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Sociology (1,471)
SOC100H5 (498)
Chapter 1

Chapter 1 (Socio).doc

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Gregory Bird

Chapter 1 Sociological Perspective • Examines patterns of social relationships • Provides a unique and enlightening perspective on social events that differs from commonsense understanding • Can be used to analyze how people commonly understand the world. Example: Sociological Analysis of Suicide • Examines patterns of social relations that might encourage or inhibit suicide • Commonsense Knowledge: Suicide is an act that is anti-social and non-social • “Suicide is selfish” – isolated act that has nothing to do with society • Person who commits suicide is similar to an island – “individuals shouldn’t be islands” Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) • One of the founders of sociology • 19 Century French sociologist • Famous study of suicide rates in France Suicide • Discovered higher rates of suicide among certain categories of people: a) The unmarried (opposed to married) b) Men (women are more socially connected) c) Christians (Jews are more socially integrated than Christians) d) Seniors (opposed to the young and middle aged) – lose more loved ones, lose social connections Sociological Perspective Argued that suicide was • Strongly influenced by social forces • Varied in its rate with degree of: Social solidarity – degree to which group members share beliefs and values and the intensity and frequency of their interaction Social values – ideas about what is right and wrong, good and bad, beautiful and ugly • Weak = weak social integration & weak social control (social integration breaks down, less authority and control) • Strong = strong social integration & strong social control Continuum of Suicide 1. Individualistic a) Egoistic Suicide • Weak social integration • “Excessive individuation” • Detached from community • Isolated from others • Feeling of not belonging • Weak social support networks • Not socially integrated • Becomes distant • Durkheim “Occurs usually in modern society – don’t share a set of values and morals) Example: Senior who has recently lost their life partner b) Anomic Suicide • Weak social values governing behavior • Mostly focused on norms and values • Durkheim “Helps society function in a normal manner” • Norms and values regulate people’s behavior • E.g. Don’t hit strangers with cellphones in Canada – not a social norm, unacceptable behavior • Durkheim “Morally regulate interactions within society – without them society will stop functioning” • Norms get broken during social breakdown (e.g. Civil war) • Person who goes ‘postal’ – more likely to commit anomic suicide Example: Person who commits suicide after a stock market crash 2. Collective: a) Altruistic Suicide • Strong social integration & strong social values • Durkheim “Act of suicide” • Very powerful group integration • Putting yourself in a position where death is likely • E.g. Police officers talking about other officer being killed in the line of duty • Officer killed in the line of duty – has been sacrificed for the good of society Examples: People going to war to fight for their country. b) Fatalistic Suicide • Excessive social norms & values • Only way out of a situation – last resort Example: Prisoner serving a life sentence committing suicide Sociological Imagination: The quality of mind that enables one to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures Social structures: a) Levels of Analysis Microstructures • Patterns of intimate social relations formed during face-to-face interaction • E.g. Patriachism Political Theory: Aim is to offer interpretations and analysis about the existing environment. Traditional Political Philosophy • Constructs philosophic systems that explain political reality • Plato, St. Augustine, Hegel, Marx, and Arendt • Living standards of people • Examine and evaluate organization of government and social institutions • Moral judgments about humanity’s potential • Role and function of the state • Meaning of central concepts (politics Justice authority revolution freedom equality inequality and oppression and liberation Modern Scientific Approaches • General theories about humanity • Describe and predict human behavior based on facts • Facts from scientific observation of social and political behavior • Want to find cause of political behavior (by analyzing behavior) Sociological Theory and Theorists Functionalism • Theory that human behavior is governed by relatively stable social structures. • Social structures either maintain or undermine social stability • Based mainly on shared values/preferences • Solution to most social problems = re-establishing equilibrium • Social structures that are most analyzed = macrostructures • Each part of society works together to function (like the human body, every part is important to have a functioning body) • Durkheim: “Social solidarity = Moral cement that binds people together” • Social solidarity would rise if people could agree on wanting less Conflict Theory • Focuses on large, macro level structures (e.g. relations among classes) • Major patterns of inequality in society = social stability or social change • Social conditions are the expression of an ongoing power struggle (high class want to maintain while subordinate groups want gain) • Lessening privilege = lower level of conflict and increase human welfare Karl Marx • Conflict theory originated with him • Class conflict: The struggle between classes to resist and overcome the opposition of other classes (center of Marx’s ideas) • Class-consciousness: Awareness of belonging to the social class of which one is a member. • Believed that class consciousness would encourage growth of trade unions and labor parties • Organizations would create a communist society • Marx didn’t take into account how technology would make manual workers’ jobs easier therefore pacifying the workers Max Weber • Politics and religion are important sources of historical change • White collar (non-manual) workers would stabilize society because they enjoyed prestige and income more than blue collar (manual) workers • Certain religious beliefs encouraged and contributed to capitalism • Protestant Ethic: 16 thand 17 thcentury protestant belief that religious doubts can be reduced, and a state of grace assured if people work diligently and live ascetically. Protestant work ethic increased savings and investment and thus stimulated capitalist growth. Feminism Har
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