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Lecture 3

Lecture 3 January 24.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Matthias Koenig

SOC377 Monday January 24, 2010 - Last week: Strong evaluation of individuality - Domination/ bureaucratic stath, markets - Sociological theory late 19 century Parsons- first major theorist to synthesize thinking of early sociologists, trying to combine early sociologists in conceptual framework - analytical framework (crafted by taking into account the problem of how to combine actors and observers perspective) a Actors crucial for social reality understanding and taking into account that we as actors conceive of ourselves as acting, not just following given rules or determined by outside structures, acting in voluntaristic way. Parsons view of this was to grasp this experience of actors, conceptual trying to connect actor and observer view Parsons view of institutions – has to be conceptualized in a way that takes into account the actors point of view. Institutions appear as system of norms, rules that have function of easing decision between different ends in the complex scheme of means and ends in which the actor is confronted Parsons- problem- conceives institutions not only in actor way but also objective way- existing regulations that we can read off codes, laws etc. thus how do these subjective institutions and objective institutions reconcile? – focus on Bourdieu Macro structures in which action occurs must be conceived in a dual way… also system of values and ultimate ends which action is oriented – macro has to be conceived in dual way by encompassing social system and cultural system – linking 3: action, culture and social structure Parsons tries to link or address this complexity of references in conceptual framework is by conceiving a multi-dimensional approach- propose a theory that pays attention to various dimensions at same time – personality, culture, structure, action … his approach is synthetic which tries to combine different explanatory models to action, related to personality (psychology) culture (anthropology) social structure (sociology) Bourdieu and Giddens – encounter different attempt to combine these various approaches to social reality. Bourdieu is not multi-dimensional with different sub systems into one harmonious, he goes beyond basic dichotomy by devising theory of mutual constitution of agency and structure is crucial! Theories of the co-determination of structure and agency – Bourdieu and Giddens try to go beyond micro / macro dichotomy Bourdieu 1. Elaborate on his idea of dichotomy of objectivism and subjectivism can be overcome 2. Refer to his idea of the habitus 3. One area of application of great concern to him- area of class distinctions and the way they are reproduced through symbolic forms (French society) What we read- was his early work. Later work analyzed French society 1. Dichotomy of subjectivism and objectivism - To better understand – look at theory of practice - Divided between 2 approaches (1) phenomenological and existentialism related to work of Sartre (2) radical structuralism that is to be found in the work of Strauss (anthropology) and Althussers - Bourdieu drew on empirical insights found in his stay in Algeria, he was part of French army, conducted ethnographic and amongst tribes trying to understand how the colonial situation changed the traditional economy and patterns of social relations - Parsons more oriented towards economics and sociology - To understand 2 theories Bourdieu tries to introduce them as such - To approach social reality- take position of subjectivism which was related to 2 traditions of phenomenology (French version related Ponty) and existentialism related to Sartre – social reality would be conceived basically only from the view of the actor… Understanding structure from this point of view would imply that the observer would have no independent access to social structure apart from the social actor, conceptualization of society through the view of the actor (radical subjectivist position) - Bourdieu – first epistemic break – subjectivism – scientific move to understand social structures, we must bracket immediate experience of social life, step back from immediate experiences and develop perspective of objective structure - Objectivism – structuralism (structural Marxism, Althussers, Strauss) however actors think they are, scientist has better perspective… different take on social reality – Bourdieu criticizes and calls for a second epistemic break – more complicated move in his argument because it operates on self critical level – it is not the break that lets us take step back from subjective experience, it allows us to stay back from scientific observer tryin to project objective structures in social reality. Bourdieu argues that objectivism is conditioned by a specific structural position, there are social conditions for this position to be taken… there must be autonomous field, example of gift exchange. - Instead of these two dichotomies, Bourdieu argues for the theory of practice that allows for the insides of both positions and tries to combine them in the notion of practice which is both an effect of existing structures and also the contribution to the emergence of structures… More concrete examples to understand 1. Notion of rules - Use this example to explain all the positions… - If you take the point of view of the actors, rules are conceived as norms towards which action is oriented… so we have the notion of rules consistent with Parsons perspective of a system of norms to which action is oriented, take position of actor… norms are perceived by actors as stuff of society, sets of regulations, and are at the level of structure but seen from subjective view of actor. - Rules from objectivism point- not normative expectation from society from perspective of actor, but rule appeals as factual regularity in social life. 0 Also talk about theoretical model formulated by observer about the basic patterns of society. Evidently, Strauss work said regularities, culture is always constructed with reference to binary, elementary codes or structural Marxism – regularities always structured between dominated and dominating class by way of resources and means of production - Bourdieu’s sense- says rules need to be conceived differently because not entirely external to the actor but actors are aware of rules to some extent and conceives these rules as “schema” Rules are therefore elements of practice that are linked to an objective structure from which the schemas are derived, Schema used by actors in given situations through course of action 2. The gift-exchange (ethnographic anthropological) - Not based on contractual relations but on mutual reciprocity in which the gift requires a counter gift at later time, exchange relation not contractual or taking form of market - Subjectivist perspective – if you are a receiver of a gift, you would then know you are required to return the gift and thus constitute the norm of the gift exchange, you will comply to this norm at some point in time, returning the gift later… the gift is requiring a response from the actor at a later point. Here explaining the gift exchange would move exclusively through normative perceptions of the actor - Objectivist perspetctive- Strauss made this point against M and M (different from sub.) – not perceived from view of actors but from defacto of relations over time in which goods are including food and even women, exchanged between different actors, kin ship groups. Exchange system, not Marx system, different that emerges overtime in which objective observer takes analytic perspective explaining gift exchange through regularities observed from outcome of action - Bourdieu- says both of these do not capture what is happening in gift exchange by making point that actors are aware of the fact that they are part of an overall exchange system to which their action contributes but which they perform by drawing on certain repertoires of action that make them competent in engaging with these gift relations. Crucial difference he introduces is the notion of time which explains different perspectives between objective and subjective. HE gives the example that if a receiver of a gift returns the counter gift right away this would be perceived as legitimate on the part of the receiver, not accepting the gift but seeing only as material exchange – there must be a certain time length between return otherwise mutual reciprocity would not occur. - If the gift exchange requires this time length to exist the actors must have some understanding of properly understanding to received gift. Therefore norm to return gift is not sufficient in explaining action but must be some recognition that goes into the practice. At the same time the practice cannot be known and understood on the part of the actors as a performance of objective exchange relation so must be some disguise part of the practice. So theory of practice tries to understand how action is produced by schema drawn from social structure and acknowledge some social structure by clouding them in different ideologies. - Bourdieu tries to go beyond subjective and objective by devising theory of practice by staking subjective structures as part of structure of practice which structures are reproduced and influenced by structure. The objective observer is not constrained by time… this structure would not enter into immediate practice because our practice is restrained by temporal requirements and requirement to act within proper time windows so at the level of practice there must be something different. - How do structure and action relate? 2. Habitus- link between structure and practice, between objective existence and how they enter into action or practice - Allows Bourdieu to elaborate on schema by explaining why actors are competent to act in a given situation and why the result of their action contributes to the stability of action … connect voluntary free action with highly stable and rigid social structure - Habitus has 2 functions or operates in 2 ways - 1. It is structured by existing objective social structure in which it is formed, and contributes to reproduction of structure- structuring principle, it is both structured and structuring at the same time- this double property gives it the crucial link to structure and agency - 3 sets of dispositions to perceive, to interpret or appreciate and to act - 1. The habitus is a set of dispositions corresponding precisely to linking function between structure an
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