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Lecture 14

SOCI 230 Lecture 14: SOCI 230 Simmel

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SOCI 230
Prechel Harland

SOCI 230-902 Georg Simmel (1858-1918) I. Introduction a. Had similar question as Weber on “What are the effects of the transition to modernity on the individual?” b. The concern was how an urban person was to adapt to mechanical and impersonal forces that shape personalities of city dwellers i. Interactions are relational and can be formal or informal c. Work is characterized by examining/analyzing of sociation= patterns and forms of social interaction that put coherence on social interaction i. Informal mini structures that emerge from interaction – Simmel emphasizes this d. Small communities are more driven by norms and traditions e. History written by others may not all be the same because they categorize experiences differently, especially between societies and countries, so Simmel asks: how do we communicate? II. Intellectual Roots: Neo-Kantian a. Neo-Kantian thought: aprior categories  influenced Simmel b. However he argued that there are no transcendental and overarching aprior categories in historiography. Instead categories of thought are product of interpretive intent of investigators c. Simmel’s analysis addresses 2 central issues: i. 1. What can we know about others? • Interaction is goal oriented, so how do we achieve it? a. Have to know things about the other person, otherwise the goal is hard to achieve • Everyone engages in same behaviors and makes similar assumptions a. Without it we can’t interact efficiently ii. 2. How can we be sure our knowledge is correct? • Because we can’t get inside people’s heads III. Meaning of Social Action a. Simmel argues that we interpret meaning of actions of others through presuppositions b. Simmel was an interpretive sociologist: i. Addresses issue of meaning behind actions and degree to which presuppositions affect understanding the meaning c. Forms of sociation are based on presuppositions i. Presuppositions= mutual acts of recognition and response ii. People interpret meaning of action of others through presuppositions IV. Individuals Interact Relationally a. Social interaction is structured by Forms of Sociation b. Key thing: individuals can only know each other relationally (intersubjective) as relations between individuals i. Key thing on how social actions is possible ii. Can’t get inside people’s heads to directly get to know them iii. Can only analyze vocal/physical gestures and make assumptions about what they mean c. It’s a guess and check kind of thing V. Presuppositions and Forms of Sociation a. Presuppositions= social aprior categories that are mutually understood and make social interaction experience possible b. Forms of Sociation are from: i. 1. Innate objective and subjective capacities of the mind ii. 2. Human capacity for meaningful social interaction c. Culture: realm of social experience where sociation occurs VI. Objective and Subjective Aspects of Meaning a. Objective = society b. Subjective = individual c. Objective culture represents society and includes ideas and feelings of the individual that have been embodied in an intersubjective understandable forms of sociation that are universal (to extent of socialized  2 year old wouldn’t understand). What we rely on to communicate i. EX: language or art  human produced ii. EX: at A&M, there are traditions such as taking off your hat when at the MSC, 2 percenter, and Elephant Walk d. Subjective culture represents individual, it cultivates individuality through interaction with “objects” external to them i. EX: reading books or essays  provides the author’s representations of societal meanings, their opinion in that time period ii. They also make it more complex, especially as society transitions to modernity • ** they become less generalizable VII. Sociology vs Psychology a. Simmel distinguishes the 2 sciences: i. Psychology is the study of drives and impulses of individual organisms ii. Sociology is the study of forms of sociation that permit realization of drives and impulses VIII. Relationship Between Individual and Society a. Individual compelled to organize experience in high structures and systematic way b. To successfully interact, one must have understanding of presuppositions, which are necessary to do activities every day c. 3 apriorities that are important to societal existence i. People are inside and outside society ii. People are objects and subjects with network of communicative interactions • Objects (secondary): recipients of categories • Subjects (primary): impulses and desires iii. People have impulse to self-fulfill • Individuals have different s
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