Chapter 1: Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives
PUTTING SOCIAL LIFE INTO PERSPECTIVE
• Sociology: Systematic study of human society and social interactions (systematic because applies to both theoretical perspectives and research methods).
Why study sociology?
• Helps us look beyond our personal experiences, gain insight into society.
• Society: Social grouping that shares the same territory + subject to same political authority and cultures.
• Global interdependence: Relationship where the lives of all people are intertwined and one nation’s problem is a part of a larger global problem
• Commonsense knowledge: A type of knowing, that guides ordinary conduct in everyday life. (Many are myths)
• Sociologists strive to use scientific standards, must be completely value free. Analyse the impact of the problem and the effects of such behaviour on others in society.
• Sociological imagination: C. Wright Mill’s term for the ability to see the relationship between individual experiences and the larger society. (Lets us understand the link between our personal experiences and the social context in
which they occur)
o Helps us distinguish between personal troubles (private problems) and social or public issues (beyond an individuals control)
o Suicide as a personal trouble – Individual’s personal problems
o Suicide as a public issue – Emile Durkheim refused to accept commonsense explanations of suicide (he related suicide to the lack of cohesiveness in society)
• Importance of global sociological imagination:
o Highincome countries: Nations with highly industrialized economies. (High standard of living, low death rate, but doesn’t necessarily have good quality of life)
o Middleincome countries: Nations with industrializing economies (particularly urban areas)
o Lowincome countries: Countries that are primarily agrarian, little industrialization
DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIOLOGICAL THINKING
• Used to focus on what believed society ought to be like, not how it actually was.
• History: Enlightenment produced intellectual revolution in how people thought about social change. French Revolution aftermath replaced these ideals. Industrial Revolution also occurred. This all led to new social problems,
and a new breed of social thinkers.
• French coined the term sociology founder of sociology. Societies contain social statics (forces for social order and stability) and social dynamics (forces for social order and change)
• Positivism: Belief that the world can best be understood through scientific inquiry (science rather than religion)
• Idea system and their corresponding social structural arrangements changed. (Law of three stages)
1. Theological stage – Explanations were based on religion + the supernatural
2. Metaphysical stage – Explanations were based on abstract philosophical speculation
3. Positive stage – Explanations are based on systematic observation
• British She received no recognition – Made Comte’s work more accessible, translated and condensed his work
• Studied social customs + consequences of industrialization and capitalism Advocate for racial and gender equality – argues sociologist should be impartial
• Believed that a better society would emerge if men and women were equal, cooperation between people in all classes
• British Evolutionary perspective on social order and social change Evolutionary theory: theory to explain the mechanism of organic/social change
• Society is like a biological organism – believed that society developed through “survival of the fittest”
• Social Darwinism: The species best adapted to their environment survive and prosper (natural selection) Natural selection shows flaws related to generalization
• French Human potentials are socially, not biologically based. Idea that idea are built on social facts (patterned ways of thinking, acting and feeling)
• Preindustrialized societies were held together by traditions, shared beliefs + values. Industrialization made economy the basis of social bond
• Anomie: Condition in which you lose social control as a result of the loss of shared values and a sense of purpose in society
• He’s seen as the crucial figure in the development of sociology as an academic discipline
• German Concerned about the changes from the industrial revolution – economic interests are important in shaping human action
• Emphasized that sociology should be value free. Should employ verstehen (insight) to gain the ability to see the world as others see it
• Concerned that largescale organizations (bureaucracies) were a specialized division of labour, destructive to human vitality and freedom
• Was more aware of women’s issues, his wife was an important factor of the women’s movement
• German Society is a web pattern of interactions among people – main