Sociology - Study Guide to the Core Assumption of
the Four Theoretical Perspectives
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Society is conceptualized as a system comprising interrelated parts or institutions (e.g., family,
polity, law, education). These parts function to meet the needs of the society. The systems
characterized by dynamic equilibrium, meaning that it remains relatively stable and balanced
over generations, although always absorbing and adapting to change.
Focus is on how institutions are structured, and the functions they perform; how stability is
maintained over generations; how the system adapts to changes in external environment.
Examples of institutions include: family, which functions to care for children, meet emotional
and nurturing needs of people; education, which functions to teach knowledge and skills for
adult roles, and cultural values and standards of behaviour; economy, which functions to produce
and distribute material goods and services; and law, which functions to maintain order and
control deviance. Each institution is also a system made up of smaller parts (e.g., a primary
school comprises of set of roles-- teacher, pupil janitor, parent. Each role set performs functions
for the school system as a whole. Role expectations are stable over time, but also adapt to
changing social needs.
Variation in Function
Manifest functions- intended functions (e.g., teach knowledge and skills)
Latent functions- unintended but important consequences (e.g., schools provide social space for
children to meet, and to supervise teenagers)
Dysfunctions- unintended negative consequences for society (e.g., schools isolate young people
from adults, label some children as “failures”)
Core Processes Integrating Individuals into Social Systems
1. Roles: the smallest part of social organizations
Roles comprise typical or expected patterns of behaviour. Individuals perform roles in the
system (e.g., role of teacher, principal, pupil, parent, assistant).
Role set comprises all the roles that one role incumbent interacts with, or sometimes all the roles
that one individual plays. Role strain refers to conflicting expectations and other stresses inherent
in a role.
Socialization: the process of learning the role expectations and associated values
Primary socialization occurs in infancy, particularly in the family. Secondary socialization occurs in public institutions (e.g., school, church, media).
Internalization is the process of absorbing role expectations and values as part of oneself.
3. Culture: the flexible system of core values, meanings, and expectations of society that are
transmitted across generations through socialization. These shared values integrate parts of
society into a dynamic whole.
Subcultures share most of the values of the majority of society, but differ in some elements, like
religion, mother tongue, occupational values, and the like. Control over conflict and deviance:
Conformity is usually voluntary. As socialized learned values. We desire approval and
acceptance by people close to us. When these informal controls fail, economic sanctions are
imposed, with force and punishment as a last resort.
Conditions under which Social Order Breaks Down
1. faulty socialization, as when parents and significant others are poor role models, teaching
bad values; family relations are strained or broken; or people learn deviant subcultural values in
2. inconsistent role expectations and values, as when parental values clash with school or with
media, resulting in confusion and limited internalization of values
3. social systems fail to adapt to external change
4. extreme ethnic diversity threatens integration
Anomie- the collapse of community values
RESEARCH THEORIES- Lecture Notes on Sept 20th
human research- ethical privacy
- fundamental rule: DO NO HARM
e.g., reading a question that is familiar and connects one to an unstable state where they are
emotionally affected in a negative way such as sadness or hurt. Possible repercussions: get
Secondary data- collected by someone else
Primary data- collected by oneself
cannot use data that is unethical
- statistics from Stats Canada is acceptable and
research needs theoretical theory- beginning of chapter
- theoretical research- generally
sociologist use one of the 4 paradigms when it comes to research (functionalism, political
economy, social constructionism, and feminism.
feminist; gender forms anything in social situations
fundamental- gender relations
have flaws whatever suits best research is the likely method they would use for their research.
Fields of divided research: quantitative and qualitative research &
Numerical and statistical
Functionalism, Marxism or political economy
Why? - Social structures lend themselves to measurements
e.g. social class (upper, upper
lower, upper middle, middle/working, low class)
nature of social life amoung individuals
- closely related to through symbolic-interaction and ethnomethodology
few individuals needed for research
- Problems that in the 1950s- 1970s:
researches were are all males, males worked under
capitalism but women did not
- they were issues with both types of data
Types of Scientific
- objective measurement
- very large amounts of individuals
Samples- 2 samples
They are either sample or statistic
- non random/ non probability
- probability/ random
- estimate population parameters
Casual explanations: (because) (cause result)
there are two
Types of variables - independent & - dependent
Education depends on income - e.g., you cannot afford university because there is not enough
income coming in. Therefore you cannot attend university.
Never measure by mean, Mean is
when you add up the amount of results you have and divide it by the amount of results you have.
11/30/2011 6:19:00 PM
Society is a system comprising interrelated parts or institutions. Relations of inequality, power,
and dominance, in which conflict and struggle are endemic features, characterize social systems.
The economy, defined by how a society organizes production and distribution, structures all
features of society. Capitalism, as the prevailing mode of production, is based on the private
ownership of means of production or “capital: (land, tools, resources, money). It is viewed as an
inherently in egalitarian and exploitative system. Capitalism gives rise to two great classes of
people: Capitalists, who own the means of production, and wage-workers, who sell their labour
power to the capitalists for wages because they have no means to produce for themselves. The
labour power of workers generates profit for capitalists.
How Capitalism Works
Capitalists compete to produce commodities to