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SOC102H1 (261)
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University of Toronto St. George

Chapter 1 Notes Objective and Subjective Elements • Objective elements: the measurable features of a negative social condition. Such a condition might include crime, poverty, or alcohol abuse and can be considered an objective reality • can study its causes and effects • we can study changes in social life that cause the numbers or rates of these events to increase and decrease • Subjective Elements: people's evaluations of objective conditions and the processes that influence their evaluation. They include the moral labels that people apply to particular acts or situations and the accounts they give for these acts and situations • e.g. That multiculturalism is good, that homosexual are sick then these beliefs are aspects of social realities • “claim-making” a process by which people try to capture attention and mobilize public opinion around particular problems and their solutions Social Problems and the Sociological Imagination • Social imagination: (C. Wright Mills) is the ability to see connections between one's own life (micro-events), the social world in which one lives (macro-events) and between personal or private troubles and pubic issues. • e.g. Unemployed people may view their lack of a job as private trouble involving only them, their immediate family members and their friends but it is not a private or personal trouble, it is a public issue • sociological imagination makes a connection between our personal lives and larger social context in which we live in • Apost modern approach is to ask youth to give personal account • a traditional scientific manner is to p. 6 • Subjectivist or constructionist approach: to determine the reasons why few people consider youth homelessness a major social issue, despite the efforts by some to raie public awareness about this issue Social Problems Research as a moral enterprise • moderizaiton itself carries heavy cost for the natural environment Sociological reserach on social problems is guided by seven value preferences 1) life over death 2) health over sickness 3) knowing over not knowing 4) cooperation over conflict 5) freedom of movement over physical restraint 6) self-determination over direction by others 7) freedom of expression over restraint of communication • media is turning public issues to private issues • e.g. Why homelss youth be blames for running away from home, there are reason why they ran away . • Mental illness of every kind is growing and its not personal when it is shared by a huge and growing fraction of the population • we try to find ways to prevent problems since efforts to correct them later have been unsuccessful Social Construction • Thomas dictum: when people define a situation as real, the situation will be real in its effects • some social problems are not real problems but they are “social constructions”, some people view them as problems some don't but they have important social effects • social constructionism: that examines the way people interact to create a shared social reality • moral entrepreneurs: are elites, interest, groups or community leaders, who discover and attempt to publicize deviant behaviours. Who are disturbed by particular types of evil they see in the world and who will not rest until something is done to correct the problem • claim-making: a procedure that describes, explains and blames people who are involved with the problem, often labelling them as deviant or wrongdoers. - people do to propagate a view of who or what is a problem and what should be done about it • goal: to examine they ways people interact to create a shared social reality • any idea, natural or obvious it may seem to the people who accept it, is an invention of a particular culture or society • Symbols: gestures, artifacts and words that represent something else (children learn to interact with others by learning system of “” ) • humans react not to physical objects and events themselves but to the “shared meanings of these objects and events” -- they are socially imposed or constructed meanings not the physical outlook of the objects • Social Group: a set of people defined by formal or informal criteria of membership, who feel unified or are bound together in stable patterns of interaction – we cannot understand the meaning people attach to witchcraft in the burning times without understanding their politics, religion and gender relationship – when people interact they share they views of reality and act on these shared views – when people act on their shared knowledge of this “reality” they reinforce it or lock itin . To think those terms becomes habitual and seems natural even unavoidable 1) as sociologist we need to have the clearest possible understanding of reality, even if our own understanding challenges “common” sense 2) we need to learn as much as we can about the social process by which real social problems and imagined social problems come into being • Institutional ethnography: explore the social organization of every knowledge. The purpose of this approach is to make the familiar strange and call into question taken for granted assumption about social organization that unexplore, serve the interest of the dominant groups in society – Enhanced interrogation: a term intended to legitimate the action and sound professional – institutional ethnography is to deconstruct the language used to confuse and obscure public understanding of reality – aim to shine a light on taken for granted relations of power, to demystify the relations of ruling and to point out ways that ruling relations can be modified to better serve ordinary people in everyday life Warnings, Panics, and Claims • one goal of ruling: they want to control, use claims-making • to bring a problem into the public agenda, claim makers usually rely on common rhetorical idioms and styles that reflect core cultural values, it might invoke certain types of risk avoidance • the media shapes public perception of a problem than by firsthand experience • how the media depict a problem plays a crucial part in how the public will respond • the media can influence public opinion by putting stories about given “problem” on the agenda for repeated discussion in news reports • some media manipulation is more subtle p.15 • ordinary people begin the claim-making process • Whistler-blowers: employees in a bureaucratic organization who bring forward valid information about wrongdoing or illegal conduct by their organization and who are often punished for doing so - are unusual claims-makers who gain credibility for speaking out contrary to their own immediate interest and those of their employers - they are usually blacklisted in their industries and have to turn to social movements for employment • framing a social problem in a particular way is especially important for influencing public opinion • Moral Pan
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