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SOC 3310
Norman Dubeski

Introduction to Contemporary Social Theory  Week 1 Sociology Reflects Social Change: It is autonomous therefore shaped (not determined) by changing social environment, deal w new problems F. Tonnie’s Community to Society - Once had communities w many permanent associations ex. church, profession (gemeinschaft) - Now left with only individual and stats (geschellshaft) Falsifiability: condition of framing a hypothesis so if you can’t prove it, you can still disprove it Categorizing Theories & C.W. Mills  Week 2 Inductive/Deductive - Deductive: abstract to concrete - Inductive: concrete to abstract (ex. I get sick when I eat it therefore I am allergic) Methodology: study of assumptions determining which methods are relevant and why (combine perspective and method) “Streams” - Positivist / Natural Science: through “hard sciences” o Objective facts and look for social laws - Interpretive / Interactionist: knowledge based on interpretation of ppl involved, also explain causality o Pursue meaning of events for individuals - Critical / Ideological: sociologist possess ultimate reality (subset of conflict) o Society based on conflict not consensus - Structural / Holistic: in general, structures have a life of their own, society is more than the sum of its parts, social events real in themselves and ppl are just filling in roles o Society’s parts provide functions and its complexity and needs parallels an organism Positivist/ Natural Science - Social reality objective and results verifiable - Predict behaviour - Values unproblematic - Sociologist impersonal observer Interpretive / Interaction - Understand meaning in order to explain and describe what happened and why - People make meaning creatively through interpretation/interaction - ***idiographic view of knowledge (describing) vs. positivist - Sociologists should be sympathetic, can do participant observation Critical / Ideological - Values and facts are conjoined - Social reality dominated by conflict over power and truth - “real truths” only possible for those that see their oppression Structural / Holistic - Society has its own truths and is a reality in itself - Society similar to an organism - Necessary structural elements to all societies - Society has its own aspects: needs for equilibrium, growth, evolution - Collective concepts “collective conscience” C. Wright Mills - Wrote on class differences - Wrote Sociological Imagination - Lamented decline of petite-bourgeoisie class - Put everything in a historical context Structural Functionalism  Week 3 Basic Principles 1) Parts of society interrelated 2) A normal state, equilibrium 3) After a disturbance, all other parts bring things back to normal - Enduring institutions fulfill functions - Explain parts by the whole: part gets identity by being part of the whole - Bases social life on macro level o individuals share values although diff motivations o Individuals draw values from society not vice versa Durkheim - Expansion of division of labour changes nature of social solidarity - Primitive society: everyone does similar work, great strength in collective conscience, clear roles by sex/age - Modern society: organic solidarity, interdependent, diff points of view - Social facts based on whole society not free will or psychology, social forces make us moral and society defines morality - Anomie: reduced social solidarity leaves norms unforced, our natural egotism is unconstrained - Suicide o Anomic: lack of moral regulation o Egoistic: lack of belonging o Fatalistic: too much regulation o Altruistic: too much belonging Parsons - Society based on cultural, social, personality & behavioural systems, has value consensus (differing but interrelated interests) - People act more on values than self-interest - Cultural or symbolic system: transmit values & symbols through socialization - Social system: role of interaction mediated by culture in pursuit of separate individual gratifications - Personality system: individual needs, motivations, attitudes - Behavioural organism system: biological effects of enviro - Strengths: shows interrelationships, everything is connected - **** MC WHICH ISNT A SYSTEM FOR PARSONS - Traditional community: o Ascription, diffuseness, affectivity, particularism o Collectivity - Modern society: o Achievement, specificity, neutrality, universalism, self Societies Need AGIL Functions - A. adaptation - G. goal attainment - I. integration - L. latent pattern maintenance Social Change: in one part can lead to disequilibrium, all other parts adapt and react to restore Our Dysfunctional Future?: optimistic society always fixed itself , enviro degradation, decline in family, falling birth rate Robert K. Merton - Disequilibrium last longer - Acknowledge functionalism often makes teleological and tautological errors o Teleological: just because something fulfills a function, doesn’t mean it exists because of it o Tautological error: assuming something must fulfill a function and explaining its existence by it - Saw alternative to traditional structures (ex. family) - Some benefits from dysfunction - Saw Parsons grand theory as being valid but too abstract and untestable  “mid-range” studies (not empiricism or grand theory) Latent and Manifest Functions - Manifest: intended - Latent: unintended subsidiary functions for a few (Ex. native land claims give money to lawyers) o Structures and actions have unintended consequences or are beneficial for some Overall Functionalist View of Deviance - Normal deviance: inevitable level society will have to have freedom undermines society - Society needs some deviance, its always been there – must be a reason why o Therefore changes of deviance rates are to be explained by society not individual characteristics] Anomie - Durkheim: reductions of society’s control over individual free will - Merton: societal wide disjunction b/w society’s ends and available legitimate means to attain, socialized to believe in material success o Outcomes  Conformists: conform to society, rich through legal means  Innovators: cut corners, rich at any cost  Ritualistic: continue at a losing game  Retreatists: give up on society`s means and ends  Rebels: attack society`s goals o Strain theory: states that social structures within society may pressure citizens to commit crime  Can’t explain why whites became rebels, homosexuality o Modern Materialism  A) assumes everyone wants material success  B) without material matter – a loser  C) means don't matter as much as results  D) any diff in material achievement must be a product of outside forces Conflict Theory PART 1 Week 4 Conflict OR Critical? - Conflict: assumes society based on conflict - Analytical: work w mainstream methodologies (positivist, interpretive, structural) - Critical: must reject status quo and fact-value distinction , assumes were oppressed may not see true interests due to hegemony !! all critical is conflict not all conflict critical !! Weber: conflict and interpretive but not critical, don't base facts on values or subjective feelings (ppl act on material interests), social science value neutral Marx: material relations and interests ultimate determinants, history is class struggle, believed analysis could be scientific& objective, hoped for revolution where workers take control didn’t think utopian because saw it as possible Conflict Theory Basics: society % into groups w diff statuses – laws reflect needs of the uppermost class, ruling class promotes its ideology for everyone, most ppl follow state w/o coercion being visible Economic Class Simplified: - Marx: bourgeoisie, proletariat, lumpenproletariat (criminal/homeless) - Weber: added middle class of knowledge workers & importance of status & power o Capitalists: live off investments and control the state o Middle-class: careers, are the state and the corporation Equality as a Goal - Formal equality: equal treatment (ex. freedom to be different) - Equality of condition & egalitarianism: unequal treatment to yield = benefits regardless - Equality of opportunity: meaning indicated by context sometimes is a mix - Marx: `from each according to his ability, to each according to his need` Procrustean Bed of Perfect Equality: made ppl sleep on his bed, if too short stretched them and if too tall cut off legs¸ Utopian - A) all good things possible at the same time B) the society is permanent - Knowing there’s an option with endless benefits causes them to consider if the end justifies the means - Restrictions: human nature may be constant (cant suddenly go from violent to nice), gender equality hard because based on biology - Weber: A) if revolution violent it will remain and have no opposition B)modernity dominated by bureaucracy and increasing rationalization E.O. Wright: critiques Marx`s utopian vision, is a sexually = society viable?, Marxists believe there will be economic inequality but feminists don't agree Types of Feminism o Civil-libertarian: lack of formal equality and liberty the problem o Liberal: saw ignorance and lack of formal equality, then education and equal freedom problems now see embracing welfare state as solution o Marxist: discovery of reproduction in transition from savagery to pastoralism created private property which caused patriarchy o Historical: discovery of reproduction key, but it brought about patriarchy which prevented a utopian society Viability of Marxist-Feminist Utopia: private property caused women’s oppression, what take priority fighting capitalism or male privilege - Would the femtopia last?: based on ending compulsory heterosexuality (androgyny compulsory?), end sexual
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