of scientific revolution (not logica, rational,
based scriptures - do not withstand scientific scrutiny)
The idea that inequality is not a natural thing *** most important
Up to this point, belief that “thatʼs the way it is”
Realization that there is difference between people (physical, intellectual) - but how
do we use those differences?
Inequality = not difference. Inequality is difference politicized. Taken
characteristic that makes one group different from another and used it for political
ends. - to marginalize them. Human nature - competitive. If can shape rules in my
favour, can have greater chances of staying on top. Creation of laws/traditions/
customs/beliefs that keep others away from power.
Inequality = deliberate. Realize that we can change it
The idea that society is a “thing” that can be studied (Charles Montesquieu)
no different from human body, tree, animal
E.g. Montesquieu: writing letters to friends. Tried to offer up satirical view of
Parisian life. If I was a tourist in Paris, what would I think? Take an objective view.
Stepping back from own society and viewing it as something removed - an object
Social Changes
Concerned with survival, securing resources
Then started to come up with stuff that is extra - but nothing dramatic. Most of
world was incredibly poor before Enlightenment/Scientific Rev./IR
Then market capitalism takes off - money-making potential increases
Invention of stock market, modern banking, interest rates, modern system of loans,
speculation, venture capitalism
Includes going to work with someone else. As soon as we started working for
someone else, we became material. In market terms, we are an object.
Industrial Technology
Economically, we went to work to produce things - stuff to be made fast, en masse
Transportation systems to move goods faster
Beginning of consumer society - going to work in factory
Urban Growth
Economic, quicker, more efficient, rational to move to cities to work
Political Changes
Tied in with idea of centralizing govt
If religion, custom, tradition falling away, so was idea in monarchy - divine right of
kings. Opening for modern parliamentary democracies.

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dramatic changes - new categories of people (what does it mean to be a child/
Idea of teenager dates back to 1930. 20C concept
Most public education as we envisioned it didnʼt come in full force until 1920s -
started to stay in school for multiple years. Created category of person that
wasnʼt an adult
Childhood dates back to little before IR (17C)
These categories were products predominantly of the Enlightenment (changes
taking place). Reason we could create these categories was because it became
possible - we were living longer
"social groupings products of Enlightenment - types of gender roles, family groups, age
+ Scientific Revolution
Brand new system of knowledge - way of thinking/understanding world
Prior to roles that Newton, Descartes, Kant (other great philosophers/scientists) had
assumed that we couldnʼt really know the natural world (beyond our realm of
understanding - aristotelian)
Newton, other scholars said - if we use our powers of observation, senses, new ways
of thinking of thigns, can uncover the laws of nature
Without this way of thinking, wouldnʼt have progress. Would have society, but not as
much dramatic change
Science worked wonders, Origin of Species, etc.
Gained insight into this system of knowledge where we can generate notions of
cause/effect, how human body works - social sciences then emerge e.g. Modern
psychology, sociology
+ Industrial Revolution
Product of Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment thinking
Realization that we can invent/create/think/progress/design/manufacture in ways
never conceived of before
Enlightenment important because shifted our way of thinking about ourselves
IR - because it changed our social relationships with each other.
Now, it is given that we live in cities - urban creatures. 350 years ago, not so
Given that we will get education, go work for “somebody else” (company). 350
years ago, not so
Before these time periods, we worked for ourselves. Lived in country. Had
exchange systems/grew things/made money, but were self-employed. Largely self-
Idea of selling your labour - product of industrial revolution
important: scale at which things happened
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