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Lecture 1- Sept 11 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Christian O.Caron

Sociology th September 11  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 thought and action  Behaviors of people and how they interact with people, or how they seem themselves  Sociology is an elastic discipline that shares some elements in many other fields such as history, philosophy, psychology etc Philosophical Foundations  Ontology: what is real?  Epistemology: how do we know what we know?  Thomas Hobbes’s assentation that governments appropriate role lies in preserving peace while allowing individuals to pursue their self-interests  John Locke’s belief in individual freedom and autonomy  Jean-Jacques analysis of social contract and his belief in individual autonomy Birth of Sociology  Scientific revolution (16 century) encouraged the use of evidence to substantiate theories-start of the move to accumulate thte and provide evidence  Democratic revolution (18 century) encouraged the view that human action can change society-what rights people are entitled to or not, having a say in laws  Industrial revolution (19 century) gave sociologists their subject matter-  Three revolutions together led to knowledge of what it means to have a smooth functioning of society, groups of people who disagree with each other on how a country or city should be run Asking a set of Questions  Sociology is run by asking 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 do you become the person you are today?  How do you relate and interact with your family, friends and strangers?  What are the effects of your class position on how you live your life?  What racial or 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 perspective  Sociological perspective as seeing the general in the particular- this means we identify patterns in the behavior of particular individuals  Although each individual is unique, sociologists recognize that society acts differently on various categories of people (children compared to adults, men versus women)  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 which is often regarded as an antisocial and non-social act  Yet there are hidden social causethof suicide
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