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Sociology lecture chap 1

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Western University
Sociology 1020
Michael Haight

Durkheim’s Contribution • Durkheim argued suicide rates varied as result of differences in degree of social solidarity in different categories of the population. • Social solidarity refers to:
• the degree to which group members share beliefs and values; and
• the intensity and frequency of their interaction. Map of Suicide Rates Copyright © 2013 Nelson Education Ltd. Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide Copyright © 2013 Nelson Education Ltd. Suicide in Canada Today • Suicide among youth has increased substantially since the 1960s. • Shared moral principles and strong social ties have eroded since the early 1960s: – Religious participation has decreased among youth. – Unemployment is up especially for youth. – Children are more often brought up in single- parent families now than in the past. 9 Youth Suicide in Canada • The level of social solidarity is now lower than it was just a few decades ago. • Youth are less firmly rooted in society, and less likely to share moral standards. • Theory of social solidarity helps us understand that young people in Canada today are more likely than they were half a century ago to take their own lives if they happen to find themselves in a deep personal crisis. 10 Suicide Rates by Age and Sex, Canada, 2006 Copyright © 2013 Nelson Education Ltd. 11 Pikangikum First Nation Reserve 12 • • From Personal Troubles to Social Structures Social structure: Relatively stable patterns of social relations. Three levels of social structure: i. Microstructures: patterns of intimate social relations formed during face- to-face interaction. ii. Macrostructures: patterns of social relations outside and above one’s circle of intimates and acquaintances. iii. Global structures: patterns of social relations outside and above the national level. Sociological Imagination • Sociological imagination: The ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures. • Developed by C. Wright Mills in 1959. Sociological Imagination • The sociological imagination is a recent addition to the human repertoire. • In ancient and medieval times the thinking about society was not sociological, instead people: – Believed that society was controlled by God and nature. – Relied on speculation rather than evidence. Origins of the Sociological Imagination 1.Scientific Revolution (circa 1550): Encouraged evidence-based conclusions about society. 2.Democratic Revolution (circa 1750): Suggested people were responsible for creating society; thus, human intervention was capable of solving social problems. 3.Industrial Revolution (circa 1780): Created a host of social problems; attracted attention of social thinkers. Auguste Comte (1798–1857): • Auguste Comte (1798–1857): Sought to understand the social world using scientific method of research. • Coined the term “sociology.”
• Wanted to place the study of society on scientific foundations. • Origins of sociology based on scientific methods of research and a vision of the ideal society. 17 Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) • Believed that he had discovered scientific laws governing the operation of society. • Theorized that societies evolve in the same way as biological species do. • Social inequalities were necessary in order for societies to evolve. • Spencer’s ideas became known as “social Darwinism.” 18 Theory, Research, and Values • There is tension between (i) belief in importance of science, and (ii) vision of ideal society. • Tension reflected in works of important early figures in sociology (Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber) and continues today. • Founders adopted scientific research methods in their work but they also wanted to chart a better course for their societies. 19 Theory • Theory: Tentative explanation of some aspect of social life that states how and why certain facts are related. • Sociological ideas are usually expressed in the form of theories. 20 Research • After sociologists formulate theories, they can conduct research. • Research: Process of carefully observing social reality, often to “test” a theory or assess its validity. 21 Values • Values: Ideas about what is good and bad, right and wrong. • Values help sociologists formulate and favour certain theories over others. 22 Sociology’s Theoretical Traditions 1.Functionalism: How is social order supported by macrostructures? 2.Conflict Theory: How is social inequality maintained and challenged? 3.Symbolic Interactionism: How do people create meaning when they communicate in microlevel settings? 4.Feminism: What are the social sources of patriarchy in both macro and micro settings? 23 Functionalism 1.Stresses that human behaviour is governed by stable patterns of social relations (“social structures”). 2.Shows how social structures can either maintain or undermine social stability. 3.Suggests social structures are based mainly on shared values or preferences. 4.Argues that re-establishing equilibrium is the best way to solve most social problems. 24 Durkheim (1858–1917) • Durkheim’s theory of suicide is an early example of functionalism. 25 Functionalism in North America • Talcott Parsons: Identified how various institutions must work to ensure smooth operation of society as a whole. • Robert Merton: Proposed that social structures may have different consequences for different groups of people. 26 Functions • Some consequences may be disruptive or dysfunctional. • Dysfunctional consequences: Effects of social structures that create social instability. • Some functions are manifest: visible and intended effects of social structures, while others are latent: invisible and unintended effects of social structures. 27 Conflict Theory • Focuses on large, macrolevel structures. • Shows how major patterns of inequality produce social stability in some circumstances and social change in others. • Stresses how members of privileged groups seek to maintain advantages, while members of subordinate groups struggle to increase theirs. • Elimination of privilege will lower the level of conflict and increase human welfare. 28 Karl Marx (1818–1883)
• Conflict theory originated in work of Marx. • Central to Marx’s ideas was class conflict (struggle between classes to resist & overcome opposition of other classes). 29 Marx • Marx believed that workers would ultimately become aware of their exploitation which he called “class consciousness.” • Form trade unions and labour parties, which would end private ownership of property and bring about a “communist” society. 30 Max Weber (1864–1920) • Noted growth of the service sector of economy where workers enjoyed a higher status and income than workers in the manufacturing sector. • Showed class conflict is not the only driving force of history. • Argued politics and religion also are important sources of historical change. 31 Conflict Theory in North America • C. Wright Mills laid foundations for modern conflict theory in the 1950s. • Was not until 1960s—with its growing labour unrest—that conflict theory took hold in North America. • Many s
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