SOCIOL 1A06 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: The Sociological Imagination, Scientific Revolution, Symbolic Interactionism

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
School
McMaster University
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCIOL 1A06
Page:
of 7
Sociology Sept12/12
The Sociological Imagination
C. Wright Mills (1959)
o Called the ability to see the connection between personal troubles and
social structures the sociological imagination
o Emphasized the difficulty of developing the quality of mind
o His language is sexist but his argument is true and inspiring (1950s)
Sociological imagination:
- Individual experiences connected to a social context
- About two centuries old
- It was born when three modern revolutions (listed below) pushed
people to think about society in an entirely new way
Scientific Revolution (1550)
- Which encouraged the view that complete conclusions about the
workings of society must be based on solid evidence not just
speculation (rumors)
- Using evidence o make a case for a particular point of view
- By the mid 1600’s some philosophers (Descartes & Hobbes) were
calling for a science of society
- Sociology emerged as a distinct discipline in the 19th century
- Commitment to the scientific method was one form pillar of the
sociological imagination
Democratic Revolution (1750)
- Suggested that people are responsible for organizing society and that
human intervention can therefore solve social problems
- Realization that people can control society and change it
- The American and French Revolution helped undermine these ideas
(figure 1.4)
- Showed that societies could experience massive change in a short
period
- Proved that people could replace unsatisfactory rules
- People control society
- It was possible to change society by human intervention
- Science could play a big role
- This new science could help people figure out ways t reach given
goals
Industrial Revolution (1780)
- Created a host of new and serious social problems that attracted the
attention of many social thinkers
- Because of the growth of industry, masses of people moved from
countryside to city, worked agonizingly long hours in crowded and
dangerous mines and factories, lost faith in their religions, confronted
faceless bureaucracies and reacted to the filth and poverty of their
existence by means of strikes, crime, revolution and war
- Suggested that people can intervene to improve society
- Presented social thinkers with a host of pressing social problems
crying out for a solution
Question: Do you know someone who is divorced?
Reflect on a personal issue or problem you are facing. Try to connect your
own personal issue to a wider social context or public issue
Reasons for Increase in Divorce
People living longer
Legal changes
Declining stigma
Increasing secularism
Women’s labor force participation
Reasons for Increase in Divorce
Higher Expectations (What qualities do you seek in a partner?)
Shifting ideas about gender and unequal sharing of housework
Inadequate supports for working parents which lead to marital conflict
Greater diversity in families and intimate relationships, including great
acceptance of remaining single, cohabiting and advocacy and social change
for gays and lesbians
Example Multiple Choice
1. The Sociological imagination allows people to understand the relationship
between:
A. Social Structure and human agency
B. Processes and structures
C. Psychology, Biology and Sociology
D. Public or social issues and private troubles
E. Nature and Nurture
2. If we apply the “sociological imagination” to the problem of divorce we:
A. Can Predict which couples will divorce
B. See how infidelity and financial difficulty lead to divorce
C. Can link divorce rates to changes in divorce legislation and social
attitudes towards divorce
D. Can understand the emotional turmoil that results from divorce
E. Understand that divorce is most likely to happen when a couple falls out of
love and grows apart.
Sociological Theories
- A theory is a tentative explanation of some aspect of social life that states
how and why certain facts are related
- After theories are formulated, sociologists can conduct research
- Research is the process of carefully observing social reality to assess the
validity of a theory
- Values are ideas about what is right and wrong, good and bad
- Values help sociologists formulate and favor certain theories over others
- Durkheim, Marx and Weber initiated three of the major theoretical
traditions in sociology: functionalism, conflict theory and symbolic
interactionism
Order theories: supports status-quo
Change theories: social change
Macro-sociology: society shapes us
Micro-sociology: we make society
Structural Functionalism
Order theory
Macro Level social structures analyzed by functionalism
Stability, equilibrium - how social structures maintain social stability
Consensus
Shared values
Reestablishing equilibrium can solve most social problems
Analogy to human body
Interrelated parts
Functionality of parts
Durkheim’s theory of suicide
Stress that human behavior is governed by relatively stable patterns of social
relations/social structures (How Durkheim emphasized how suicide rates are
influenced by social solidarity)
Durkheim argued how the growth of industries and cities in 19th century
Europe lowered level of social solidarity and contributed to social instability
which caused a higher suicide rate
Durkheim thought of social solidarity as a sort of moral cement that binds
people together
Durkheim believed that social solidarity would rise and there would be fewer
strikes, suicides, etc if people would agree on LESS
Great Depression = functionalism
Conflict theory
Change Theory
Macro Level relations between or among classes

Document Summary

Sept12/12: called the ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures the sociological imagination, emphasized the difficulty of developing the quality of mind, his language is sexist but his argument is true and inspiring (1950s) It was born when three modern revolutions (listed below) pushed people to think about society in an entirely new way. Which encouraged the view that complete conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence not just speculation (rumors) Using evidence o make a case for a particular point of view. By the mid 1600"s some philosophers (descartes & hobbes) were calling for a science of society. Sociology emerged as a distinct discipline in the 19th century. Commitment to the scientific method was one form pillar of the sociological imagination. Suggested that people are responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can therefore solve social problems. Realization that people can control society and change it.