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SOC 1101 Lecture Notes - George Herbert Mead, Symbolic Interactionism, Lewis H. Morgan

Course Code
SOC 1101
Liam Kilmurray

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Sociology 1101H Principles of Sociology
Lecture 1 Introduction
· 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
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
·The growth of the natural sciences in the 17th 18th centuries
triggered process of applying scientific principles to the analysis
of society, and this happened more intensively after the
Industrial Revolutions
History of sociology

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· Adam Ferguson, considered the(another) father of
· 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
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
·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

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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
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