Sociology Notes (First term).doc

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13 Nov 2012
Department
Professor
The Sociological Imagination 13/12/2007 17:00:00
Sociology: using a different lens to see the world
theories about the social relations between individuals and groups of people within a
particular society
Focuses on Patterned Group Behaviour
Always exceptions
People act in highly predictable ways
Little left to chance
Society guides our actions and shapes our values
Peter Berger
“To see the general in the particular”
Identify general patterns in the behaviour of particular individuals
Society acts differently in different categories
Ex: adults vs. kids, rich vs. poor
The Sociological Imagination: C. Wright Mills 1950’s
We see the world through the lens of our own experience which limits our
understanding
Three Levels of Analysis
Biography – Human Agency: no one has the same life experiences (choices, morals,
values)
Milieu – Gemeinschaft : social setting of everyday life; cannot understand someone
unless we understand where they come from
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History – Society/structures: society plus past, present and future; impacts an individual’s
biology; structure of society affects age, race, gender, inequality
Private Troubles: problems relevant to each of us as individuals; impacts milieu
Public Issues: problems and concerns at level of history; concern all members of society;
often not relevant unless in our milieu or community
Anthony Giddens
Structuration Theory: history + action
Interaction between 3 levels of analysis is called “Double involvement of self in
Society”
Double Involvement: we are all products and producers in society
Affects the lives of those in our milieu
Affects history
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Sociological Theory 13/12/2007 17:00:00
Sociology: systematic study of social behaviour in human societies
Science, studied for over 100 years
Goals of sociology:
Describe the social world
Explain how and why
Critique existing social arrangements that promote inequality, aim to fix it
Auguste Comte; 1838
Coined term sociology
Understand rapid social change
Rapid social change destabilizes society
Positivism:
Durkheim
Use research methods of natural sciences for social sciences
Study what actually is, not focus on “ideal”
Saw rapid social change with the coming of human rights
Sociological Perspectives: ways of seeing the world; perspective defines a person’s
theory
Theory: explains patterns in events that do not have obvious explanations/patterns;
statement of how and why certain facts are related
Ex: suicide rates related to social integration and group life
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