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Understanding Sociological Imagination.docx

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University of Waterloo
SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Understanding the Sociological Imagination Chapter 1 The Sociological Perspective Sociology: systematic study of human groups and their interactions Sociological Perspective: unique way sociologists view the world and dissect the dynamic relationship between people and social network Charles Wright Mills and the Sociological Imagination  Suggested: people who do not / can’t recognize social origins and character of problems may be unable to respond to problems effectively o Failing to appreciate diminished ability to understand and resolve  Personal troubles: require individual solutions  Social issues: requires collective solution  Quality of Mind: ability to view personal circumstance within a social context o Eg. Much private uneasiness goes unformulated; much public malaise and many decisions of enormous structural relevance never become public issues  Sociological imagination: ability to understand dynamic relationship between individual lives and larger society o Step out of own condition and look at yourself from new perspective Seeing the General in the Particular  Ability to look at seemingly unique events or circumstances and then recognize larger (general) features involved o Recognize that while you may have seen only one street person, there’s many you haven’t seen  Appreciation of the circumstance to broaden perspective of larger social patterns that create and perpetuate people’s lives Seeing the Strange in the Familiar  Sociologists need to tune sociological perspective by thinking what’s familiar and seeing it as strange o Cornerstone of sociological perspective What makes you, you? Engaging the Sociological Imagination  Each person has “agency” o Assumption that individuals have ability to alter socially constructed lives  5 most influential social factors: o minority status  visible minority, mental disability, physical disability, les, gay bisexual o Gender  Treatment is different between genders  Eg. Workplace salaries o Socio-economic status  Combination of variables to position or score people on criteria  Income level, level of education achieved, occupation, area of residence  Ascribed status: situation which person is assigned advantage / disadvantage through birth  Born in wealthy family vs poor family (nothing to do with individual qualities)  Achieved status: status of person gained through personal attributes and qualities  Importance of sociology: importance of how people’s beginnings influence what people can become o Family Structure  Regardless of age, higher income = better physical, social / emotional, cognitive and behavioural well-being  Influences child’s development to extent that female lone parent families have lower incomes  Loving parents with adequate incomes raise productive and well-adjusted children o Urban – Rural Differences  Structural differences between small towns and large cities exist  Nature of growing up in either location is more subtle and contextual Origins of Sociology  Sophists o First thinkers to focus efforts on human beings rather than physical world  Socrates and Plato o challenged virtue of being paid for knowledge and necessity of deeper reflection on human social nature  Auguste Compte o Father of sociology Understanding the Sociological Imagination Chapter 1 Three Revolutions: the Rise of Sociology The Scientific Revolution  Auguste Comte o Believed that to really understand workings of society, one needs to understand how human thinking has changed through time o Law of Three stages – advances of the mind  Theological Stage  Longest period of human thinking  Religious outlook explaining world and human society as expression of God’s will and views science as means to discover God’s intention  Explain things through actions of spiritual or supernatural beings  Metaphysical Stage  Understand truth and relationship of mind and matter  Period people question everything and challenge teachings of the Church  Assumption that people could understand and explain universe through own insight and reflection o Conscious through beauty and emotions  Positive Stage  World would be interpreted through scientific lens o society be guided by rules of observation, experimentation nd logic o sociologists be ideal leaders for society  Positivism o there exists an objective and knowable reality  observation, experimentation and logic  objective world is grounded in the premise that we have capacity to do so o Since all sciences explore the same, singular reality, over time all sciences will become more alike o There is no room in science for value judgments  Science for both is equally valuable for furthering our understanding of the world  Anti-Positivism  Considers knowledge and understanding to be result of human subjectivity o Hard science is useful for physical world exploration; social world cat be understood through numbers and formulas o To truly understand human condition, we need to appreciate and validate emotions, values and human subjectivity o Science can’t be separated f
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