SOC101: SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
- developing a sociological view is to believe perception and experiences are
determined by social and historical factors of which we have minimal control.
- Even the idea that we have control over our lives is based on the social
institutions we are currently presented with.
What is sociology?
- sociology is concerned with the study of modern human societies.
- The problem of action; why do we do what we do?
- The problem of order; how do we explain the social order/organization?
- Not psychology, not history, not (only) political science, not social work
- Concerned with observable aspects of society.
Birth of sociology
- August Comte: mid 1800’s. coined the term sociology.
- the scientific revolution in 16th c. encouraged the use of evidence and systematic
method to substantiate theories.
- The industrial revolution 19th c. gave sociologists their subject matter.
Exponential growth of industry gave way to a newer dynamic for cities.
- the ability to connect seemingly impersonal and remote historical and institutional
forces to one’s individual life; C. Wright Mills (1959)
- Embedded histories and institutions shape who we become in the world.
- Suicide; suicide rates over the years have shown patterns.
- Durkheim showed a group’s 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. And groups with low social solidarity tend to have
higher rates of suicide than groups with more social solidarity.
- face to face communication among people who act and react in relation to one
- Interaction order is a system of face to face relations organized by status.
- A status is a recognized position in a social interaction; ie student goes to prof to
ask a question, different status (one has more power than another).
- A great phenomenon in the realm of sociology. Even simple interaction holds in it
the basis of the social order.
- emotion management involves people responding appropriately to the situations
in which they find themselves.
- Emotion labor is emotion management that one does as part of one’s job and for
which one is paid. Half the amount of women’s jobs involve emotional labor
where as only a fifth of men’s jobs do.
- Status shield is a social status that protects its owner from the negative emotions
or actions of another.
NS CH.1 notes:
- microstructures: patterns of intimate social relations, formed during face to face
- macrostructures: patterns of social relations that lie outside and aboveyour circle
of intimates and acquaintances; class relation, patriarchy (inequality of
- Global structures: international organizations, patterns of worldwide
communication and travel, economic relations on a global level.
- based on tradition
- knowledge based on authority; news
- based on casual observation; always uncertainty in the casual
- based on overgeneralization
- based on selective observation
- knowledge based on qualification; exceptions to the rule; hypothesis rather than
- based on illogical reasoning
- based on ego-defence
- based on premature closure of inquiry; deciding all the evidence has been gather
- theory: tentative explanation of some aspect of social life that states how and why
certain facts are related.
- Research: the process of carefully observing social reality to assess the validity of
- Values: ideals about what is right and wrong, good and bad.
- human behavior is governed by relatively stable patterns of social relations.
- social structures maintain or undermine social stability;
- social structures are based mainly on shared values;
- re-establishing equilibrium can best solve most social problems (lowering
- focuses on large macrolevel structures, such as relations between or among
- major patterns of inequality on society produce stability in some circumstances
and social change in others;
- members of privileged groups try to maintain their advantages while subordinate
groups struggle to increase theirs;
- eliminating privilege will lower the level of conflict and increase human welfare.
- focuses on face-to-face communication or interaction in microlevel settings;
- adequate explanation of social behavior requires understanding the subjective
meanings people attach to their social circumstances;
- people help to create their social circumstances and do not merely react to them;
- by underscoring the subjective meanings people create in small social settings, it
validates unpopular and unofficial viewpoints, thus increasing our understanding
and tolerance of people different from us.
- focuses on aspects of patriarchy, male domination in society;
- male domination are determined no by biological necessity but by structures of
power and social convention;
- examines operation of patriarchy in micro and macro settings;
- existing patterns of gender inequality can and should be changed for the benefit
of all members of society.
Socialization and Education
- Victor the wild boy: 1800’s, raised in isolation from human beings (by animals), “feral
child=without human socialization”, these type of children rarely adjust to socialization.
Are we a product of our environment or our genetics? Feral children suggest interaction
with human beings is necessary to release the human potential.
-Socialization: the process of learning culture and becoming aware of yourself as you
interact with others.
Education: is a process of socialization whereby knowledge and cultural know-how is
-We are biological beings; allowing us a capacity to be human ie Without the vocal
chords we have, we could not speak. Biology sets human potential.
-Sociobiology: biology defines more than just physical distinctions but also behavioral
Darwin’s evolutionary theory:
- The characteristics of each species vary widely.
- Species members with more adaptive characteristics are more likely to survive
- Therefore, the species characteristics that endure are those that increase survival
chances of the species.
-Logic of sociobiology: Men have many sperm, and men improve their chances of
reproducing their genes by trying to impregnate as many women as possible; women
monogamous and men less ie survival of the fittest.
-Sociologists take a different perspective. The norms of social institution are effective in
dominating any biological impulse of promiscuity ie marriage.
-Males are taught promiscuity as a gauge of their masculinity.
-Females taught promiscuity is negative; they may get pregnant, men cant.
- Human behaviors are socially mediated. Hunger---is affected by culture (what we eat,
when, why?)----eating. Cultural messages we receive about food affects our eating.
Impulse is mediated by culture.
- Anorexia is a socially constructed reaction to hunger.
Developing a sociological view is to believe perception and experiences are determined by social and historical factors of which we have minimal control. Even the idea that we have control over our lives is based on the social institutions we are currently presented with. sociology is concerned with the study of modern human societies. Not psychology, not history, not (only) political science, not social work. August comte: mid 1800"s. coined the term sociology. Two revolutions: the scientific revolution in 16th c. encouraged the use of evidence and systematic method to substantiate theories. The industrial revolution 19th c. gave sociologists their subject matter. Exponential growth of industry gave way to a newer dynamic for cities. Sociological imagination: the ability to connect seemingly impersonal and remote historical and institutional forces to one"s individual life; c. wright mills (1959) Embedded histories and institutions shape who we become in the world. Suicide; suicide rates over the years have shown patterns.