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SOC1101 (732)


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University of Ottawa
Liam Kilmurray

Sociology 1101H Principles of Sociology Lecture 1 Introduction Definition – · The systematic study of human society and social interaction · Sociologists study human societies and their social interactions in order to develop theories of how behavior is shaped by group life and how, on the other hand, group life is affected by individuals. The sociological imagination · Originated by Sociologist C. Wright Mills · Defined as: “… the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society”. Studying Sociology · Goal is to be as value free as possible · The sociologist attempts to discover patterns or commonalities in human behavior · He/ she searches for multiple causes and effects of social issues like suicide, homelessness, family violence, poverty, discrimination and analyses social patterns in gender, race, kinship, marriage and other areas. Lecture 2 the beginnings of Sociology The development of sociological thinking · Classic origins go back to Ionic beginnings → Aristotle and Plato, for example → However, earlier thinkers stated what they thought society ought to be like, rather than describing what society actually was. th th · The growth of the natural sciences in the 17 – 18 centuries triggered process of applying scientific principles to the analysis of society, and this happened more intensively after the Industrial Revolutions History of sociology · Adam Ferguson, considered the(another) father of sociology(1723-1816) · Humans are here to perfect gods plan · Society must progress, through military might and civil strength · ‘Free’ government, but laws and order Early thinkers: a concern with social order and stability Auguste Comte (1798-1857) · Popularized the term sociology and considered the founder · He believed that societies contained: · Social statics – forces for social order and stability · Social dynamics – forces for conflict and change · Natural science applied to society · Positivism Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) · Made Comte’s work more accessible · Analyzed political economy, reviewed current works · She was an active sociologist studying social customs and consequences of industrialism and capitalism · She examined religion, politics, childrearing, slavery, immigration in categories of race, class and gender Karl Marx (1818-1883) · Believed that history is a continuous clash between conflicting ideas →Conflict(especially class conflict) was necessary in order to produce social change and a better society →Class conflict: The struggle between capitalist class and the working class ·Bourgeoisie: Comprises those who own and control the means of production (capitalist class) ·Means of production: Refer to the tools, land, factories, and money for investment that form the economic basis of a society ·Proletariat: Comprises those who must sell their labor because they no other means of livelihood (working class) · Capitalist system made poverty. · Capitalist class controls and exploits the masses of struggling workers by paying them less than the value of their labor. · The results in workers → Alienation: A feeling of powerlessness and estrangement from other people and from oneself · Marx predicted that the workers would become aware of its exploitation and overthrow the capitalists, creating a free and classless society. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) · Evolutionary theory (survival of fittest), influenced both anthropology and sociology · Theory largely discarded, but influential · Social Darwinism, substituted ideology for biology · He was influenced by Comte Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) · Believed that people are a product of the social environment behavior cannot be fully understood by biological and psychological traits · Society are built of social facts – patterned ways of acting, thinking, and feeling that exist outside any one individual but that exert social control over each person · Durkheim set up the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux in 1895 · Early focused on religion and society · Believed that rapid social change produced strains in society and this would lead to the breakdown in traditional organizations, values and authority and would increase Anomie – a condition when social control becomes ineffective as a result of the loss of shared values and a sense of purpose in society · Advocate of the scientific approach to examining social facts →He was the first person to publish a statistical study: He explored the relationship between anomic social conditions and suicide. Max Weber (1864-1920) · Emphasized cultural and political factors as key influences on economic development and individual behavior · Economic systems as one but not the only source of change · Famous “Protestant Ethnic and Spirit of Capitalism” · Value free sociology: research should be conducted in a scientific manner and should exclude the researcher’s personal values and economic interests George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) · ‘Father’ of the school of Symbolic interactionism in sociology and social psychology · Development of the self and self-consciousness through language/communication Ervin Goffman (1922-1982) · Symbolic Interactionism · ‘Goffman was a major social theorist who analysed how we shape and compartmentalize our experience of the world of objects and events around us, and how the experiencing and acting self can be compartmentalized into a series of part-selves, each a potential factor in the production of experience for ourselves and for others.’ Lecture 3 Theory & Practice Symbolic Interaction Perspectives · Symbolic interactionists attempt to examine people’s day-to-day interactions and their behavior in groups. →People continue to negotiate their social realities →Values and norms are not independent realities that automatically determine their behavior · Each person has a subjective interpretation of a given situation (subjective reality) · Symbolic Representations Postmodern Perspectives · Key theory: that a Eurocentric lens conditions our view of all cultures and that the culture of our age produces a social world that is not real, but simulated · Need to speak of “cultures” not culture Characteristics of Postmodern societies: Information explosion Rise of consumer society Global village image Post-industrial society Feminist Perspectives · There is no single unified approach. But all approaches share the same belief that women and men are equal and should be equally valued. · Focus on patriarchy: a hierarchical system of power in which males possess greater economic and social privilege than females →Gender roles are socially created and this limits our human potential Conflict Perspective · Assumption: groups in society are engaged in a continuous power struggle for control of scarce resources · Key classical figures: Max Weber-recognized the importance of economics but also stressed power and prestige Power: the ability of a person within a social relationship to carry out his or her own will despite resistance Prestige: a positive or a negative social estimation of honour Conflict · These perspectives are based on the assumption that social life is a continuous struggle in which members of powerful groups seek to control scarce resources. · The American C.W.Mills (1916-1962) believed that the most important decisions are made largely behind scenes by the Power Elite- · Karl Marx: exploitation of the proletarian by the bourgeoisie · History is series of (class) conflicts · False consciousness: people without power hold beliefs that they think promote their best interests when those beliefs actually are damaging their interests. · Ideology: an integrated system of ideas that is external to and coercive of people which is used by the social elite to maintain their dominant position in society Functionalism · As the name sounds, functionalism describes the function of practices, beliefs, and artifacts. The functional view of culture lays down the principle that in every type of civilization, every custom, material object, idea and belief fulfills some vital functions, has some task to accomplish. The Sociology Research Process · Research is the process of systematically collecting information for the purposes of testing an existing theory or generating a new one. · With Quantitative Research, the goal is scientific objectivity, and the focus is on data that can be measured numerically. · With Qualitative Research, the use of interpretative description (words) rather than statistics (numbers) is to analyze the underlying meanings and patterns of social relationships. Ex. Systematically analyze suicide notes to determine recurring themes and patterns · Field Research/Ethnography Field research is the study of social life in its natural setting: observing and interviewing people where they live, work and play · Ex. Ethnography, participant observation Ethical Issues in Sociological Research · A long history of the development of guidelines to protect the integrity, privacy and honour of the people being studied · Voluntary, no harm(physically, psychologically, or personally), confidentiality and anonymity Lecture 4 Culture and Society Material and Non-Material Culture · Material culture: consists of all the physical or tangible creations that members of a society make, use and share · Non-material culture: consists of the abstract or intangible human creations of society that influence people’s behavior -A central component of nonmaterial culture is beliefs · Manifest and Latent Functions · Manifest: tools cut; Latent: tool technology establishes craft specialization, guilds etc. Culture: the knowledge, language, values, customs and material objects that are passed from person to person and from one generation to the next in a human group or society. Society: a large social grouping that occupies the same geographic territory and is subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Cultural Universals  Cultural universal: Customs and practices that occur across all societies  E.g. appearance(hairstyles, activities, like sports ,dancing, games and the like), social institutions (like the family, law and religion), and customary practices (as cooking, folklore, gift-giving, and hospitality) Components of Culture  All cultures have common nonmaterial cultural components: - Symbols - Language - Values - Norms - Folkways - Mores - Laws • Symbol: Anything that meaningfully represents something else  Can function to produce loyalty and animosity, love or hate  E.g. the colour white, a Canadian flag, a siren, rolling your eyes, thumbs up, a dove… Cultural Evolution • Herbert Spencer 1820-1903; Lewis Henry Morgan 1818-1881 - Unilineal - Progress - Savagery to Civilization Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism  Ethnocentrism: the tendency to regard one’s own culture and group as the standard, and thus superior. Whereas all the other groups as inferior - Positive ethnocentrism: the school song, the pledge to the flag - Negative ethnocentrism: thinking one’s group is superior  Cultural Relativity: behaviors and customs of any culture must be viewed and analyzed by the culture’s own standards problems: - May violate human rights, e.g. female circumcision Historical Particularism  Franz Boas 1858-1942  Each society has its own unique historical development and must be understood based on its own specific cultural context.  He described particular cultures instead of trying to establish general theories that apply to all societies. - Cultural Relativism: the ability to view beliefs and customs of other peoples within the context of their culture rather than one’s own. Conceptions of truth Bronislaw Malinowski: General Axioms of Functionalism • Culture is an apparatus by which man is put in a position to cope with concrete specific problems. • It is a system of objects, activities, and attitudes in which every part exists as a means to an end. Lecture 5 Socialization • Agents of Socialization: are all the persons, groups , or institutions that teach us what we need to know to participate in society  Family  The School  Peer Groups  Mass Media The Family  The most basic and foundational agent of socialization  Functionalist interpretation: - Families are the source of procreation and socialization of children - Learn dominant culture and subcultures we belong to - Source of emotional support - Taming ‘excess individuality’ • Variations of socialization: Class Race and Ethnicity  Conflict Theorists: - Socialization reproduces parents class rather than challenging the conditions that currently exist. - Socialization contributes to a false consciousness – a lack of awareness and a distorted perception of the reality of class  E.g. middle-income and upper-income families typically instill ideas of monetary and social success in children,
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