SOC Lecture – September 11, 2013
Instructor: Christian Caron
Office: 725 Spadina rm 388
Office Hours: Tuesdays 12-2 pm
Email: [email protected]
Sociology is the systematic study of human action in social context. It is based on
the idea that our relations with other people create opportunities for us to think and
act but also set limits on our thoughts and action.
Sociology is an elastic discipline that shares some elements in common with many
other fields (history, psychology, philosophy, others).
Underlying Sociology is Philosophy and its concepts of:
Ontology: What is real?
Epistemology: How do we know what we know?
Early social philosophers contributed to classical sociology theory through these
-Thomas Hobbes’s assertion that government’s appropriate role lies in preserving
peace while allowing individuals to pursue their self-interests.
-John Locke’s belief in individual freedom and autonomy
-Charles de Montesquieu’s comparative methodology and his appreciation for
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s analysis of the social contract and his belief in individual
Birth of Sociology
-The scientific revolution (16 century) encouraged the use of evidence to
-The democratic revolution (18 century) encouraged the view that human action
can change society.
-The industrial revolution (19 century) gave sociologists their subject manner.
Sociology: Asking a set of questions.
-How do you see the world?
-How do you form your opinions and accumulate information?
-What is culture and what role does it play in your life?
-How did you become the person you are today?
-How do you relate and interact with your family, friends and strangers around you?
-What are the effects on your class position on how you live your life?
-What racial and ethnic group do you identify yourself with?
-How do you feel your gender shapes who you are?
-What impact have changes around the world had on your life? Sociological Perspective
-At the heart of sociology is a special point of view called the socio-logical
-Sociological perspective as seeing the general in the particular. By this we mean
that sociologists identify general patterns in the behavior of particular individuals.
-While acknowledging that each individual is unique, sociologists recognize that
society acts differently on various categories of people (say, children compare to
adults, women versus men, the rich as opposed to the poor).
-We think sociologically when we realize how the general categories into which we
happen to fall shape our particular life experiences.
Sociological perspective illustrated through considering causes of suicide.
-Suicide often regarded as a supremely antisocial and non-social act.
-Yet there are hidden social causes of suicide
Emile Durkheim th
-At end of the 19 century, demonstrated suicide rates were strongly influenced by
-Examined association between rates of suicide and ra