SOC 1100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Nuclear Family, Health System, Management Consulting

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10 Aug 2016
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Week #1 – January 6-8th, 2015
Chapter #1: A Sociological Compass – page #2-33:
Introduction:
Sociology can be a liberating and practical activity, not just an abstract intellectual exercise. By
revealing the opportunities and constraints you face, sociology can help teach you who you are
and what you can become in today’s social and historical context. We cannot know what the
future will bring, but we can at least know the choices we confront and the likely consequences of
our actions. From this point of view, sociology can help us create the best possible future,
The Sociological Perspective:
The Social Explanations of Suicide:
Emile Durkheim demonstrated that suicide is more than just an individual act of desperation
that results from a psychological disorder social forces strongly influence suicide rates
Durkheim made his case by examining the association between rates of suicide and rates of
psychological disorder for different group’s
The idea that psychological disorder causes suicide is only supported if suicide rates tend to
be high where rates of psychological disorder are high, and low where rates of psychological
disorder are low, but his analysis of European government statistics, hospital records, and
other sources revealed nothing of the kind, so clearly suicide rates and rates of psychological
disorder did not vary directly
Social solidarity refers to (1) the degree to which group members share beliefs and values,
and (2) the intensity and frequency of their interactions
o The more social solidarity a group exhibits, the more firmly anchored individuals
are so the social world and the less likely they are to take their own life if
adversity strikes
Suicide in Canada Today:
Durkheim’s theory sheds light on the factors that account for variations in suicide rates today
The theory of social solidarity helps us understand why the suicide rate among youth have
risen in Canada shared moral principles and strong social ties have eroded since the early
1960’s
o Religious service attendance is down
o Unemployment is up, especially for youth
o Rate of divorce has increased
Youth are less firmly rooted in society, and less likely to share moral standards, so young
people in Canada today are more likely to take their own lives if they happen to find
themselves in a deep personal crisis
Strong social bonds decrease the probability that a person will commit suicide if adversity
strikes
From Personal Troubles to Social Structures:
Patterns of social relations affect your innermost thoughts and feelings, influence your
actions, and thus help shape who you are
Social structures relatively stable patterns of social relations
An important step to broadening our sociological awareness involves recognizing that 3
levels of social structure surround and permeate us think of these structures as concentric
circles radiating out from you:
1. Microstructures are the patterns of relatively intimate social relations formed during
face-to-face interaction. Families, friendship circles, and work associations are all
examples of microstructures
2. Macrostructures are overarching patterns of social relations that lie outside and above
your circle of intimates and acquaintances. Macrostructures include classes,
bureaucracies, and power systems, such as patriarchy
Patriarchy the traditional system of economic and political inequality between
women and men
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Week #1 – January 6-8th, 2015
3. Global Structures are patterns of social relations that lie outside and above the national
level. They include international organizations, patterns of worldwide travel and
communication, and the economic relations between countries
Personal problems are connected to social structures at the micro-, macro-, and global levels
whether the personal problem involves finding a job, keeping a marriage intact, or figuring
out a way to end world poverty, social-structural considerations broaden our understanding of
the problem and suggest appropriate courses of action
The Sociological Imagination: - the quality of mind that enables a person to see the connection
between personal troubles and social structures
C. Wright Mills emphasized the difficulty of developing this quality of mind
o When a society becomes industrialized, a peasant becomes a worker; a feudal
lord is liquidated or becomes a businessmanYet men do not usually define the
trouble they endure in terms of historical change… What they need is a quality of
mind that will help them to [see] what is going on in the world and what may be
happening within themselves
Origins of the Sociological Imagination:
The sociological imagination was born when 3 modern revolutions pushed people to think
about society in a new way…
1. The Scientific Revolution began in about 1550. It encouraged the view that sound
conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence, not just on
speculation.
2. The Democratic Revolution began in about 1750. It suggested that people are
responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can therefore solve social
problems; suggested that people could intervene to improve society
3. The Industrial Revolution often regarded as the most important event in world history
since the development of agriculture and cities, refers to the rapid economic
transformation that began in Britain in the 1780’s. it involved the large-scale application of
science and technology to industrial processes, the creation of factories, and the
formation of a working class; presented social thinkers with a host of pressing social
problems crying out for a solution
Theory, Research, and Values:
Auguste Comte coined the term sociology in 1838
o He tried to place the study of society on scientific foundations
o He wanted to understand the world as it was, not as he or anyone else imagined
it should be
Herbert Spencer (2nd founder of sociology) believed he discovered scientific laws governing
the operation of society
o He thought that society evolve in the same way as biological species do
o Individuals struggle to survive, the unfit die before they can bear offspring, and
the fittest survive this process allows all “barbaric” societies to become civilized
o Ideas came to be known as “social Darwinism”
o Justified social inequality and trumpeted the superiority of the wealthy and the
powerful
We have a better understanding of the complex economic, political, military, religious, and
other forces that cause social change
People can take things into their own hands and change their social environment in ways that
no other species can (no longer think biologically)
Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber all witnessed Europe’s wrenching transition to
industrial capitalism and wanted to explain the great transformation of Europe and suggest
ways of improving people’s lives
o Ideas they developed are not just diagnostic tools from which we can still learn
about, but are also prescriptions for combating social ills
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