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SOCA01 Lecture 2.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ivanka Knezevic

Theoretical approaches to sociology Monday 22/10 7:00-19:00 No Class on 18/10 Thomson and Naiman: 2 levels of social structure Sociologists analyze 2 levels of social structure that frame and influence human agency: - Microstructures (patterns of intimate social relations formed during face- to-face interaction) - Macrostructures (overarching pattern of social relation in whole societies) - Other sociologists also consider mesostructures and global structures. Sociological imagination - C. Wright Mills (1959): - Sociological imagination shows the connection between personal troubles and public issues. Social problems can only be addressed if this connection is understood. - Naiman: personal troubles should be connected to issues of distal power. Elements of the sociological approach - Theory: a tentative explanation of some aspect of social life stating how and why specific facts are connected. - Research: the process of carefully observing social reality to test the validity of a theory. - Values: ideas about desirability/worth of attributes, people, objects and processes. - Value-free sociology is impossible, but a sociologist’s biases must be declared and minimized by rigorous research method (naiman). Main Theoretical Approaches in sociology - Structural functionalism (Thomson: functionalism): How is social order supported by macrostructures? - Neo-Marxism (Thomson: conflict theory): How is social inequality maintained and challenged? Theoretical approaches to sociology - Symbolic interactionism (Thomson: microsocoiology1): How do people create meaning (understand events) when they communicate in microlevel settings? - Feminism: What are the social sources of patriarchy in both macro and micro settings? - Post-Modernism: What diverse understandings of society do (individual and collective) human actors have? th Functionalism (19 c. anthropology) and structuralism (1940s American sociology) - Mostly macrosociology - Naiman: an “order theory” - Human behavior is governed by stable patterns of social relations (“social structures”). Most patterns have a function in a maintaining society. - Social structures are based on functional interdependence (like organs in a body) or shared values (difference be
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