SOC101Y1 Study Guide - Conflict Theories

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24 Oct 2010
Reading Notes
Sociology as a life or death issue:
- Determinism: the belief that everything happens the way it does because it was destined to
happen in just that way
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- Voluntarism: the belief that we alone control our destiny, allows us to overcome forces larger than
us and thereby make whatever we want out of our lives
- Higher education: every year of education increases your annual income for the rest of your life.
The economic value of education increases year after year
- The sociological approach: our relations to other people create opportunities for us to think and act
but also sets limits on our thoughts and actions.
- Suicide:
- DvÇo]À][µ}v}v-social, antisocial and deep psychological distress
- Durkheim proposed that suicide is influenced by the social relations in which you are embedded
(frequency of interaction with others and degree to which beliefs, values and morals are shared) =
social solidarity
- The probability of your state of mind leading you to suicide is affected by your social relationships
- E.G
- Married couples: half likely to commit suicide (marriage creates social ties, moral cement that
bounds individuals to society)
- Women less likely than men to commit suicide (more involved in family, social relations)
- Jews less likely than Christians to commit suicide (tightly knit societies as a result of history of
- Elderly more likely to commit suicide (lack of a job, friends, loss of spouse)
- Social ties are in general weakening today because people share fewer beliefs, values and moral
standards than they used to
- Low solidarity: societies that share few beliefs, values and morals and therefore experience higher
levels of suicide
Lack of emotional support and cultural guidelines
- Intermediate solidarity: if we want suicide rates to decrease, we must strengthen the social ties
and shared culture. By raising the level of social solidarity, suicide levels would drop
- E.G: universal day-care t more children receiving quality supervision, and exposed to more
socialising, more parents able to work, be paid, and establish more social ties with workmates (thus
raising social solidarity)
- High solidarity: when members of social groups perceive that the group is threatened, they are
likely to be willing to sacrifice their lives to protect them
If we want less suicide bombings we must make sure they feel less threatened.
Sociologists try to identify/3 tasks of sociologists:
-a type of behaviour they regard as important
- the specifically social forces that influence that behaviour
- the larger changes that might improve human welfare
by researching these 3, sociologists help people understand what they are and what they can
become in social and historical context
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Reading Notes
New Society
- The sociological perspective
- suicide Æ antisocial, condemned act, committed in private, rare
- approx 13 suicides per 100 000 people in Canada today Æ36th place worldwide
- official suicides believed to be one third lower than actual suicides
- The sociological explanation of suicide
- Suicide is influenced by social forces
- Rates of suicide t not so much connected with rates of psychological disorder
- Suicide rates high where psychological disorder is high &
low where rates of psychological disorders are low t not the case most times
- Suicide rates and rates of psychological disorder did not vary proportionately
- Durkheim argued t suicide rates vary because of differences in the degree of social solidarity in
different groups
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interact, the more social solidarity there is in the group (anchoring individuals to society, less likely
to have suicidal tendencies)
- E.G: married adults, women/men, Jews/Christians, young/elderly
- Higher solidarity rates: lower risk of suicide & lower solidarity rates: higher risk of suicide (up to a
certain point)
- Egoistic suicide: results from lack of integration in society - low solidarity. Not sufficiently bound to
social groups, little support and guidance. E.g. unmarried people, especially men
(weak social ties)
- Anomic suicide: occurs when norms governing behaviour are vaguely defined (when people live in
a society that lacks shared and moral norms) low solidarity
- Altruistic suicide: Result of too much integration (high solidarity). Occurs when norms tightly
govern behaviour. Self-sacrifice a defining trait. Individuals so integrated into social groups that they
lost sight of their individuality and became willing to sacrifice themselves to the group's interests.
(E.G military and suicide bombers)
suicides do not increase with age. Why? Shared moral principles and strong social ties have eroded.
- Religious attendance is down
- unemployment is up
-increased rate of divorce and out of marriage births more common aka single-parent families. Less
frequent and intimate social interaction.
All of these means social solidarity is lower for young people today, as a result of being less rooted to
society and less likely to share moral standards
Suicide by age and sex: Males highest, at 85 -89. But higher for 20 t 59 than 60 t 84. 15 t 19 =10%
Suicide rates: Canada is 36th. On top: former Soviet Union. Lowest: certain Caribbean island states &
the Arabic world.
- From personal troubles to social structures
- Social structures: Stable patterns of social relations. Three levels:
- (1) Microstructures: patterns of intimate social relations, small, formed during face-to-face
interactions (E.G family, friends, work associates) (Q: how does this work when finding jobs)
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Reading Notes
- (2) Macrostructures: social relations that lay outside and above your circle of intimates and
- macrostructures include class relations and
Æ Patriarchy: economic and political inequality between women and men in most societies
- E.G if married people learn to split household work equally , marriage lasts longer, happier and less
likely to end in divorce)
- (3) Global structures: Patterns of social relations that lies outside and above the national level. E.g.
international organizations, worldwide communication and the economic relations in and among
- E.G inexpensive travel and communication Æ allows parts of the world to become interconnected
culturally, economically and politically (foreign aid, foreign debt)
- Understanding how global structures of international relations creates and help maintain global
inequality suggests new policy priorities for helping the woro[}}
Æ Personal problems are connected to social structured at all levels!
- The Sociological Imagination
- The connection between peoples personal troubles and social structures
- Mills called the ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures the
sociological imagination. Born when three revolutions got people to think about society in a whole
new way.
- Origins of Sociological Imagination:
- The Scientific Revolution 1550: The view that sound conclusions about the workings of society must
be based on solid evidence, not just speculation. Use of evidence to make case of a particular point
of view.
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newtons law of motion)
- The Democratic Revolution 1750: People are responsible for organizing society and that human
intervention can therefore solve social problems. Realization that people control society and can
change it
- Unlike the past: Europeans = God ordained social order t God ordained a hierarchy of people =
richest people closer to God therefore great privilege
- American and French Revolutions t undermined these ideas t democratic/political upheavals
demonstrated that society could experience dramatic change in a short period of time (people can
replace unsatisfactory rulers, and control society)
- It was possible to change society by human intervention and science could also play a big role
- The Industrial Revolution 1780: growth of industry, masses of people moved from countryside to
city, working long hours in factories, mines, lost faith in religions, poverty, strikes, crime, revolution,
war etc.
- Created new and serious social problems that attracted the attention of many social thinkers
- Sociological Theories
- The origins of sociology
- Term coined by French social thinker Auguste Comte in 1838, who tried to place the study of
society on scientific foundations
- He wanted to understand the social world as it is, not what it should be (test the validity of his
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