CHAPTER 1 (Lecture 1,2,3: The sociological perspectives, lecture 4:Research)
The sociological imagination: quality of mind that enables one to see the
connection between personal troubles and social structures.
- You live in society but society lives in us too
Origin of he sociological imagination:
- Scientific revolution: using evidence to make a case for a particular point of view
- Democratic revolution: people are responsible for organizing society and that
human intervention can therefore solve social problems
- Industrial revolution: presented social thinkers with a host of pressing social
problems crying out for solution.
3 types of social structures
1. Microstructures: patterns of intimate social relations formed during face-to-
face interactions. Families, friendships, circles and work associations are all
examples of microstructures.
2. Macrostructures: patterns of social relations that lie outside your circle of
intimates and acquaintances.
3. Global studies: international organizations, patterns of world wide travel
and communication and economic relations among countries are all
examples of global studies. It is important because inexpensive travel and
communication allow all parts of the world to become interconnected
culturally, economically and politically.
The 4 main perspectives
Functionalism: Emile Durkheim
- Stress that human behavior is governed by stable patterns of social relations or
- The structures analyzed are typically Macrostructures
- Show how social structures maintain and undermine social stability
- They analyze how the parts of society fit together and how each part contributes to
the stability of the whole.
- Emphasizes that social structures are based mainly on shared values
- Suggest that re-establishing equilibrium can best solve most social problems
Conflict Theory: Karl Marx
- Generally focuses on large, macro level structures, such as class relations or
patterns of domination, submission and struggle between people or high and low
- Shoes how major patterns of inequality in society produce social stability in some
circumstances and social changes
- Stresses how members of privileged groups try to maintain their advantages while
subordinate groups struggle to acquire advantages. - Leads to the suggestion that lessening privilege will lower the level of conflict and
increase human welfare.
- Class Conflict: The struggle between classes to resist and overcome the opposition
of other classes.
- Class Consciousness: Awareness of belonging to the social class of which one is a
Symbolic Interactionism: Max Weber
- Focuses on interpersonal communication in micro level social settings.
- Emphasizes that social life is possible only because people attach meanings to
- Stresses that people help create their social circumstances and do not merely react
- Focus on subjective meanings people create in small social settings
- View that patriarchy is at least as important as class inequality in determining a
person’s opportunities in life.
- It holds that male domination and female subordination are determined not by
biological necessity but by structures of power and social convention
- Examines the operation or patriarchy in both micro and macro settings
- Existing patterns of gender inequality can and should be changed for the benefit of
all members of society.
Emile Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide:
French Sociologist (1858-1917)
o To explain social patterns in France, very important for the
discipline of sociology
o It challenged the common sense and understanding of suicide
o We ignore social relationships
It’s a social act, not just an individual one
E.X- Bullying, Living in Poverty, War, or Prison
Suicide Rates Higher Amongst:
Unmarried Men: Not apart of a social relationship
Christians: (Majority vs Non-Majority)
Seniors: Feeling Isolated Majority vs Non- Majority Sector groups:
- Majority did not have to integrate as much as non-majority or smaller
- Smaller groups were known to be closer together with social relationships
- believe Suicide is a selfish act- meaning Self Death
Two Social Forces Influencing Suicide Rates:
1. Social Integration: Connection between individuals and the group.
2. Social Control: Regulating norms, values, expectations, individual
Individualistic Types of Suicide:
1. Egoistic Suicide:
a. Weak social integration
b. “Excessive Individuation”
Example: Senior who recently lose their life partner
2. Anomic Suicide:
a. Weak social control governing behavior
Example: Person commits suicide after a stock market
Collective Types of Suicide:
1. Altruistic Suicide:
a. Strong social integration and strong social control
b. Dying for a service or a cause
c. Suicide bombers
d. Cult suicide
Example: People going to war to fight for their country
2. Fatalistic Suicide:
a. Excessive social control over norms and values
b. Society is way to aggressive
c. People may kill themselves to escape it
d. People feel that they have no freedom
Example: Prisoner serving a life sentence committing suicide
Social Control Anomic Fatalistic
Social Integration Egoistic Altruistic
-Type of Suicide- -Individual- -Collective- Research Methods
1. Formulate Question
2. Review Existing Literature
3. Select Method
4. Collect Data
5. Analyze Data
6. Report Results
- Respect their subject’s rights
- Do no harm (Safety)
- Subjects have the right to decide whether their behaviour can be published or not
- Informed consent
Dependent variable: The presumed effect in a cause-and-effect relationship
Independent variable: the presumed cause in a cause-and-effect relationship
* The dependent variable DEPENDS on the independent variable*
Stanley Milgram's experiment on Obedience to Authority (1961)
How willing are people to obey authority, even if the instruction goes against the
- Sample group randomly selected from the population
- Sample bias ≠ Random sample
-Teacher = subject
- Learner = actor
- Shocks increased by an increment of 15 volts per wrong answer
- Labels: slight shock, moderate shock, strong shock, very strong shock, intense
shock, extreme intense shock, danger: severe shock, and XXX (450 volts)
Example lesson in Milgram experiment
- Word pair: Bird-Dog (recall last word)
- List: Bird-Cat-Mouse-Dog-Giraffe
- Incorrect answer: electric shock by increase of 15-volt shock
- Shock was attached to recorded sounds like grunts, complaints, screams)
- Not personally responsibility (not an agent) - Verbal Nudge " please continue…the experiment requires that you continue…it
is absolutely essential that you continue...you have no other choice, you must go on."
Variable in Milgram's experiment
Independent variable ----> presumed cause
Dependent variable ----> presumed effect
- Hypothesis: Subjects refuse to administer serious shocks
- Data collection: from 40 subjects
- 26 of 40 subjects (65%) administered the highest shock (450 volts)
- Clearly exhibited discomfort with the experiment
Teacher were more submissive when:
a) Authority was in close proximity
b) Teachers believed they could pass on responsibility to the authority figure
c) The experiment appeared to occur in legitimate organization
Analyzing Data (conclusion)
"The environment can legitimize and encourage behaviour in normal individuals
that we would otherwise expect only from clear abnormal" (Milgram)
Ethical issues with Milgram Experiments
- Researchers must be mindful of the need to respect their subject's rights
throughout the research cycle.
- Right to safety
- Right to Privacy
- Right to confidentiality
- Right to informed consent CHAPTER 2: CULTURE (Lecture 5: Cultural Sociology ,Lecture 6 missing)
Sociological Definition of Culture vs. Common sense notions of Culture
- Symbolic and learned aspects of human society
- Traditions, practices, languages, symbols, beliefs, values…..
- Create a sense of similarity amongst a group of people
High Culture: …associated with the upper class
- Judged in relation to the majority culture (popular culture)
- One has culture (a possession)
- Social distinct
Ethnic Culture: …associated with a cultural minority group
- Judged in relation to,and often from the perspective of the majority of the ethnic
- Ethnocentrism: judging based on ethnicity
- One is cultural (a description)
3 Biases in Commonsense Culture
1. Culture is an exclusive sphere
2. Culture is relational
3. Culture demarcates social differences (different from the main stream)
Analyzing Class Culture
Symbols: anything that represents something else, such as group rituals, a material
object, or an immaterial dream. For sociologist, symbols convey social meaning.
Norms: cultural expectations that differentiate between appropriate
and inappropriate behaviours, i.e. the right from wrong.
William Graham Sumner
Types of Norms
Folkways: group habits or customs that are commonly accepted ways of doing
things. If violated they evoke the least severe punishment.
Mores: rules governing manners of behaving that group members believe are
essential for maintaining group standard of decency. (Right vs. wrong)
Taboos: prohibitions placed on cultural objects, people, and actions - marking them
as sacred, untouchable, and unmentionable. CHAPTER 3: SOCIALIZATION (Lecture 7: Socialization)
Socialization: the process by which people learn their culture. They do so by
entering into and disengaging from a succession of roles and becoming aware of
themselves as they interact with others.
Roles: A set of expected behaviours or the behaviour expected of a person
occupying a particular position in society.
The Crystallization of self-identity
- The formation of self continues in adolescence
- Turbulent period of rapid self-development
- Crystallization I just one episode of a life long process
Self: a set of ideas and attitudes about whom they are as independent beings.
- Proposed the first social-scientific interpretation of the process by which the self
1. Infants demand instant gratification
2. Child eventually develops a sense of what is appropriate behaviour, what is right
3. Soon a personal conscious develops and cultural standards.
4. A psychological mechanism develops that balances the pleasure seeking and
restraining components of the self
- Argued that only social interaction can allow the self to emerge
- Charles Horton Cooley introduced the:
Looking glass self: the way our feelings about who we are depend largely on how
we see ourselves evaluated by other.
- When we interact with others they gesture and react
- We imagine how we appear to them
- We judge how others evaluate us
- From those judgements we develop a self-concept
- George Herbert Mead took and developed Cooley’s idea.
I: the subjective and impulsive aspect of the self that is present from birth
Me: the Objective component of the self that emerges as people communicate
symbolically and learn to take the role of the other. Mead’s 4 stages of development
1) Children learn to use language and other symbols by imitating important
people in their lives (ex. Mother and father), these people are called
2) Children pretend to be other people, role-playing. (Ex. Playing house)
3) Around the age of 7, they learn to play complex games that require them to
simultaneously take the roles of several people. (Ex. Sports)
4) The generalized other: a person’s image of cultural standards and how they
apply to him or her.
Agents of socialization
- Socialization helps to maintain orderly relations
- Play down the freedom of choice individuals enjoy in the socialization process
Conflict and Feminist
- The discord based on class, gender, and other divisions that inherent in
socialization and that sometimes causes social change
- Creativity of individuals in attaching meanings to their social surroundings
- Ways in which we often step outside of, and modify, the values and roles that
authorities try to teach us
- Most important agent of primary socialization: the process of acquiring the basic
skills needed to function in society during childhood.
- Small group
- Face-to-Face contact
- Care for the children
- Families aren’t as important as they used to be and sometimes function poorly
Schools: Function and Conflicts
- Secondary socialization: socialization outside the family after childhood
- One of school’s latent functions is to teach:
“The hidden curriculum” : teaches students what will be expected of them as
conventionally good citizens once they leave school . Peer Groups
- Peer groups: a person’s peer group compromises people who are about the same
age and of similar status as that person.
- Status: A recognized social position that an individual can occupy.
- Help children and adolescents to separate from their families and to develop
independent sources of identity
- Through adolescence the peer group is often the dominant socialization agent
Mass Media st
- Became an increasingly important socialization agent in the 21 century
- Television, movies, radio, Internet…
Self Socialization: Choosing socialization influences from the wide variety of
mass media offerings
- The set of behaviours associated with widely shared expectations about how males
or females are to suppose to act.
Re-socialization: What occurs when powerful socializing agents deliberately cause
rapid change in a person’s values, roles and self-conception, sometimes against that
Initiation Rite: A ritual that signifies the transition of the individual from one group
to another and helps insure his or her loyalty to the new group.
Total institution: Settings in which people are isolated from the larger society and
under the strict control and constant supervision of specialized staff. Ex: prison CHAPTER 4: FROM SOCIAL INTERACTION TO SOCIAL ORGANIZATION (Lecture
8: Social Interaction, Networks and Organizations)
Social interactions: direct or indirect communication between two or more people
(verbal and non verbal)
Three building blocks structuring
1. Social Status: Claim to social
privileges (access or exclusion)
based on social prestige and
2. Role: Social expectations
attached to different social
positions (largely behavioural)
3. Norm: Cultural expectations
that differentiate between
appropriate and inappropriate
behaviours. I.e. the right from wrong.
Feelings Rules: “Rules about what feeling is or not appropriate to a given social
setting” (Arlie Hochschild – prof @ university of California)
Emotion Management: Controlling one’s emotions and following “feeling rules” in
the private sphere (outside of the workspace)
Surface acting: Affected displays of feelings that are inauthentic (outside -> inside)
Deep acting: “Display is a natural result of working on feeling, the actor does not try
to seem happy or sad but rather expresses spontaneously…a real feeling that has
been self-induced” (Hochschild) (inside-> outside)
Emotional Labour: controlling one’s emotions and following “feelings rules” for the
sake of getting paid.
a) Managing other people’s emotions
b) Managing one’s own emotions
Gendered division of labour: - Rational jobs: Masculine (“impartial judges”)
- Emotional jobs: Feminine (“care givers”) and Pink Collar
Emotional labour findings:
- Causes emotional exhaustion and burnout
- Undervalued and unrecognized
Goffman’s Dramaturgical analysis
- Views social interaction as sort of a play in which people present themselves so
that they appear in the best possible light.
- We can distinguish between “front stage” and “back stage”, our role and our true
self but even then we engage in role-playing but we are less likely to be aware of it.
- Role distancing: involves giving the impression that we are just going through the
motions and we lack serious commitment to a rule. CHAPTER 5: DEVIANCE AND CRIME (Lecture 9 and 10: Deviance and Crime)
Deviance: occurs when someone departs from a norm and evokes a negative
reaction from others.
Common-sense definition: personal attribute
Sociological definition: not a personality type, but a product of social
a) Pattern of violating norms
b) Social stigma
Crime: offence that breaks the law, has legitimate punishments and requires
Law: A norm stipulated and enforced by government
Stigmatization: process of negatively evaluating people because of a market that
distinguishes them from others.
Sanctions: positive or negative means to ensure conformity to socially approved
standards (often in terms of behaviours) Formal & Informal.
White-Collar crime: illegal acts committed by respectable, high status people in the
course of work.
Labeling theory: Deviance is not a personal quality, but the consequence of labeling
someone as deviant (Howard S. Becker).
Primary deviance: the first step, which could be an intentional or
unintentional. Deviant is not labeled as a deviant and she/he does not think
of her/himself as deviant.
Secondary deviance: the second step where the label “deviance” is
accepted. The person is labeled as a “deviant” and they personally identify
with this label
Anomie: weak social values governing behaviour (normlessness) Strain theory:
- The incongruity between culturally valued material ends and the available means
to achieve them creates incentives for engaging in deviant behaviour.
- What results when a culture teaches people the value of material success and
society fails to provide enough legitimate opportunities for everyone to succeed
- Most will adhere to social norms
- Those who do not, become criminals to attain their goals
BBC Prison experiment (2002)
Original research problem: effect of imposing inequality on people
New research problem: conditions leading to tyranny
- Absence of enforced rules and authority -> tyranny
New research questions: how can you prevent the vacuum of power that feeds
Control Theory: Holds that the rewards of deviance and crime are ample, therefore
everyone would engage in these activities if they could get away with it. CHAPTER 6: SOCIAL STRATIFICATION AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES (Lecture
11 and 12: Social Stratification)
Social Stratification: The way society is organized in layers.
Human Capital: The abilities, skills, knowledge, and experience that an individual
or a group of individuals possesses. Human capital must be nurtured through