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Sociology Midterm 1 Lecture Notes

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Western University
Sociology 1020
Kim Luton

Sociology Midterm 1 Unit 1 • What is sociology? o Social relations between individuals and groups of people within a particular society o “Patterned group behaviour” o How social and cultural forces influence people • The Social Imagination o C. Wright Mills o We see the world through our experiences and the lens of our own eyes • Levels of Analysis o Biography  Your individual experience  Human Agency: the ability to act o Milieu  Your community, sense of belonging, your everyday context  Gemeinschaft (Tonnies) – “sense of belonging” o History  The society you live in and the structures  Society/Structures (what opens or retrains opportunities • Private troubles: focusing on individuals (ex. Debt) • Public issues: problems at the level of society (the history) • Anthony Giddens: Structuration Theory o Double Involvement of self in society  Products: You are a product of your society  Producers: We can bring about social change Sociological Theory • Sociology is: the systematic study of social behaviour in human societies • 1838- Auguste Comte (Father of sociology) o “A new way of looking at the world” – sociology o “Positivism”  Understanding the world based on scientific methods Sociological Perspectives • What is a theory? –Making sense out of something puzzling o Theory: A statement of how and why certain facts are related; explains patterns o Theoretical paradigms: A basic image of society guiding thinking and research  Structural functionalism  Conflict theory  Symbolic interactionism  Feminism Structural Functionalism • Society is a complex system of working parts (like a watch) • A macro-level orientation • Structures are stable patterns of social behaviour (usually invisible factors like age) • Institutions are “subsystems” of enduring patterns of social relationships (ex. Family) • Equilibrium: The normal state of a system (stability) o Changes in one structure or institution provoke changes in other • Want slow changes so institutions and structures can catch up • Manifest Functions o Open, stated, conscious functions of institutions; these involve intended, recognized, consequences of an aspect of society • Latent Functions o Unconscious or unintended functions that may reflect hidden purposes of an institutionn o Ex. Function of family: To procreate, to socialize, etc. o Ex. Function of education: To provide knowledge, make people literate, etc. • Eufunction: A positive benefit for society maintaining equilibrium (ex. Socializing the next generation) • Dysfunction: Element or process of society that may actually disrupt a social system or reduce its stability (Ex. Divorce—because you will stop having kids) • Critique: o Too broad o Ignores inequalities of social class, race, and gender o Focuses on stability at the expense of conflict o Functional for whom? Emile Durkheim • Father of structural functionalism • Society= social system o Has certain basic needs (food, water, shelter, order, reproduction) • Social structures and institutions fulfil needs • Society > individual • Anomie: Normlessness (not knowing what to expect, no rules) • Evolving societies o Change from mechanical solidarity (social bonds in small pre-industrial societies) to organic solidarity (industrial societies; interdependence) o Key to the change is an expanding division of labour (DOL) o Pre-industrial societies have a simple DOL based on tradition o Modern societies have a complex DOL—functional interdependence • Suicide: An indication of social problems; lack of integration o Suicide rates vary by gender, marital status, religion, etc. Conflict Theory • Macro-orientated • Views society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and social change • Best to understand tension between competing groups • Society is structured in ways to benefit a few at the expense of the majority o Dominant group vs. minority group • Differential Access: wealth, power, prestige • Alienation: the experience of isolation from powerlessness o Capitalism alienates workers in four specific ways:  From act of working  From the products of work  From other workers  From human potential Karl Marx • Historical materialist • Economic system= material conditions/forces • Did not believe in a middle class • Economic processes—modes of production determine all processes and social change • Ownership over means of production is the basis for other forms of inequality • Class: A social category based on ownership and control over mans of production • Two classes: o Bourgeoisie: Owners of capital dominate o Proletariat: Workers sell labour • Classes have different interests—leads to conflict based on class consciousness (an awareness of exploitation) • Economic system is base of society • Social institutions: Society’s subsystems, organized to meet basic human needs • False consciousness: Explanations of social problems grounded in an individual’s, not society’s, shortcomings • Institutions are part of the super structure and support the economic system Symbolic Interactionism • Micro (small scale) • Society arises as a “shared reality” • A symbol is something that meaningfully represents something else o Ex. Money is a symbol of the ability to purchase products Max Weber • “Verstehen”= to understand • No single factor determines society or the individual • Social conflict may originate in values, statuses, ideas, and not in economic interests only • Ruling class use beliefs to legitimate their position, so that other classes will cooperate in their own subordination • Rationalization of society: o Change from tradition to rationality Feminism • The study of women’s lives o Macro: constraints and forms of resistance in women’s lives o Micro: reproduction of gender through language and emotion management • Material Feminism: Early 19 century o Moral crusaders—improve society o Temperance movement o Women’s suffrage • Liberal Feminism: o Early 60’s o Women gain equality via access to education and jobs • Radical Feminism: o Patriarchy- universal cause of women’s oppression o Women- organize separately from men to protect their interests • Social Feminism (Marxism): o Gender inequalities based on economic factors; influenced by class inequalities o Women—organize with men of the same class to solve their problems of gender inequalities • Common characteristics: o Gender inequalities not biologically determined, but socially constructed o Patriarchy present in nearly all societies o Transnational feminism Unit 2 • Code of Conduct: o Respect subject’s right to privacy and dignity o Maintain objectivity and integrity in research o Protect subject’s from personal harm o Seek informed consent • Sociological investigation starts with two simple requirements: o Use the sociological perspective o Be curious and ask questions o Empirical evidence: Information we observe with our senses o Positivism: Taking the natural science steps and applying them to humans • Five ways of knowing the world: o Personal o Tradition o Authority o Religion  All four = what ought to be (normative approach) o Science  Empirical approach o All valid o We never prove anything; information only supports • Scientific Method: o Define the problem  State as clearly as possible what you hope to investigate  Operational Definition: Explanation of abstract concept specific enough to allow researcher to asses concept o Review the literature  Scholarly studies relevant to the subject o Formulate a testable hypothesis  Variable: Measurable trait subject to change under different conditions (ex. Age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)  Independent variable: Cause or influence of another variable  Dependent variable: Influenced by the independent variable  Causal Logic: Involves relationships between a variable and a particular consequence  Correlation: A relationship by which two or more variables change together (but you don’t know what causes what)  Spurious correlation: An apparent, though false, relationship between two or more variables caused by some other variable o Select a research design; collect and analyze data  Survey  Observation  Experiment  Existing sources  Sample: Selection from a larger population that is statistically typical of that population  Random sample: When every member of the population has the same chance of being selected  Validity: Degree to which a measure truly reflect the phenomenon being studied (precision)  Reliability: Extent to which a measure provides consistent results (consistency) o Develop the conclusion  You never prove a hypothesis; you can disprove or support Major Research Designs • Surveys: Quantitative Research (# counting) o Interviews (face-to-face or telephone)  High response rate  Probe beyond questionnaire o Questionnaires  Printed or written form to obtain information  Inexpensive  Good for large samples  Disadvantage: people lie; doesn’t describe personality accurately • Field Research: Qualitative Research (trying to understand people) o Relying on what is seen in field and naturalistic settings  Often focusing on small groups or communities o Observation  Participant Observation • Ethnography: Efforts to describe entire social setting through extended systematic observation • In-Depth Interviews o Uncover layers of meaning in participants responses o Semi structured  Specific questions but flexible enough to enable participants to direct their responses o Unstructured  Open-ended not confined to core set of questions • Experiments o Artificially created situations allowing manipulation of variables o Experimental Group: Exposed to independent variable o Control Group: Not exposed to independent variable o Hawthorne Effect: Reactivity to being studied • Use of Existing Sources: o Secondary Analysis: Research techniques that make use of previously collected and publicly accessible information and data o Content Analysis: Systematic coding and objective recording of data, guided by some rationale Unit 3: Culture • Proxemics: communication; culturally specific relations in time and space o Edward T. Hall o Time- 5 minutes rule o Space- Territoriality (Laying claim, taking up space in a public domain)  Two forms of “silent language” o Territorial Realignment o Intimate distance: 0-1 feet o Personal distance: 1-4 feet o Social distance: 4-12 feet o Public distance: 12+ feet • What is culture? Culture varies, but all cultures have five common components: o Symbols
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