SOC 2106 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Restorative Justice, Gender Inequality, Ethnomethodology
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SOC2106 MIDTERM #1
-Rules + expectations by which a society guides behaviour of its members
-They may either be prescriptive (don’t) or proscriptive (do)
-2 types of norms identified by William Graham Summer:
-As we introduce norms, we respond critically to our own behaviour through shame or guilt
-Formal = state/university
-Informal = primary/secondary group
-The practice of judging another culture by the standards of ones’ own culture
-Sociologists tend to discourage this practice. Instead, they advocate cultural relativism, the practice of
judging a culture by its own standards
WHAT IS A SOCIAL PROBLEM?
-Aspects of life seen to warrant concern and intervention. The identification of a social problem is the
outcome of a social process including a moral evaluation of peoples’ behaviours
-EX: crime, child abuse, poverty, substance abuse, racism
-In analyzing a social problem, it is important to identify the group of people for whom the behaviour is a
-EX: Vagrancy – control youth. Customers only. No shoes, no shirt, no service – control homeless.
Control pet owners. No smoking within… - control smokers. Control prostitution.
-C. Wright Mills distinguished between personal troubles + public issues
-Personal troubles are things that affect individuals and their immediate surroundings
-Public issues have an impact on large numbers of people and are matters of public debate
WHY ARE SOME ACTS CONSIDERED DEVIANT?
-Violation of codes: religious (Christian values, ethnics), moral, law, traditions
MISLEADING DEFINITIONS OF DEVIANCE
-Absolute criteria (murder)
-Psychological abnormality (Columbus proving the world is not flat, homosexuals)
-Statistical rarity (bell curve)
-Criminal status (jaywalking)
THE MENTAL EXPIREMENT
-Imagine a behaviour being enacted in many different settings before many different audiences; imagine
specific conditions being revealed to a wide range of audiences
-How do they react?
-How do they treat the individual who enact this behaviour or possess these conditions?
-Are they neutral or tolerant? (You need the individual, the act and the audience)
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-If we are perceptive, our mental experiment will sensitize us to what is deviant – that is behaviour or
conditions that attract censure and punishment from numerous or influential people
-In determining what is deviant, it is important to identify the party judging the behaviour or condition
-We need to locate the actor, audience and behaviour
TWO PERSPECTIVES ON DEVIANCE
-Positivist: absolutism, objectivism, determinism
-Constructionist: relativism, subjectivism, voluntarism
-Continuum of deviance (Higher consensus lower consensus)
SOCIAL PROBLEM DEFINED
-Sociologist’s consider a social problem to be an alleged situation that is incompatible with the values of
a significant number of people who agree that action is needed to alter the situation
WHAT IS THEORY
-Set of interrelated propositions constructed and fitting together logically, which claims to explain one or
more aspects of the world around us
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
-Explanations can be described as the stories we tell each other in attempt to produce some order in our
lives. Theories outline paths to particular outcomes
-They allow us to feel that we know why something happened and whether or not under the conditions it
is likely to occur again
ASPECTS OF A GOOD THEORY
-Logically sound, conflicting positions, sensitizing ability (what has been ignored), popularity (does not
HOW DO WE EVALUATE THEORY?
-Scope (range of phenomena that a theory can explain), accuracy (does the theory match empirical
reality), parsimony, can the theory be falsified
-Known for anomie, suicide
-Interested in social facts (effect of social structure on behaviour)
-Famous work Le Suicide studies cross-cultural differences in suicide rates
THEORY OF ANOMIE
-Society of saints (deviate from the norm)
-Humans are egoistic
Society needs social control to regulate wants/behaviours
A condition/state of normlessness – increases deviance (german revolution, hurricane katrina)
Results from rapid social change (industrialization, natural disasters)
ROBERT MERTON’S THEORY OF ANOMIE
Anomie Rejection of deviance as human nature (strain theory)
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