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Lecture 11

Classical Soc (SOCB42)- Lecture 11-2.pdf

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Dan Silver

Classical Soc – November 30 – Lecture 11 AGENDA - The Future of Democracy o Revolution o Centralization Compte o Biography o Sociology in hierarchy of sciences o Nature of sociology o Order (how’s it’s produced and maintained) o Progress (what evolution means, how societies get better) The Future of Democracy - Revolution (about politics) o Less poverty  You have fewer people living in poverty, and the distinctions between the rich and poor are less clearly marked. Although there are rich people, they tend not to have a status as a separate class that exists forever. It’s always fluctuating.  If people from the aristocracy want to go up the hierarchy, they have to eliminate those above them. o Middleclass property owners  Own a bit of property. If there were to be a revolution, that would be bad for you because you have something to lose. In general, people who are middleclass tend to be the least revolutionary of all classes.  Aristocrats are more revolutionary because they don’t care about money and don’t have much property. They have nothing to lose.  The middleclass has enough money to care about keeping it, but not so much that they start thinking about other things in life that they really want.  Strike against Revolution. o Commercial habits  People who are in the markets buying, selling, trading are against revolutions because they prefer predictability. This way they can plan for the future.  Not revolutionary. o Lack of Public Spirit.  Most people only care about their own little private worlds and so they don’t get worked up in the great questions of politics and revoltutions. They don’t work very hard to promote a revolution because they don’t really care.  You don’t really care about the public issues, you’re more concerned about yourself and your small world. - Why don’t ideas change very much? (The following list is about culture) o People have very similar opinions.  When we’re all thinking similar thoughts, it’s rare that someone comes up with something revolutionary.  We’re not truly individual; we’re unique, but we’re doing the same things. o Incremental innovations  In an aristocracy you can have radical innovation because one guy at the top has a new idea, and that changes everything. He only has to convince a few more people at the top, and everyone else follows.  In a democracy change isn’t so radical because a few elites can’t command everyone to change. Everyone has to accept it and we all have to be convinced one by one. That is more gradual, thus, it is not revolutionary. o Domestic concerned  We’re all focused on our home life, so we don’t have time to think of revolutionary ideas. o Conformism  In a democratic society we’re just one little person in a big society. We think that if everyone else is thinking one idea, they’re probably right, and so we just tend to agree. - The real threat that Toqueville is concerned about is not revolution, but NOT being able to change: stagnation. (616). Democracy in any society will at times need to have great public movements. But we’re often so comfortable in our position that we’re afraid to do that. Everyone knows change needs to be implemented, but they don’t want to do it. The threat is not constant revolution, but the inability to change themselves when the time comes Everyone trying to be unique Centralization - Democratic people tend to have an emotional desire for giving the central authority and government a lot of power. Since democratic people want to think of everyone as equal, it makes us very resentful of people who get special privileges. There’s a tendency in democracies to try to take away special privileges, and give an abstract to a central government as opposed to people. There’s a pressure to have a centralized government that will run people’s lives with abstract, universal rules. o Tocqueville was worried that this would lead to the idea that the central government would be like parents: it will solve your problems. The idea that a government will give you welfare if you don’t have a job, you go the state if you have problems. You don’t rely so much on your personal connections. You give your children away to the government for 7-8 hours a day in order to school them with a curriculum set by the government. The government can regulate you in whatever way they wish. The state can treat you like a child.  Ie. Trans-fat has become illegal in some states because it’s unhealthy; what, you can’t decide whether or not you want to eat fast food?  662  Soft Despotism : don’t let yourself be turned into a child.  It’s not inevitable. There are factors which influence whether or not a country is likely to succumb to this: o Tradition of Freedom  If the people are more likely to participate anyways, they are less likely to be controlled by the government. o Violent Revolution  How did the country become democratic? If it was a violent revolution, that country is much more likely to have a stronger central authority because in the process of revolution the existing elites, which provide a buffer between the central authority and the average person, would probably be killed. o Education Level  Of the country entering democracy. If they have a lower education level, they’re less likely to develop secondary associations (bowling clubs, dancing groups, political groups). They don’t create them and instead give the government more power, assuming that they know what they’re doing. o Wars  The more wars a country participates in, the more the government is centralized. o Threats  If you’re constantly feeling threatened as a country, you’re more likely to be centralized. - Stagnation is the inability to change when problems arise (the more centralization you have, the more you may stagnate), but centralization is the gathering of the authority into one government. Compte o Biography  Born in 1798, died in 1857  Person who came up with the term “sociology”  Original label or name for it was social physics  Lived through the revolutionary period in France. For Europe, the French revolution was much more significant than the American revolution because it happened in the heart of one of the most permanent regimes.  An order that had been around for thousands of years collapsed.  After the revolutionary generation, had a different perspective. Revolutionaries killed everyone associated with the hierarchy. Napoleon came up, and he led a series of wars throughout Europe (seen as a dictator).  The old order (based on aristocracy) was gone, but what the new one would be was uncertain.  Compte asks where can we find a new sense of order in the chaos? o Charles Fourier was very influential. Produced the science of human character and arranged society so that everyone would have a job that they loved. There would be no disorder in society. You’d also be able to match couples based on their personalities. This was cause happiness in society.  There were a few communes created in Texas where people tried to live this theory out. o Saint-Simon’s idea was that it’s important in order to fill the void in society left by the decline of the aristocracy, to use a religion of science led by the captains of Industry.  Compte uses the idea of having science as the center of society. He thought that ideas drove history, not underlying economics. - Sociology is the queen of all sciences and takes into account everything, - Complex Sociology Chemistry Mechanics Math Physics Simple General - Specific Theoretical/Pure Applied Astronomy Meteorology, Navigation - just understanding regularities of the movements of planets etc. Physics Mechanical Engineering, nuclear engineering, Chemistry Chemical engineering, drugs Biology Medicine, Agriculture Sociology – Public Policy, Education, Counseling, Social Work, Criminology, Psychology understanding the laws that brings order to society and how those orders change - These can all be better understood if you have an understanding of the laws of society. - How do you have a theory of the laws of society? o What is the task of sociology?  To provide a positive, scientific, understanding of society.  The easiest way to see this is by comparing it to alternative ways of understanding society. The alternatives are: Theological (why did Metaphysical (based in Positive (Scientific) some god want it?) some account of the nature of that thing) Why does a rock fall? God wanted it to fall. It is the nature of heavy The law of gravity. things to fall. Why is there disease in Sin; divine punishment. It’s the nature of human Viruses and bacteria the world? life to be brutal and exist. short. Life is nasty. Why are there wars? Divine retribution; It is Human nature is Depends on the level of fun for Gods to have aggressive. social development. It’s humans participate in not just a natural fact war. that there’s inequality or resource inequality- all those become excuses for justifying social inequality (?) - Characteristics of positive understanding: o Observation  instead of saying that human nature is aggressive; we observe wars and try to figure out the rules. o Seeks rules not causes  a formula or a regularity – if x and y occur, z will happen. o Relative not absolute  a scientific explanation is always relative to certain conditions. - What are the objects of sociology? o Social statics = order  How all the different parts of society coexist or interrelate with one another. o Social dynamics = progress  What you study when you study change, evolution. The goal is to try to figure out the laws or regularities that govern change or movements in society. Are there stages? What order do they have? - Means: How do you go about studying things? o Observation  you don’t just read about it, you have to go out and observe for yourself. Compte however did not think that merely looking will give you answers, you need to study with some theory.  Example. (82), if you have a theory about the differences between the US and Canada. The theory is that the US is a country born in a revolution against a government (anti-establishment revolution) that threw out a regime, and Canada was formed against that revolution. In that theory the initial moments of founding that country defined the differences between those nations going forward. You go out and observe the theory: ie. The symbol is the cowbow and mountie respectively. What does that mean? The cowboy is a lone ranger who does what he needs to do to survive. The mountie is a symbol of the government. o Experiment -> look at pathological cases and treat them as an experience to try to figure out what would happen in a normal case.  Ie. If we look at detroit’s deteriorating situation, we can figure out what went wrong there, and apply it to the rest of society, o Comparison  seeing whether or not the same causes lead to the same affects.  Ie. In the US, people with higher incomes vote for republican, people with lower vote for democrats. This doesn’t apply to every state. Then you compare this within states and you’ll figure out the regularities. - How to study social order; How is social order produced and maintained? o Individual; how do the qualities and properties of individuals lead to more or less social order?  Relative level of the affective versus rational  Affective = feelings; rational = intellect and mind  Each of us has a ratio of these. This is an individual quality, but as the ratio changes, this affects society. o
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