Introduction to Sociology: Chapter 1: Notes:
Emile Durkheim believed that people committed suicide based on
their social relations rather than their state of mind.
Women suffer from a much higher rate of psychological distress,
but men tend to commit suicide far more than women.
Association between rate of psychological distress between age and
religious groups. The rate of suicide was highest among
Protestants. Rate of psychological distress was highest among Jews
who had the lowest rate of suicide. Therefore, there was a lack of
correlation between these two variable (higher rate of psychological
distress= higher rate of suicide)
People are embedded in social relations. This acts as the foundation
to why people commit suicide.
What’s the nature of social relations that incline one to take ones
Level of social solidarity in given group.
A groups level of social solidarity is determined by the frequency
with which its members interact and the degree to which they share
beliefs, values and morals;
Suicide rates are lowest at intermediate levels of social solidarity
and highest at low and high levels of social solidarity.
Married people less inclined to commit suicide than unmarried
people even though they may experience same levels of
psychological distress. However, due to the fact that they do not
suffer high levels of social solidarity they are less inclined to
commit. They have a higher anchor in society and may resist taking
Durkheim argued that Protestants are more likely to commit suicide
in the late 19 century. This is because they follow their own path
to God. Catholic and Christians only have one structure to reach
God. Therefore, they do not commit suicide.
Jews are a very tightly knit group they have a high level of social
interaction because they were seen as a minority in the past.
Therefore, found connection among each other during their difficult
Durkheim stated that different aspects of social relations must be
examined in order to explain the differences.
Sociologists do not look for psychological reasons to why someone
behaves as they do, they look for the social relations individuals
tend to find themselves. Different kinds of suicide: When social solidarity passes a high level,
the levels of suicide also reach a higher point. Usually does not
happen unless the rates of social solidarity is very high. Normal
social solidarity does not equal high rates of suicide typically.
Egoistic Suicide & Anomic Suicide: High levels of suicide rate at
low level of social solidarity.
Altruistic Suicide: High levels of suicide when the social solidarity
reaches a VERY high point.
Armies try to increase level of social solidarity (Teach loyalty among
the group). However, extremely high levels of social solidarity in
that situation increases suicide rates. – ALTRUISTIC SUICIDE
Lack of discipline and supervision makes children misbehave.
Therefore, daycare was required in order to place more social
solidarity among this age group from a young age.
Sociology wants to explain how patterns in society explain social
Also try to understand how it will improve human welfare. Enforcing
policies that will help us deal with issues of interest.
Emphasis of Points:
Ideas about the way the world works, explanations about how
people behave are not things that only sociologists think about.
However, social sciences/ sociologists are different because they
research in order to test the validity of their ideas. They learn how
to systematically collect evidence and analyze the evidence to
disprove or prove assumptions to how and why people behave as
Integrar Naturar – Speculum Artisque Imago - England Early 17 th
If something is not right in the heavens, tragedy occurs on Earth.
Not an empirical way of thinking about the world, not based on
Scientific attitude happened in the 16 thcentury – earth revolves
around the sun, planets outside that are unknown
Scientific Revolution: 16 thCentury – Encouraged the use of
evidence to substantiate theories
Democratic Revolution: 18 thCentury – Encouraged the view that
human action can change society. (King and the Queen ruled by
divine right, God gave them this right) Therefore, people before did
not realize that they can too change the world. However, the French
and American revolution rejected this idea and gave society the
idea that people can have a say on the organization/rules/laws of
society). Industrial Revolution: 19 thCentury- Gave sociologists their
subject matter. Began in Great Britain in 1780. Dislocated and
impoverished a large number of people. Many English moved from
the country side to the city and worked long hours in factories,
mines (Danger related jobs). Dickens talked about this in his
Sociology: Investigation of social relations embedded in people.
After these revolutions, the discipline of sociology developed.
Term sociology was coined by French social thinker Auguste
Comte in 1838 (Thomson, 1975).
He wanted to comprehend the social world as it was rather than
individual perceptions of it.
Therefore, Comte like many other social thinkers wanted to analyze
the world based on careful observations rather than relying on
“God” or “human nature” to give him the answers. He needed
testable and accurate proof.
Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber all wanted to analyze
society based on observation but they did not only want to do that.
They also wanted to develop ideas that would combat society’s
weak points and problems.
Three levels of social structure and how they influence
human action: microstructure, macrostructure and global
Clarify Tension in Sociology:
Theory: Tentative explanation of some aspect of social life that
states how and why certain facts are related.
Research: Process of carefully observing social reality to assess the
validity of a theory.
Values: Ideas about what is right and wrong, good and bad.
(Values help society favor certain types of theories that ought to be
investigated over others).
Durkheim, Marx & Weber identified 3 of the major theoretical
traditions in sociology:
Functionalism: Human behavior governed by relatively stable
patterns of social relations/ social structures. Usually social
structures analyzed as macrostructures. How social structures
maintain or undermine social stability. Emphasize that social
structures are based mainly on shared values. Functionalism
stresses that re-establishing equilibrium can best solve most social
Conflict Theory: Generally focuses on large, macro- level
structures such as relations between/among classes. Illustrates how
large patterns of inequality in society produce social stability in some cases and social change in others. Also states how members
of privileged groups in society try to maintain their advantages
while those less privileged groups (subordinate groups) attempt
(struggle) to increases theirs. The conflict theory suggests that
when removing privilege from society, the conflict between groups
will lower and the sum total of human welfare will increase.
o Max Weber found flaws in Karl Marx doctrine (due to the
questions that arose when capitalism was still intact). Argued
that many members of occupational groups stabilize society
because they possess higher statuses and income than do
manual workers employed in the manufacturing sector. Class
conflict is not the only driving force of history. – Stated the
importance of politics and religion as important to historical
Protestant Ethic: Work diligently and live modestly.
Weber believed that those who adopted this view saved
and invested more than others. Therefore, the obvious
difference between Weber and Marx is as follows:
conclusion that capitalism did not merely exist because
of economic forces, but also depended on the religious
meaning people attributed to their work.
Verstehen: Importance of understanding peoples
motives and meanings that they attach to certain things
in order to develop a sense of the importance of their
Symbolic Interactionalism: Focuses on face to
face communication or interaction in micro-level social
settings. (Different than functionalist and conflict
paradigms). Emphasizes that in order to produce an
accurate explanation of social behavior, you must
understand the subjective meaning people attach to
their social circumstances. People help to create their
social circumstances rather than just merely react to
them. Therefore, by determining the subjective
meanings people attach to their small social settings we
are able to distinguish the unpopular and unofficial
viewpoints creating an increase in the understanding
and tolerance of people that are evidently different from
us. By including all viewpoints and subjective ways of
understanding behavior symbolic interactionalism
increases the respect and tolerance levels in regards to
minority and deviant viewpoints.
Feminist Theory: Focus on various aspects of
patriarchy and the system of male domination in society. They classified patriarchy as important as class
inequality (determining persons opportunities in life).
This theory also illustrates the fact that male
domination and female subordination are not
determined by biological necessity at all but are
determined by the structures of power and social
convention. The feminists paradigm examines the
operation of patriarchy in both micro and macro
settings. They also state that existing patterns of
gender inequality should be changed in order to benefit
all members of society (main sources of gender
inequality: way girls and boys are brought up, barriers
to equal opportunity in education, paid work, politics,
unequal division of domestic responsibilities b/w women
Postindustrial Revolution: Refers to the technology
driven shift from manufacturing to service industries
and the consequences of that shift for virtually all
human activities. – Postindustrial Revolution sped up by
Globalization: The process by which formerly separate
economies, states and cultures become tied together
and people become increasingly aware of the growing
Social Issues of post industrialism and globalization:
Autonomy vs. Constraint
Prosperity vs. Inequality
Diversity vs. Uniformity Social Stratification: Chapter 6
Social Stratification: Refers to persistent patterns of social
inequality perpetuated by the way wealth, power and prestige are
distributed and passed on from one generation to the next.
Status: Culturally and socially defined position that a person
occupies in a group.
Ascribed Status: Is a status, such as age, gender or race that is
assigned to an individual, typically at birth, not chosen by the
Achieved Status: Is a changeable status that is acquired on the
basis of how well an individual performs a particular role.
Meritocracy: A society in which most or all statuses are achieved
on the basis of merit (how well a person performs in a given role)
Social Mobility: The process whereby individuals, families or other
groups move up or down a status hierarchy.
Open Stratification System: A