CHAPTER 1-4 TEXTBOOK NOTES.docx

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CHAPTER ONE TEXTBOOK NOTES
Intro
Major concern of sociology is to explain why members of some groups
behave differently than members of other groups
o Groups can include:
Whole societies (eg Canada/USA)
Smaller groups that can share the same status (eg doctors,
unionist)
Social categories (possess a common social characteristic eg.
Having no kids, being over 6 ft tall)
Many Sociologist have a view point developed by Emile Durkhein
Emile Durkhein
Conducted an investigation into suicide
Believed other experts focused too much on the individual
He thought social factors (group structure, relationships within groups) also
effected suicde
o Social Facts: point to a social/ group level explanations of behaviour
(eg. Ethnicity, gender, place of residence, marital status)
Social facts are shared and are unlike psychological factors
o Psychological factors: individual internal processes (drives/motives)
In his study he found that men had higher rates of suicide than woman,
protestants higher than Catholics, older people higher than younger, and
single people high than married
Connected these finding to be relation to social isolation (more isolated=
more suicide)
Found social links act as buggers against suicide
o Egoistic Suicides: Suicides that occure because of lack of social ties
o Altruistic Suicide: suicide caused by excessively strong social ties (eg.
Suicide Bombers)
o Anomic suicides: societies marked by insufficient regulations.
Individuals experience feeling of uncertainty/lack of limits thus are
more prone to suicide
o Fatalistic Suicides: societies with too many rules and too few options
*** the degree of regulation (like strength of social ties) is a social not an
individual variable
Sociologist are concerned with rates of behaviour
Sociologist never argue that behaviour is fully determined by the common
experiences that may arise from group membership
Sociology: Its Modern Origins and Varieties
Kindled by French and Industrial Revolutions
o French: expanded potential for democracy
o Industrial: led to a new economy and further grow of trade and cities
and a radically new organization of work
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Revolutions resulted in rural societies giving way to urbanized,
heterogeneous, dynamic societies. New societies were marked by increasing
conflict and social problems
At the same time science was disproving earlier beliefs about natural
phenomenon which were rooted in religious dogma
Scientific explanations were based on observation and reason
Auguste Comte
o Saw sociology a both a science and religion
o Believed sociology could bring socieites to a new level of cooperation
o Sociologist would be the “priests” who would guide societies
o A decline of religion, the brutality of the French and industrial
revolutions made development of sociology seem necessary
o Thus sociology was botn
After the birth of sociology there were disputes about:
o Which approach to research it should take
o The extent to which group membership effects individuals behaviours
o How society is structured
How Society is Structured
Some Believed:
o Society is based on consensus and cooperation
o A collection of “organs” each performing a necessary function
o Therefore segments of society “organs” work for the benefit of society
as a whole “human body”
o Hence social ills are temporary and can be cured
Others Believed (including Karl Marx)
o Society was made up of individuals and groups held together by its
strongest members
o Strongest members use their power to coerce weaker members into
submission
o Social ills are built into the fabric of society
o Cures an only come from radical social change in which new more
cooperative leaders become in charge
To Simplify: Some Believe societies are founded on Cooperation
(Functionalism) Others believe that power ad conflict control societies
(conflict theory)
Functionalism
Uses 3 main concepts: function, equilibrium, and differentiation
Function
o Means that social arrangements exist because they somehow benefit
society
o Each part is vital for the functioning health as a whole
o Eg. Female prostitution serves a function because its something that
persists in society. If it held no function it would disappear
Equilibrium:
o Stability based on a balance among parts and consensus
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o Equilibrium is the natural state of society
o Society will always return to equilibrium after it adapts to temporary
and minor problems (called dysfunctions)
o A change in one part of society will be felt in other parts of society
Differentiation
o The development of new social forms
o Society adapts to its dysfunctions and is improved in the process
Conflict Theory
Power, not functional interdependence, holds a society together
Conflict is societies natural state
Revolutions/ upheavals (not gradual change) fuel social change and
improvement
Major source of social conflict is inequality
Inequality must be eradicated not applauded (as functionalist argue) as a
way to see that societies difficult jobs will be filled
Society is composed of groups acting competitively rather than filling a
function for the whole
Believe existing social arrangements benefit the powerful
Admit to some degree of cooperation but believe it results from coercion and
domination
Marxism
o Contemporary society is held together by capitalist domination which
pits proletariat (workers) against the bourgeoisie in a constant
struggle for the profit from labour
o Only through revolution can workers change capitalist-dominated
structure of society
Symbolic Interactionism and the Micro Perspective
Both functionalism and conflict theory downplay role of individuals (macro
focus)
See societies as shaping individuals
However, we do know that individual actions can effect the larger group
Societies/ cultures make individuals who make societies/ cultures that make
individuals
Microsociologist begin analysis with individuals and their interactions
o Individuals are active agents
o Have goals, objectives, intentions, motives, or utility functions
o Have knowledge about which kinds of behaviours are going to achieve
them
Microsociologist emphasize subjective over objective
Behaviour and attitudes depend on how individuals perceive, define, or
construct their social world
Humans think/interact on the basis of information encoded in strings of
symbols
Symbol: something that represents something to which it has no intrinsic
(obvious) connection eg. Why does green mean go?
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Document Summary

Major concern of sociology is to explain why members of some groups behave differently than members of other groups: groups can include: Smaller groups that can share the same status (eg doctors, unionist) Social categories (possess a common social characteristic eg. having no kids, being over 6 ft tall) Many sociologist have a view point developed by emile durkhein. Believed other experts focused too much on the individual. He thought social factors (group structure, relationships within groups) also effected suicde: social facts: point to a social/ group level explanations of behaviour (eg. ethnicity, gender, place of residence, marital status) Social facts are shared and are unlike psychological factors: psychological factors: individual internal processes (drives/motives) In his study he found that men had higher rates of suicide than woman, protestants higher than catholics, older people higher than younger, and single people high than married. Connected these finding to be relation to social isolation (more isolated= more suicide)

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