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Western University
Sociology 2240E

2240ESeptember 1825 2013Lecture 12Social TheoryOverview of this SemesterTheory MethodthEnlightenment the philosophical movement of the 18thearly 19 cIt was a radical philosophy born out of and the cause of the construction of the order in Europe it helped to destroy the current social order Romantic Conservative Reaction the backlash to the changes of the Enlightenment Comte The Problem with Social Theory we dont know how to define what it is that influences us and yet there may be very good reason to try and define itthere is no fundamental answer to anything Three big issues of Social Theory1Epistemology is the study of how we know things how we think about things the logical of how we think the form of how we think The two epistemologies that influence sociology are Nominalism A way of thinking that is sensitive to unique biographies Its uncertain that nominalism can be characterized as a science VS Realism A way of thinking that is sensitive to the generalaverage It is compatible with science2Subjectivity VS Objectivity BIAS VS FACTS We tend to assume facts are truth and it must elicit universal agreement or else we do not know if it is true for sure Democracy underlies what is a fact facts do not speak for themselves In the Social world truth may not be independent of those in power it is not clear that we are dealing with simple facts truth may not be something we discover but something that we construct As sociologist we need to take into account both subjectivity and objectivity Democracy mutual respect for one another as speakers may determine what is fact3Radical VS Conservative Value Bias Conservativethey have values that they attached to their theorizing Radical someone who opposed the statusquota they oppose what is they claim to understand and adhere to certain values who they use to justify the claim that we out to change the world A radical is someone who is using values to justify propositions Sociology and social theory is loaded in terms of biasedLevines Template a set of general question every social theorists must deal with and keep in mind always 1What is society the socialOrganicism Organicistis a logic for understanding the social Society is a centripetal system it is a thing that hangs together they are drawn into the system it consists of institutions that form what could be called solidarity or an identity It is brought together by energy that produces interdependence Everything is connected it is natural they are using a biological metaphor to describe the social They call the social Supper Organic its life blood is culture consisting of norms values beliefs ect The organicist assumes we are irrelevant because we are all playing roles The social world is a system of interconnected parts but when you add culture symbols meanings values are shared by all institutionsinstitutions populated with players of roles We are all viewed in the roles we play student husbad daughter ect voices are silencedsociety is not independent of the fact that we have partial constructed it in our mindsAtomism atomist their view is almost identical to the organcism view They will agree that most of the time the social world appears to be something that can be understood with an organic analogy but they believe once in a while people are capable of psychologically removing themselves from the social world in order to critically analyze and evaluate it They do this with a cognitive process called reflexivity They believe every once and a while people are stimulated to step outside their environment They realize it does work as a organic system but it ought not to We can be moral beings in the arena of the roles we play Sometimes in history individuals of groups can step outside the system to criticized it this process is called reflexivity What Social conditions stimulate reflexivityreflexivity produces moral choicesChoice mortality a choice to make a commitment to something whether is be school a job ect this commitment is morally charged and you have a voice therefore you are acting atomically 2What is human natureWe must demonstrate instincts and in order to demonstrate instincts they must be universal and not malleable Although instincts like to eatthere is bulimia ectit is a cultural manipulation of this instinct to eat therefore its not a universal instinct There are no known instincts Levine saysSome sociologist say its by nature others say its by nurtureNature some theorist speak as though we have a human nature instinctively driven to be certain things greedy ect therefore some theorists said yes we are something by nature and dive into genetic possibilitiesNurture HOWEVER a more reasonable idea is to say that some theorist do agree that we are selfish nice stupid smart ect we are all these things but they argue it is silly to say we are these thing sby nature the instead study when we are these things in a competitive environment you will be competitive ect 3What is the relationship among persons social structure and culturesome theorists see us as reactors they see you from a sociological point of view as an organism that has been defined molded and controlled by culture and social structure this is NOT nurture logic they see you as an object in control socialization is seen only in the service of giving you information to control you other theorist see you once in a while as actors autonomy culture doesnt give you a package off ALL choices only some 4What analytical epistemologies are usedepistemology the study of how we think theorists either think as realists or nominalists Realists they explain social events and processes with reference to natural causes NOT with reference to human intention Natural causes exists independent of humansNominalist they explain social processes and events sometimes with reference to the intentions of acting human beings ether conceived singularly or as collectives The entertain the possibility that people can be the cause of thingsif you are a realist and a organist you know the population will conform and for example pee
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