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Sociology 2173 Midterm Notes

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Sociology 2173A/B
Gaile Mc Gregor

1 Unit 1.1: Background I: Mass Society Feudalism/Capitalism • Feudalism collapsed not just because capitalism was grounded in the “individualism and acquitiveness” of the merchant class but ALSO due to a change in the way society was organized and in the values and ideas that underwrote that organization, as reflected by shift from land based economy to money based economy • In other words – as a result of conflict between ruling ideas – land as power vs. land as commodity From Land Power to Money Power Middle Ages: home as center of production + consumption  feudal society became more stable  upperclass began wanting more luxuries  craftspeople began producing beyond immediate needs  new class formed (entrepreneurs)  bourgeoisie gained leverage through debt (provided money for wars)  indebtedness of aristocracy led to process whereby common land was enclosed/sold  land now seen as something acquired with money  money gained superiority over land  result: CAPITALISM – upheaval in distribution of power/shape of social relations/the ideas that propped up these arrangements Themes of Capitalism 1. Accumulation: Money can be accumulated by individuals in a way that land cannot; Capitalism couldn’t come about until it became possible for individuals to accumulate more wealth than necessary to support immediate needs; amassing of wealth is both the means by which the capitalist system works and the goal to which it is oriented; capital  profit 2. Labor productivity: Labor props up the whole system; labor produces most of the surplus between use value of commodities and exchange-value they command in the market place; workers (who own this resource) get the least out of it; basic unit of capitalist production = commodity; use value and exchange value; capitalists increase use value and exchange value by (1) increasing exchange value by controlling scarcity/convincing people their product is more important than others (2) decreasing costs (capitalist only has control over labor costs – pays workers very little); Basic component of capitalism: not the commodity but the labor that makes the commodity profitable 3. Competition: Manufacturers compete among themselves for control of markets; they compete with workers to keep wages low/production high; workers compete with each other for jobs, thus aiding in their own disadvantage 4. Maximization of profits: A capitalist enterprise has to keep expanding or collapse, this means either developing new markets/stimulating existing ones (a) by inventing new needs and the products to fill them (b) by promoting the concept of fashion (c) by planned obsolescence (building products which are going to wear out in a finite amount of time 5. Commodification: All facts of society, including individuals, are seen as products to be bought/sold; how? (6) (1) naturalize status quo (2) constructing a normative system of social identities/relations (3) protecting the rights of leadership on the 2 bases of merits and/or necessity (4) sending message about how well off the proletariat is (5) Displacing blame for social problem onto individual (6) encouraging consumerism; enterprise of mass media is not producing cultural materials to sell to public but defining predictable groups of consumers in order to “sell” them to primary manufacturers as potential customers Relations of Production • Economic relations (relations between boss/workers) provided a model for social relations in general • In Feudalism: relations of power = orderly, hierarchical, coercive, not open to challenge • In capitalism: hierarchical, coercive, less orderly (due to competition), less stable, underwritten by a creed saying success was based on individual merit + ambition  inequity seen by those at the bottom rung Marxist version of Ideology • A set of messages generated by the ruling class which are designed to produce “false consciousness,” thus including those bottom rung folks to cooperate in their own repression o Antonio Gramsi: Ideology was simply the world view that constituted the take-for-granted common sense of a given society; the values it enriched worked in favor of the elite class; dominant ideology: elites consciously use ideology to promote their interest BUT their ideas are already “in the air” to be made use of, different subsets of dominant ideology to serve different purposes o Nationalist Ideology: Builds patriotism/endorses the soundness of the political system o Consumerist ideology: convinces us that buying stuff is the road to happiness o Patriarchal ideology: promotes the idea that women are different from men/have different needs + natures, when satisfied they add up to settling for less social power o Liberal ideology: promotes the values of freedom/individualism/idea that every man + woman in our democratic society has equal opportunity to reach the top, implicitly transforms poverty/social problem to personal faults, dissuades people from blaming the system/state • Ideology is theoretically natural  compromises the totality of all values, attitudes, beliefs that shape a world view • Marx used the word ideology to mean a particular set of values, attitudes and beliefs that support the interest of the dominant class • Marx’s thought inspired by (1) political economy and (2) Ideology: when the ruling class props up its material ascendancy by means of its intellectual ascendancy 3 Unit 1.2: Background II - Characteristics of Mass Society Most frequently mentioned features: • 1. Democracy: Rise of democratic forms of government and (putatively) more eglitarian social relations o Key change from feudal to modern times o All members of mass society are equally valued as voters – numerative superiority therefore tends to be the decisive criterion of success o Inequality remains  power is now wielded indirectly through economic/psychological manipulation rather than directly through the civil authority/superior military • 2. Centralization: Populations become more urbanized; industrial capacity becomes more and more concentrated in fewer hands o Most visible marker for massification  rise of modern metropolis o First manifestation of this: mass urbanization movement of late 18 -early 19 century o At first driven by enclosure of common lands then by desirability of having workers gather in central locations where they could be easily controlled by factory owners o Later, it became a leading feature of corporate development • 3. Rationalization: Everything should be arranged for maximum efficient + minimum surprises  resulted in trend toward highly structured organizations and practices + the burgeoning of bureaucracy; bureaucratization brings to the fore an emphasis on order, planning and rule-driven modes of operation o Idea behind bureaucracy: for the least amount or errors, private + public organization need to be managed by trained professionals operating according to rules without influence of personal preference • 4. Mechanization: Refers primarily to the dehumanizing effects of mass society on the people who live in it – converges with standardization; as production and consumption become increasingly dependent on technology, some claim that humans are becoming more mechanical o Mechanized society: one in which everything possible is done by machine rather than by hand – work is structured around capacities of equipment not human; progress is measured by decrease in worker hours needed to carry out any operation • 5. Standardization: Elimination of unnecessary variation (necessary to rationalize and mechanize); rise of Fordism; mass production methods result in standardized products, thinly disguised by cosmetic variability o Assembly line (Henry Ford): system of fabrication based on interchangeable parts/segmented production methods wherein the finished products are put together by team of one job/one component specialist – working in sequence not start to end by 1 person o Standardized production  standardized product  standardized workers  standardized consumers 4 • 6. Decline of Community: Reduced primary group ties results in decreased social intercourse and a general loss of meaningful interpersonal relationships o Interdependence: brought on by communication + transport, causes estrangement between individuals (Bell) + ties of family/community have shattered • 7. Mass Mediation: Experience of the world mediated through impersonal agencies like TV/internet making us vulnerable to misinformation, manipulation and identity loss o Degrades quality of social interaction, leaves us vulnerable to identity loss/deception/manipulation • 8. Constant Change: The perpetual quest for novelty and new markets means that society itself is always in flux, constantly producing new ideas/opinions/fashions o Byproduct: Society itself is always in flux, always producing new • 9. Irrationality: Bell’s concept of “the mass as mob” – loss of community releases the darker side of human nature o Category #5 (Bell): The mass as mob – loss of community is damaging o Anomie: A disjunction between social values + real world conditions can produce a malaised characterized feelings of alienation + purposelessness, connected with crime/violence/social disorder 5 Unit 2.1: Consumption I – Affluenza • Imperialism  Consumption • Consumer boom due to: conditions of post war period (pent up economic demand in the form of personal savings + low interest government loans + mushrooming private credit) • Phenomenon driven by a specific economic agenda The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan • Flattery + guilt used to turn women into (back into) consumers • 1899: Theory of Leisure Class (Thorstein Veblen) labeled woman as primary agents of vicarious consumption • Conspicuous (non essential) consumption was the privilege of alpha males o Originally “chattels” (women + surfs) were not able to consume beyond their bare minimum required for survival o As ruling class gained wealth men were expected to cement his prestige by consuming • After industrial revolution  economic power passed from aristocracy to bourgeoisie o Then, wives/daughters were responsible for consuming to show status (still about male status) th • Early 20 century: suffragettes/ first wave feminists/ flappers • WWII: women filled jobs of men going off to war, war workers enjoyed them • Problems from independence arose: need to open up jobs for returning servicemen, need to develop alternative markets for the production capacity previously monopolized by war effort • Suburbanization movement: matter of redefining the role of the housewife so that it depended on increased consumption o Ploy #1: Make household duties seem critical/difficult  popular magazines o Ploy #2: Make domestic competence on essential element in feminine self regard o Solution: Women stayed home and “studied” housekeeping (to create the best environment for husband/children), if she worked  it was more important that she consumed to make up for the neglect The Last Straw • Women were both the prime victims/prime conduits of the postwar consumption boom • Marketing policy inspired by post war indoctrination + disempowerment of women o Activating public anxieties about status, self worth, chances of happiness, likelihood of failure, growing old, getting fat, etc o Affluenza: Main concern was being exposed as a nobody so people would be convinced that the only way to fend off disaster is through the 6 accumulation of things • Working class was most susceptible even though they were less likely to afford it o Consumes because society constructs material deprivation as a lack thus their tastes are structured around attaining glimpses (simulacra) of elite class  thus elites oppose materialism to distinguish themselves • Elites took pride in being anti-materialistic o Materialist is synonymous with showy, ostentatious, gaudy, unrefined Stages of Consumption • Feudal Era: Conspicuous consumption on the part of dominant males was a sign of status; particularly important was the ability to equip and maintain a significant number of domestic servants and military personnel; women and children were viewed largely as chattels • Early Modern (transition to industrialization): As the availability and variety of consumer goods increased, status was also judged on a man’s ability to support vicarious consumption on the part of servitors and dependents • Bourgeois Era: Unlike the idle aristocracy, the bourgeois gentleman was expected to fill up his time with economic activity; consumption duties developed primarily th to his wives and daughters; this pattern continues well into 20 century • Between the Wars: Beginning as early as the turn of the century but increasingly after WW1, manufacturers began to see the value of turning their workforce into consumers; this triggered a trend toward higher pay and shorter working hours; the depression slowed things down, but WW2 came to the rescue; advertising took on the job of changing social values to emphasize acquisition rather than thrift • The fifties: Suburbanization and the invention of the “female mystique” were among the strategies used to increase domestic consumption to take up the excess production capacity released by the end of the war; it was during this period that consumption became competitive, spawning the term “keeping up with the Joneses” • The nineties: With the ramping up of market research and the advent of totalizing PR strategies like branding, the whole social environment became commodified and commercialized; consumerist ideology was omnipresent; increasingly sophisticated strategies of persuasion were used to convince people that their happiness and success depended on emulating the role models and lifestyles depicted in advertising; consumption ran out of control, resulting in proliferating social and personal ills 7 Unit 2.2: Consumption II – Impacts Negatives • Personal Impacts (Chapter 5 of Affluenza) o Pace, affluence, decrease in well being o Accute stress physical symptoms – headaches, low back pain, hyperacidity, palpitations in the heart, unexplained aches and pains o Accute stress emotional problems – depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, yelling o Accuute stress behavioral symptoms – driving too fast, drinking too much, screaming, being abusive o Possession overload – so much stuff, stuff owns them, buy more stuff o Headaches from time pressure o Hurry sickness – major cause of heart disease o Anxiety from too many choices • Social Impacts (Chapter 5 + 13 of Affluenza) o Time famine – the pace of life has accelerated to the point where everyone is breathless o Less free time than we did 20 years ago o Overworking o Addiction – to stuff/drugs/alcohol/gambling/shopping – stems from anxiety, loneliness, low self esteem o Law of diminishing marginal utility: we have to run faster to stay in place (buy more things to keep up) • Environmental impacts (Chapter 11 + 12) o Resource exhaustion o Ruined landscape o Loss of wildlife habitat o Proliferation of garbage o Air and water pollution o Spread of poisonous toxins o ‘Buying on credit’ Positives • Consumer goods = a language • Mediate social/technological change • Goods (“object code”) allow meaning to be made visible + allow for its rise as an agent of change + continuity • Social discourse • Twitchell: relates religion to advertising (any meaning is good as any other meaning) o Thinks consumption is valuable because it encourages to buy but also allows us to express ourselves + better manage our social reality 8 (important distinction) Unit 3.1: Advertising – Strategies of Persuasion • Consumption  emphasizes idea of free choice/free market • Pro-consumptionists: present necessities as the same thing as wants • If an individual’s wants are to be urgent  they must be original with himself, they are NOT urgent if they must be contrived for him o In other words, one cannot defend production as satisfying wants if that production creates the wants • Flera’s 5 stages of successful advertising: o 1) Market Profiling o 2) Attention – getting o 3) Internet – arousal o 4) Doubt – dispersal o Conviction – creation Beginnings • Early advertising of ancient Greece/Rome: signboards, posters, pamphlets, newspaper notices, drawing attention to commercial establishments, providing info of goods/services • Modern advertising is a byproduct of two economic developments: o 1) turning workers into consumers o 2) Change in economic underpinnings of newspaper business • 19 Century: Growth of newspapers accelerated by development of new technology (cylinder printing method, steam press  printing rate 1000 sheets/hour) • Circulation grew  sales revenue fell • 1890s  ad revenues were newspapers primary source of income o Shift in economic base  had implications for print vehicles + emerging broadcast media o Pre shift: Media producers generated various kinds of content and sold it directly to consumers o Post shift: Media producers main business of media was selling audiences of advertisers • Way to decide more/better = arithmetic, quality of audience is different (which consumers are worth more)  decided by spending power + demand for particular products Market Research • Audience identification problem spawned new research which: o 1) Identified potential audiences/constituencies on the bases of selected economic, social, demographic characteristics o 2) Linked these characteristics with particular consumption patterns, taste 9 preferences, psychological susceptibilities • Researchers discovered: spending was not always connected with resources  middle ages/seniors have more wealth but spend less because they have already their major purchases + stick with established brand preferences; highest desired demographic: 18-34; fewer assets but more disposable income, more life changes, more psychologically susceptible than elders; 11-20  tastes/buying habits are unformed • Generations matter o 1925-1946: not good o 1946-1964(boomers): major spenders o Generation Y: equally attractive, harder to reach through conventional methods • Flera’s approaches to this research: o Most important thing is breaking down population on basis of democratic/psychographic (values + attitudes) factors then developing typologies/classification systems to characterize them o Seminal initiative in this area  VALS (values and lifestyles survey)  9 types of consumers in 4 different groups:
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