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SOCA01H3 Chapter Notes -The Sociological Imagination, Solidarity, Symbolic Interactionism

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Sheldon Ungar

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Sociology Textbook notes: Part1
Chapter 1: Sociological Compass
The sociological perspective:
o It is condemned by nearly everyone in society
o It is typically committed in private
o It is comparatively rare
o Focus on their state of mind over society
The sociological explanation of suicide:
More than just an individual act of desperation on that results from psychological
Social forces, strongly influence suicide rates
Four male suicide rate for every female suicide
Social solidarity:
o The degree to which groups members share beliefs &values
o The intensity & frequency of their interaction
Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide:
Married adults are half as likely as unmarried couple to commit suicide
o Marriage creates social ties and moral cement that bind the individual to society
Argued that suicide rate declines and rises as social solidarity increases
Types of suicide:
o Suicide in high solidarity
Ex. Soldiers who knowingly give up their lives to protect comrades
o Suicide in low solidarity
o poor integration of people into society because of weak social ties
Ex. someone who is unemployed is more likely to commit suicide
o Suicide in low solidarity
o When vague norms govern behaviour
Ex. People living in a society lacking a widely shared code of morality
Suicide in Canada Today:
Men are more likely to commit suicide than women
The level of social solidarity has decreased than it was a few decades ago, especially for youth
o Less rooted in society and to share moral standards(more chances to take their life)
Box1.1: Its your choice:
Suicide & the Innu of Labrador:
The Canadians with the highest suicide rate are Aboriginal peoples
Innu most suicide-prone in the world
Over the past six decades, the Innu’s traditional norms and values have been destroyed
Prevented from participating in stable and meaningful patterns of social interactions
o Social solidarity among the Innu has been cut to a dreadfully low level
From personal Troubles to Social Structures:
Patterns of social relations affect your innermost thoughts feelings, influence your actions, and
thus help shape who you are.
social relations is a level of social solidarity
Social Structure: are relatively stable patterns of social relations
Three levels of social structure:
Microstructure: are the patterns of relatively intimate social relations formed during face-to-face
Ex. Families, friendship circles, and work associations
More likely to find a job faster if you understand “the strength of weak ties “in
microstructural setting. Over someone you know able to get a variety of options.
Macrostructures: are overachieving patterns of social relations that lie outside and above your
circle of intimates and acquaintances.
Ex. include classes of bureaucracies, and power systems, such as patriarchy
Patriarchy: is the traditional system of economic and political inequality between men
and women
In a marriage when a spouse shares domestic responsibilities equally, they are happier
and less likely to divorce(patriarchy)
Global Structures: are patterns of social relations that lie outside and above the national level.
Ex. International organizations, patterns of worldwide travel and communication, and
the economic relation between countries
Figuring out ways to end world poverty
The Sociological imagination:
Is the quality of mind that enables a person to see the connection between personal troubles and
social structures
Origin of the sociological Imagination:
The sociological imagination was born when three modern revolutions pushed people to think
about society in an entirely new way
Scientific revolution: Sound conclusions of society must be based on solid evidence, not just on
Democratic revolution: people are responsible for organizing society and that human
intervention can therefore solve social problems(1750)
Industrial revolution: large scale application of science and technology to industrial processes,
the creation of factories, and the formation of working class(1780s)
Theory, Research, & Values:
Theories: are tentative explanations of some aspect of social life that state how and why facts are
Ex. Durkheim related facts about suicide rate to facts about social solidarity
A hunch qualifies as a theory
Research: is the process of a systematically observing reality to assess the validity of a theory
Ex. Durkheim collected suicide stats from various government agencies to see whether
the data supported or contradicted his theory
Values: are ideas about what is good and bad, right and wrong
Ex. Durkheim, Marx, and Weber stood close to the origins of the major theoretical
traditions in sociology: functionalism, conflict theory ,and symbolic interactionism
Sociological Theory and Theorists:
Durkheim’s theory of suicide is an early example of what sociologists now call functionalism
Four features:
1. They stress that relatively stable patterns of social relations, or social structure, govern human
a. Ex. Emphasizes on social solidarity influence suicide rates (E.D)
2. Functionalist theories show how social structures maintain or undermine social stability:
a. Ex. analyzed how growth of industries an cities lowered the level of social solidarity and
contributed to social instability, increase in suicide (E.D)
3. Emphasizes that social structure are based mainly on shared values and preference’s:
a. Ex. Frequency and intensity of social interaction; social solidarity binds people
4. Suggest re-establishing equilibrium can best solve most social problems:
a. Ex. more people could agree on wanting less, social solidarity would rise and there
would be fewer strikes, fewer suicides, and so on(E.D)
Functionalism in North America:
Dysfunctional consequences: are effects of social structures that create social instability
Manifest functions: are visible and intended effects of social structure
Ex. school is to transmit skills from one generation to the next
Latent functions: are invisible and unintended effects of social structures
Ex. school is to encourage the development of spate youth culture that often conflict with
parent values