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SOCY 122 (65)

Emile Durkheim

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Queen's University
SOCY 122
Rob Beamish

Social Fact -Emile Durkheim-ways of feeling, thinking, and acting external to and exercising constraint over the individual -sociology and psychology are independent levels of analysis -should be treated as things, realties in their own right with their own laws of organization, apart from individual consciousness -includes phenomena as social institutions and more diffuse phenomena (e.g mass behavior of crowds, collective trends) -objective element, exact determination or identification and measurement -can study myocardial infarction-weight, body fat, diet, cholesterol, fitness- and social integration -relevant to social theories viewing society as an objective reality apart from the individual -Karl Marx-individuals make history under conditions independent of their individual wills -social existence conditions consciousness and individuals are primarily personifications of objectives economic forces -collective actors -functionalist and structuralism -Talcott Parson- four functional problems of social systems: -adaption -goal attainment -social integration -cultural pattern maintenance -Claude Levi-Strauss-structural anthropology -structural theories of kinship, myth, and culture which emphasizes the centrality of enduring structures of human cognition and organization -influenced by Marx, Freud, and Durkheim -Michel Foucault- diminished the role of the subjects in his studies of madness, the clinic, the prison, and changing systems of knowledge -Louis Althusser-against Marx’s past humanistic work -agrees with Marx’s and builds a structural theory of society eliminating human agency and viewing social change as a process of internal contradictions within dynamic socioeconomic, political, and legal structures Against: -human agency as central to understanding social processes -Max Weber’s social action theory -Herbert Blumer’s symbolic interactionism -Alfred Schutz’s phenomenological sociology -Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu Suicide -a leading cause of death -Emile Durkheim analyses it sociologically and stressed the concept of social integration -bonds or the subordination of the individual to society is thought to provide meaning and prevent selfishness, egoism, and suicide Family Integrations- marriage and parenting provide a set of responsibilities to spouse and children and protection against excessive self-involvement Religion-groups provide emotional and material support and belief in a blissful afterlife provides strength and courage Economic- lower class persons and unemployment causes it Media- copycat suicides Anomie -lack or ineffectiveness of normative regulation in society Emile Durkheim-against Karl Marx -division of labour brings about problematic consequences only under exceptional circumstances, either because of lack of regulation or because the level of regulation doesn’t match the degree of development of the division of labour -used the anomie perspective to introduce the anomic type of suicide, where normative regulations are absent Chronic Anomie- when the normative regulations of the world trade and industry is absent Acute Anomie- when the normative regulations of abrupt transitions in society, such as fiscal crises, lead to a loss in effectiveness of norms to regulate behaviour Robert K. Merton-influenced by Emile Durkheim -state of anomie occurs as a result of the unusually strong emphasis in US society on the dominant cultural goals without a corresponding emphasis on the legitimate means to reach those goals -resulting demoralization or deinstitutionalization of legitimate norms Non-Marxists- alternative to alienation Leo Srole-empirical -Social-psychological mental states of individuals who are confronted with social conditions of anomie -caught in the polarization between micro and macro perspectives -theoretical relation between anomia and anomie has not been adequately addressed Sacred -tied to religion -distinction between what is and what is not pertaining to the gods -in Hinduism sacred can belong in the same category as unclean Emile Durkheim-we shouldn’t understand things called gods or spirits -materialistic belief displays inherent sacred qualities -worship of symbols gods and materialistic item is the worship of society -relationship of inferiority and dependency Sacred/Profane Emilie Durkheim -define religion as a unified system of beliefs and practice relative to sacred things that are set apart and forbidden which unite into one single moral community called a Church, and all who adhere to them -‘Church’ was later changed to moral communities with society, than ongoing social groups Profane- everything in society that is not sacred Emile Durkheim -human rational is created by social relations -rational, organization, and morality of modern society is different than traditional beliefs, which poses a challenge to contemporary society which has developed a practice based on solidarity -arguments against individualism, and for a distinct sociological object and method, important for sociology -Rousseau and Montesquieu inspired his emphasis on justice and the social origin of the individual, which is shared by others: Comte, Marx, Weber, and Mead -individual as a social production, a
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