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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 111
Professor
James Popham
Semester
Fall

Description
Sociology Reading Notes Week one – Chapter one Ravelli & Webber -Sociology- the systematic study of human groups and their interactions -Sociological perspective- a view of society based on the dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network in which we live. Charles Wright Mills and the Sociological Imagination -personal troubles- personal challenges that require individual solutions -social issues- challenges caused by larger social factors that require collective solutions -quality of mind- Mills’ term for the ability to view personal circumstances within a social context -sociological imagination- C.W. Mills’ term for the ability to perceive how dynamic social forces influence individual lives -cheerful robots- people who are unwilling or unable to see the social world as it truly exists Peter Berger -seeing the general in the particular- ability to look at seemingly unique events or circumstances and then recognize the larger or general features involved eg. Homeless person asking for spare change. It is a unique event but how many times have you seen it before and how many more homeless people are out there doing the same thing. -seeing the strange in the familiar- seek out what is familiar and view it as strange eg. Students go to class, study and write tests to be graded and pass a course. But why? Why must a professor give you something to justify your learning? -agency- the assumption that individuals have the ability to alter their socially constructed lives -structure- the network of relativity stable opportunities and constraints influencing individual behaviors Minority Status Are you part of a minority race? If you’re caucasion, heterosexual, able-bodied and never been diagnosed with a disease you’re living with a social advantage and have a good self image. What if you weren’t? what if people avoided eye contact? Stared at you? Gender Society treats men and women differently. Why on average do men make more money then women? -patriarchy- a system where men control the political and economic resources of society Socio-Economic Status People are ranked by income, education, occupation and area of residence. Some children are both with a socio-economic advantage like being born into a wealthy family which may give them access to university and material things. -socioeconomic status (SES)- a combination of variables (income, education, occupation, etc) used to rank people into a hierarchical structure -ascribed status- attributes (advantages and disadvantages) assigned at birth (eg. Sex) -achieved status- attributes developed throughout life as a result of effort and skill (eg. Course grades) Family Structure Children’s well-being depends partly on family income. Children living in families with higher income are usually have better physical, social/emotional, cognitive and behavioral well-being. Children with single parents generally have a dis-advantage because their parent has a lower income. Urban-Rural Differences Kids born in a small town are different then kids from the city and vice versa. Is this because of where they grew up? The Origins of Sociology -Confucius (551-479 BCE), Chinese philosopher and the ancient Greeks engaged in discussion about society in general and the role of the citizen -Sophists (first paid teachers) travelled the world catering to the rich who wanted to know how to live happily. -Socrates (469-399 BCE) and his student Plato (427-347 BCE) challenged the virtue of being paid for ones knowledge and advocated deeper reflection on human social condition -Roman Emperor Marcus Aurellius (121-180), Muslim philosopher and scientist Al Farabi (870-950), Italian theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), and William Shakespeare and John Locke all explored individual role in society. -Ibn Khladun (1332-1406) is recognized as first social philosopher working from the sociological perspective. -Term sociology was coined by Auguste Comte for his naming of the discipline he is often referred to as the father of sociology Three Revolutions: The Rise of Sociology The emergence of sociology was brought about by: the scientific revolution, the political revolution and the industrial revolution The Scientific Revolution Occurred just after 1800 when world began to be explained through science and not religion Comte came up with The Law of Three Stages 1. Theological Stage- occurted from early age to 1300. Everything was explained by religion 2. 2. Metaphysical stage began during enlightenment. A field of philosophy dedicated to an understanding of truth and the relationship between mind and matter. 3. 3. Positive Stage- 1850 world viewed through a scientific lens, observation, experimentation and logic Scientists do not give Comte full credibility for his idea of “three stages” Positivism- A theoretical approach that considers all understanding to be based on science 1. There exists an objective and knowable reality. Physical world can be understood through observation, experimentation and logic. Suggests reality is objective and beyond individual interpretation or manipulation. eg. Objective reality suggests that a chair is in fact a chair Subjectivity is the attribution of emotional or subjective interpretations Eg. Although all chairs may be the same could a person not have a favorite chair? If so that person is deciding there is something to that chair more then just its function, making subjective interpretations beyond what Is logical or defensible. 2. Since all sciences explore the same singular reality, over time all sciences will become more alike. Since there is only one correct explanation for the physical and social worlds, discipline and scientific boundries will fall away as we progress in our studies they will all be the same Eg. On science course intead of chem., bio, physics. 3. There is no room in science for value judgements. There is no good or bad science since they are all the same anyway. Eg. Searching for an aids vaccination is no better or worse then finding out how to shrink a hydrogen bomb Anti-Positivism- A theoretical approach that considers knowledge and understanding to be the result of human subjectivity 1. Hard science can be useful for exploring the physical world but the social world cannot be understood solely through numbers and formulas. Numbers only have relative importance Eg. You get a 85 on your sociology mid-term. You feel good about this mark until you find out the class average was 96. Your mark has not changed but your feelings toward your mark have. 2. All sciences will not merge over time and no single methodological approach can reach a complete understanding of our world. To truly understand the human condition we need to appreciate and validate emotions, values and human subjectivity. 3. Science cannot be separated from our values. Sociologists define values as those cultural assessments that identify something as right, desirable and moral. What we choose to study is also a social expression. Eg. Would any society consider the shrinking of the hydrogen bomb as worthy as finding a vaccine for the AIDS virus. Quantitative and Qualitative Sociology Quantitative Sociology- the study of behaviors that can be measured (eg. Income levels) Qualitative Sociology- The study of non-measureable subjective behaviors (eg. Effects of divorce) The Political Revolution Machiavelli- suggested human behavior is motivated by self-interest and the desire for material gain Rene Descartes- Cogito ergo sum “I think, therefore I am” Comte- we are masters of our own destiny Thomas Hobbes- people driven by fear of death, and desire for power John Locke- all knowledge is the result of experience Jean-Jaques Rousseau- prior to current society, humans existed in a natural state where an individuals focus was self centered The Industrial Revolution Around 1750 ind revolution replaced our need to hunt, gather and feed ourselves. Changed agricultural and rural economy to urban and capitalist one. Farmers changed from growing everything for themselves to specializing and selling that product (eg. Potato farmer). Macro and Micro Sociology Macro Sociology- the study of society as a whole Karl Marx- Humans were brought into competition for material things in an early age. Power imbalances will always exist. Emile Durkheim- believed people wanted to work together for collective benefit. Max Weber- social world is becoming increasingly rationalized over time or people are more focused on selecting the most efficient way to do things. Micro Sociology- the study of individual or small-group dynamics within a larger society George Hebert Mead- we become ourselves through social interaction. His theory became known as symbolic interactionism Symbolic interactionism- a perspective asserting that people and societies are defined and created through the interactions of individuals. Charles Horton Cooley- people define themselves by how others view them. We become what others see in us. Hebert Blumer- continued what Mead started with symbolic interactionism Sociology in Canada Not as old as in U.S. and smaller. Canadian sociology is a product of it’s larger counterpart, America. It has four defining features that separate it from American Sociology. Geography and Regionalism Canad’s ability to survive over time, in face of hostile elements (cold winter) The role of east vs. west (eg Quebec vs west) Focus on Political Economy Political Economy- the interactions of politics, government and governing and the social and cultural constitution of markets, institutions and actors Canada focuses heavily on political Economy Canadianization Movement Sociologists trained in the U.S. were hired to come to Canada to learn more about Canadian society Radical Nature Canadian sociology is more radical then American because of its focus on macrosociology as well as greater support for feminist ideas and social change. Sociology in a Global Perspective Globalization- a worldwide process involving the production, distribution and consumption of technological, political, economic and socio-cultural goods and services Global village is a term which describes the way humans currently communicate in real time so to speak meaning events that happen in one part of the world are immediately felt in other parts throught internet, social media (eg. World trade centers). 1 billion people out of the worlds 6 billion control 80% of the worlds wealth while the remaining 5 billion live in poverty. Chapter 2 Theory – a statement that tries to explain how certain fact or variables are related to predict future events. Thomas Hobbes – people create social world around them. Said human lived in natural state before modern society, believed that deep down humans are driven by self interest and pursuit of power. Humans would give up some of their rights and enter a contract of peace (government). John Locke – said god was responsible for modern society. Humans are born in tabula rasa (blank slate). Meaning knowledge is independent of experience. God granted certain rights to people like right to self preservation. Charles De Montesquieu – argued that people never existed outside of society but rather he proposed that humans were defined by society. Employed ideal types Ideal types- classic or pure forms of given social phenomenon Dean-Jaques Rousseau – argued that natural state was not awful existence but rather peaceful, humans working together. Said people entered social contract not because they were forced to but because they wanted to. The Enlightenment Philosophies – French philosophers in the enlightenment who advocated critical thinking and practical knowledge Before enlightenment thinking was driven by God. Led to American and French revolutions and eventually more freedom in society. Conservative reaction to enlightenment thinking To enlightenment thinkers the individual was the building block of society. In contrast conservatives believe that society is not the product of individuals but rather an entity itself. Functionalism – view the social world as a dynamic system of interrelated and interdependent parts. Perspective is often reffered to as the organic analogy. Society is just like a living organism. If one part of it doesn’t work then the whole thing breaks down. Organic analogy - society is just like an organism with interdependent and interrelated parts Herbert Spencer – coined the term survival of the fittest. 10 years later Charles Darwin developed idea of natural selection. Spencer used darwins theory of evolution and applied it to society. This resulted in social Darwinism which states that societies evolve just as organisms do. The belief that it is best to let things take care of themselves is called a laissez-faire approach. Spencer thought the idea of welfare or catering to the weak was stupid and they should be rid of to make more room for the people who can support themselves. Natural selection – the biologically based principle that environmental pressures allow certain beneficial traits to be passed on to future generations Evolution – the biological process by which genetic mutations are selected for or against through environmental pressures Social Darwinism – spencers assertion that societies evolve according to the same principles as do organisms Laissez-faire a point of view that opposes regulation of or interference wuth natural processes Emile Durkheim – culture and society exist outside of the individual, are independent of and outlive the individual. Collective conscience drives your behaviors without you even being aware of it. Social facts are general social features that exist on their own and are independent of human manifestation (eg. Laws, beliefs). Anomie is a state or normalessness that results from a lack of clear goals and creates feelings of confusion. (eg. Students who go to school without knowing what they want to do). Collective conscience – durkheim’s concept highlighting the totality of a society’s beliefs and sentiments Social facts – general social features that exist on their own and are independent of individual manifestations Anomie – durkheims term for a state of normalessness that results from a lack of clear goals and may lead to higher suicide rates Mechanical solidarity – describes early societies based on similarities and interdependence Organic solidarity – describes later societies organized around interdependence and the increasing division of labour Talcott Parsons – teacher and writer at Harvard. His social action theory was an attempt to separate behaviors, which he saw as almost mechanical responses to specific stimuli, from actions, which he viewed as the results of an active and inventive process. Viewed people as “actors”. AGIL – required for a social system to maintain homestasis 1. Adaptation – social system must be able to gather and distribute sufficient environmental resources as well as adapt to changes in environment or manipulate environment to achieve needs 2. Goal attainment – system needs to establish clear goals and priorities. The central question that goal attainment must answer is how to use legit power to implement social decisions 3. Integration – The system needs to maintain solidarity within it as well as have the different units in society work together. The system must coordinate and adjust to the needs and aspirations of the various subgroups in society. It must find ways to motivate its actors to fufill their roles and regulate them when they do not. 4. Latency – The system needs to motivate individuals to release their frustrations in socially appropriate ways, and to the imparitives of tension maintenance and pattern maintenance. Adaptation – the social system must be able to gather and distribute sufficient resources and adjust to changes in its environment Goal attainment – the system needs to establish clear goals and priorities Integration – the system needs to maintain solidarity while allowing the aspirations of subgroups Latency – the system needs to motivate individuals to release their frustrations in socially appropriate ways Tension maintenance – recognizes the internal tensions and strains that influence all actors Pattern maintenance – involves socially appropriate ways to display tensions and strains Parsons AGIL typology was an important contribution to functionalists theory as it outlined the Robert K. Merton – former student of Parsons at Harvard stressed manifest and latent functions. Manifest functions are the intended consequences of an action or social pattern. Latent functions are the unintended consequences of an action or social pattern. Eg. Whilst studying for sociology test your intent is to do well on your exam (manifest function) but you also meet your future ex wife (latent function) Manifest functions – the intended consequences of an action or social pattern Latent functions – the unintended consequences of an
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