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SOCA01H3 (591)


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ivanka Knezevic

SOCIOLOGY CLASS NOTES Two levels of social structure - Sociologists analyze two levels of social structure that frame and influence human agency - Micro structures: (b/w friends, family, colleagues) patterns of intimate social relations formed during face-to- face interactions - Macro structure: overarching patterns of social relations in whole societies - Other sociologist also consider mesostructures and global structures Sociological Imagination - C. Wright Mills (1959) - Sociological imagination shows connection b/w personal troubles and public issues - Social problems can only be addressed if this connection is understood - Naiman’s view on Mills theory: personal troubles should be connected to issues of distal power Elements of sociological approach - Theory: tentative explanation of some aspect of social life stating how and why specific facts are connected (explains by what causes and process is ) - Research: process of carefully observing social reality to test validity of theory - Values: ideas about desirability/worth of attributes, people, objects and processes - Value-free sociology is impossible but a sociologist biases must be declared and minimized by thorough research method (Naiman) Main theoretical approaches in sociology... - Structural functionalism (Thomson: “functionalism”): how social order supported by macrostructures? - Neo-Marxism (Thomson: “conflict theory”): how is social inequality maintained and challenged? - Symbolic interactionism (Thomson: “microsociology”): how do people create meaning (understand events) when they communicate in micro level settings? - Feminism: what are social sources of patriarchy (social system of male dominance) in both macro and micro settings? - Post-modernism: what diverse understandings of society do individual and collective human actors have? CULTURE - Sum of ideas , practices and material objects that people create in effort to survive in complex and changing environment - include material and non material culture - Definition is very broad (can included whole society) - Def. of social structure can also be expanded to include whole of society - Need to distinguish culture from social structure - Elements of culture: - language, ideology (ideas are elements of culture), customs and traditions (values and norms) - Societies only exist - no such thing as social structure or abstract societies (theory of social interactions) Culture and social structure - Phillip Smith defines culture “ideal, spiritual and non-material” - Bauuman: culture consists of elements of social life that have meaning that members of society communicate and understand - Distinguishes culture from concrete elements of social life (Bauuman: “lived experience”) which are embodied and enacted by actual objects and people - Concrete elements for social structure - Gender role attitudes are elements of culture, occupational segregation by gender is element of social structure (women are more likely to be kindergarten teachers) - Religion is element of culture, religious institutes and religious discrimination are elements of social structure Human capacities for creation of culture 1. Abstraction: capacity to generalize; leads to creation of ideas (including symbol) - symbol: elements of communication that represent something else - relationship b/w symbol and phenomenon represents arbitrary, must be learned 2. Co-operation: capacity to create complex social life by establishing norms 3. Production: involves devising and using tools and techniques that improve ability to use nature for survival (such tools and techniques form material culture) Marxist explanation of culture and structure - Orthodox Marxism: both social structure (socio-economic formation) and culture are based on mode of production (way goods necessary for survival are produced) - Economic determinism: the belief that the economic organization of a society determines the nature of all other aspects of its life - Neo-Marxism: social structure and culture have own logic of development and they in turn influence mode production - Marx: “dominant ideology” (always ideology of dominant class) - Minimized critique of status quo, mobilizes participation in and support for it - Hegemonic ideology: dominant ideology that has successfully suppressed alternative ideologies - Neo-liberalism became hegemonic ideology of North America in 1980s Cultural functionalism - Function of culture is to maintain social (groups) solidarity - Critique: 1. In-group solidarity (unity) is maintained by out-group exclusions (including claim that outsiders are not fully human) 2. Function of culture is social control (Marxism and Neo-Marxism) “Production of Culture” perspective000.0000000 - ‘Production’ perspective rejects “mirror” or “reflection” view of culture held by Neo-Marxism and Functionalists - Examine cultural products that are explicitly and intentionally produced - Culture is product of social action just as non-cultural products are - Social relations in this action explain content of
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