Sociology 2240E Lecture Notes - Auguste Comte, Reductionism, Earthbound
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Social Theory 2240
- material existence ie. Piagets concrete operational – is a lot easier to see than
seeing “society” You must create society before examining it.
- You are able to give examples of society/economy (ie. money, stores) but you
are unable to point to “society” or “economy”. You have to imagine what it is
like as a whole. Ie. uwo = institution – norms, values, structures NOT buildings
- Objective (factual) because we can imagine that no one would disagree ie. she is
a girl we can see that.
- Stencil that represents 6 basic questions that any social theorists have to be
capable of answering. Especially in the 18th, 19th .
1. WHAT IS SOCIETY? ORGANICISM VS. ATOMISM
ORGANICISM: The person is part of the system, institution and the social
bonds between them More than the sum of its parts. Economy can be part of the
ATOMISM: is the exact same thing EXCEPT sometimes the person can step
out of the system/influence it (generate novel, unanticipated critiques of the
system) ie. Randomly murdering someone is not stepping out of the cycle
because deviance is excepted in human behavior
If this wasn’t possible, nothing would be unpredictable
2. WHAT IS HUMAN NATURE? ARE WE SOMETHING SOCIOLOGICALLY
RELEVANT BY NATURE? NATURE VS. NURTURE
What is something we do that is not conditioned/influenced by something else?
Ie. it may be an instinct to live however if people want to die (they choose to
die) is it really an instinct? – We can explain human behavior because of what
we have been through. Nurture is always at work – once we’re social there is
no nature. Nature has been socially constructed.
If an instinct exists then it is something found by every member in the species. If
it is malleable we would call it a predisposition
3. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP AMONGST SOCIETY, CULTURE AND
THE PERSON? REACTORS VS. ACTORS
REACTORS: determined by external forces, we react to stimuli, molded by
external stimuli, totally a function of socialization, product of the system, “role”
identity, uniqueness is irrelevant
ACTORS: sometimes you can do unpredictable things that are socially
relevant. You can do the unexpected (logically tied to atomism which is
stepping out of the system/influencing it)
4. WHAT ANALYTICAL EPISTEMOLOGIES DO SOCIOLOGISTS USE?
NOMINALIST VS. REALIST
NOMINALIST: try to explain social events WITH reference to the intention of
people. Ie. use your intention to go to the bathroom to explain a behaviour
REALIST: explain social events/processes WITHOUT reference to individual
intention BUT with reference to “natural” processes (humans are unaware of) ie.
the prior definitions are descriptive definitions ie. this happens
because of this OR that.
realists and nominalists are both:
PRESCRIPTIVE – OUGHT / EVALUATIONS
DESCRIPTIVE - IS (THIS OR THAT) STRAIGHT FORWARD FACT
Descriptive realist: system – co-relating variables – man as a reactor
Descriptive nominalist: system + can be influenced by persons
(unpredictable) man as an actor
Prescriptive realist: thinking about system but making value judgments
5. DOES SOCIAL THEORY DEAL WITH FACTS OR VALUES OR BOTH?
There are no facts independent of our ability to agree and make something a
fact. Facts are able to change – objectivity – what makes truth truth. Facts cause
us to make assumptions – objectivity, facts, truth intersubjective
agreement about them (creation of our own)
Values always influence our conception of the facts.
1. Values influence our conception of an event or process worthy of analysis
2. Values influence how we decide to study (what techniques we decide to use)
facts = agreement/elite (science may be the best way to explain facts because
there is agreement on something)
3.Values influence our definition of facts
4. Values influence the way we explain facts – when trying to explain relevance
you are always thinking nominalism vs. realism.
5. Values influence our use of it
6. HOW DO SOCIOLOGISTS EXPLAIN/CONCEPTUALIZE SOCIAL ORDER
AND SOCIAL CHANGE? EVOLUTUIONIST VS.
Both words have a commitment of change however EVOLUTION is open
ended and development specifies the goal of change
The concept of development is teleological (goal directed)
7. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSEVATIVE AND RADICAL
A. Conservative – favours what is, primarily concerned with consolidating
social order and controlling the rate/nature of social change.
-sees men as evil, selfish, irrational
-men by nature = anti social. Man as a package by nature is anti social
-sees man as a reactor
-realists/pre and descriptively
-claim sociology = science of social order
-RARE- could be a developmentalist
B. Radical – interested in progressive change with progress meaning a better
society with a better meaning a society that stimulates human developmental
potential toward what humans ought to be.
-sees human being as potentially intelligent, moral and by nature- indifferent as
the worse case scienero. At base we are indifferent
-we are taught to be evil by mistakes
-the world/system ought to be changed in order to create a better system more
supportive of the realization of human potential.
Method of Inquiry always clockwise
Theory (deductive) Hypothesis (operationalize) Observation Empirical
hypothesis – conjecture of a relationship among 2 or more variables
law – liable- refuted hypothesis that has never been falsified
A. An organized system of empirical generalization – it has two purposes
1. Offer an explanation of what has been observed
2. Predict on the basis of that explanation, future occurrences in order to see if the
explanation given is valid/reliable
- you will never know 100% for sure because the cycle will always continue – science
has to keep going- it doesn’t end
Material existence ie. piagets concrete operational is a lot easier to see than seeing society you must create society before examining it. You are able to give examples of society/economy (ie. money, stores) but you are unable to point to society or economy . You have to imagine what it is like as a whole. Ie. uwo = institution norms, values, structures not buildings. Objective (factual) because we can imagine that no one would disagree ie. she is a girl we can see that. Stencil that represents 6 basic questions that any social theorists have to be capable of answering. Organicism: the person is part of the system, institution and the social bonds between them more than the sum of its parts. We can explain human behavior because of what we have been through. Nurture is always at work once we"re social there is no nature.