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SOC231H5 (100)
Lecture

Jan 17.doc


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC231H5
Professor
Zaheer Baber

Page:
of 9
Recap From Last Lecture
Structure-Agency Issue
-STRUCTURE sociologically, IT REFERS TO THOSE NETWORKS OF
SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WHICH CONSTRAIN OR ALLOW CERTAIN TYPES
OF BEHAVIOUR
The social structure allows for certain kinds of constraints; allows you to
make decisions within certain boundaries
Current structure: CAPITALISM – this structure conditions our behaviour and
social institutions
-Within the structure, AGENCY COMES INTO PLAY
-AGENCY INTENTIONAL ACTIVITY
Within a structure, WE HAVE DIFFERENT OPTIONS FOR AGENCY
The structure does not completely determine our behaviour
- So, people have some degree of agency within any social structure
-Constant tension between structure & agency
Some leeway – but also limits
Ie. A UNIVERSITY AS A STRUCTURE: constrains behaviour of the
people in this structure (ie. must be quiet while in lecture/library,
must act according to rules of conduct)
Marx on Structure-Agency
-“Men make history, but they do not make it just as they please; they
do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under
circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the
past... circumstances make men as much as men make
circumstances.
- SOCIETY IS ABOUT THE CONSTANT TENSION BETWEEN STRUCTURE AND
AGENCY
Historical Materialism
-WAY OF UNDERSTANDING HOW SOCIETIES HAVE CHANGED OVER TIME
-NOT a formula for predicting the future
-“The mode of production of material life determines the general
character of the social, political and spiritual processes of life...”
- Through HISTORY, WHAT REALLY DRIVES CHANGE: THE MODE OF
PRODUCTION
HOW SOCIETY PRODUCES (essential for existence)
- Example: Feudal Society
No factories, no industrial production
Characterized by AGRICULTURE
BY KNOWING THIS MODE OF PRODUCTION (AGRICULTURE), YOU CAN
UNDERSTAND SOCIETY BETTER
The agricultural mode of production determines the general character of
feudal society
STRUCTURE: NOBILITY-SERF class division based on mode of production,
larger families
-OUR CONSCIOUSNESS is conditioned by the mode of production
Hegel vs Marx
-Hegel: believed you could have a conscious idea and then simply
actualize it
-MARX: believed that Hegel simplified it; society (structure) constrains
your ability to actualize your intentions
Key Concepts:
1. MODE OF PRODUCTION the MANNER in which production is
organized
Ancient communalism: group ownership and production
Agricultural production, industrial production
2. FORCES OF PRODUCTION (MEANS OF PRODUCTION) TOOLS USED in
production
Land, capital, technology, tool
Physical elements that are necessary for production to occur (cannot have
production without land)
3. RELATIONS OF PRODUCTION SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS BASED ON
MODE OF PRODUCTION
Those who own means of production vs. those who don’t
4. CLASS BASED ON FORCES/MEANS OF PRODUCTION
Similar to relations of production; relations determines class
Slaves vs. master, lords vs. serfs, Bourgeoisie vs. Proletariat
Week 3
Historical Materialism (Continued)
-Historical materialism is NOT a teleological evolutionary formula
predicting social change
-Social change is NOT predetermined; History of Society has NO GOALS
Despite what some Marxists say, Marx was not trying to predict future
society
History/society is not a living entity, has no goals
Therefore, cannot really predictBUT CAN STILL GET A SENSE OF
WHERE SOCIETY MAY GO (a TREND RATHER THAN PREDICTION)
-Look at NATURE to see the difference between “pre-determination”
and being “conditioned
NATURE: Butterfly - an egg, becomes a caterpillar, then becomes a
butterfly THIS IS PRE-DETERMINED CHANGE
Not driven by agency, this is pre-determined change
Alot of people have interpreted Marx along the same lines, but this
is not the argument made by him
-MUST PAY ATTENTION TO AGENCYWE CANNOT BE COMPLETELY
PREDETERMINED, NOR CAN SOCIETY
DIFFERENT WAYS OF GETTING TO THE SAME POINT (capitalism arose
differently in different contexts)
Marx on Consciousness