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SOC exam notes.docx

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Robert Brym

Theory, Research and Values  Sociological ideas are generally stated in the form of theories o Tentative explanations of some aspect of social life that states how and why certain facts are related  After theories are formulated, sociologists can conduct research o The process of carefully observing social reality to assess the validity of a theory  Before sociologists formulate a theory, they must decide which problems are important enough to study and how parts of society fit together  To recommend ways of improving some aspect of society, must have an opinion about what ideal society looks like o Values are ideas about what is right and wrong o Help sociologists formulate and favour certain theories Functionalism  Incorporates 4 features o Human behaviour is governed by stable patterns of social relations/social structures (macrostructures) o Underlines how social structures maintain or undermine social stability o Suggest re-establishing equilibrium will best solve social problems  Conservative approach o Emphasize social structures are based on shared values  Talcott Parsons: best known for identifying how various institutions must work together to ensure the smooth operation of society as a whole  Merton: manifest and latent o Manifest=intended purpose o Latent=unintended purpose Conflict Theory  Four features o Focuses on large, macro level structures o Shows how major patterns of inequality in society produce social stability in some cases and social change in others o Stresses how members of privileged groups try to maintain their advantages while subordinate groups struggle to increase theirs o POWER STRUGGLE o Eliminating privilege will lower the level of conflict and increase the sum total of human welfare  Karl Marx: Industrial revolution, “class consciousness,” communism Symbolic Interactionism  Four features o Focuses on face-to-face communication (microlevel) o Emphasizes that an adequate explanation of social behaviour requires understanding the subjective meanings people attach to their circumstances o Stresses people help create their social circumstances and do not merely react to them o Validate unpopular and unofficial view points  Max Weber: Protestant ethic Feminist Theory  Focuses on various aspects of patriarchy  Holds that male domination is not determined by biological necessity but by social convention  Examines the operation of patriarchy in both micro and macro levels 3
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