SOC 1100 Chapter Notes -False Consciousness, Sociocultural Evolution, Cultural Lag

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SEP 28 2010
SOCIETY (marx faber durkheim-founders of sociology)
(marshall mcluhan)
The context of cooperative living
• refers to “people who interact in a defined territory(not scattered such as
alzheimers society) and share culture
• experiences social solidarity and social conflict
• experiences equilibrium(inbalance) (sometimes short-lived), strain and
change (strain results in change)
Society and Technology:
Gerhard and Jean Lenski
• sociocultural evolution
the process of change that results from a society’s gaining new
information, particularly technology (technology is information)
• technology gives people greater ability to manipulate their physical
• advances in technology trigger increasingly rapid social change
• transformation from hunting and gathering to postindustrial society
hunting and gathering societies
• based on simple technology for hunting animals and gathering vegetation
• members (all of them) are in constant search for food
• cannot support non-productive members – no poets, teachers, or full-time
• based on kinship
• rudimentary weapons or tools
• vulnerable to drought, accident and disease (nothing to help them battle
disease or deal with accidents)
• cooperation and sharing necessary for longterm survival (e.g. Inuit in our
horticultural and pastoral societies
• horticulture is a technology based on using hand tools to cultivate plants
• pastoralism is technology based on the domestication of animals (which
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leads to an indrease in food production)
• increases food production to support hundreds of people rather than
• pastoralists remain nomadic (move from place to place), moving with
available pasture
• horticulturalists stay in one location longer, until soils are depleted
(then they have to move another place to settle down)
• Domestication of plants and animals creates a material surplus
frees people for other roles, leading to more complex social
arrangements (because we’ve greated more food than we need)
Agrarian societies
• A technological revolution – agriculture
The technology of large-scale farming using plows harnessed to
animals or, eventually, mechanical tractors
• allows for permanent settlement (get more from the land- renew the
• increases production = further specialization
Barter (trading) system obsolete = shift to currency (money)
why switch?-because food is plentiful and not everybody needs to be
involved in producing not everybody has things to trade.
• increases social inequality (peasants)
• position of women declines
Cities a possibility (produce enough food for people to move into a
central location- community leaders, administrators,
responsibility/education for people, and the fact that we have
industrial societies
• industrialism is technology that powers sophisticated machinery with
advanced sources of energy (gas, steam)
• rate of social change increases dramatically
• cars and electronic communication transform society
work moves from the home into the factory
• occupational specialization increases
• social change and migration
• family no longer the primary setting for economic production,
education and religious worship
• standard of living increases fivefold
demand for educated and skilled labour force
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postindustrial society
• postindustrialism refers to technology that supports an information-
based economy
• focuses on computers and other electronic devices that create,
process, store and apply information
• dramatic change in occupational structure (expanded white collar
Information Revolution creates a global culture through cultural
• cultural lag (e.g. notion of property as tangible items slow to
recognize ideas or knowledge as property)
• What does this mean for the students of today?
Karl Marx (1818-1883): society and conflict
• Marx observed the Industrial Revolution from London – saw the expansion
of empire and the gap between a small elite and the masses
• the richest societies contained the desperately poor
social conflict = the struggle between segments of society over valued
• capitalists owned the means of production
• the proletariat (worker) provided its labour (capitalist owned tem and took
the surplus of their work)
• profits and wages from same pool of funds = ongoing conflict
social institutions = “the major spheres of social life” or “society’s
subsystems, organized to meet basic human needs”
• the economy, the political system (or polity), the family, education
and religion
• Marx felt that the economy trumped all others (economy crowned
• religion, the family (provide workers), education, under elite control to
support the economy
false consciousness (notion)= social problems explained in terms of the
shortcomings of individuals rather than flaws in the social system (my
problems are the result of my actions)
• religion and education perpetuate false consciousness (you arr responsible
for what happens to you, what you accomplish, where you end up)
class conflict = antagonism between entire classes over distribution of
wealth and power
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