Contemporary theory-Theories of the 20 century since classical theory thus depend on
definition of classical theory. This is the discipline but cannot stand independently of classical.
Classical theory-Various dead theorists who had conviction, ambition and took a stand on
objectivity and values. This is dead because knowledge is too complex to try and grasp the big
Grand Theory-Someone who tries to put the big picture together. Contemporary theory is not
grand theory but is more specialized.
Positivism/Natural Sciences-Social reality is objective and thus results are verifiable. Predicting
behaviour is a primary goal, values are unproblematic. Public often assumes that this is what
sociology is or should be. A sociologist is an impersonal observer.
Interpretive/Interaction-Facts and values do not mesh. People create meaning through
interpreting interaction, recognizes people have different values. Sociologists should connect and
have mutual understanding, should be sympathetic and can engage in participant observation.
Critical/Ideological-Values and facts are conjoined, opposite to positivism. Objectivity is
impossible and rejected.
-Social reality is dominated by conflict over power and truth where often oppressed masses are
forced to believe the elites to maintain the status quo and liberation is possible only when the
oppressed overthrow the elites. Do not think the oppressed can speak for themselves so they are
the oppressed champions for change. People only see real truth when they realize their
oppression. Includes all revolutionary groups good or bad. E.g. hitler.
-Doesnt wish to prove ideas but to convert believers. Assumes that things are always bad for
society e.g. inequality.
Structural/Holistic-Doesnt reject objectivity but suggests society has its own truths and is a
reality of itself (Sui generis). Society is like an organism where the whole thing functions from
parts which are mutually connected but the parts are explained by the whole not the other way
around. The values of society differ from the individuals who make it up. Assumes societies
boundaries are unproblematic. Assumes collective conscious.
-Sociologists should be patient and be a non-invasive healer to the social body which needs
stabilization, equilibrium, growth and evolution.
Functionalism-Macro level analysis. Human beings are predictable. Values are motivation for
social action. Deductive scientific approach
Conflict-Macro level analysis. Human beings are predictable. Personal best interest is
motivation for social action. Deductive scientific approach.
Symbolic Interactionism-Micro level analysis. Human beings are creative and not predictable.
Values are motivation for social action. Inductive scientific approach.
Phenomenology-Micro level approach. Human beings are creative and not predictable. Values
are motivation for social action.
Rational Choice-Micro level approach. Human beings are predictable. Personal best interest is
motivation for social action. Deductive scientific approach. C. Wright Mills
-Wrote on class differences, says that we can bridge the level between macro and micro levels by
growing our sociological imagination. Public receives information through mass media. Regrets
the decline in petite bourgeoisie (aka farmers) because they were key to Americas identity.
-Believed white collar workers of higher status would feel more alienation than those of blue
Sociological Craftsmanship-Sociologists must grow their ability to understand society. Were
linked to what we study, we shouldnt go throw the motions to please superiors. Should like
personal with social and historical.
-Keep a journal of our thoughts, ideas, examples, changes in thought. We need to strengthen our
sociological imagination. Do not write jargon. Create our own classification systems. Put it in a
comparative historical perspective, write, identify themes of investigation.
-Do not overspecialize, keep your perception of man fluid and dynamic, put everything in
historical context and do not accept things as they are.
Writing-Keep it simple, avoid jargon, making it impersonal doesnt make it better, you will
suffer criticism. Find your own voice.
-Said to bridge structural functionalism and conflict theories with Simmels ideas. Examined
conflict as a functional process that contributed to a social solidarity.
-Bringing people together and preventing greater conflicts like war. Conflict is a double edged
sword for unity.
-Focuses on peoples emotions and close proximity to one another and how that facilitates or
diffuses conflict. Group cohesion is a possible result of conflict and can lead to respect and
External Conflict-Group contains cohesion from a mutual enemy e.g. cult leaders promote fear
of evil outsiders which gains unity through social isolation. The enemy doesnt have to exist.
Easier to unite people against something than for it.
Internal Conflict-Can unify a group. Little conflict tests and then confirms/updates norms.
Without conflict there could be total control by a dictator. The bigger the group the more
complex the chains of interaction and thus the more conflicts there will be. There are many
simultaneous conflicts and build our identity on them.
-Independent part of society are interrelated and after a disturbance work towards equilibrium
(the normal state). Enduring institutions fulfil functions, those that dont fulfill functions are
eliminated from society.
-Society is really flexible and not really defined properly. Needs of society come before the
needs of the individual.
-A. Comte explained society by its institutions (family is smallest institution).
-A. Quetelet found stable rates of crime and called them social facts.
-H. Spencer said modern society structures evolve to increasingly specialized functions.
-V. Pareto said society has a dynamic equilibrium (Changing homeostasis).
Emile Durkheim-Division of labour changes nature of social solidarity. Social facts are based
on the whole society not on free will and have an existence independence of individual choice.-Morality is explained by social solidarity, society gives us what we have in common.
Anomie-Reduced social solidarity leaves norms unenforced, causes personal problems in
different ways e.g. suicide, divorce etc. Anomic Suicide-lack of moral regulation, Egoistic
suicide-lack of belonging, Fatalistic suicide-too much regulation, Altruistic suicide-too much
Primitive society-Mechanical solidarity, everyone does similar work, collective conscious,
Modern Society-Organic solidarity, interdependence, less collective conscious, different points
of view, punishment restitutive.
Talcott Parsons-Trained the next generation of thinkers. Coined Structural Functionalism.
Studied biology hence organism references. The Straw Man. Wrongly seen as suggesting
society is static and perfect without conflict. Believes society is based on cultural, social,
personality and behavioural systems and society has a value consensus (individuals have
differing but interrelated interests). People act more on values than self-interest. Grand theorist.
Symbolic system-Culture transmitted through socialization
Social System-Role of interaction mediated through culture in pursuit of individual gratifications
Personality System-Individual needs, motivations and attitudes.
Behavioural organism system-Biological affects of environment.
Gemeinshaft-Expressive society, ascription, diffuseness, affectivity, particularism, collectivity
Gesellschaft-Instrumental society, achievement, specificity, universalism, neutrality, self
-Hoped to discover universal abstract processes for societies and small groups, assumed men and
women separated into instrumental and expressive.