What is Sociology.docx

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University of Lethbridge
SOCI 1000
Tom Perks

Sociology Mid-term 1 What is Sociology?  Systematic study of human behaviour in the social context  connection between  How the social context shapes/influences behaviours?  Speaking  Environment (outside vs. inside, group vs. alone) impression of tone/speech  How might the social context affect social behaviour?  eg. Your behaviour in this classroom?  physical structure  social structure  eg. Waxing your legs?  media  gender  power  think, know, believe, do, want, have etc.  Some images are perceived as “sexy” because we exist in a world where looks are valued  Change the place or context, change what it values  Change the time, change what is valued  We are all elements of wider configurations  A “web of dependency”  As sociologists we seek to understand these dependencies or connections  A sociologist perspective or lens  Solely pay attention?  Biology  Success in elite sport  Grew up in a culture that values sport  Came from relatively wealthy backgrounds  Had parents that encouraged them  Were part of a former system of identifying and nurturing young athletes  Access to good coaching  Focus is usually on an individuals genetic make-up  Alcoholism and biology?  More outside factors  Clearly there is something more  Sociologists are more interested in the historical and/or cultural context  We must pay attention to social factors in order to fully understand who we are.  Classic example of the sociological perspective in use:  Emile Durkheim- founding father of sociology  Interested in understanding suicide (in the late 1800’s)  Anti-social (alone)  Psychological disorders  Researched government statistics Sociology Mid-term 1  Women have a higher percentage of psychological disorder than men yet have a lower percentage of suicide rates than men  Jews have a higher percentage of psychological disorders than protestants yet have a lower suicide rate than protestants.  In many cases the relationship was inverse  During war suicide went up and during peace suicide went down  These findings form the basis of his theory (a tentative explanation)  Social Solidarity  Suicide depends on degree of integration  Family ties, friends, shared morals, etc.  More than just an individual act  Egoistic- poor integration  Anomic-vague norms  Altruistic- soldiers giving lives to protect comrades  Suicide today?  Youth suicide increased since the 1960’s  The sociological imagination  C. Wright Mills (1950’s)  Connection between biography and history  An activist (improve society)  Personal troubles and social structures  Social solidarity- relatively stable patterns of relations that result from and determine individual actions  Eg. Poverty- we understand poverty as a failure of the individual  Eg. Pain from wearing high heals- women’s bodies are objects to be looked at, rather than experienced as comfortable. Patriarchy- a form of society in which men are dominant.  In sum, personal problems go beyond the individual  A new way of thinking  Scientific Revolution- method of inquiry based on observation  Democratic revolution- people are responsible for organizing society (French and American)  Industrial Revolution- created a host of new social problems  Social Structure:  Relatively stable patterns of relations that emerge from and determine individual action  Grasp relations between biography/history  Baby names  Often thought of as an extremely personal and individual decisions  Yet, some names are more popular at certain points in time  A social aspect to baby naming  The media  Social class  This perspective of sociological inquiry often focuses on macrostructures  Structures that lie outside of interpersonal relationships  Media, religion, culture, sport, etc. Sociology Mid-term 1  Patriarch obliges women to take on what are typically defined as subordinate roles  Source of dissatisfaction for many women  Change structure, lead happier lives.  What about individuals shaping social structures  Structure is reproduced in our day to day, face to face interactions  It can also be challenged  Resulting in the possibility of social change  Sociologists are most interested in this process of change  Focus is on macrostructures  Eg. First date, job interview  There are generally two streams in sociology  Focus is on macro or micro depending on your interest  Emphasis on either “structure” or “agency”  Operate in tandem  Structure shapes interaction, but structure exists because of interaction  Structuration theory  Textbook adds global structure  International organizations, world travel, and communication Main Theoretical Traditions  Theory of suicide  Theory of society 1. Functionalism  System of interconnected structures, operating in equilibrium each fulfilling a function  Biological organism  Religion, shared morality  Family- raise new generation to replace old  Military- defend society  Crime- reinforce norms  Education- teach skills to succeed  Sport- health and well-being and brings people together  Emphasizes macrostructures  Roots in the works of Durkheim, and later Talcott Parsons  A conservative approach because it reinforces the status quo 2. Conflict Theory  Focus is again on macrostructures  Conflict between privileged and non-privileged  Maintain superiority vs. Struggle to end oppression  Karl Marx  Bourgeoisie and proletariat  Sport- retards political consciousness  “bread and circuses” (food and entertainment)  Reinforces ideas that advantage the privileged Sociology Mid-term 1  Meritocracy- success should be based on ability and hard work  Failure, therefore is because you didn’t try hard enough  How you see the world depends on your theoretical perspective  Eg. The police: understood very differently, based on your perspective 3. Symbolic Interactions  Microstructures  Based on shared meaning and how they come about  The meaning of a symbol depends on social context  Max Weber  “verstehen” emphasis on subjective meaning  Cannot use the same methods as the natural sciences  Social construction is a variant of symbolic interactions  What we believe is “real” is on
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