SOCIOL 1000: Great Thinkers and Theoretical Perspectives

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Great Thinkers and Theoretical Perspectives Conflict Theory · Conflict Theory - Emphasizes the role of conflict and power in society · Sees conflict as an inevitable part of society · Addresses social issues at the macro-level o Large-scale or systemic issues Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) · German-born · Studied law in Germany, writing a PhD thesis in philosophy, turning to journalism after graduation · After the newspaper was shut down by the Prussian government, Marx moved to France · In France, Marx met Friedirich Engles (1820 – 1895), a close friend and correspondent · After France, Marx moved to Brussels where he continued to write and join in various acts of political activism · At the start of the Revolution, Marx moved back to France, and then back to Germany, starting up another radical democratic newspapers against the PrussianAutocracy · Marx continued to be a political activist and writer until his death in 1888 · Although not around to experience his success, Marx’s writings have been used by sociologists and philosophers for nearly a century · Known for writings such as Das Kapital, The Communist Manifesto, The German Ideology, etc. discussing mostly the economy, politics, and social class · Marx mostly wrote and theorized about what he was witnessing in his everyday life · Capitalist System and Society o Capitalist System/Capitalism – The socio-economic system based on private ownership and sale of goods o In his research, Marx found that we relate to the system in different ways o Society divided into two major classes: § Bourgeoisie – Owners of the means of production ú Means of Production – Machinery, buildings, equipment, tools, etc. that are used to make a commodity to sell or trade in the marketplace · Commodity – Created through the transformation of raw materials into a product that has value in a society § Proletariat – Sell their labor to the owners of the means of production, owning nothing § Marx found that how each group relates to the means of production dictated their class interest § One’s class is then determined by the ownership of property and commodities § The differences in class interest between the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat is explained by Marx as class conflict § This class conflict, although originating out of one’s relationship to the means of production, grows and matures as does society, eventually dictating all other activities Max Weber (1864 – 1920) · German-born · Son of a lawyer · Weber studied at various schools throughout Germany, focusing on law, economics, and history · After graduating from Berlin University, Weber went to work as a lawyer at the Berlin Supreme Court, while lecturing and Berlin University · During this time, Weber joined theAssociation for Public Policy and began research on rural laborers in Prussia · In pursuing his research on the economy, Weber came to understand the importance of religion, political, social, and military pressures · Weber mostly focused on how such pressures could shape our economic system o Ex: The religious ethic of hard work has been incorporated into the system of Capitalism · SocialActions – The actions people take in response to others o Social actions are guided by individual motives o Ex: it is not just a coincidence that Capitalism has taken on some of the characteristics of religion, but because of the social actions of individuals · Social Stratification – The division of society into layers or strata o Weber believed that it is not only economics that play a part in one’s social position, but that there are three other noneconomic factors that played an important role o Three noneconomic sociocultural factors to consider: § Wealth: Based on the ownership of capital (investment) goods and property § Prestige (status): Refers to the social esteem or social honor accorded to people by others § Power: The ability to realize one’s will; the ability to rule Criticisms of Conflict Theory · Tend to overemphasize tensions and divisions · Relationship between groups is more complex · Situations exist where subordinate groups control the interactions are ignored Symbolic Interaction Symbolic Interaction · Symbolic Interaction – The focus of symbolic integrationists is the immediate social interaction · Micro-level form of analysis George Herbert Mead (1863 – 1931) · American philosopher and psychologist · He studied at Harvard and before finishing his
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