SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Greatest Generation, Generation Z, Millennials

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2 Mar 2011

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Lecture 1 Moral Panics, Sociological Imagination, and
History and Cohorts
On Sociology
For sheer lack of intelligibility, sociology is far and away the number one subject. I sat
Suppose you observed that children cry when they fall down. You write: “Methodological
observation of the sociometrical behaviour tendencies of prematured isolates indicates
that a causal relationship exists between groundward tropism and lachrimatory.
Moral panics
- (concept illustrating sociological imagination):
-Exaggerated threat to societal values by moral entrepreneurs
-seeking folk devils” to blame plus media attention
e.g baby snatchers, child abuse,
Some data on exaggerated fear of crime
Child homicides by strangers
Homicides of children under 5
Mom 27%
Dad 27%
Acquaintance ~ 22
Other family ~5%
Stranger < 5%
Therefore moral scare
Highest age-group murder rate:
Babies younger than a year 21 of 23 victims in
1999 killed by a parent
-Folk devil isnt parents but strangers
-Need to have an idea of whether it is exaggerated or
e.g. second hand smoke, anthrax.
Sociological imagination
Sociological Imagination: Translate personal troubles into public issues. Understand
how life chances affected broader social forces
e.g.1 Cancer
Some cancer is sociologically producedCancer alley in Louisiana: Poor and black
people live in an area with a heavy concentration of chemicals
Other e.g. Unemployment, Date rape, People losing their houses in US
Sociological Imagination is an intersection of three variables:
C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)
Known rogue sociologist from
the 60s. Radical. Studied at
Columbia University. Involved
in the student movement (run
by graduates and professors.
Coined the term sociological
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