SOC101 Final: SOC 101 SPRING 2018 - Katie Cook
SchoolUniversity of Waterloo
ProfessorBarry Mc Clinchey
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Chapter 1: Understanding the sociological Imagination
Definition of Sociology
- Sociology: the systematic study of social behaviour of individuals and the behaviour of groups
- Sociological perspective: a view of society based on the dynamic relationships between
individuals and the larger social network in which we all live
- Understanding human and group behaviour by focusing on two aspects: 1) people live in social
groups and social organizations or “social structure”. (2) phenomenon of “culture”
- Culture and social structures explain the repetitive patterns of the behaviour of individuals
- Different: personalities, biologies, self-concepts but SAME behaviour in the social structure
- Behave differently at different places because of different norms, rules and cultures
- Sociology employs scientific method
Charles Wright Mills and the Sociological Imagination
- American sociologist
- Suggested that people who do not, or cannot, recognize the social origins and character of their
problems may be unable to respond to them.
- Failing to appreciate how individual’s challenges are influenced by larger social forces
diminishes a person's ability to understand and resolve them
- Individual and the social are linked and must understand both
- Personal troubles: individual challenges, that require individual solutions
- Social issues: challenges caused by larger social factors that require collective solutions
- Quality of Mind: Mill’s term for the ability to view personal circumstance within a social
- To improve the quality of mind → Sociological imagination: ability to understand the dynamic
relationship between individual lives and the larger society.
- Suggested that people who judge other without understanding all of the issues involved may
lack quality of mind. → Cheerful robots: unable or unwilling to see the social world as it truly
Peter Berger: Seeing the General in the Particular
- Seeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at unique events and recognize it bigger.
- Must employ the sociological perspective, to appreciate an individual circumstance and broaden
your perspective to the larger social patterns.
- Sociologists need to tune their sociological perspective by thinking about what is familiar and
seeing it as strange
What Makes You, You? Engaging the Sociological Imagination
- Agency: the assumption that individuals have the ability to alter their socially constructed lives
- Structure: opportunities and constraints that exist within a network of roles, relationships and
patterns that are stable
- Classic structure VS agency debate in social theory; whether or not individuals behave
autonomously or are the expressive agents of the social structure
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- Visible minority groups, physical disability, or a mental disability, lesbian, gay, or bisexual face
various forms of discrimination
- Patriarchy: men control the political and economic resources of society.
- SES: combination of variables (education level, income) used to rank people into a hierarchical
- Ascribed structure: advantages and disadvantages at birth.
- Achieved status: status a person has been able to gain through personal attributes and qualities
- Children’s well-being appears to be almost always associated with the household income of their
- Higher income = better physical, social/emotional, cognitive, and behavioral well-being
- Structural differences between small towns and large cities, access to health care, diversity in
entertainment and cultural events
- Nature of growing up in each location is more subtle and contextual
The Origins of Sociology
- The sophists were the first thinkers to focus their efforts on the human being
- Socrates and Plato (student) challenged the virtue of being paid for one's knowledge and
advocated the necessity of deeper reflection on the human social condition
- Plato’s the republic: asks what social justice is and what the characteristics of a just individual
- Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) is the first social philosopher working from the sociological perspective
- 1838: term sociology was coined by Auguste Comte(father of sociology)
Three Revolutions: Scientific
- Galileo, Newton and Copernicus began to gain wider acceptance
- Auguste Comte believed that techniques used in the hard sciences to explain the physical world
should be applied to the social world.
- To understand inner workings of society, one needed to understand how human thinking has
changed through time
- Comte is known for law of 3 stages: how advances of the mind created 3 different types of
- 1st stage: Theological stage (ancestors to middle ages) -> world and human society as an
expression of God’s will and views science as a means to discover god’s intentions. What they
could see through the actions of spiritual or supernatural beings?
- 2nd stage: metaphysical stage ->understanding of truth and the relationship between mind and
matter. Period during which people began to question everything. People tried to experience and
understand their world through abstractions such as emotion and beauty
- 3rd stage: positive stage → world interpreted through scientific lens; that society would be
guided by the rules of observations, experimentation and logic
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- Sociologists today do not support Comte because the idea of three stages is difficult, as it assumes
that human thinking is currently as good as it will ever get. The third idea was emerging during
Comte’s lifetime is self-serving
- Positivism: a theoretical approach that considers all understanding to be based on science
- Comte’s commitment is a positivistic approach. Positivism: theoretical approach that considers all
understanding to be based on science. Approaches through 3 primary assumptions
1. There exists an objective and knowable reality: can be understood through observations,
experimentation and logic. Reality is objective and beyond individual interpretation or
2. Since all sciences explore the same, singular reality, over time all sciences will become more
alike: discipline and scientific boundaries will fall away as we progress and realize that all
science is investigating the same reality. Future will only have on science
3. There is no room in science for value judgments: no good or bad science.
- Anti positivism: considers knowledge and understanding to be the result of human subjectivity.
1. while hard science may be useful for exploring the physical word, the social world cannot
be understood solely through number and formulas
2. all sciences will not merge over time and no single methodological approach can reach a
complete understanding of our world: need to understand the validate emotions, values
and human subjectivity
3. science cannot be separated from our values: Values: cultural assessments that identify
something as right, desirable and moral. We choose to study is also a social expression.
- Values: cultural assessments that identify something as right, desirable, and moral
- Quantitative sociology: the study of behaviours that can be measured (income levels)
- Qualitative sociology: the study of no measurable, subjective behaviours (effects of divorce)
Three Revolutions: Political
- Machiavelli’s suggests that human behaviour is motivated by self-interest and insatiable desire
for material gain. This was a controversial time because those who has ascended to power were
considered to have done and should be followed.
- Anyone can be a prince, nobility and power were not a birthright and that one could take power if
and when the opportunity presented itself, challenged the establishment of the time
- John Locke: ideas are not innate and that all knowledge is the result of experience. Belief that
people are born as blank slates. Only way to increase our knowledge is to gather more
information about the material world through science.
Three Revolutions: Industrial
- Replaced agricultures as our dominant means of supporting ourselves and families
- Changed every aspect: family structures, how people made a living, peoples thoughts dreams and
- Social change occurring at the time. Moving from an agricultural and rural economy to a
capitalist and urban.
- Macrosociology: the study of society as a whole, study of large scale social organizations and
large social categories
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