SOC100H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-3: George Herbert Mead, Symbolic Interactionism, Harriet Martineau

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18 Feb 2016
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Sociology Test1
Chapter 1
Sociological Imagination:
C. Wright Mills ability to see the connection between people’s personal troubles and the
four social structures is called the “sociological imagination”
Way of looking at the world that links private individual problems with important social
issues
4 levels of sociological structures surround us
omicrostructures: intimate social relations, face-to-face interaction (family, friends)
omesostructures: organizations with people who are not intimately acquainted
(college)
omacrostructures: patterns of social relations above mesostructures (classes of
people, system of patriarchy)
oglobal structure: economic relations among countries, patterns of worldwide travel
(relations among nations)
Durkheim (functionalist):
human behaviour influences by social factors, social relations in which people are
embedded
Durkheim’s study of Suicide: found that suicide is related to social forces, not personal
issues
suicide is connected to degrees of solidarity (degree of shared beliefs)
The greater the degree to which a group’s members share beliefs and the more frequently
they interact, the more social solidarity existshigher = individuals more firmly anchored
to social world, less likely to commit suicide (ex women less likely to commit bc they are
more involved in social relations of family, persecution of jews made their community
stronger they have less suicide rate)
social solidarity too high=altruistic suicide (archetypal, die for others, to protect ex
military due to patriotism, comradeship)
if solidarity too low=egoistic suicide (isolation, weak social ties to others, unemployed,
unmarried, old people commit more because they are alone, cannot integrate into society
as much)
says that morality cannot be studied because it is not measureable, must be concrete to
measure it
Theory I:
statement about how/why particular facts about social world are related
testable assertions, cannot just be based on observation (most theories are anecdotal)
a good theory: is logical, fits evidence, sensitizes us to see things we may not otherwise
see, is widely applicable
oUnit theory: emphasizes certain problems, makes testable assertions about the
problems
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oMetatheory: a way of looking at reality or a way of interpreting reality, is not
testable (ex. Humans are self-interested by nature)
Major Theoretical Paradigms: functionalism, conflict, symbolic interactionism, feminism,
postmodernism
Functionalism: How do Social Structures Maintain or Undermine Social Stability?
Associated to Durkheim
Human behaviour is governed by stable patterns of social relations
A functionalist believes that social relations shape human behaviour (social relations for
ex = social solidarity, mainly interested in macrostructures)
Functionalist theories show how social structures maintain or undermine social stability
(industrial revolution eroded religious beliefs, caused population movement, social
solidarity levels low = more suicide (human behaviour))
Durkheim believed that rising suicide was due to larger social ills
Emphasize that social structures are based on shared values (solidarity = moral cement
that binds people together)
Believes that re-establishing equilibrium is the best way to solve social problems (ex.
Increase social solidarity if too low due to industrial revolution)
Structure = stable pattern of social behaviour (school, organizations, gvt)
Manifest Function = a visible and intended effect that the social pattern creates (ex
sports intend to establish fitness, leisure)
Latent Function = an invisible effect that the social pattern unintentionally creates
(sports unintentionally create social relations, teamwork, pride, competition)
Dysfunction = effects of social structures that create social instability
Conflict: How is Social Inequality Maintained and Challenged?
Associated with Karl Marx
Conflict theory focuses on macro level structures (class relations)
Believe that major patterns of inequality in society produce social stability
Class-Conflict: the struggle between classes to resist and overcome the opposition of
other classes (struggle between high and low)
Industrialization and capitalism created a large growing class of workers (struggle to
acquire advantages), who opposed small and shrinking class of wealthy business owners
(maintain their advantages) = ongoing power struggle
Class Consciousness: Marx believed that working class and unions would become aware
of their exploitation, and put an end to private ownership, and establish a communist
society (opposing forces come to eqm)
Believes that reducing privilege would lower conflict and increase welfare
Associated with Max Weber
Found issues with Marx’s theory, and noted growth of service sector economy with many
manual workers and professionals
Argued that this occupational group stabilizes society because they enjoy higher status
and income than manual labor workers
Argued that religion and politics also cause historical change, not only class conflict
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Hegemonic Domination/Control: subscribe to a system that exists without questioning
Theory II:
Symbolic Interactionism:
Interpersonal communication in micro level settings
Social life possible bc people attach meaning to things
People help create social circumstances not just react to them (functionalist and conflict
says that behaviour depends on social environment, rich/por, black/white, SI says we need
to understand that people make their own choices, change their minds)
Focus on subjective meaning that people create, and validate unpopular and unofficial
viewpoints, increasing tolerance of people who may be different
Society is a product of everyday interactions of people, and we share our reality and
construct our surroundings as we interact
Associated with George Herbert Mead
oSense of self formed in the course of interaction with others
oSignificant other family +friends Generalized othersociety
Associated with Weber
oEmpathy with motives and meanings to understand people’s actions
Associated with Goffman
oDramaturgical approach – front and back stages, shared cognitive frames, we put a
front view of us, never show our back stage
Associated with Cooley
oWhat audience reflects shapes a person’s sense of selse
oI am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think
that you think I am
Emphasized the need to understand people’s motives and the meanings they attach to
things to gain a clear sense of the significance of their actions
Adequate explanation of social behaviour requires understanding subjective meanings that
people associate with their social cirumstances
All human communication depends on being able to take the role of the other, see
yourself through others’ point of view
Feminism: What are the Social Sources of Patriarchy?
Associated with Harriet Martineau
Feminist theory shares features: patriarchy, power and social convention, gender
inequality
Focus on patriarchy, believe that patriarchy determines one’s opportunities in life
Male domination and female subordination are not determined by biological necessities
but by social convention and power structures; women are subordinate because men have
more legal, cultural, political, economic rights
Believe it is best to eliminate patterns of gender inequality; the way boys and girls are
reared, barriers to education, paid work, politics, unequal division of domestic
responsibilities between genders
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