Sociology 1020 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Subculture, Consumerism, Ethnocentrism

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26 Apr 2015
Sociology Chapter 1
The Sociological Perspective
The Sociological Explanation of Suicide
Emilie Durkheim (1951) – showed that suicide is more than an individual
act of depression that results from a psychological disorder
Social Solidarity – refers to the degree to which group members share
beliefs and values and the intensity and frequency of their interactions
oShe showed that married adults are half likely than married
adults to commit suicide
oWoman are less likely because they are involved in the intimate
family life
Suicide in Canada
Why suicide has risen in Canada over the years
oChurch, mosques etc. attendance is down over young people,
only 15% attend regularly
oUnemployment is up, remains twice as high for Canadians
under the age of 25
oRate of divorce has increased – children are more often brought
up in single-parent, suggests they are less involved
The Sociological Imagination
Is the quality of mind that enables a person to see the connection between
personal troubles and social structures
Origins of the Sociological Imagination
Scientific Revolution – began about 1550, it encouraged the view that
sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid
evidence, not just on speculation
Democratic Revolution – began about 1750, suggested that people are
responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can
therefore solve social problems
Industrial Revolution – often regarded as the most important event in
world history since the development of agriculture and cities, refers to the
rapid economic transformation that begun in Britain in the 1780’s.
Involved the largest application of science and technology to industrial
processes, the creation of factories and the formation of working class
Theory, Research, and Values
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Theory- are tentative explanations of some aspect of social life that states
how and why certain facts are related
Research – is the process of systematically observing reality to assess the
validity of a theory
Values – are ideas about what is good and bad, right and wrong
Sociological Theory and Theorists
Functionalism – stressed that human behaviour is governed by relatively
stable social structures. It underlines how social structures maintain or
undermine social stability. Shows that social structures are based on
shared values or preferences and suggests that reestablishing equilibrium
can be best to solve most social problems
Dysfunctional consequences – are effects of social structures that create
social instability
Robert K. Merton
oManifest functions – are visible and intended effects of social
oLatent functions – are invisible and unintended effects of social
oConflict Theory – generally focuses on large macro level structures
and show how major patterns of inequality in society produce
social stability in some circumstances and social change in others
elimination of privilege
oSocial Dysfunctions – undesirable consequences
Class conflict – is the struggle between classes to resist and overcome the
opposition of other classes
Protest ethic – is the belief that religious doubts can be reduced and a state
of grace ensured if people work diligently and live ascetically
Symbolic interactionism – focus on interaction in micro level social
settings and emphasizes that an adequate explanation of social behaviour
requires understanding that subjective meanings people attach to their
social circumstances
Social Construction and Queer Theory
Social construction – argues that apparently natural or innate features of
life are often sustained by social processes that vary historically and
Queer theory – argues that people’s sexual identities and performances are
so variable that conventional labels like ‘male’ and ‘female, ‘gay and
‘lesbian fail to capture the sexual instability that characterizes their lives
Feminist Theory
Patriarchy is at least as important as class inequality in determining a
person’s opportunities in life. It holds that male domination and female
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subordination are determined not by biological necessarily but by
structures of power and social convention. It examines the operation of
patriarchy in both micro and macro settings. The contents of gender
inequality can and should be changed for the benefit of all elimination of
gender inequality
A Sociological Compass
Postindustrial Revolution – refers to the technology-driven shift from
manufacturing to service industries and the consequences of that shift for
virtually all human activities
Globalization – the process by which formerly separate economies, states,
cultures become tied together and people become increasingly aware of
their growing interdependence
Chapter 3 – Cultures
Culture as a Meaning Generator
Culture Defined
High Culture: is a culture consumed mainly by upper classes (opera, ballet
Popular culture: (or mass culture) is a culture consumed by all classes
Culture: consists of the stared symbols and their definitions that people
create to solve real-life problems
Symbols: are concrete things or abstract terms that represents something
The Origins of Culture
Tools in a Cultural Survival Kit
1. Abstraction: is the ability to create general concepts that meaningfully
organize and concrete, sensory experience
2. Cooperation: is the capacity to create a complex social life by establishing
generally accepted ways of doing things and ideas about what is right and
a. Norms: are generally accepted ways of doing things
b. Values: are ideas that identify describable states (conditions that
are true and good)
3. Production: is the human capacity to make and use tools. It improves our
ability to take what we want from nature
a. Material culture: comprise the tools and techniques that enable
people to get tasks accomplished
b. Non-material culture: is composed of symbols, norms, and other
intangible elements
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