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Sociology 2240E
Charles Levine

Social Theory 2240 Society - 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. LEVINES TEMPLATE - Stencil that represents 6 basic questionsthhatthny social theorists have to be capable of answering. Especially in the 18 , 19 . 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 cycle 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. increasing populations 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 EXAMPLE: 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 Prescriptive nominalist: 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. DEVELOPMENTALISTS 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 THEORY 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 -evolutionists -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. SCIENTIFIC METHOD Method of Inquiry  always clockwise Theory  (deductive)  Hypothesis  (operationalize)  Observation  Empirical Generalization  (induction) hypothesis – conjecture of a relationship among 2 or more variables law – liable- refuted hypothesis that has never been falsified THEORY 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 -induction – I wonder what this is -deduction – I deduce into a hypothesis measurement- I measure my observation. then operationalize the terms – putting the terms of a hypothesis into measurable terms terms of hypothesis need to be n measurable (specific) terms so everyone knows what we are talking about Example 1: I hypothesize that china is more democratic than Canada 1. Measure terms (operationalize) =define china, Canada and democratic 2. Look at them in the same time period – confederation 1867 therefore, both in 1867 Democratic = # of political parties = 4.3, # of elections = 27 China = 1 elections = 13 OR China decides to operationalize democratic by measuring voters turnout Canada = 67% China= 99% therefore, china would be considered more democratic All depends on how you operationalize and measure the terms Values and bias’ effect operationalize and measure “we are actively involved in creating what it is we will discover” Example 2: short male profs are more aggressive than tall male profs profs – present in class/teachers male – birth certificate short - < 5’9’’ aggressive – how do we decide Example 3: Durkheim – began at observation P > C > J - he endured an idea: suicide is tied to social integration. These 3 groups showed different levels of integration within social groups  He induces a theory “degree of social integration is universally related to suicide” - regardless of being married – as long as you have someone beside you, however it was shown that unmarried do commit more suicide due to lack of social ties. - degree of social integration is inversely related to frequency of self-destructive behavior th NEW TOPIC – 18 century = 1700’s: 1730+ France Feudalism – a feudal society – hierarchy of people (totally land based) – hierarchy was justified by God- the world was how it should be – It was God’s will France was catholic, - king/queen/kids, clergy, nobility, bourgeoisie, peasants Bourgeoisie begin to run ideas counter to the above – commerce, trade, they want money (manufacturing in cities)  I need workers Peasants – tied to the land. Not allowed off – excuses “God doesn’t want you off the land, and this is God’s plan” Bourgeoisie need workers- they are God’s creation. They are not persons – they are peasant women before they are “women”  they have to redefine a peasant as a worker  call them a “person”  they have a right to choose and equal liberty  God’s true intention was to create people. This all came form the philosophes (ENLIGHTENMENT)  reinvented the cultural landscape. Got the ball rolling on a lot rights/equalizing people  they reinvent our rights/obligations The Bourgeoisie LOVE them They will be able to hire the peasants “people” However the nobility above isn’t stupid and therefore this doesn’t happen easily THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 1776-1789  The restoration period – Napolean 1800-1815  A period of conservative philosophy.  HUGE PROBLEM  how do you regain social order  the task was to reinvent philosophy therefore; Romantic Conservative Reaction to the Enlightenment  Creation of a counter philosophy 4 DEMENSIONS OF PHILOSOPHY 1. Argument that the human is fundamentally romantic (emotional) or rational – rational to a certain extent. – we can’t be as self controlled as the enlightenment can have us believe 2. We can’t engineer the world because the social world is a historically linked organicism phenomenon. – beyond human control – too complex 3. Specific attack on our rationality – we are not perfectible in terms of rationality - our rationality is not sufficient to use science in an objective way to run the world 4. Sociology begins by being born out of the conservative reaction to the enlightenment – conservative discipline THE ENLIGHTENMENT - 4 THEMES 1. Rationality and reason are universal distinguishing properties of our species -- It falls to differentiate us from each other. We are all rational and reasonable Rationality = choosing means to obtain ends Reasonable = I can provide a means to an end but I ought to or ought not to. -Variability in choosing means to an end -I ought not to rob the bank – there are lots of reasons, some are better than others. The humans capacity to reason is infinite. They can reason out more and more adequate points of view. The powerful doesn’t want out ability to reason develop too extreme. 2. Variations in the ability of human beings to be rational and reasonable are not due to biology, race, gender, sex difference. They are due to cultural and historical and social structural variations in the state. Therefore, if I’m more reasonable than the next its not because I’m biologically superior – rather because I’ve been subjective to an environment that stimulates/helped me with opportunities. 3. Institutions are created for people and not vice-versa 4. Progress is the central developmental law of society. – progress – if the thing in question increases the rationality and reason of humans than it is progress. (ex. Wisdom is progress) – you have a responsibility to decide what progress is. 5. An incessant questioning of tradition. Everything in tradition has to be critically praised before you begin to accept it. It is not compatible with our rational and reasonable levels it ought to be destroyed 6. An obvious tendency of individualism as a value 7. A celebration of science as a tool (chosen to be used as a tool) that humans can and should use to create/design a world based on mutual respect for humans. THE ENLIGHTENMENT 1. We are rational 2. We are reasonable 3. We can use both rationality and science to construct a proper social system/society -We are perfectable – we can become perfect in terms of our ability to predict what will happen in our social world -How we design this system isn’t quite the same as why we design it the way we do -We design it based on the way we ought to, based on reason -moral justification for the change -they believe we can be morally/rationally perfect  claiming we’re God The Enlightenment believes there is a universal point of view – that no human would disagree with  take the dilemma out of the question. THE ENLIGHTENMENT CREATES A NEW RELIGION “DEISM” -an example of how to attack tradition -furious of the way the Catholic Church introduced people to God. It got in the way of our development of rationality and reason The Enlightenment disagreed with Trinity (father, son, holy ghost) and transubstantion - An attack of the non logical institutions about God. MONTESQUIEU – first “systematic” social thinker - (form-science) vs. content -Link the principles of the enlightenment to an honest attempt to understand society -against theological thinking -very practical -wrote two books 1. 1721- The Persian letters  Passed off as fact (He lied) but he invented it himself – he wrote letters about people who wrote back to Persia as merchants in Europe. They were reflections of the merchants travels through Europe. They were written logically. -Merchants and servants could do both read/write and do math -Servants viewed different things in letters to criticize Europeans 2. 1748- Spirit of Laws  attempt to provide a political/social model of human societies. - There are three forms that humans can use to organize themselves into social groups -“Spirit of Laws” is comprised of the “Nature” (form of power distribution and used) and “Principle” of government – the sentiment (emotion) that must animate citizens in order for the nature of government to function properly. Example: things don’t run because you have power, they run because we have respect. Principle because of nature Social Type Nature Principle Non Social Factors Republic All persons share Mutual Respect SMALL climate, (Democracy) power med-low population temp Monarchy 1 person Honour/respect MEDIUM climate Tradition Checks/balances Despotism 1 person in control Fear LARGE climate No traditional rules Dictator  causal law (they cause something) -When you have non social factors, you have nature/principle -Montesquieu calls the 2 columns combined are the (nature/principle) columns- creating the “Laws – As – Command” -Causal law determines what you get in a society Problems: The greeks were a democracy however they had slaves therefore there was not an equal power or mutual respect – they had slaves and they ought not to have NATURALISITC FALLACY- the error of deriving statements of value from statements of fact ie. The Greeks. He said “it shouldn’t be that way” Montesquieu came up with a third law = universalistic laws of commands = universally valid moral points of view that humans could be aware of if they just thought it carefully. therefore, universalistic law of commands cause laws as commands cause causal laws  Claim like the enlightenment- thinking reasonably.  Example: If the Greeks just thought about not having slaves (by realizing they were people too) the system would be right  therefore, the Greeks were wrong. **check out enlightenment vs. nominalistic** Note: Enlightenment theme: social world is partially up to us. Montesquieu Continued: -Human rights are not ascribed, we are not born with them -Rights are an echo of how power is attributed to society -Rights are socially constructed -How we decide to use power will determine how sensitive we are to people having rights -We have the ability to decide/choose between two things (moral reasoning) therefore it is not taught. Review: 1. Both nominalist and realist 2. His association of rights = power 3. First person to introduce to us – “the sociology of knowledge” What people know/ think is determined by the reality of their lives. 4. Degrees of freedom- humans have the capacity to make correct choices and to make mistakes. We always act – regardless if we mean to or not, we act how we want or how it ought to be. ROUSSEAU Dominant Themes: 1. Human beings are perfectable in terms of rationality and reason 2. Humans make mistakes (they fall to be as rational and reasonable as they could be) 3. Rousseau believed that both nature and society worked in law – like fashion Nature – laws were given to be discovered In society laws governed social life but people are capable of putting in motion other regularities that could become law-like MAN IN A STATE OF NATURE -A mental experiment – it would help us discover a society whose social laws were in harmony with human nature -If we were able to understand what we were like in “a state of nature” we could design a society to fit us. 1. In a state of nature: we would have no language, no knowledge 2. We would only desire satisfaction of our basic needs (ie. sexual drive, hunger, shelter) 3. Low population theory – therefore there would be a perfect balance between satisfaction of our needs and resources available for satisfying those means –by nature we’re indifferent – HOBBES -Tried to justify the need for law because by nature we are evil, lazy, and selfish -If we believe this (the above) then we are conservative -This kind of control gets in the way of our perfectability Social Constructionalism is key. In nature we are indifferent (according to Rosseau) without nature (being in a state of nature) we are evil, lazy, selfish – constructed by society. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIETY – ROSSEAU 1. People started to live in groups. Population density increased when cooperation became necessary in order to survive threats to resources. Families are the social control/foundation required to generate language and knowledge – temporal/spatial coherence – language capacity leads to knowledge Women looking after offspring, men doing physical abilities- farming comes along- we become farmers – only inequality before existed. Resources on farm get passed onto son and family therefore not everyone can stay – Now legal protection comes into play – laws evolve now protecting private property- this is the only way for those who have can protect themselves from those who don’t have. Many people struggled therefore creating social classes. You now have protection of legal property We would have no reason to make property laws if we didn’t have the problems above, therefore we wouldn’t be aggressive. -Is telling us where social class came from and telling us you can’t really take questions about human nature seriously. Argument is suspect. SOCIAL CONTRACT - people try to negot
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