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The Sociological Perspective.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University

Thishoban Srinathan Chapter One Sociology February 16, 2014 Learning Objectives: 1. What is the sociological perspective? Is sociology a science? 2. When did sociology first appear as a separate discipline? What factors contributed to its emergence? What role did women play in the early development of sociology? 3. What universities were considered the historical centers of sociology in English-speaking Canada? How were they different? 4. What is a theory and what are the major theoretical perspectives? 5. What is the difference between pure (or basic) and applied sociology? The Sociological Perspective Sociology: It is the disciplined study of society, social behaviours and social interaction - It is systematic because sociologists apply scientific methods to examine the social behaviour -Human behaviour is patterned (the actions of an individual) will be repetitive with others that are similar - The "choices" that we make are limited to the opportunities/condition we have in the world ( economic status, race, etc.) Ex. If born into a family with low income, the chances of getting a good education may decrease as you have to enter the work force instead Sociologic perspective is essential stressing how these external factors/conditions influence human behaviour Sociology In the Past (Then) Sociology focuses on people's groups they belong to, their social behaviours and the experiences in these groups which dictate ones behaviour  C WRIGHT MILLS- It is the intersection of biography (the individual) and history (time-limited social factors acting on the individual) Seeing the Broader Social Context Allows you to look at the world in a different light, compare different groups of people, explores how and why people interact with each other, leads to the questioning of assumptions about life and society • Sociology can help you understand how your particular circumstances fit into a much larger, public and even global issue • Sociology posses the singular perspective to help you understand your private issue as part of a larger social problem (Ex. Tution debt not only a problem that I am facing but many around the world also face this same issue) • Sociological understanding is advanced when we compare the social circumstances of one group with another • Christopher Hauch's (1985)- study of skid row dealt with homelessness • The sociological perspective opens a window into unfamiliar worlds or a fresh look into well known surroundings • The exploration as to how and why individuals interact with one another under various circumstances Sociological perspective: Stresses the social contexts (locations) in which people live and how these locations influences their lives (C. Wright Mills)- Ability to look at the experiences on an individual and apply them to larger society Sociological Imagination: Way of looking at the world that allows us to see the links between individual problems and important social issues. Thishoban Srinathan Chapter One Sociology February 16, 2014 Emilie Durkheim - Studied suicide and applied the notion that social factors underline this very personal act Social Integration- The degree to which people are attached and connected to their social groups (Key Factor) Social Control- The use of regulative force (political and societal mechanisms) to gain/control individual and group behaviour -Attempting to create conformity Society- The group of people with whom people share a culture and territory subject to dominant norms and expectations Social Location- Way of sociologists finding out why people do what they do. Considering ones (occupation, income, education, age and ethnicity)- The groups we belong to determine how we feel about ourselves, our aspirations and how we relate to others Ex. Growing up as a male or female has significant impact on how we behave and what we aspire in life. Levels of Sociological Analysis Macro sociology- Focuses on the broad features of society (analyze such things such as social class and partiarchy) Conflict theory, functionalism and feminism are examples of macro sociological approach Goal of the theories examine and interrupt the large scale social forces which influence people conduct in public and private spaces Micro sociology- There is a heavy emphasis on social interaction (what people do when they come together) Ex. Students facing debt interaction with boyfriend/girlfriend or how they spend time, etc. Has a narrower focus ( symbolic interactionism, queer theory, postmodernism and feminism that specify gender are examples of micro sociology Mass Media in Social Life They use of models and celebrities to create the notion for women: you can't eb thin enough and for men: you can't be strong enough Thinness craze has moved onto East as well including China and Japan being full of skinny models with ads about diet pills and diet teas China a little extra weight or "padding" represented good health but now thinness is the craze A study has shown that "good-looking" men and women earn the most money (attractive women can also attract and marry higher earn men) Women are more concerned about body image and weight then men (have eating disorders and express dissatisfaction about their bodies) Adonies complex: The pressure for men to attain bigger muscles People don't do things because of inherent characteristics External influences such as where and when we live shape our experiences and become a part of our thinking Your social groups have shaped your ideas and desires Common Sense vs. Scientific Knowledge  Common sense knowledge → “what everybody knows”  unsystematic, voluntaristic & semi-conscious observations  what “everyone knows” changes through time Thishoban Srinathan Chapter One Sociology February 16, 2014  it may not always be true  based on the idea that people live as they want to  Scientific Knowledge: Sociologists attempt to understand social forces that shape our behaviour. They use:  scientific standards, not popular myths, hearsay, or personal opinions -With scientific knowledge, the sociologists are responsible to the scientific community - They use the expected protocol and systematic research techniques  In doing scientific research, sociologists and scientists:  conduct conscious & systematic observations  theorize relationships among phenomena  create propositions which can be tested  test propositions  attempt to discover patterns or commonalities in human behaviour The Growing Global Context Due to the advancements in technology and other factors our world is becoming a global marketplace Internet allows for improved communication and economic agreements and organizations connect Canada with other countries However, we only see the world from our small corners of the world 2 aspects of reality- The changes that incorporate us into global network and our unique experiences in our small corners of life Sociology and the Other Sciences Is Sociology As Science? (Two Views) 1) Positivists- They believe it is a science and should be treated like a natural science - Tests should be objective (eliminating and values + morals + biases) 2) Constructionist: Believe it is a science, but should not use same methods to acquire and analyze data - Use Other methods to analyze social behaviour Science: Systematic methods of studying the social and natural worlds and the knowledge obtained by those methods Sociology- Is the study of society and human behaviour which was developed by modern civilization Natural Sciences: The intellectual and academic disciplines designed to comprehend and predict events in our natural environment Social Sciences: Attempt to understand the social world which must be discovered and analyzed through studies/observations Political Sciences: Focus on how people govern themselves (Various forms of government, relationships, and structures) Economics: Deal with the theory of management of production, distribution and consumption of goods Anthropology: Long term exposure to a specfic group of people through fieldwork Psychology: Process that occurs within an indvidual (focussed on mental processes: intelligence, emotion, perception and memory) Sociology: The discipline studied of human social behaviour and investigation of human society at the global level - Sociology ranges a lot from the study of people's interaction on the street to understanding global social processes - Sociologists are concerned about external factors to determine influencing factors and sociologists don't concentrate on a single social group - Compared to psychologists who care about individual factors, sociologists care about the external ones Thishoban Srinathan Chapter One Sociology February 16, 2014 The Goal of Science 1st goal- To describe and explain why something happens 2nd goal- To go beyond the individual case and make generalizations which can be applied to a broader group. (look for patterns) Ex. Sociologist doesn't want to explain why Mary went to university but why those with similar characteristics go to university 3rd Goal- To make predictions about what will happen in the future given this knowledge Sociologists move beyond common sense (what is true to everyone) Sociologists try to bring out information that goes beneath the surface which would frustrate/upset many people -To acheive these goal they examine evidence with an open mind allowing for the work to be checked by other scientists -Replication- Have work checked by others (ensures that there is no secrecy, prejudice, faith, or other biases that are contrary to scientific inquiry) The Origins of Sociology In ancient and medieval times, thinkers didn't base observations on empirical (experimental) observation but isntead based off religion, magic and superstition - Began about middle of 19th century when European Social observers started to use scientific methods to test their ideas - Three main factors 1) Industrial Revolution (middle 19th century) - moved from agricultural based society to factory production one - People forced from their homes and required to work in poor working conditions in factories (to survive families even sent kids)  Economic changes  capitalism & a free market economy 2) Enlightenment and French Revolution  Reason and Science only sources of authority to explain the workings of the world  A radically new way of thinking  Political & ideological changes  popular sovereignty, individualism  individuals are perceived as having inalienable rights Brought about a new secular way to look at the world (The rise of science and scientific method) Science way chosen as opposed to religion (an alternative way to look at the world)  Technological, social, political & scientific changes led to a new mode of thinking  It is during this time that modern social theory was born (mid-19 century)  The writings of classical thinkers led to development of large-scale explanatory theories on society Sociology emerged (mid-19th century in Europe) 3 Reasons 1) Industrial Revolution- The change in people's lives from agriculture to industry brought about new values and beliefs 2) Imperialism- new European colonial empires exposed colonists to radically different cultures 3) Success of Natural Science- The use of scientific Method (aquire data through emperical observations) was shown to provide accurate information about the physical world could be applied to social world as well Thishoban Srinathan Chapter One Sociology February 16, 2014 Development on Sociology as Scientific Method-  Key Figures: Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber Auguste Comte (France, 1798-1857)  Positivism Karl Marx (Germany,1818-1883)  Alienation  Class Conflict  Emile Durkheim (France, 1858-1917)  Anomie  Social integration & Suicide Max Weber (Germany, 1864-1920)  Verstehen  Religion and Capitalism  Harriet Martineau (England, 1802-1876) Auguste Comte (considered founder of positivism but not as well respected as other theorists) -Created the term "Sociology" LOGOS, Scoius = "being with others" - founder of French Positivism- Theory of knowledge based on empirical evidence She believed sociology should study social statics and social dynamics Social Statics- also known as social order--study relationships among major social institutions Social Dynamics- (also known as social change) - how societies are changing over time Comte- stages of human understanding (the mind is always moving towards perfection) Religious, Metaphysical and Scientific  Comte’s Philosophy & Positivism  Positivism: the world can only be understood through scientific inquiry (based on empirical evidence)  Objective bias-free knowledge  Knowledge through science, not religion Methodological dimension: the use of the scientific method to understand the social world Socio-political dimension: apply that knowledge to make the world a better place  aim → to discover “laws” of human behaviour Karl Marx (Father of Conflict Theory)  Class conflict: the struggle between capitalists (bourgeoisie) and the working class (proletariat) is inevitable & necessary  Economy determines every aspect of society; central force in social change  Capitalism--source of poverty & inequality Captlists: Own and control means of production Working class: Are the exploited class who don't have means of production and have to sell their labour to survive  Class: a group of people with similar material resources Thishoban Srinathan Chapter One Sociology February 16, 2014  Class is defined by people’s relationship to the means of production or capital There has been a history of various classes fighting for supremacy The exploitation of workers results in alienation  Alienation:  feeling of powerlessness from other people and from oneself, but also an objective condition that can be scientifically explained  The alienation of workers would contribute to the inevitable proletarian revolution  the working class would become aware of its exploitation and acquire class consciousness  awareness of their oppression as a class  unite & overthrow the capitalist system Workers would have control of production and now there is classless society (equity + freedom) Conflict can only end when working class unites to create revolution and form a classless society Emile Durkheim (founder of sociology in France) -first person to make sociology as a separate discipline in Europe (defining sociology and making it scientific discipline)  Interested in how individual behaviour is shaped by social factors  human behaviour socially based  individuals are shaped by social forces Social Factspatterned ways of acting, thinking, and feeling, exist outside of any one individual, exert social control over each person  Social facts (e.g., suicide) must be explained by other social fact (social integration/control or lack of it)  Rapid so
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