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Notes on Readings For Test 1

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Social Science
SOSC 1040
Claudio Colaguori

SOSC 1040 Notes on Readings #1: Sociology and the Birth of Modern Society  Human societies are the product of human invention o Societies develop according to how they’re governed & by decisions ppl make regarding the use & sharing of resources and wealth o Not based on natural laws; on social rules that change according to time and place o Live in a socially constructed reality; continually changing by deliberate human action & political will  Main challenge of studying society: must re-examine one’s own taken-for granted beliefs, assumptions and personal convictions about social issues o Personalizing things you study (may challenge/conflict with own values and experiences)  Assumption: society we live in is the result of progressive social evolution; present day society represents a higher stage of progress  Sociological understanding can help us create a deeper awareness of the world around us & empower us to understand society influences individuals so we can make informed decisions about how we live  Help with self preservations & progressive social change  Critical sociology: problematize & critique, esp. what interferes with human freedom o Assesses social life in terms of the problems of human domination, social exploitation, & how repressive forms of control negatively affect lives  Socially constructed reality: how our shared knowledge, values & beliefs shape & construct social reality o Institutions – think they are real social structures with qualities of their own that are essential to the survival of society (partly true); does NOT mean they are correct/unchangeable in how they operate  Basic component of society (aka social structures); built by us; give order & organization to society, administer life sustaining services for people  Can create problem of corruption & control ppl in awful ways SOSC 1040 Notes on Readings  Guide our bhv; we obey as objective & real elements of our society; rarely question them & take them for granted o *just because something is socially constructed doesn’t mean it isn’t real  Why is this version reality the ne that has become normal? POWER o Big decisions, policies & practices aren’t made by “we” as a democratic group; by those who have economic & political power to decide for others.  Cooperative social interaction – 1 basic element of human nature that defines the essence of all human societies  Sociology: looks at economic & political organization of society as basis of most human conflict  Capitalism: society emerges out of antagonistic actions of individuals & social classes competing to pursue their own self interests.  Bureaucracy – decisions are made by administrative offices in an organization; hassles o Aim towards greater efficiency; known for inefficiency & disorganization  Society based on culture; modern dominated by culture of consumerism  Microsocial – how individual bhvrs & social norms that guide them combine to create patterns of interaction between ppl  Macrosocial – large social structures {institutions; state, mass media} & how these influence patterns of social bhvrs & social life  Our society: mass society w mostly large [ ] of ppl living in relatively small geographical areas. o Shaped by: science, French revolution, industrial revolution, formation of large scale bureaucratic institutions  No one single dominating force in society; complexity forms out of a dynamic interaction & tension between multiple factors of power  Human society is NOT like a living organism; doesn’t follow any “natural, physical laws” that are fixed & unalterable  Human societies are the product of culture SOSC 1040 Notes on Readings  Durkheim – empirical methods o Social facts – things that are objectively real & identifiable in society & can be measured; outside the individual but influence/constrain individual bhvr o Social concepts – identify processes that pertain to social change, power, social order & qualities of the individual. Self & society  Direct relationship b/t self & society  Absence of critical sociological explanation regarding social life in pop. Media is b/c is seen as too controversial in exposing social bases of the real power interests behind why things are the way they are.  Mills: there is a direct relation b/t personal issues we face & conditions that exist in society o Sociological imagination: be able to understand how our personal troubles are oft. A reflection of the public issues in society  Freedom we have on our bhvr is different for ppl in different situations  We are never absolutely free to do as we please; within certain parameters SOSC 1040 Notes on Readings #2: Power and the Organization of Society  Society is shaped depending on who controls the political decisions, POWER economic resources, and who is successful at getting their ideas across  Power  Activities of a group of people who collectively decide how to make decisions about how to run society  The influence that some individuals and groups hold that allows their interests to predominate in shaping society over the interests of others.  A force that shapes human social life  Can be a force of control, but also a force for progressive social change C ONCEPT OF POWER  North America: have a lot of freedoms; still surrounded by social powers that regulate our lives  Power: has to do with social control o Explains why society we live in gets constructed in this way w/ its problems & concerns; forces behind social change o Exists somewhere out there in institutions; & as a part of social relations (patterns of interaction b/t ppl) o Forms: economic, political, cultural  Society’s institutions {family}; power relations to negotiate w/  Coercive forms: state/government; law, military, violence (not always just used when necessary) o Exercised by groups & individuals at the top of social hierarchies {religious leaders} o Often abused, seen as unjust; many protest o Exists microsocially (personal relationships); macrosocially (society as a whole)  Status: a form of power, prestige, privilege, possessed by those who occupy positions of authority in a social hierarchy SOSC 1040 Notes on Readings o Can be a form of personal empowerment that changes the way we’re treated by others  Most modern societies: power based on control over resources & wealth o Financial power: can be used to change social & political situations & manipulate bureaucratic officials, etc for better/worse.  Power is not absolute; many challenge it o Can bring frustration & broken relations o Can create independence & self determination (personal freedom)  Different types of power are used for social control o Ideology: mental power; capacity to control thoughts, perceptions, bhvrs of others {advertising to influence consumer bhvr}  Type of knowledge that uses ideas to manipulate way we see the social world; affects how we understand them  Attempt to make socially constructed relations of inequality seem natural & inevitable; normal & impervious to change o Political rule: in order for political state to maintain governmental rule, needs to monopolize use of force as a primary way to achieve social domination.  Political domination {coercive regulation of population through state agencies; police, prisons, legal system, military}  Much concern w/ abuse of power; unreasonable restrictions on civil freedoms & human rights.  Power: fluid & dynamic; not always repressive or controlling; can work in many directions o Can be a social change power  We have some degree of power in ways we go about our lives (but free will is not absolute)  Can choose to be passive recipients of what is presented to us & conform or we can direct ourselves in ways that are more personally beneficial & socially responsible Power in Early Human Societies SOSC 1040 Notes on Readings  Organization of society & way that social relations are influenced by mode of production is key in determining what sort of power relations emerge  As societies became more complex in division of labour, diff levels of social status developed  Private property created; other ppl were considered property Structural functionalism  Emphasizes social order & stability; “organic solidarity” o Each social institution & member of society play a role in division of tasks that keep society functioning  Each social structure has a unique function; system designed to maintain overall social cohesion (if something doesn’t contribute will diminish; things only exist b/c there is a functional reason for them) o –ve aspects also: push boundaries of what is socially acceptable & function to change outmoded beliefs & practices  ppl need to be connected/integrated into society by feeling that they are part of a social group; essential for mental health  Anomie: individuals who felt left out of society suffer from feelings of social e
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