SOC103H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Bowling League, Environmental Movement, Consistency

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SOC103 Lecture 10 Voluntary Associations and Social Movements
Sociology is about what people do when they get together and what kinds of things can be
accomplished when people get together that can’t be easily be accomplished when they try to
do things on their own
Ordinary people make history
There is a tendency to imagine that history is a record of the achievements of a few great people
We are creating the future everyday with what we do and what we don’t do
People want happiness
Everybody is looking for some version of happiness
There are many people that believe happiness comes from buying expensive stuff
Happiness research has been going on in the social sciences for about 40 years, which has only
gained significant attention in the last 5 years
The conclusions of the study
Jeffrey Sachs
o Examined data from dozens of countries
o Happiness was not greater in countries that had a higher GDP per capita
o Happiness does not come from greater economic productivity or greater collective wealth
The correlation between happiness and income at the individual level is steep over the first part
of the income range and very flat over the next
o If you satisfy very basic requirements with your income, any incremental $10,000 has no
effect on your happiness
$0-20,000 is huge in terms of happiness
$100,000-120,000 doesn’t matter
o This holds true across countries as well as across individuals
Who are the happiest?
The Scandinavians are the happiest and the most equal people in the world
Sachs draws the inference that you get more happiness from equality than from increments in
gross national product
o Happiness for individuals and for societies comes from creating political sustainability
and from equality
According to Professor Sachs
There is not more happiness to be gained by the recipe of “work harder, buy more”
This is not the key when it means environmental destruction
o High levels of economic development usually require a high level of consumption of
non-renewable resources and destruction of the environment
Then what makes people happy?
o Family life makes people happy (e.g., feeling of social integration and stability)
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Society is a cooperative enterprise
Societies are about working with other people and collectively seeking our individual happiness
o We don’t have to agree on the same version of happiness
o We have to figure out how to create a society in which everybody is able to pursue their
own version of happiness without being harmed, threatened or disadvantaged by
anybody else
Voluntary associations and social movements bring most change
How did people get together to pursue happiness together?
Voluntary associations
o Any social units that bring people together around some common goal
E.g., basketball team, rock band, charitable organization
E.g., University of Toronto
Everyone is here to get a degree
o There is a desire for sociability
Social movements
o Voluntary associations, but with a political agenda
o There is a transformative social purpose, or a desire to change society
Voluntary associations and sociability
Familiarity is important for breaking down prejudice and likelihood of discriminatory behaviour
Sociability is about play and fun
Concerns about the decline of society through cocooning
People are tending to hide out in their homes too much, backing away from voluntary
associations, retrieving from civil society, and removing themselves from the experience of
other people
Is civil society declining?
He argues that people are increasingly bowling alone
o Our society is doing everything alone
He argues that this creates a bad kind of society
He identifies TV as one of the greatest negative influences on people’s social behaviour
o The more TV people watch per day, then the less likely they are to get involved in a
community project
He argues that it produces non-social behaviour, and anti-social behaviour
o We are becoming self-absorbed and withdrawn from civil society that we look at the
rest of the human race as objects to be avoided and overcome
E.g., giving the finger to another driver
This explains the decline in political engagement, and decline in participation in charities
o E.g., voting patterns, working for political parties, making political donations
o E.g., clubs that collect money for poor and disadvantaged people
The decline of league bowling
This shows how bowling league membership rises rapidly in the 1930s, peaks around the 1950s,
and as TV spreads in the 1960s, there is a rapid decline with almost nobody in bowling leagues
by 2010
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Document Summary

Soc103 lecture 10 voluntary associations and social movements. Sociology is about what people do when they get together and what kinds of things can be accomplished when people get together that can"t be easily be accomplished when they try to do things on their own. There is a tendency to imagine that history is a record of the achievements of a few great people: we are creating the future everyday with what we do and what we don"t do. Everybody is looking for some version of happiness. There are many people that believe happiness comes from buying expensive stuff: happiness research has been going on in the social sciences for about 40 years, which has only gained significant attention in the last 5 years. Jeffrey sachs: examined data from dozens of countries, happiness was not greater in countries that had a higher gdp per capita, happiness does not come from greater economic productivity or greater collective wealth.

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