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University of Ottawa

thSeptember 20 2011Sociology Yesterday and TodayCharacteristics of Sociological Questions1They raise the level of enquiry from particular individual events to a more abstract general level where we can look for recurring patterns of behaviour2Every sociological question focuses on an issue that involves the individual within group life You can not assume or make generalizations based on the individual levelImportant ConceptsTermsSociology The scientific study of social behaviour and interaction in human groupsMacro Sociology Study of large scale phenomenon and big organizationsMicro Sociology Study of interactions within and between small groupsA theory is a description and explanation of how things are and why they areChanges in Social Context of First Sociologists1Industrial Revolution2Movement of Population3Scientific BreakthroughAuguste ComteWanted to see if we could apply scientific tools to study societyHow can we maintain society as a stable harmonious wholeHe had two major concepts to achieve this changeSocial Statics Nature and interplay of mechanisms that contribute to stability in society such as language so everyone could communicate religion so eeryone had the same views and beliefs and division of labour if the jobs are divided people need to rely on each other to survive in society and be harmoniousSocial Dynamics what contributes to the evolution and progress of societies over time He developed what he called the Law of 3 Stages1Theoligical stage every thing is explained by religion2Metaphysical Stage more abstract speculation to explain things3Positive Stage a much mroe scientific approach including observations and analysis to explain thingsThis is how he saw the evolution of society over time He said when you get to the third stage you gain knoledge that not only helps understand society but helps change societyNever tested his theories but laid the groundwork for the other 4 fathersKarl MarxConcerned with conflict and struggles between groups in societyWho has the power to control in societySaid that there has always been conflict within societyTo really understand society you have to study groups to see who has power and who does not Marx believed power was really determined by economics The economy determines what jobs are available what salaries people were paid etcEmile DurkheimWhat holds societies together and gives them stability and solidaritySaid there were two kinds of solidarity or cohesion1Mechanical Solidarity small homogenious communities where every holds the same jobs has the same lifestyles believe the same things etc2Organic Solidarity Where everyone ad every group is forced to depend on each other Everyone has to do their own part to make society work This is a society thats rooted in difference Solidarity works best if everyone believes in the same kinds of things As societies grow the division of labor becomes much more complex people need to do mre specialized things So when one group doesnt do their own part the stability of everyones life is disrupted Max WeberTook the ideas of the other 4 fathers and figured out how they would work in his societyHow can people manage and understand the conflicts between tradition and innovation in social changeDeveloped a concept called verstehen understandinginsight To really understand a group you have to be immersed in it you need to learn their language and their lifestyle You also have to understand how that groupculture evolved You need to understand its history Lastly you need to understand the meaning that individuals attach to their actionsThere are 4 major perspectives in sociologyStructural FunctionalismFor any system to operate well each of the smaller parts must perform its task This leads to equilibrium and stabilityConflict PerspectiveFocus on conflict within different and opposing interest groups how do they attempt to gain or maintain power You have to have some consensus in order to survive but consensus must come through forceThe dominant group has the power to make people do what they wantSymbolic InteractionismFocus on how individual actors understand or interpret given situations Through interaction and understanding of symbols life becomes meaningful By symbols they mean words gestures pictures etcThe focus of symbolic interactionism is on the personal objective meaningsFeminist SociologyDeveloped between the 60s and 80s Draws attention to the omission of womens experience and perspective in other theories They speak of this because its a patriarchy a social system where males have power ad authority over females and where what is masculine is valued more highly than that which is feminine Feminist sociology offers a new way of looking at society in order to bring about change so that everyone is equal
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