Review Notes

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Western University
Sociology 2240E
Charles G Levine

Midterm Review Notes The Enlightenment • was about rationality and reason • science was going to save us • writers had ideas about what the state should be, what democracy should be, etc • Rousseau! the social screws up our heads, but we can change it o Revolutions in education (promising a better world ! for men) o Macro view • Wollstonecraft ! talks about the rights of women o Critiques Rousseau based a conceptualization of the world based on relationships between the person o Micro view Theory Template • Cognitive stencil! a way of thinking • Involves six or seven questions that any theorist has to answer if they are going to be able to write or think social theory o Answers are deep structures of cognition ! things we know and think about but are not aware of THE QUESTIONS • What is society? o Social order and social solidarity o Culture: norms and values o Institutions: an organization plus a commitment to certain values o A society is greater than the sum of its parts " There’s much more to it ! it’s the relationship that’s among those parts that is equally or more important o this view of society is based upon biology o organicist " we are all role occupants, if you do not play the role you become a deviant " system of interconnected institutions o atomists " Organicism with one exception: atomists say that society works like an organism, most of the time " They also say that under certain circumstances, individuals can psychologically distance themselves from the social in order to critically evaluate it " The atomist is interested in the circumstances that generate people to do this, and how they do it " Psychological distancing! reflexivity " Circumstances include: pain, something is pissing you off " People deal with being pissed off by removing themselves from society and making who they were an object to their own perception " The atomist is interested in those stimuli that cause people to see themselves as objects and from judgments about who they are " If people are stimulated to become reflexive, an atomistic thinker is assuming they are becoming reflexive because they are pissed off and want to critique s ociety o From the organicist point of view, all you are is people who play roles o Morality cannot exist in a role, it has to exist in the minds of persons o That means it only exists when the mind of a person perceives a dilemma " When you see unfairness o This means that it is not present all the time o It is an attribute in our minds that we can access when we need to o If a lot of people started questioning things and discovering new moral dilemmas, there would be chaos o Causes theorists to think that their may be a u niversally moral idea • What is human nature? Do we have instincts? What are instincts? o If something is an instinct then it has to be present among every member of the species o It also has to be immutable (cant be changed)! but it can die or be destroyed o Some sociologists say we are fundamentally egotistic and self interested, we are all greedy and some of us are smart but most of us are dumb by nature o Some theorists would say yes, we are something by nature o Another group would say of course human beings are e gocentric, greedy, etc. but it is not logical to say that they are these things by nature " Environments make or break us " Nurture • People are greedy, dumb, etc but it depends on the social environment • How are the relationships among society, culture and indiv iduals understood? o Reactors! we are all sponges: all we are and what we do is what we are told to do. We are simply performing our roles o Actors! agree that most of the time we are reactors, but once in a while we become actors (atomists) and act unusually within society • What are the analytical epistemologies that social theorists use? o Epistemology: a way of knowing, a style of inquiry o Realism " Explain social events and processes without reference to the intentions of human beings, but with reference to “natural” processes " Natural is everything that your attitudes aren’t ! something you are not aware of or that you never think about controlling " Realists argue that your attitudes and intentions aren’t really yours, but instead have been taught to you " Closely aligned with Organicism and the idea that you are a reactor o Nominalism " Explain social events and processes with references to the intentionality of persons " Closely aligned with atomism and the idea that you can be an actor Realist Nominalist Statement that things happen Statement that things happen Descriptive because society has drilled things because of human intentions into our minds Statement about what ought to Statement about what ought to be Prescriptive be the case for collective the case for an individual phenomena phenomena • do social theorists deal with facts and/or values? o Coherence! the idea of logic, deductive systems in the mind o Correspondence! the idea of concepts making sense of objects " Both are monological " Both are totally dependent on language " You cannot know anything without words " You cannot think without language " You cant even know something with a word, but we also need to make sure that the word is shared (fuck/sponge) o Consensus #! communication " Whatever a fact is, has to be negotiated " Need to use language in a way that we can all sense makes sense " Things are only as they are because we can all agree upon it " Communication becomes essential for knowing what a fact is " If communication is going to be the basis for claiming what a fact is, then we have a requirement • People involved in the communication have to be sincere about coming to an agreement and they must have eq ual power " When is a fact objectively true? NEVER • Never can I say all swans are white. I can only say I have yet to see one of another colour • Truth is a process " There can never be truth or certain facts, no such thing as objectivity " Intersubjective agreement! the process of trying to come to an agreement o Some theorists argue that sociology deals with facts, that it is objective and that it ends up defining what is true o Others realize that we have to entertain the possibility that people call things facts, but at least we are aware that values and biases influence these facts " Values influence what we study and what we choose to study ! no such thing as neutral choice " Values influence our definition of a fact by being mediated with language! therefore they influence our explanation of the fact o Values influence how information is used • How do social theorists conceptualize social order and social change and the reasons for these phenomena? o Some theorists will explain order and change from a realist point of view " Every explanation they come up with for either social solidarity or social change will vary but will all be realistic (no Nominalism) " Use the logic of evolution to explain things o Other theorists will explain the sources of order and change nominalisticly " Developmental theorists " The notion of development is simultaneously descriptive and prescriptive " Developmentalists would say sociology deals with facts and values, Nominalism, actors and atomism o Evolutionary theorists are involved in describing how change o ccurs, and Developmentalists are involved in describing how change occurs in a way that it ought to • what is the difference between a conservative theorist and a radical theorist? o Conservative theorists believe in the preservation of what is, and are interested to some extent in manipulating things in the social system if you reason that the manipulation will contribute to conserving the way things are! conserving social stability " Sees the system, wants and believes that it ought to be conserved " A conservative is a descriptive and prescriptive realist o A radical is a theorist who thinks that the present system is no good and he believes therefore that the system ought to be changed so it will be better, and by better he means it will foster the development potential of the human being " Always in all four cells " Must think realistically and nominalisticly, descriptively and prescriptively Theory! Hypothesis! Observations! Empirical Generalization • Can start anywhere on the circle, but once started you must move clockwise • Hypothesis: predictions of a relationship among two or more variables • Empirical generalization: demonstrated reliable hypothesis; hypothesis that has produced observational “facts” • Theory: a logically organized set of empirical generalizations f or purpose of which is to explain what has been observed and on the basis of that explanation, predict future occurrences Operationalization • The act of placing terms of a hypothesis into measurable form • Intersubjective reliability • When we operationalize, we are actively involved in constructing the realities we will discover • We have to operationalize to make sense of others, and ourselves but when we do that we are celebrating what we have discovered th France & the Mid 18 Century! Enlightenment! Consul Reaction! Comte th Mid 18 Century France • Feudalism: triangle is not made up of classes, it is made up of casts (born into positions) • The triangle o At the top: king, queen and five kids " King has both power and authority o Next: the clergy (100,000) " In control of 100% of the sacred elements of France’s culture and about 80% of the secular elements of French culture o Next: nobility (400,000) " Obey the king, secular equivalent as the clergy without the same powers o Next: third estate (1000,000) " Also called the bourgeo isie (merchants) o Last: peasants (21.5 million) " Lord has obligation to protect you, in exchange for protection you do what he says • Bourgeoisie do not like feudal France because the taxation system, agricultural system, etc are not a set of conditions that a llow the third estate to become profitable and wealthy o They need workers o In feudalism, peasants are not workers • France then enters a period of total revolutionary chaos o Peasants begin running around, creating chaos, killing nobles, etc o Third estate gets mad because workers stop working o Third estate then welcomes napoleon who creates a battle strategy to wipe out the peasants and stop the peasants The Enlightenment • Theme 1: rationality, reason and their potential development, are universal to the species o Every human being has the potential to be fully rational and reasonable o Rationality is simply the ability to determine means to achieve an end o Reason is rationality + an explicit decision about whether or not you ought to pursue the goal you are pursuing o idea of rationality and reason signifies a potential for human beings to be adequately rational and adequately moral o morality can be universally valid ! all human beings would have to agree with each other about all things o everything you do should be accompa nied by a moral evaluation • Theme 2: theme 1 is true for all persons, the reason it does not exist is because of cultural and political forces that interfere with it o it is in our nature to become perfectly rational and perfectly reasonable, the reason we don’t is because of cultural forces • Theme 3: social institutions are created for persons, not vice versa • Theme 4: the development of progress is the universal law of human civilization o Anything that counts as progress must count as progress because it serves the development of human rationality and reason • Theme 5: a relentless questioning of tradition o We need to constantly question tradition, specifically the church o Deism: new kind of Christianity based on getting rid of certain things in the catholic tradition • Theme 6: clearly a tendency towards Nominalism o Focusing on the individual • Theme 7: embracing the scientific method as the proper way to gain knowledge o Scientific method is best way to rationalize the world o Most academics think that this is what the enlightenment was about ! celebration of science Montesquieu • Cared about the peasants • Cared about developing a rational way to understand developing societies • Wants to find universally present characteristics of human civilization • Persian letters! important points o When we look at Ousbeck we begin to see critical self reflection about ones role, social responsibilities, etc " Atomism: ability to psychologically distance yourself from your social environment to assess the environment o Universals " In spite of all our differences we have a great number of similarities o Intra-cultural relativity " Differences that we see between the letters of Ousbeck and Rico " They come from different social strata in Turkey, they write differently, want to talk about different things, etc " Idea of sociology of knowledge o Inter-cultural relativity " People from different cultures think differently about different things • Important ideas from Montesquieu o When you shock somebody out of what they are used to the theme is reflexivity " What we are may be one of several ways to be o The idea that what people do influences how and what they think " Intra-cultural relativity! people within the same society think differently " Inter-cultural relativity! people in different societies think differently • The spirit of laws (second book) o What does he mean by spirit? " The nature and the principle of government " Nature: the way in which power is distributed in society • Power is the ability to influence the actions of others regardless of if they want to • Authority is legitimized power " Principle: the sentiment (emotive disposition) that must motivate people in order for the government to function • He says that if contracts work it is because there is a sub contractual basis for them working! willingness • The social world is full of rules and norms, but it is also conditioning us with various kinds of sub-contracts to get us to obey those rules and norms • Major reason for the variation is a category of non -social factors! geography • Argues that when power is equally distributed, power and authority become the same thing • When everybody has it, you cannot tell the difference between power and authority! becomes influence • Power always exists o If you are interested in freedom, you do not need to get rid of power, you need to equalize it o The equal distribution of power contains the ability to critique and argue about everything • The only way democracy works is if the people involved in it engage in mutual respect Type Principle Nature Non-Social Factors democracy Mutual respect All persons have equal Small area! low pop power/authority density, agricultural monarchy Honour (unilateral King: power still largely Moderate area! respect) focused on one person. moderate pop But, it is being transformeddensity, agricultural into authority despotism fear One person in power Large area! low pop density, hunting society • Montesquieu says that the non -social factors determine the nature and principles • Refers to these non -social factors as causal law • Causal law causes laws as commands (culture) • Because of this it appears that Montesquieu is a realist (environment is determining the way people think) • He begins to think that ancient Greece is not a democracy because they had slaves o Flaw with theory or Greeks? H e says Greeks (they ought not to have had slaves) • Third category of law: universalistic -laws-as-commands o There exists universally valid moral points of view that all persons would agree with if they just thought about it carefully o If the Greeks would have really thought about it, they wouldn’t have had slaves • The more adequately moral we become, the more relevant becomes a nominalistic perspective • All human beings have some moral awareness, fewer have more adequate moral awareness, and few have completely a dequate moral awareness • We are not born with rights o If you have a right it is only because someone else senses an obligation
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