• What is social theory about?
- Studies society and that society is about ourselves and that we carry roles. There are a
million things that we can study.
- If we study something, where is it? We can’t go out and find society out there.
◦ What we find out there isn’t independent of us, it’s been partially constructed in how
and what we look for. Society is not a fact to be discovered, it’s actively constructed in
the act of discovering them. Which appears to make our activity different as a social
theorist than an act of a natural scientist.
◦ We construct these realities in order to study them, and they aren’t independent of us
like how sugar is independent of a chemist.
◦ We have a sense that there’s a reality outside of us, but when we really try to confront
of proving it we get stuck because we’re actively involved in the construction of things.
As we come to a universal agreement between us, reality and truth starts to emerge
because we can’t imagine anybody disagreeing with the truth of reality.
-Hitting a table is that it’s a reality that we all agree on since we can’t imagine
anybody disagreeing on it
◦We are actively involved in constructing our reality about the social and that it’s not
independent of our construction on them
◦ Very little of us that’s independent of the social and that we somehow have to be in
charge of our stimuli and that we’ll never be immune of them and that we have to
understand what’s the outside of you. Your biographies are not independent of history,
and by history it’s just like 30 seconds ago.
• Karl Marx thinks it’s immoral for protecting our private self
๏ Levine’s Template
Romantic Conservative Reaction
• 3 major conceptual issues:
1.Epistemology - The study of how we know.
◦ 2 major logics: nominalism (has something to do with individuals, not literally but sort
of like thinking micro) vs Realism (macro)
2.Objectively vs Subjectively
◦ Facts? Values? Bias? We cannot take for granted that there’s such a thing as facts, or
that the values are independent of scientific inquiry. Social fact to exist there must be
universal agreement that it does.
◦ It could be because we’re constantly with the problem of bias, since our point of view
will always be impartial.
◦ It could be instead of objectivity we have intersubjective agreement, which is a fact
since we agree with all the details about it and maybe that’s what truth is and that’s
what gives us facts ◦ Facts and truth are processes and that they become them because they depend on the
person and the dialogue and that certain facts seem to go for hundreds of years. Truth
is a process of becoming and facts are capable of liberated about and therefore
democracy has to be the best thing we can do to guarantee what we will call
◦ The values are mutual respect as dialogue
3.Radical vs Conservative
◦ Radical is someone who stands opposed to the status quo, who acts against the
existing power structure or the existing cultural meaning system, acts against
something, steps outside and acts against what is. They have to back themselves up with
moral justification which is theory and that it’s like what ought it to be and convince us
that something is justified
◦ Conservative is someone with access to good moral reasons also, but they’re someone
who says that things may get better; perhaps they ought to get better but they will do so
eventually and what we have now is as good as what we’re going to have. Supports the
• 6 questions:
1.What is society (the “social”)?
- Organicism (centripetal analogy)
◦ Think that society is a system and the parts within it are drawn to one another and
where everything is attached. Society is a super organic phenomenon. The system is
much more than the sum of the parts, instead it’s parts and all the connections among
them, all the interdependencies which form solidarity and coherence. Solidarity is
composed of structure and function.
◦ Culture and values; values transform your passivity into action . Simply carriers of
roles. Organicist is interested in the role you play.And that things are working
naturally because we have no individuality. No voice as a person and that it’s natural.
◦ Aperson who says the following that the social world is exactly what the organicist
says it is, with one exception that once in a while (periods of hundreds of years) the
individual is capable of psychologically removing themselves from the system in
order to make choices (reflexivity ---> choice). If you decide to get out of it, you
need to make a choice to get back in it and that choice means you’re committing
yourself to something, and also the choice you make will be morally charged. Which
means that you made a decision of some dimension of right or wrong, good or bad,
appropriate and inappropriate. This becomes a social variable.
◦ Social conditions that stimulate this mood out, the atomist will study moments of
severe inflation, alienation, exploitation and imperialism. When you step out you
have to make a choice to go back in like by looking at the mirror. There’s something
about us that isn’t determined by the social, if it determined everything then this
would never happen. Our ability to think about it (cognition) on what conditions us,
which can’t be determined by outside influence. Interested in the reasons why it’s happening. Interpenetrating that culture values permeate the whole system.
Independent are alone and dependent.
2.What is human nature?
- Do human beings have a nature, are we something that is socially relevant by nature;
do we have instincts? No instincts that are significantly individuals since it’s not
universal. We have the capacity to think and learn, and that those things by nature
factor into what the atomist thinks but their relevance to social is that they don’t
matter. Do we have any instincts and that the instincts aren’t malleable.
- Nurture; everything in our culture has been taught by our history with the exception
that our blank slates are our ability to think which is cognition. Culture can silence,
emasculate cognition. The system isn’t as integrated as it appears to be.Atomist is a
nurture entity and organists think that by nature we have a capacity to play roles
September 26, 2013
3. What is the relationship among persons, social structure and culture? (How are we
going to understand that relationship)
- Some theorists understand this relationship in a manner where we can say they see us
as reactors, they see us as formed, determined and primarily controlled by our
structural and cultural environment.
- As a sociologist they’re not looking for evidence of creativity, or atomity, they’re
just looking you as a product of the force of social environment that’s around you.
- Sociologists will see you as a reactor. If it was an organist, and because you’re afraid
of nature going to get out of the bag and seeing you as a reactor will be seen you as a
role player since our nature can destroy society and organists will see you
completely controlled by the social. If they are seen as being controlled by the social
they’re saying that socialization is important but it’s not the same way as nurture,
since for reactor the main thing is control and that we’re controlled.
- If a nurture is not only controlling you, it’s about enabling your creativity for
socialization. Nurture is an actor where somebody can initiate independent feedback
to the system. They’re not saying that we’re actors all the time, it’s just under
reflexivity where we sometimes can act.
4. What analytical epistemologies are used?
- Definition: Realism and normalize are really likely related but not really. Realism is
a way of explaining social events and social processes with reference to natural
forces, causes without reference to human intentionality.As a realist they’ll explain
things as if it’s done in a natural processes not biologically, but like an organicist
where things are happening out there independently as intended.
◦ ex) Know that some of us will go to the washroom and use a washroom since it’s
realism. Will treat you all the same and look for averages.
- Definition: Nominalist explains social processes with reference to human intentions,
not all the time but sometimes.
◦ Ex) Will ask why we’re using the washrooms and about the intention and the
reason for doing it. They want to know why and like our intentions about our
actions. Nominalists will open up and look at the inquiry for specific intentions. - For prescriptive as a realist they will either criticize the social and/or saying that it’s
◦ ex) Durkheim is going to analyze realistically and say that you’re interested in
social solidarity and that the lack of it isn’t good and that social solidarity is good.
It’s either good or bad, desirable or undesirable.
- If it’s a nominalist, they’re going to do the same thing prescriptively as a realism.
And say that perhaps society is bad and that it ought to be better, but they’ll give a
reason for the judgement and their reason would be so that human beings will
develop properly. Nominalists is like a humanist which where they try to maximize
their potential as being human beings.
◦ ex) Durkheim will come in and see this classroom and say that the classroom is
disorganized and no good and that it ought to be organized better. Rosseau will say
that it doesn’t look good and it ought to be organized to maximize the individuals
5. How do social theorists explain social order and social changes?
- Evolutionists theorists involves evolving with gradual change, adaptation and
increasing complexity of the organism. Since you can’t adapt without internally
differentiating, every time we adapt to the environment our internal becomes more
complex. When you attach prescriptively to evolution it becomes problematic, unless
it ought to survive then we could say that adaptation could be good.
- Social change; development involves evolution. Development means something
different from evolution and understand it as a change toward an end point. If
something develops, it moves toward a goal. Theoretically the goal can be achieved
and that human beings can get there and to encourage thinking. Development is
prescriptive and it’s goal oriented (teleological); can or ought.
6. Does sociology deal with facts and/or values?
- Facts;Afact is the state or quality of a thing, and that it can’t withstand
disagreement. Truth depends ultimately on consensus. Symbolic conversation about
what a fact is has to be undertaken. Facts aren’t aware of our mutual agreement on
how we come to an agreement. Facts and truths are ongoing processes.
- The validity of FACTS, is science, and that truth depends upon the moral foundation
of democratic which is DIALOGUE!
- Anything that constitutes a fact therefore is dependent on a democratic process and
that the truth is moral. We go through life not realizing that it’s dependent on
democratic mutual process. We already know that facts are most dependent on the
most general sense and that’s democracy which is the value.
- Value; Estimation of the worth, importance of something.And that the notion of fact
logically requires that we embrace the value of democratic dialogue. We now already
know that the values influence our views.
- 4 ways in which values influence social importance:
◦ Values influence what we choose to study; How we use resources including what
we ought to study in sociology and that we study things that are important ◦ They influence our definitions of facts; It’s based on bias since it’s our way of
looking at things
◦ Values therefore influence how we explain what happens in social events
◦ Facts will influence how the information I discover is used
★ ex) Sociologist was given 2 million dollars to investigate the plight of unwed
teenage mothers, to see how they were struggling to cope with an unwanted
pregnancy. He didn’t investigate other parts because his value was of
Values can close off our conception and perception of things.
- Objectivity? We seek intersubjective agreement about what the truth is. What
determines agreement isn’t the lack of power or the equal distribution of power
between you and me. Power still exists but it gets transformed and resides in the
power of the reason given, the power of the rational argument and the argument that
you can’t find a way to disagree with.
• Conservative (status quo is good, keep things the way they are because it’s the closest thing to
come with social solidarity) and radical (opposing the status quo so that human beings can
develop properly) October 3, 2013
Theory and Methodology
- What makes sociology different from other disciplines?
Common Sense Religious Thoughts Philosophy History
non-rigorous; no God is for religious Analytical -> truth. Idiographic; a
logic, only labels. thinking and is the Think that truth can concern with the
We use it all the first and final cause be defined with the specific
time to navigate Statement that faith integrity of thinking
our social worlds is not logic, and that and argument
you can’t explain
things for first and
Interested in the
functions of things,
not the absolute
identity of it since
we can’t ultimately
know what it is
Rigorous; Rigorous analysis of Analytical --> Nomothetic's;Interes
knowledge has to function synthetic. Sociologist ted in the general
make sense and wants to put together
approximate the the idea with a test of
truth since we test it in reality
• What method would they use and what’s the conceptual foundation of that method.
- Hypotheses:Aprediction or a connection of a relationship among two or more variables.
◦ The things we’re predicting in social science always have variable values.
ex) The more education one has the greater the likely hood that their income
◦ Which means they’re hypothesizing a direct relationship between the two variables. If
one goes up and one goes down it’s an inverse relationship.
- Observation: Taking a look
- Law:Aconsistently verified reliable hypothesis.Alaw confirms after many observations
that the prediction of the hypothesis will always occurs.
◦ ex) Education goes up and income goes up, that would be a law since it’s always going
- The idea of law is always problematic, it’s problematic logically and empirically. We
never have completed all possible observations and that’s why we shouldn’t use the word
law because we haven’t investigate any instances of it. Can’t divorce opinion or
agreement of the importance of agreement from the facticity of the observation we’re making. If a law existed it could not be disagreed to by anyone and that’s why we can’t
have much confidence in this idea because we can’t be sure that disagreement wouldn’t
- Facts are not independent of the necessity for us to agree that they are facts. We can never
ever know reality for what it actually is, since we can never separate our own conceptions
- Theory: Logically organized system of relationships among variables.
- It does 2 things;
◦ Explains what has been observed.
◦ The need to predict/test something else like another variable, and that one never
finishes another investigative activity without an explanation
- Science isn’t a thing, it’s a process since it never ends and we can’t know anything for
• These four stations are linked together by 4 methods: induction, deduction
- Deduction: logically deriving a conclusion from a premise and when we do that, others
can scrutinize our logic. If we logically deduce something from something else, you can
explain for what you have done and you can evaluate it.
- Induction: Looking at a bunch of stuff and inferring the explanation of what the case is.
Agreat deal depends upon intuition.
- Measurement: Counting, calculations
- Operationalization: What do I have to do to test a hypothesis as education goes up,
income goes up. You have to design a criteria to measure those two variables.An act of
placing the terms of a hypothesis into measurable form.We are actively involved in
constructing the realities that we discover.
• Locate it’s origins in the social realities that produced it
• Most social theorists agree that they begin in France 1750
- Feudalism is a highly stratified social system and the positions in it are not achieved, no
such thing as mobility in feudalism. If we were living in a feudal reality now, we’d be
going to school just for school not for getting ahead.All the positions in the feudal
society are ascribed, not achieved.
- The clergy who articulated god and constantly reminded us that King Louie was there.
- Nobility: owe their kings the monarchy. You become a noble by being born a noble.
- Merchants (bourgeoise): They are not deriving their sustenance directly from the land,
they derive their living from trade, early commerce and use money to live. They’re the
early capital class.
• Free men: The only way they could make a living is to produce like ships, wheels, sell/trade
and the only way they could get ahead was with production.
- First they need a means of production. The bourgeoise needs workers and they get it
through peasants. Peasants clean out the noble houses and clean the land for the nobles.
These people do not because of culture, god are incapable cognitively of understanding themselves in a contemporary sense of workers or laborers for a wage, that is not part of
their social definition of self
- Apeasant is a person because they’re taking on a role of a peasant and they have liberty,
rights and property. Beneath everything, deep down they’re still a person
• 1789 is the French revolution happens and bourgeoisie are happy but everything got out of
hand. Bourgeoise’s are sad since they need a stable market
• Enlightenment is important because of the reason; human beings have reasons; Rationality and
reason. Moral development that would preserve their rationality. There is universally adequate
morally solution to abortion, it might not be a solution that works immediately but it is
• People just aren’t reason they’re also emotional and that we have feelings or emotions and that
we can never fully control and limit our rationality and that we can’t be perfect and be the
evolving perfect person that the enlightenment said we could be and that we’re always
struggling by our desires
• The reaction to the enlightenment is where social theory begins. Social theory begins as a
conservative analytical movement October 10, 2013
• We wouldn’t know anything without the words to define them. This vocabulary wasn’t
accessible to us 250 years ago. We might’ve had the words but we didn’t associate them with
our autonomous self.
• The periphery; personal and ego identity makes us think we’re autonomous. The final periphery
layer is our social identity where we’re the student, girlfriend, parents, etc.
• Enlightenment: this is the philosophical movement that’s directly responsible for what we
• In three things:
1.About naturalism; the idea that these guys started to talk about that the natural world and
social world operates in terms of cause and effect. Science is implied by naturalism
2....By nature we are infinitely rational (rationality), is simply the logic of if x then y or if
like i’m thirsty and I’ll pick it up and open and drink, etc, which means they’re rational.
rationality tells us what is
3. Reason is moral (development) (being right/justified), like being morality and reason is
what should and ought to be the case. We’re not born with a sense of ought, we develop
it. The earliest ought sense is when our older siblings hit us for us to develop. Morality
also develops, like the sense to be able to make a judgement of what should be the case.
Either justifying a rule or just making a rule that’s more fair.
◦ We can be infinitely rational and develop defense of reason for how the world ought to
◦ We might need God for faith for existence and that they’re pushing religion to fate in a
private matter and restricting his or her impact on human life and that we’re becoming
the masters, and that it’s more revolutionary than anything that has happened to our
• Overview of three reasons: Cause and effect which we can discover because we’re being
rational, and that we’re also capable of developing adequate moral points of view. The idea for
reasons that human beings disagree with their choices agree to keep on arguing with each other
on the adequacy of their choices.
• Universally agreed upon is Principle of mutual respect as dialogue, the reason why he has to
respect us is because we think, speak and listen and that’s the essence of who we are that’s what
the principle protects.
• Its immoral to silence somebody, create a world where which people are preoccupied to feeding
themselves and not to allow them to think, slaver, subtle traditions (like walking down your
daughter down the aisle, is kinda like giving her away). The best we can possibly achieve is
imperfect human beings by maintaining social solidarity with that principle.
• Characteristics of the enlightenment:
1.Rationality and reason, and that development are universally true of all members of the
◦ ex) Dumb person; it’s not dumb by nature because of genetical biological stuff and that
they’re not dumb by nature it’s because of..
2.inappropriate customs, social structures, culture gets in the way of rational and reason 1.We have an obligation to constructively criticize any and all social realities that get in
the way of this potential in rationality and reason
2. Progress is the universal law of human civilization. Progress can only be adjective for
something and that it can only be progressive. If it gets in the way of something or
increases the probability of the development of rationality and reason.Anything that can
be conceived as neutral to the progression of rationality and reason is not regress, and
that anything that gets in the way and get in the way of tradition can’t be progress.
Anything that can be progress is something that supports the rationality and reason.
• Enlightenment theorist 1750, what’s the biggest thing you’re going to criticize.
- Religion was the biggest; Deism is an attempt to set up a religious orientation that
complemented instead of getting in the way of rationality and reason. Their job was to be
radically critical not about the whole project but only to the ones that appeal to our
childlike characteristics like magic. They’re not denying god, they think it’s a matter of
private fate. They don’t believe in Trinity, they don’t object to the symbolism of the father
and the sun, since the development of it gets int he way of human intelligence. Rite of
transubstantiation they don’t believe in the blood and piece of the god thing, like wine
and wafers. Deism not trying to get rid of god or catholic church they’re trying to get rid
of anything in it that gets in the way of that
• Montesquieu 1689 - 1755
- Self training philosopher with a good heart and is a french noble.
- Wants to develop a science of society, but has a problem which is that he needs an
- Most intellectuals at the time were heavily involved in the pre-enlightenment objects, but
he had to break down their egocentricity and the boundaries in their mental processes and
make them understand that a science of society was possible.
- To look beyond the superficial cultural variations and that underlying them is that there
are certain underlying forms of variations, like authority structures since you can have
patriarchal, matriarchal society societies, homosexual and heterosexual relationships; they
both are relationships. Underlying the variation are the forms. If we try to figure out how
our civilization gets set up in terms of our formal characteristics then we have the formal
possibility. Got to look below and see what’s common, what you do influences how you
- He does it by writing a book in 1721 called Persian letters.Claims to discover a whole
cash of letters written by Persian merchants who have traveled to Europe to trade and
take some european goods and take it back to Persia. The letters that he discovered are
letters from the merchants and letters from the servants, the book is about letting us know
what’s in the letters. European mind gets bombarded when they read the book, and that
arabs are rational, intelligent, care about their families and the europeans realized that
they’re almost the same and that the letters contain about the bashing of how europeans
◦ Authority structure is the similarity that he brings out.
◦ The merchant writes differently than the servant, has different values, and concerned
with different things and think differently than each other. ★ INTRA-cultural variation; inside the society you’re going to see differences. The
merchant is different than the servant, they think differently and are concerned with
INTER-cultural variations and that both inter and intra are the social genesis of
ideas. If people live in different places and do different things they’re going to think
about different things and think differently of each other.
◦ The sociology of knowledge which is the idea that different social realities produce
different ways of thinking. Different realities lead to different thought processes.
• The spirit of laws 1748; Thinking about two very formal and abstract ideas. He’s thinking about
the Nature of Government and the Principle of Government that’s what he means by laws.
- Nature of government; how power is distributed.All societies have power but we have to
figure out how it’s distributed.
- Principle of Government; has to do with the sentiment (emotion) that must motivate most
people in order for the nature of government to function.
- He’s saying we have power and general emotional dispositions and that somehow they
have to work together in order for us to see the thing called society. Fear and power go
hand in hand for either to exist or function. There’s power in society but it has to be
matched with the appropriate emotional disposition otherwise things don’t function.
- 3 major social types on nature and principal that forms the 3 social types.
Social types Principle of Nature of Non Social
Government Government Factors
Republic Mutual respect equal distribution of Small territory/
Democracy power population
monarchy honor/respect 1 King 1 person Medium territory/
clergy, lords, population
deposition fear Dictator, 1 person; Large territory/
absolute power population
◦ Non social factors; this represents population size and geographical size. You can have
small territory and population, medium territory and population, and large territory and
population. He calls these different sizes and call the categories of causal law. They’re
going to be the cause of variations in principle and nature of government. If we have
large territory and population (China, Iran), that in these kinds of societies only one
person has power and he reasons that if this one person can exercise his power than the
dominant sentiment has to be fear and calls it despotism.
◦ If you have medium than one person has power, but it’s not exactly power it’s authority
and that the power will be legitimized, which is what is meant by authority. The power
of the King isn’t absolute, it might appear that way because it’s inline with laws and traditions, that the lords, clergies agrees and that there are cheques and balances in a
monarchy. If you honor/respect somebody and calls the social type as monarchy.
◦ Small territory and population is that power is equally distributed. We have equal
power and we both want to live in the social. We need to have mutual respect. Mutual
respect has to be a principle of dialogue, since that’s the only way we can respect each
other. It’s simultaneously the rational thing to do and it’s also the moral thing to do.
- What is causal law causing? It’s causing both the nature and principal of government and
calls them Laws as Commands.
◦ Ancient Greece was the proof for small territory/population. But it’s not true because
they have slaves and it contradicts the ideas of mutual respect. The problem that
Montesquieu faces and he wants to know if his theory is wrong or did the Greeks
make a mistake by institutionalizing slavery. If his theory is just causes law and law as
commands is it realism or nominal. That it’s really a realist. The contradicting theory
was that the Greeks had slaves and that it was wrong since it’s not mutual.
- Non social variables have a tremendous impact on the way society is set up and that
causal law is laws as commands. Society is full of traditions, cultural values, norms,
beliefs, all of which socialize people.And these principles are a product of socialization
and if people fear it’s because of the conditions of power and that they were taught to be
afraid. Whats inside you is caused on what’s outside of you. Even though it’s inside you,
it’s not willed by you and that you’re not autonomic since we’re just conditioned and that
this table is just contradicting Montesquieu’s enlightenment theory.
- There’s another category of law that’s not in the chart: universalistic laws as commands,
this is where we see him as an enlightenment theorist. He’s referring to a universally
adequate moral point of view, that all persons would agree with if they just thought
carefully about it. What he’s saying that floating out there is it a universally substantially
convincing way of thinking about the moral issue that all of us would grasp if we just
thought about it. Whatever it is, it has to be consistent with mutual respect to the
principle.All of us understand if we just think clearly about it and how to approach to get
to this moral problem. If we just think about it, logically we’ll come to an agreement
eventually about what choice we make and by respecting each other’s speakers in a
democracy. If we just rationally think about it, we’ll come to a reasonably agreement and
be capable of participating in a true democracy.
- Law as commands and causal law for the level of our ability to make adequately
- Our autonomy isn’t dead but it’s always possible to break through, and that there’s always
autonomy that can burst out of it’s cage
- Degrees of freedom: we can be free to make good and bad choices, we’re not totally
controlled by causal law. He’s saying that there are realist forces determining us but also
nominalist as well. The idea is that social reality seems to have a tremendous impact on
how we think and what we think about, and that the way the world is organized seems to
determine in what we think about and how well we think about it. The nature of our
world and how the power is distributed in our world determines in how we think and
what we think about. • J.J. Rousseau: 1712 - 1778
- Tries to come up with a conception of human nature; like man in a state of nature. Wants
to re-engineer society and does realize like Montesquieu that society can limit our
development. We’re trying to manipulate the person, but how do you do it by nature if
there’s no such thing since all human beings are born into the social
- Man in a state of nature will