12 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Irving Zeitlin

SOC203Y-History of Social Theory 10-Jan-2011 Ideology & the Development of Sociological Theory: Tocqueville, Martineau, Taylor & Mill Any sociology worth its salt must be historical. There is no way to understand anything in the human condition without studying history. When we studied Machiavelli and others, we said that memory is to the individual as history is to society. For example: if we perish the thought that any of us may have a medical problem and we want to solicit an additional medical opinion, the first question that a doctor will ask is about medical history. The reason Dr. Zeitlin is emphasizing this is that we are going to be discussing one of the really outstanding historical sociologists and Zeitlin wants to explain what that is and how it differs to just history. There are three (3) basic elements to what we would call historical sociology. The three elements are concerned with social structure, i.e. the social context of the given historical event or historical individuals - if we want to understand how Hitler came to power, we want to understand the context. We have to know the history of what came before it this would apply to any example. The three elements include: 1. Social structure 2. History 3. Biography Biography means a concern with who the historical individuals were. For example, individuals like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Lennon, Stalin, Mao clearly, they stand out as historical individuals. Therefore, we need to study not only the context, i.e. social structure of a given society at that particular moment, but we also have to look at the historical background, we also have to consider who these individuals are, and how important are they. In other words, we are interested in the causal weight. Could there have been a Balasivic revolution if the Germans hadnt let Lennon back into Russia. Another example: what if a brick had fallen on Napoleons head while he was still a corporal, would French history have been different after the French Revolution. These are what we call counter-factuals. What is the difference between a historian on the one hand and a historical sociologist? Zeitlin thinks that the most outstanding historians drew more than what he is about to say; but, if we define history as a unique and unrepeatable series of events, i.e. there was only one Julius Caesar, there was only one Napoleon, there was only one Mao, etc. When we studied Machiavelli, he suggested that we have this dj vu and even though history doesnt repeat itself literally, there is a sense metaphorically that we see things happening that remind us of what happened in the past and it helps us to interpret a given event. For example, we might say the historian studies Julius Caesar, but the historical sociologist studies Caesarism i.e. when Mussolini marched on Rome, the techniques he used and the strategy he used remind us of Julius Caesar. If history is a unique and unrepeatable series of events, then a historian would just tell you the story it becomes a narrative; they will tell you what happened. That is why in elementary school they referred to history as a story. In contrast, the historical sociologist is interested in explaining things. She is interested in causes and consequences. Hence, today we are going to talk about the old regime and the French Revolution. Somebody like Tocqueville does not merely tell us what happened, but he also wants to explain the causes of the French Revolution; and, not only causes, he wants to explain the consequences of the Revolution. It is true that most historians and indeed intelligent people, like your parents, recognize that this as common sense and probably that this historical sociological approach that Zeitlin is describing, with an attention to context and history and biography, is built into their intellectual consciousness. www.notesolution.comSOC203Y-History of Social Theory 10-Jan-2011 Tocqueville One more thing that a historical sociologist does, which helps to look at the question of causes and consequences, is to apply a comparative dimension. Tocqueville comes from France and he has lived through and, therefore, knows the history of France (1789). What happened after the Revolution? Not only was it bloody and violent, i.e. the sons and daughters of the nobility were sent to the guillotine just because they were the sons and daughters of the nobility; but, then there was Napoleon, who turned out to be a despot, declaring himself to be the Emperor. Hence, there was the Revolution and then there was despotism. Beethoven originally dedicated the symphony Bonaparte to Napoleon, but he became disappointed and renamed the symphony Eroica because the revolution seemed to hold out certain promises, but he was disappointed. Tocqueville lived through the revolution of 1830; he lived through the revolution of 1848; and, indeed, he was a personal witness, as a member of the party of order, to the coup dtat of Napoleons nephew, namely, Louis Bonaparte. Coup dtat means seizer of power, unconstitutionally. The kind of question that a sociologist would have is: what were manifest and underlying causes of the revolution, i.e. of the American Revolution, of the French Revolution? And, what are the similarities and differences because although he is living in France and he is very concerned with the French conditions, he takes the opportunity to come to America when it arrives. The key concept in Tocqueville is the rise of the demos, which in Greek means the people. Democracy literally means the rule of the people, which very rarely happens. What Tocqueville witnessed in his time was what he calls a master trend from Aristocracy to Democracy. The rise of the people; the people enter the historical stage and now begin to play a very significant role in history - sometimes for better and sometimes for worse; in France, however, it was not always for good. But, in the United States, in the early history of America, Tocqueville wants to show that there were very significant differences and that in American democracy you did not have the kind of violence that you had in France. Democracy in America What was unique or characteristic of America at that time that was fundamentally different from Europe, especially from France? Well, in the first place there was no old regime in America at that time. What do we mean by the old regime? We defined the old regime as the established Church, the Monarch, and the nobility. In America, there was no established Church; there was no Monarchy after the Revolution; and there was no established nobility, i.e. a class of aristocrats or nobles - these are three pillars of the old regime (Monarchy, the nobility, and the established Church). This was a fundamental difference between France and America at the time. Moreover, there were no large metropolitan cities with slums and ghettos, etc. There were some poor people around, but nothing like the slums of London or Manchester, etc. There was no state bureaucracy in America. In France, everything was so highly centralized that you couldnt even repair a church steeple without permission from Paris. This centralization took place under the Monarchy and it was even accentuated after the Revolution. There were no great industrial centres like Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool. In Manchester, when Tocqueville visited England in the 1930s and he went to Manchester, he noted that people were working 69 hours per week; he couldnt tell if it was day time or night time because of all the smog; and in the absence of water technology, people living downstream in the cellar apartments, would often use the water that people defecated in; as a matter of fact, the Thames in London, even though it was now an industrial city, was so filthy that the Thames was full of shit.
More Less

Related notes for SOC101Y1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.