Sociology Midterm Review
Sociological imagination and sociological theories
CH 1 NS, CH 1, 3, 7 SIQ, 1 Becker
Concept of sociological imagination:
C . Wright Mills (1959)
Individual experiences connected to a social context
Main Sociological Paradigms
1. Structural Functionalism (order theory; macro
2. Conflict theory(change theory; macro)
3. Symbolic Interactionism (change theory; micro
4. Feminist Theories (change theory; macro and micro)
How does each theory explain society?
What are the criticisms of each theory?
Application to: Olympics, funerals, songs etc.
Analogy to human body
Functionality of parts
Talcott Parsons, Emile Durkheim
Focus on economic conditions
Class conflict between working-class and owners of capital
Focus on micro-level interactions
Communication through symbols
Interactions create society Feminist Theory
Focus on gender relations and gender based inequalities
Attention paid to women’s social reality
Example: Scholarship on unpaid labour
Structural functionalist’s argue that funeral services serve to increase social solidarity. Funerals provide
public social support for individuals who are privately grieving.
Feminist theorists highlight how masculinity is created; in our society men are expected to be stoic.
Feminist theory focuses on gender relations, gender differences and gender socialization
Conflict theorists problematize the role of religion in society. According to this theory religion pacifies
the working class and prevents the development of class consciousness, which is needed to overthrow
Symbolic internationalists suggest that symbols and material objects are important in understanding
how grieving is constructed and actively created. This paradigm examines our micro-level interactions
and the use and interpretation of symbols
Structural functionalists, rather than conflict theorists would focus on the functions and benefits of a
funeral service for society
Research methods and ethics
Ch 20 NS; Ch 6 SIQ; Ch 2 and Ch 3 Becker
Surveys (self-administered questionnaires, interviews)
Observatory Studies (participant observation, Ethnography)
Secondary data analysis (documentary analysis, Historical sociology, use of official statistics
What are the strengths and limitations of each research method?
Qualitative versus quantitative methods
Cross sectional versus longitudinal research
Ethics approval process: Informed consent, consent letter
Ethics What ethical issues are raised by:
Philip Zimbardo’s prison study (Ch 6 SIQ)
Stanley Milgrams study of obedience
Laud Humphreys study of the tearoom trade
The Tuskegee syphilis experiment
One of the key limitations of observational studies is: generalizability. The findings of a study of one
social group may not be generalizable to other social groups (i.e. Findings of biker gang study in Toronto
may not apply to biker gangs in other cities.
Positivism is old style research, authoritative research using set criteria. Fits with experimental method
Ch 2 NS; Ch 10 SIQ; Ch 4 Becker
What is culture? What are culture universals?
Ethnocentrism versus cultural relativism
Ideal versus real culture
Contemporary culture defined by processes of :
What are the key features of each?
What is meant by the term “the commercialization of childhood”?
What was Pierre Bourdieu’s theory? (economic capital converted into social and cultural capital)
Why is social and cultural capital important?
What are the culture wars?
The concept of “social capital” emphasizes the between networks and connections and economic
Ch 3 NS; Ch 4 and 5 SIQ; Ch 5 Becker
What is the nature versus nurture debate?
What is the relevance of research on feral children, neglected children and twin studies for this
What is socialization?
Agents of socialization Types:
Charles Cooley: “looking-glass self”
George Herbert Mead: “taking the role of the other” (1.Imitative stage 2. Play stage 3. Game
stage); “generalized other”
Erving Goffman, involuntary resocialization, “total institutions”
Gender socialization: children’s books. Deborah tannen’s research on the glass ceiling,
workplaces, communication styles that prevents women of advancing)
School shootings, Jackson Katz Problem of school shootings to gender socialization. How we
construct masculinity, predisposes some males to lethal violence
Debate: Are there gender differences in friendships?
Mass media: Stern’s study of television consumption by young girls
Stuart Hall (dominant meanings, negotiated meanings, oppositional meanings) Some are not
critical of media messages others are not.
Concept: hidden curriculum
Schools teach us the values of the larger society help us to become good citizens (structural
Schools are aligned with the interests of capitalists and merely create obedient workers who will
accept social hierarchy (conflict theory).
Ch 10 NS; Ch 18 and 19 SIQ; Ch 6 and 7 Becker
Defining families and why this is important
Social reproduction (The work of families in family life)
A sociological perspective on family (families are socially constructed and vary over time and
Biological/ Essentialist perspective (strongly influenced structural functionalism)
How do structural functionalism, symbolic internationalism, conflict theory, Marxist feminist
theory, and feminist theory approach the study of families?
What are the limitations of each perspective?
Talcott Parsons (working in a functionalist perspective highlighting the importance of the
heterosexual nuclear male breadwinner family), Frederick Engels (emergence of private
property, monogamy, control over women’s sexuality), Meg Luxton (developing a Marxist
feminist perspective, unpaid women labour) Notes:
Feminist perspectives on the family examined aspects of family life that had previously gone
Conflict perspective on the family examined how industrialization changed family life, specifically that it
created a division between the public sphere of work and the private sphere of family.
What are the trends in family life? What are the reasons for these trends?
Question: For each, identify whether the major trend is delayed, declining, or increasing:
How was the family life structured in the following periods:
Hunting and gathering society
The industrial period
1950s and 60s (50s were prosperous period which fostered the family wage which allowed
males to be breadwinners and support their wives, the nuclear family taking hold in 50s
marriage and fertility rates changing and reversing trends in earlier decades.)
1970s and 80s (recession in 70s pushed women into labour market, families changed because
they needed secondary wage, economy changed family life)
Ch 12 NS; Ch 2 SIQ; Ch 8 Becker
How sociology graduates do post-graduation
Applying our 4 paradigms to education