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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

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 life?  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 their life.  Durkheim argued that Protestants are more likely to commit suicide th 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 times.  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 behavior.  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 they do.  Integrar Naturar – Speculum Artisque Imago - England Early 17 th Century  If something is not right in the heavens, tragedy occurs on Earth.  Not an empirical way of thinking about the world, not based on evidence.  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 novels.  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 structure.  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 problems.  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 change.  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 actions.   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 and men).  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.  Globalization: The process by which formerly separate economies, states and cultures become tied together and people become increasingly aware of the growing interdependence.  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 individual.  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
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