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SOC 3310 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Social System, Randall Collins, Sexual Repression

Course Code
SOC 3310
Norman Dubeski
Study Guide

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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
- 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
- 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

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- “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
- 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
- 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
- Society based on cultural, social, personality & behavioural systems, has value consensus (differing but
interrelated interests)
- People act more on values than self-interest

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- 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
- 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]
- Durkheim: reductions of society’s control over individual free will
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