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SOSC 1340 - october 5.docx

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1340
John Simoulidis

SOSC 1340 – October 5, 2010 - “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” o Dom Helder Camara (1909-1999), archbishop of Recife, Brazil - We have an economic system that is supposed to provide the daily bread o At the same time there are those who do not have any food at all – the poor o The system is failing what is claims to do Lecture Outline – First - What is society? We need to construct a concept of our object of analysis - 2 social scientific readings - Tonnies: Gemeinschaft and Gesselschaft o context rise of market society - C.Wright Mills: sociological imagination, social structure and public issues o Social structure, history and individuals o Formulating ‘personal troubles of the milieu’ as ‘public issues of social structure’ - We need concepts, objects, ideas, theories - Social issues form the concepts of the essays we right - Ferdinand Tönnies (1865-1936) o Sympathized with Hamburg dock strikers in 1896 – Prussian gov’t considered him a social democrat and denied him full professorship until 1913 o Co-founder of German Society of Sociology o Removed from post due to his criticism of the Nazis  On one hand he is a communist o Published G and G o Helped to create discipline of sociology - What is the argument? o What is ‘society’ and how can ‘society’ be ‘known’? o Society is best understood in terms of the relation between two parts that make up wht whole o Gemeinschaft – ‘community’, the level of society where ties are informal and cooperative, most often associated with kinship (blood relations) ties o Gesellschaft – ‘society’, the level of society where ties are formal and based on individual self-interest, where there is a complex and impersonal division of labour  Discuss the different level so societies where ties are formal  Formal world of everything - What is society? o Why is this distinction useful? o First, distinguishing two components of society allows us to be more precise about what is it that we are analyzing” not a ‘simple whole’ o How do individuals relate to society?  Individual as a means to serve the ends of social group (gemei – preserves community)  Social group as a means to serve private, individual ends (gessell – promotes individualism) o Individuals working with gemein they are working within the community o Second, Tönnies exposes a level of society, the community, in potential opposition to another level, the formal world of work and “public life” o Whats good for ‘Gesellscahft” may not be good for the other (and vice versa) o Pursuit of individual interest antagonistic to community o Tönnies says “we go out into Geseell as if into a foreign land” (18) o We go out from the world of the familiar and assumed to the formal structured world o Tonnies also makes the distinction between gemein as ‘old’, rural, and of the common people and gesell as ‘new’, urban and of science and state o Gemein is a living organism whereas gesell is a mechanical aggregate and artifact o How ‘big’ is your ‘gemein’? Just your family? Religious group? Class group? What other social groups? o How is conflict ‘managed’ within gemein? Gesell? Class, gender and ethnic conflict? o This ‘new’ way of looking at society coincides with the development of the ‘impersonal market’ th o In the 19 century, a ‘revolutionary’ change in the structure of society  Gemeinschaft about association  Gesellschat about dissociation o Think about how traditional societies solve the economic problem (simple division of labour) o How does the market solve it? (VERY complex) o Tonnies also discusses how the study of society requires a science – sociology o But science as a method has difficulty with the living world – it is complex and changing o Science prefers the ‘dead’ and manageable study of \parts\ o Sociology studies people in their relationships and the connections between living entities o But imagination and science together can successfully understand society - C.Wright Mills (1916-1962) o An American sociology who was very influential int he student movements of the 1960’s o He is famous for the ideal of the ‘sociological imagination’ - What is the promise? o The promise is the ‘fruit’ of the sociological imagination o The SI is “that quality of mind” that is essential to grasping the “the interplay of man and society” o Why do we need it so badly?  Rapid change and social transformation: how can we understand it?  ‘uncertainty’ or moral basis of evaluation: whats wrong with whats going on?  Need creative solutions to the dangers facing humanity today: how can we get from ‘what is’ to ‘what ought to be’? - The ‘Trap’ of our private lives o We are ‘trapped’ in the private orbits of our jobs, school, family and neighbourhoods o What kinds of anxieties do you experience? o What underlies sense of being trapped?  “seemingly impersonal changes in the very structure of continent-wide societies” o You cant understand your own personal troubles or the history of a society without understanding both o How can these personal troubles be “translated” into social issues? Unemployment, war, marriage and urbanization (mega-cities) - The sociological imagination o Enables the possessor “to take into account how individuals, in the welter of their daily experience, often become falsely conscious of their social positions” o Individual has to contextualize self within their own historical period o Grasping the relation between history and biography the task and promise of SI: self consciousness o For Mills then the important questions for sociology are around how we act in larger social groups o The individual, while important, is not the measure of society o This contradicts the dominant economic viewpoint – social order the result of the rational choices of individuals (methodological individualism) o Individuals/social milieu organized into the “institutions of an hi
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