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Sociology Review.docx

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Sheldon Ungar

Sociology Review Chapter 1: A Sociological Compass The Sociological Explanation Suicide Emile Durkheim:  Demonstrated that suicide is more than just an individual act of desperation that results from a psychological disorder, as was commonly believed at the same time.  Social forces, he showed, strongly influence suicide rate  He examined the association between rates of suicide and rates of psychological disorder for different groups  Psychological disorder causes suicide only if suicide rates tend to be high where the rates of psychological disorder are high.  Suicide rates varied because of differences in the degree of social solidarity in different categories of the population. Social Solidarity:  Refers to the degree to which group members share beliefs and values, and the intensity and frequency of their interaction  Durkheim expected high-solidarity groups to have lower suicide rates  Ex. Women are less likely to commit suicide than men because they are more involved in the intimate social relations of family life. Suicide in Canada Today **Aboriginals have highest suicide rate**  Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women  In his study, he mentioned that suicide rates in youth were substantially low, but it has now risen  Youth: Shared moral principles and strong social ties have eroded now, especially for youths in Canada Why suicide in Youth has risen?  Church attendance is down, particularly in young people  Unemployment is up, especially for youth. It remains twice as high for those under 25  The rate of divorce has increased, so children are often brought up in single parent families  This suggests that they have less frequent and intimate social interaction with parents and less adult supervision  Altruistic suicide: Suicide in high-solidarity settings  Ex. Soldiers who knowingly give up their lives to protect comrades  Egoistic and Anomic suicide: Suicide in low-solidarity settings Ex. Results from the poor integration of people into society because of weak social ties to others  The level of social solidarity is now lower that it was decades before, especially for young people Social Structures: Relatively stable patterns of social relations  Patterns of social relations affect you thoughts and feelings, influence actions and shape who you are The 3 Levels of Social Structure: Microstructures:  Patterns of intimate social relations  They are formed during face-to-face interaction  Ex. Looking for a job: Asking people who you are weakly connected to know different groups of people.  You are more likely to find a job faster if you understand “the strength of weak ties” Macrostructures:  Patterns of social relations that lie outside and above your circle of intimates and acquaintances  Includes: class relations, bureaucracies, and power systems like patriarchy  Patriarchy: The traditional system of economic and political inequality between men and women  Ex. Studying how spouses divorce over unequal division of work Global Structures:  Patterns of social relations that lie outside and above the national level.  They include international organizations, patterns of worldwide travel and communication and the economic relation between countries. The Sociological Imagination: Wright Mills  The quality of mind that enables a people to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures  Mills emphasized the difficulty of developing this quality of mind  They believed that God and nature controlled society Origins of the Sociological Imagination 1. The Scientific Revolution:  Began at around 1550 and encouraged the view that sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence, not just on speculation.  This led to the scientific method: using evidence to make a case for a particular point of view. 2. The Democratic Revolution:  Began around 1750 and suggested that people are responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can therefore solve social problems.  **Showed that people control society** 3. The Industrial Revolution:  Often viewed as that most important event in world history since the development of agriculture and cities, refers to the rapid economic transformation.  1780s and involved that large-scale application of science and technology to industrial processes, the creation of factories, and the formation of a working class  Suggested that a science of society was possible Theories, Research, and Values Herbert Spence:  “2 founder of sociology”  Strongly influenced by Darwin  Thought that societies evolve in the same say as biological species do, individuals struggle to survive, the unfit die before they bear offspring, and the fittest survive  Social Darwinism Theory:  The way in which sociological ideas are expresses  Tentative explanations of some aspect of social life that state how and why certain facts are related  Ex. In Durkheim’s theory of suicide, he related facts about suicide rates to facts about social solidarity Research:  After theories are formulates, research can be conducted  The process of systemically observing reality to assess the validity of a theory  Ex. Durkheim collected suicide stats from various government agencies to see whether the data supported his theory Values:  Ideas about what is good and bad right and wrong. **Theories are typically motivated by values and tested by research** Sociological Theory and Theorists FUNCTIONALISM: Durkheim  Durkheim’s theory of suicide is an example of functionalism  Functionalist theories incorporate 4 features: 1. They stress that relatively stable patterns of social relations, or social structures, govern human relations Ex. Durkheim emphasized how patterns of social solidarity influence suicide rates  Often macrostructures 2. Show how social structures maintain or undermine (weaken) social stability Ex. Durkheim analyzed how the growth of industries and cities lowered the level of social solidarity and contributed to social instability = higher suicide rate 3. Emphasize that social structures are based mainly on shared values of preferences Ex. When Durkheim wrote about social solidarity as a moral cement that binds people together 4. Re-establishing equilibrium can best solve most social problems Dysfunctional Consequences:  Effects of social structures that create social instability Manifest Functions:  Visible and intended effects of social structures Latent Functions:  Invisible and unintended effects of social structures Conflict Theory  Generally focuses on large macrolevel structures and shows how major patterns of inequality in society produce social stability in some circumstances social change in others  Focus on power and class relations Carl Marx:  Class conflict: The struggle between classes to resist and overcome the opposition of other classes was the center of his ideas.  Development of capitalism ($$) Weber:  Showed that class conflict is not the only driving force of history Symbolic Interactionism Protestant Ethic:  Belief that religious doubts can be reduced and a state of grace ensured, it people worked diligently. Weber said this work ethic had the unintended effect of increasing savings and investment = stimulating capitalist growth Symbolic Interactionism:  Focuses on interaction in microlevel social settings and emphasizes that an adequate explanation of social behaviour requires understanding the subjective (personal) meanings people attach to their circumstances  Ex. If a person is found behind the wheel of a car that ran into a tree, it’s difficult to establish if it was an accident or suicide.  Interviewing family and friends about the person’s state of mind may help  Understanding the intention or motive of the actor is critical to understanding the meaning of a social action and explaining it. Social Constructionism and Queer Theory Social constructionism:  Argues that apparently natural or innate features of life often sustained by social processes that vary historically and culturally.  However, when people interact they assume things are naturally what they seem to be  Ex. Many people assume that differences in the way men and women behave are the result of their different biological makeup  Constructionists believe show the way power is distributed between the 2 Queer Theory:  Argues that people’s sexual identities and performances are so variable (flexible) that conventional labels like “male”, “female”, “gay”, and “lesbian” fail to capture the sexual instability that characterizes the lives of many people  These are socially accepted labels Feminist Theory  Claims that patriarchy is at last as important as class inequality in determining a person’s opportunities in life  Male domination and female subordination (reduction) are determined not by biological necessity but by structures of power and social convention. (Women are reduced to men because men enjoy more legal, economic, political and cultural rights)  Examines the operation of patriarchy in both microlevel and macrolevel settings  Contends that existing patterns of gender inequality can and should be changed for the benefit of all members of society Preindustrial Revolution:  Technology-driven shift from manufacturing to service industries and the consequences of that shift for virtually all human activities Globalization:  The process by which formerly separate economies, states, and cultures become tied together and people become increasingly aware of their growing interdependence Equality Vs. Inequality of Opportunity  Optimists forecast that post industrialism will provide more opportunities for people to find creative, interesting, challenging, and rewarding work  Ex. CANADA  This era will generate more “equality of opportunity” meaning better chances for ALL people to get an education, influence government policy, and find good jobs  Post industrial societies like Canada, are characterized by a decline in discrimination against member of minority groups  Women have made rapid strides in the economy Freedom Vs. Consensus  Many people are now freer to construct their identities and form social relationships in ways that suit them  You can choose who you want to be, with what you want to associate, and how you want to associate with them Chapter 2: How Sociologists Do Research Levels of Experience: Concrete Experience: Obtained by seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, or hearing Percept: The smallest bits of concrete experience. This forms patterns when combined Patterns: Collections of related percepts If life were experience exclusively at the concrete level, it would be full of sensations but lack meaning. The abstract level of experience saves you from a state of confusion. Abstract Experience: The imaginary world of the mind Concepts: Abstract terms used to organize concrete experience Propositions: Ideas that result from finding the relationship between concepts Conceptualization: Organizing concrete experience by placing the different objects into a single, meaningful category. Examples of Unscientific Thinking:  Knowledge based on tradition: Knowledge that is passed down from generations, like methods of healing. Science is required to separate valid from invalid knowledge  Knowledge based on authority: Thinking that something is true because we read it in an authoritative source or hear it from an expert  Scientists should always question authority to arrive at more valid knowledge  Knowledge based on casual observation: Casually observing something. Uncertainty can be reduced by recording observations like how scientists do.  Knowledge based on overgeneralization: For example, if you know a few people who started off poor, worked hard, and became rich you may think any poor person c
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