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Lecture 6

SOC231H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Earl Warren, Social Inequality, Rationality

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Zaheer Baber

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SOC231 Lecture 6 - Weber
Against “compartmentalization” of society and disciplines to study society –
philosophy, history, economics, political science etc. all interconnected for
“sociologists” – Sociology seeks to make interconnections to understand the world
Main guiding theme for all classical thinkers: What social arrangements for a viable
society and the actualization of human potential and possibilities. No end to this
process, as in no final, fixed society that will solve ALL problems, issues FOREVER.
Humans strive to create “better” social arrangements: intended and unintended
Weber’s sociology;
1. Forms of social ACTION: intended and unintended consequences
2. Access to POWER/AUTHORITY = social inequality in addition to material
not replacing, but supplementing Marx’s focus over material resources
and capital = inequality
3. IDEAS, material context and social change
4. Rationalization of social life:prominence of bureaucratization,
standardization, rules, regulations, procedures – similar to Marx’s “Alienation”
5. Critique of “INSTRUMENTAL REASON” that creates “irrationalities” in the
long run. The “SLICKIFICATION” (!) of life – triumph of “packaging” over
Natural Science: no meaning;
WHY is a purely causal question; No “intention” or “meaning”
Bacteria don’t blush; Atoms don’t agonize…
Natural Science: “laws” of nature
Sociology: no “laws” because social action is intentional
History: unique, non-repeatable events
Sociology: generalizations are possible
Sociology: aims to understand (WHY?) and explain events (CAUSAL
Weber: the value of science: clarity
FACT / VALUE distinction (“is” vs. “ought”)
Science, derives from values, but cannot tell individuals what they ought to do
Science: provides a sense of probable results of pursuing particular means for
obtaining particular ends
Social Science cannot help us choose between competing values
No Scientific basis for Values
Capital Punishment; Torture, Universal Socialized Medicare vs. Private
Healthcare etc.
Is this true? Yes and No!
Justice Earl Warren: Internment of the Japanese (1942) AND Brown vs.
Board of Education (1954) the Civil Rights Act (1964)
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