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Final notes.docx

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Carolyn Ensley

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CHAPTER ONE: THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE The sociological perspective focuses on the social contexts in which people live and how these contexts come to influence their lives. C. Wright Mills- Sociological imagination: *a sociological vision- a way of looking at the world that allows links between the apparently private individual problems and important social issues * Provides a different way of looking at familiar worlds -At the centre of this perspective is the question of how people are influenced by their society (group of people with whom they share a culture/territory with) How they are influenced is based on- -Social location (where people are located in a particular society; occupation, income, age, etc.) -External influences (people’s experiences become part of thinking/motivation) *Must be able to understand the link between “personal troubles” and “public issues” arising from changing view of social inequalities. Our social groups shape your ideas and desires -The way you look at the world is a result of exposure to specific social groups and ignorance of others. Levels of Analysis Macrosociology focuses on the broad features of society -Analyze such things as social class and patriarchy (in looking at homeless men, would stress their position at the bottom of the social class system) -Functional analysis, conflict theory, critical race theory Microsociology emphasizes social interaction (face-to-face interaction and discourse analysis) -In looking at homeless men would focus on rules for diving money/resources, their relationships, language, etc. -Symbolic interactionism, queer theory The Sciences The natural sciences are the intellectual and academic disciplines designed to comprehend, explain, and predict events in our natural environment. Divided into specialized fields according to subject matter. -Each area of investigation examines a particular “slice” of nature The social sciences examine human relationships. It attempts to understand the underlying relationships of the human/social world, which are not immediately obvious. -Unlike nature, humans create and re-create their second nature- the nature of their society -Divided into divisions of political science, economics, anthropology, psychology and sociology *Sociology is different from other social sciences because it does not focus on a single social institution (political science and econ) and it stresses factors external to the individual to determine influences on people (psychology is the opposite) The goals of science: Explain why something happens, make generalizations (go beyond the individual case), and make predictions by specifying future events -Sociologists try to move beyond common sense, or ideas that prevail in society as generally accepted. They want to understand social life by looking at what is really going on behind the scenes, despite some peoples’ discomfort with what is found. The Origins of Sociology Emerged middle of the 19 century with use of scientific method to test ideas. Three factors combined to lead to its development- The Industrial Revolution (the move from agriculture to factory raised many value questions and lead to a change that favoured reason over tradition), Imperialism (wanted to understand the new contrasting cultures of Asia and Africa as well as N.A.), and the success of the natural sciences (scientific method proved well, decided to apply to questions about social world). Key Figures in Developing Sociology: Auguste Comte (credited as founder) - positivism – based on experience alone; argued that human understanding of the world was initially religious, then moved to a stage of abstract principles and finally to positive (scientific) knowledge based on relations between observable phenomena. Interest in social order and change  apply positivism to real life Karl Marx- class conflict – engine of human history. The bourgeoisie (capitalists) are locked in with the proletariat (the exploited class) Emile Durkheim-social integration & suicide – made sociology a separate academic discipline; looked at how ind. behaviour is shaped by social forces (people who commit suicide have less social integration/fewer social anchors); showed how to make social research practical. *anomie and three types of suicide Max Weber- religion & capitalism – termed the Protestant Ethic (the push on its people to work hard, save money, and invest it) and the spirit of capitalism (the readiness to invest capital to make more money). Also pushed for “value free” sociology – meaning objectivity in research is an important goal Values in Social Research Sociologists should not distort data to make it fit preconceived ideas or personal values. -stress the need for replication -some sociologists believe the proper role of sociology is to advance understanding, while others believe there is a responsibility to explore harmful social arrangements in society Weber and Verstehen *Verstehen- to understand why people behave in certain ways we need to “grasp by insight” – pay attention to subjective meanings (the ways in which people interpret their own behaviour) Durkheim and Social Facts social facts- patterns of behaviour that characterize a social group, community, or nation (i.e. June- August most popular time of year for marriage in Canada, suicide higher among Native peoples) – patterns that hold true year after year Sexism in Early Sociology The womens’ four K’s: church, cooking, children, and clothes *Harriet Martineau- discovered Comte’s writings, advocated the abolishment of slavery, and wrote extensive analyses of social life Sociology in Canada is the story of the “Two Solitudes” Sociology in Quebec Hubert Guindon was the first social scientist to identify the Quiet Revolution as state modernization, that is, the expansion of the province’s health, education, and welfare bureaucracies. He was known for being able to effectively communicate with both sides on a very divisive debate. The bourgeoning public sector in the 1960’s meant good paying jobs for the well-educated, French speaking professionals; but language barriers prevented them from getting careers in the private sector There are some sociologists still committed to some form of political independence, however many today tackle more diverse issues Sociology in English-Speaking Canada Carl Dawson is credited with first introducing the discipline to an English speaking audience in Canada, and sociology began academically at McGill University under Dawson’s leadership in 1922 The Canadianization Movement- government increase in Canadian knowledge of society because of a lack of career opportunities for sociology PhD graduates -Present day English-speaking sociologists focus on Canadian corporate structure and role in globalization. The impact of feminist and postmodernist scholarship has led to their activist nature Sociology in the U.S. -in the beginning was central at University of Chicago, founded by Albion Small Jane Addams fought tirelessly for social justice, opened Hull-House in Chicago’s slums for people in need of refuge W.E.B. Du Bois writings (over 2000) preserve a picture of race relations during that period During the post-World War II period greater emphasis was given to earning academic respect for sociology, and the focus shifted from social reform to serving the interests of U.S. global capitalism Merton- Sociologists need to develop middle-range theories- explanations that tie together many research findings but avoid sweeping generalizations -his theories contend that U.S. society’s emphasis on attaining material wealth encourages crime Current American sociology not dominated by any theoretical orientation; some study various aspects of social life and others focus on social change to bring about a vision of a more just society *Theoretical Perspectives of Sociology Applied and Clinical Sociology Lazarsfeld and Reitz divided sociology into three phases: 1. Indistinguishable from social reform 2. Establish sociology as a respected field of knowledge 3. Merge sociological knowledge and practical work Known as applied sociology Basic sociology  knowledge Applied sociology  change CHAPTER TWO: WHAT DO SOCIOLOGISTS DO? Macro Level – broad matters (institutions, general relationships, etc.) Micro Level – individualistic matters Sociological research attempts to look beyond guesswork and common sense to find out what is really going on The Six Research Methods Surveys- must find a representative sample- best one is a random sample -ask questions neutrally, establish rapport (trust) Participant Observation (fieldwork)- researcher participates in their research setting, and then observes & records what happens -often provides significant theoretical insight Qualitative Interview (structured conversation)- interview schedule where researcher views themselves as a participant in a conversation -take into account a researcher’s personal characteristics, as these can affect results Secondary Analysis- researchers analyze data already collected by others. Can be an excellent source of information, but cannot be sure of how systematically the original data was gathered. -Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) provides low-cost access to Stats Canada data files and databases to Canadian university faculty, staff, and students Documents- examining diverse sources such as film, videos, photographs, books, newspapers, diaries, bank records, police reports, etc. -access of documents is a problem faced regularly by researchers Unobtrusive Measures- observing the behaviour of people who do not know they are being studied, an example would be installing infrared surveillance equipment into shopping carts to track what customer paths are like through their store Which Method to Use> First- what is the purpose of the research? Some methods are better than others Second- consider resources and sources of funding Third- consider access to subjects Fourth-what method does the researcher have experience/training using? The Hawthorne Effect = the change in behavior that occurs when people know they are being studied Sociologists who have been trained in quantitative research methods (emphasize measurement, numbers and stats) are likely to use structured questionnaires or surveys; while trained researchers in qualitative research methods (observing, describing, and interpreting people’s behaviour) will likely lean towards participant observation or qualitative interviews. The Research Model 1. Select a topic. 2. Define the problem. 3. Review literature. 4. Formulate a hypothesis. 5. Choose a research method. 6. Collect data. 7. Analyze the results. 8. Share results. Triangulation- a research strategy including the comparison if different data sources as well as the use of different data-gathering techniques and methods to study a single phenomenon -helps to counteract threats to validity Research and Theory are both essential for sociology, and as such stimulate each other. Each on their own is of little value CHAPTER THREE: CULTURE Culture is the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviours, and even material objects that are passed from one generation to the next Material culture is the physical aspects of a culture; its jewelry, art, buildings, clothing, etc. Nonmaterial culture is its ways of thinking - beliefs, values and other world assumptions, as well as common patterns of behaviour (i.e. language, gestures)  Also referred to as symbolic culture, because the symbols of a culture are one of the central components of its nonmaterial customs. -There is nothing “natural” or “right” about any material or nonmaterial culture, all are simply arbitrary traditions that the people of the culture have accustomed to. Culture… 1. Penetrates deep into our thinking and affects the way we see the world 2. Provides implicit instructions for various situations –a fundamental basis for decision making 3. Provides a “moral imperative”; people learn ideas of right and wrong Components of Symbolic Culture A symbol is anything people attach meaning to and then use to communicate; and includes gestures, language, values, norms, sanctions, folkways, and mores. Gestures - the use of one’s body to communicate a message without using words -meanings can change completely from culture to culture; therefore can facilitate communication but may also lead to misunderstandings, embarrassment or worse. -expressions of anger, pouting, fear and sadness are actually built into our biology and so are among the very few completely universal gestures Language – a system of symbols that can be organized in an infinite number of ways for the purpose of communicating abstract thought -Allows human experience to be cumulative – cultures can develop by freeing people to move beyond their own experiences -Allows people to arrive at a shared understanding in the present – extends our time horizons forward and lets us plan for the future by analyzing the past -Allows shared, goal-directed behaviour – enables people to establish a purpose for doing things together *Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis -suggests that our language determines our consciousness, and therefore our perceptions of objects/events -we learn not only words, but a certain way of thinking and perceiving -language also allows us to expand our connections beyond our immediate groups so our individual biological and social needs are met by greater networks of people Values, Sanctions and Norms Values- ideas of what is desirable in life Sanctions are positive or negative reactions to the ways people follow norms -positive sanctions refer to an expression of approval -negative sanction denotes disapproval for breaking a norm Folkways and Mores Norms that are not strictly enforced are called folkways. We expect people to follow them but don’t make a big deal if they don’t. However other norms that are more essential to our core values and thus insist on conformity are called mores (ex. A person who steals, rapes or kills is breaking a more) *One group’s folkways may be another’s mores Cultural Capital refers to a set of habits and disposition possessed by middle and upper class children that give them advantages over the working class children, because these traits comprise resources capable of generating “profits” Cultural Differences A subculture is a group of people whose experiences have led them to a distinctive way of looking at life -ex. Ethnic groups, occupational groups *When a groups’ values and norms are in opposition to the dominant culture they are called a counterculture. These subcultures don’t necessarily have to promote negative values, but may instead encourage over-conformity to some of society’s mainstream values Ethnocentrism- the tendency to use our own groups as the standard for judging others -promotes group loyalty; but promotes discrimination -ex. Many Canadians may see bullfighting as wrong because our culture has no history of the activity To counter our tendency, we practice cultural relativism; trying to understand a culture on its own terms This allows us to refocus our cultural lens and therefore appreciate other ways of life rather than simply asserting “our way is right” Values in Canadian Society Canada is a pluralistic society – made up of many different religious, racial, ethnic and interest groups Allan Gregg coined the term “hedonist-individualist” to describe the generally accepted attitude of modern Quebec teens – eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die. -this represented a break from the traditional values of agriculturalism and clericalism to a new postmodern value for Quebecers. Native People in Canada- Indian Act of 1879 creates isolation of native people from mainstream Canadian society by putting them on reserves, where they are given few opportunities for meaningful employment Value Clusters - sets of values that have come together to form a larger whole Emerging Value Clusters Leisure (more time off, vacation pay) Self-fulfillment (trend of self-help books) Physical fitness (new subculture, great emphasis on being attractive) Youth (advertising promotes youthful values) -A fifth cluster has recently established itself on a global scale- concern for the environment (we now recognize our dependence on natural resources Cultural universals- culture traits found everywhere -nonexistent, some human activities are universal however for almost all aspects of culture there are differences everywhere Animal culture- learned, shared behaviour among animals -animals do not have language but do communicate Technology in the Global Village -the sociological significance of technology is that the type of technology a gro
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