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Lecture 11

SOC483Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Ideal Type, Episteme, Totem

Course Code
Vanina Leschziner

of 7
SOC483Y1- November 23, 2011
Zerubavel individualism invented by Western civilization 3 distinct levels of analysis
1. Individual
2. Social Beings- inter-subjective world- standard/conventional time reckoning (clocks)
Cognitive sociology impersonal social mindscapes (what we share in common). Social
mindscapes are not to be confused with universality, yes avoid strictly personal but do not jump
to universality (do not jump to the other extreme)
- Thought communities (nations, professions, Churches)
o Developing social world that is inter-subjective
3. Human Beings- objective world of nature and logic universality
Uses examples of colours because more recognizable with names
The mind is not a tabula rasa no blank mind, there are “strong cognitive commitment” – previous
“Optical pluralism” – perspectivism- there is more than one cognitive standpoint “Optical Diversity” –
variation in perception
- Socio-mental lenses- through which we see the world “optical socialization” is how we
perceive things as taking place in certain “Thought communities”
- There is great complexity to how we see the world
Thinking is inherently limited
- Mental Horizons regulating what enters our mind, how we treat certain people, allow us to
ignore certain parts of reality as background activities
- Mental Focusing we must ignore something and mental horizons allow us to do that-
effective mental limits that keep us from being overwhelmed
- Mental horizons vary across certain social settings…
- Mental horizons shift with the time ex. Smoking- it was once background but smoking
today is now perceived differently
- Separating relevant from irrelevant is a social act * Cognitive Socialization
*Islands of meaning- classify them in order to understand them purely mental what is inside our head,
what we do, what we think, how we classify, classification is the process of actively scoping islands of
- Positive asymmetry a positive way of seeing
- For Trump‟s strategy to work one must anticipate the worst but she says this is a very
difficult task to do
- Tradition of studying thinking- her experiments try to understand and separate physiological
from social with respect to thinking
- Time lag for booing
- More images of heaven than hell
- How would one explain the portrayal of news today how it is always focused on the worst
- Distinction of noticing something consciously or unconsciously ex. Homeless person vs.
talking to someone with something on their face vs. walking to an exam and avoiding signs
Look to Zerubavel Fleck- do we all share the same cognitive style, is it that we are in
different thought communities? Zerubavel talks about different groups not sharing all, you take
part in certain social mental communities and get lenses from those… etc.
- You take part in different thought communities and you are socialized in certain
manners as a result of different thought communities you may belong to and are
conditioned within.
Zerubavel‟s book is culturally based – writing for the US
We are trained differently in some countries to prepare for the worst
Both cognitive sociologists- contemporary sociologists in the US
Zerubavel can be thought to be the founder of cognitive sociology Manifesto for topics
Zerubavel‟s first chapter setting up similar to Durkheim‟s setting up suicide separating
psychology from sociology Zerubavel island of social thinking. Up until now we have studied
thinking from 2 extremes
(1) the individual, terrain of philosophy, the individual thinker, Da Vinci, Einstein = geniuses
with ideas for themselves- thinking in terms of individual- patterns of individual thinking
(2) Universalism- some of D‟Andrad‟s work – creating prototypes in our brains which is a
universal mechanism of the brain creating prototypes because it helps thinking
positive asymmetry based on prototypes with Cerulo
Inter-subjective level it is a shared subject across different people not that he denies some
thinking is based solely on individual and mechanisms of brain universal but there is indeed part
of our thinking shared with other people that is our focus
Zerubavel‟s focus on an inter-subjective level of understanding constituting a shared subject
across different people or a shared a practice of thinking lends well to an explanation of Inman et
al. „s (2001) findings of Asian international women feeling pressured while living in the U.S. due
to familial and ethnic societal influences and pressures to maintain traditional gender roles. .
These pressures contribute to the prototypical and traditional gender roles …some Asian
international women in the United States may feel pressure from their families and ethnic
societies to maintain and perpetuate traditional gender roles while receiving concurrent messages
related to independence, interpersonal assertiveness and pursuing personal goals from the
dominant White society in the United States
Zerubavel develops many terms to explain those patterns of thinking that are shared- easy to
- Go back to discussion with Fleck with where do we get our optical lenses and if we
agree with Zerubavel‟s understanding of our thinking… a lot of what we see there is
that our thinking comes from how we are socialized and uses a lot of visual
metaphors “optical lenses, optical socialization”
o You can see ideas of foreground and background relating to Goffman
Goffman was his PhD advisor! idea of ignoring and idea of purposely
o Where else do we see connections? Idea from Fleck, connection to collective
consciousness from Durkheim (inter-subjectively shared about how we get
socialized into attending to certain things, certain categories, dividing life
naturally flowing into chunks according to Zerubavel is dependent on social
mental lenses)
o Durkheim big influence
o We agree there is a “me” and collective conscious me is in the social or
inter-subjective Mead
o Zerubavel’s individuality belonging to thought collectives thus there is not
really an “I” – relates to Fleck
We therefore do not see much of the “I” – at individualism level which
Zerubavel says he will not talk about
o Zerubavel says with more differentiation and specialization we take part in
different communities… we get socialized in different small groups
o Durkheim only talks about the “me”= society as sui genris – above and
beyond the individual, certainly thinking of power of social
o Mead yes still social “I” and “me” but we think of how they connect to make
us who we are
The difference is that in the social level (middle- interest of
cognitive- not shared in a social group but would differ from
one group to another!)
Ex: Zambia separate reality into different chunks, think of
gender differently compared to us