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SOCI1003Q_Introduction to Sociological Perspectives-semester 1_Michael Mopas_Fall 2010( Entire Class Notes, Very Useful)

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SOCI 1003
Michael Mopas

Sociology Lecture 2Understanding the Sociological Imagination The Sociological Imagination Studying sociology cannot be just a routine process of acquiring knowledge Instead we need to develop our sociological imagination C Wright MillsThe ability to see the relationship between individual experience and the larger societyThe ability to put things in a wider context Sociology teaches us to see the strange in the familiar To see how seemingly personal troubles are related to larger social forces To think ourselves away from the familiar routines of our daily lives in order to look at them anew Example Drinking Coffee Apply your sociological imagination to the mundane act of drinking coffee Pretend you are from another planet and have come down to earth to study the practice of drinking coffee What could you learn about this uninteresting piece of behaviour by looking at it from a sociological perspective In other words what can be revealed by looking at coffee drinking when we consider its wider contexts Things to considerA Sociology of CoffeePossesses symbolic value as part of our daytoday social activitiesCoffee embedded with cultural meaning A ritualOften the ritual associated with coffee drinking is much more important than the act of consuming the drink itself Coffee is a drugBut a socially acceptable drug sociologists might ask why this is the case Why is coffee an acceptable addiction to haveDrinking coffee is connected to a complicated set of social and economic relationsA product which links people from the wealthiest and most impoverished parts of the planetNext to oil coffee is the most valuable commodity in international tradeProduction transportation and distribution of coffee is very much a global endeavourCoffee drinking linked to past social and economic developmentCoffee became widely consumed only from the late 1800sAll the coffee we drink today comes from areasSouth America and Africa that were colonized by EuropeansIt is in no sense a natural part of the Western dietThe colonial legacy has had an enormous impact on the development of the global coffee tradeCoffee stands at the heart of contemporary debates about globalization international trade human rights and environmental degradationCoffee has become branded and politicizedThe decisions that consumers make about what kind of coffee to drink and where to purchase it have become lifestyle choices eg ethical consumptionSociologists are interested to understand how globalization heightens peoples awareness of issues occurring in distant corners of the planet and prompts them to act on new knowledge in their own lives The Value of Thinking SociologicallyOur sociological imagination allows us to see that many events that seem to concern only the individual actually reflect larger issues Important for a variety of reasonsHelps guide many of the laws and policies that shape our livesLeads to important personal growth and expanded awareness Serves as excellent preparation for the world of workEx Criminalno such thing as the criminal everyone sees things in a different wayno single explanation why people commit crimeskills for self defencenot a criminall Sociological PerspectivesDont look at the world like a blank slate Sociologists view society from a variety of different perspectives Each utilizes a theory a statement or statements of how and why things are the way they are The goal of sociological theory is to explain social behaviour in the real world Theory provides a framework for examining social life which guides thinking and research Each theory holds certain assumptions aboutSocietywhat is it and how does it operate how does it influence individual behaviourWhat issues to studylevel of analysisCore questions that need to be asked Differences in Perspective Positivism vs Antipositivism POSITIVISM objectivityRooted in scienceThere exists an objective and knowable realityOver time all science will become more alikeNo room in science for value judgmentsnot biasEx If your a criminalyou were born that way ANTIPOSITIVISMKnowledge the result of human subjectivity more than one way to understand the worldSocial world cannot be understood solely by numbersNo single methodological approach can reach a complete understanding of our worldScience cannot be separated from our values Differences in Perspective Quantitative vs Qualitative QUANTITATIVELinked with positivismFocus on numbersBehaviours can be measured QUALITATIVELinked with antipositivismExploration of the world through human engagementThings that cannot be counted can offer important insights Differences in Perspective Macro vs Micro MacroLooking at the big pictureStudying society as a wholeDefined earlyEuropean sociologyMarx Weber and Durkheim Micro Looking at individuals first and at society as a whole second
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