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Chapter 2

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SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Chapter 2: Classical Social Theories  theory - statement that tries to explain how certain facts or variables are related to predict future events PHILOSOPHICAL ROOTS OF CLASSICAL SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679)  people are responsible for creating the social world around them, soceit could be changed through conscious reflection  (conflicted earlier belief that people had very little individualism and was made by God's will)  first person to view people as responsible and accountable for society they created  analyzed humans existence before formal social structure (government)  natural state - conception of human condition before the emergence of formal social structures  people motivated by self interest and pursuit of power  add more on Leviathan  humans are building blocks of society  role of government is to preserve individual ability to achieve self interests John Locke (1632 - 1704)  God was responsible for the emergence of society and government  tabula rasa - everyone starts with a blank slate, gain knowledge through experience  God granted certain rights to people  sanctity of individual autonomy  believed government was there to preserve a persons right to maintain propery  inconsistent mimstakes with God's will, mistakes would be judged by God alone Charles de Montesquieu (1689 - 1755)  people didn't exist without society  humans defined and created by soceity  analyzing laws of society lets a person see what society sees as important  laws define spirit of people  ideal types - classic or pure forms of a given social phenomenon  three types of government: Republic (democracy and aristocracy), monarchy, despotism  republic ; virtue  monarchy; honour  despotism; fear  spirit of a society is not what it is, but what it wants to become Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778)  insighted into state of nature and social contract  human beings existed within a state of nature, people were presocial  people existed in a symbiogtic and idyllic relationship based on equality  social arrangements inconsistent with natural rules, we will suffer from social problems  people could achieve their potential only through society  it forced people to work together to meet their material needs (eg. a person would become more gifted as a farmer , which wouldlead to inequality)  need for government bc people needed to be protected from each other and needded to secure their private property  people can reach their personal pursuits and be protected from others on basis of socially defined rules  government also corrupting element in society that will continually try to undermine the autonomy of the individual  (indication of Enlightenment thinking) The Enlightenment  began around 1650 and ended with the French Revolution  Philosophes - pholisophers who advocated critical thinking and practical knowledge during the Enlightenment period  they fought every attempt to limit free thinking ad expression  promoted human agency  reordering of how people saw the world and their role in it  Machiavelli: anyone could become a prince given the right set of circumstances  sociology born from the conservative reaction against Enlightenment thinking Conservative Reaction to Enlightenment Thinking: The Birth of Sociology  Enlightenment thinkers: person was building block of society  conservatives: society not product of people, but is independent in itelf and diff from people who make it up  10 propositions of conservative reaction thinking:  1. society exists with its own laws  2. society is the most important unit of social analysis and produces the individual  3.  4.  5.  6.  7.  8.  9.  Legacy of the Coservative Reaction for Sociological Theory  - microsociology focuses on individual and small group behaviours, associated with Enlightenment thinking  -macrosociology is deductive, sees behaviour as predictable, associated with Euroean classical social theory FUNCTIONALISM  view the world a dynamic system of interrelated and interdependant partts  structural functionalism - two part operating system of structures and their associated functions  view human society as being similar to an organism  organic analogy - the belief that society is like an organism with interdependant and interrelated parts  systems natural state of affairs is one of equilibrium, system is stable and homeostatic  health social system = everyone must feel valued and content  society needs to meet needs of majority, if not, 'sick'  BASICALLY; HOMEOSTASIS HERBERT SPENCER (1820-1903)  survival of the fittest - only the strong survives  social Darwinism  natural selection - environmental pressures allow beneficial traits to be passed on to future generations  people who were able to compete, would survive  evolution - biological processes by which genetic mutations are selected for, and against, through environmental pressures  societies evolve bc there is a reason for the changes  lassez-faire - point of view that opposes regulation or interference with natural processes Emile Durkhiem (1858 - 1917)  considered to be the founder of modern sociology  human actions orignte in collective rather than individual  choices we make are not our own  decisions are influced by society (you have cereal instead of pasta for breakfast because cereal is seen as a breakfast food by society)  collective conscience - highlighting the totality of a soceity's beliefs and sentiments  social facts - general social features that exit on their own and are independant of individual manifestations  societies with higher levels of integration or regulation will suffer from higher sucide rates  egoistic suicide - people don't feel connected to the group  altruistic suicide - too connected to a group  anomic suicide - fails to provide adequate direction and regulation of behaviour  fatalistic suicide - overregulation and people feel life is too harsh and strict  social organizaions that increases apersons connectection to others will decrease likelihood for anomie  anomie - state which results from lack of clear goals and creates feelings of confusion that may ultimately result in higher suicide rates  early societties (mechanical solidarity) - based on similarities and independance  contemporary society (organic solidarity) - societies organized around interdependance and increasing division of labour  we need each other to survive Talcott Parsons  why do people do what they do?  social action theory - attempt to seperate behaviours from actions to explain why people do what they do  behaviours - mechanical responses to specific stimuli  actions - results of an active and inventive process  viewed people as actors, played either individuals or as collectives  4 step process: motivated to achieve goal, find means to achieve goal, face conditions which stand in the way of achieving goal, work with social system to achieve goal  AGIL: adaptation, goal attainment, integration, latency  adaption; socia system must be able to gather and distrubute sufficient resources and adjust to changes in its environment  goal attainment: system eeds to establish clear goals ad priorities  integration: system needs to maintain solidarity while allowing the aspirations of subgroups  latency: motivate individuals to release their frustrations in socially appropriate ways  tension maintenance: recognizes the internal tensions and
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