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Week 1 Lecture Notes (Chapter 1)

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Sheldon Ungar

September 5, 2013 SOCA01: Lecture 1 File: “A01 W1 intro” Slide 3: Course Home Page - Blackboard  make sure to read all of the news articles posted on the Blackboard website as they will appear on the exam Slide 7: Requirements  the word “compass” refers to the textbook  multiple choice questions on exams comes from the textbook, readings and lecture Slide 12: News Article: Invasion of the Baby Snatchers - “baby snatchers” are an example of moral panic (described below) Slide 14-15: - in the public eye, they would regard these homicides statistics and “baby snatcher” articles without thinking twice, but for sociologists, they would examine these two articles more systematically, which is different from journalists who only look at the bigger picture Slide 15: Homicides of Children Under 6 in the U.S., 1976 - 1997 - shows that the “baby snatchers” graph can be interpreted wrong because children can either be runaways, your parents can be the one committing the homicide - therefore, the stranger doesn’t make up a lot of the percentage - in regards to “child homicides by strangers”, one would think that only strangers would kill children, but sociologists would dig deeper and find out, from the graph in slide 15, that it is actually parents who are the cause of this children homicide Slide 18: “Composite” of the “Other” - computer generated image of what a criminal would look like Slide 19: Can You Name Other Moral Panics? - examples of moral panic include fear of crime, pandemics (swine flu), and drugs Slide 20: Movie Poster – It Came From Beyond - the poster portrays second hand smoke to be the most dangerous thing in the world but it’s not that dangerous - only in context is second-hand smoke dangerous (e.g. developing cancer from inhaling second-hand smoke once) o of course there are later symptoms you can develop from exposure to constant second hand smoke (e.g. asthma) Slide 22: Begin with a Concept - data: to prove a moral panic you need to prove it with data and explain what’s going on File: “AO1W1 Sociological Imagination” Main Topic: Sociological Imagination, which is found in chapter 1 Slide 2: C.W. Mills - C.W. Mills wrote books such as “The Sociological Imagination” - he was one of the leaders of the 1960’s youth movement o in this movement it was the “old left” vs. the “new left” o the “old left” was more communist in the traditional sense o the “new left” was more liberal and less repressive Slide 3: Sociological Imagination - statement 1: translate personal troubles into public issues o this can be true but this statement doesn’t apply to everything o for example, if you’re unemployed, then unemployment is a personal trouble and a public issue (e.g. in Greece, there is a 50% unemployment rate among youth) - statement 2: understand how life chances are affected by broader social forces o for example, concerning the subject of unemployment, if you’re unemployed, your life chances are being affected by forces creating this unemployment Slide 4: Sociological Imagination - Examples - we have superficial knowledge about what’s going on in the world but we have no real idea about what is actually happening (e.g. we have knowledge about what’s going on in Syria but we have no idea what the army is actually going to do) - examples of sociological imagination include cancer, unemployment and date rape - if one gets cancer, according to how it’s portrayed in the media, two things happen: 1. the blame is put on the person (according to how it’s portrayed in the media) 2. the person is blamed because they are told that they could have prevented it by, for example, not smoking or controlling your diet (whose evidence doesn’t have a strong basis to be true) - it’s labeled as a tragedy, in which you can’t blame anyone - in reality, sociological imagination is at fault here because no one blames society - another example are the so-called “cancer alleys”, where people live next to plants that dispose un-treated waste and chemicals into the water and soil, which puts those people at a higher risk to get cancer - there is a so-called “cancer alley” in the state of Louisiana because it’s a state where property taxes are low and environmental regulations are low - this is an example of sociological imagination because it’s the poor that suffer since they have no choice but to live by these plants, since it’s the only housing they can afford - these cancer alleys are also present in China, where there are no environmental laws and the public has no ability to protest - however, conditions are changing since environmental laws in China are now being put into place, and protesting is more common thanks to the availability of the internet Slide 5: Sociological Imagination – Intersection of Three Variables First Variable: History  history affects your life chances by when you’re born  people are born into different cohorts, which is another word for a different time or generation o examples include the Depression Generation (people born during the Great Depression) and the War Generation (soldier enlistment during World War 2)  history also affects you in terms of timing e.g. entering into a good or bad job market when you graduate from post-secondary education  history is composed of events independent of you that shape your chances Second Variable: Social Structure  social structure composes of where you were born in the frame work of society e.g. what country you were born in  also composes of the class you were born in (rich or poor), race, parental background Third Variable: Biography  this variable is more or less under our control  includes our health level - peo
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