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Sociology (1,053)
SOCA01H3 (480)
Chapter 1


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

SOCA01: Lecture 1 - C: Chapter 1 C: Chapter 1 Sociology – systematic study of human behavior in social context - social cause differs from physical and emotional causes - organization of the social world opens some opportunities and closes others – constraining freedom and helping to make us what we are - examination of these powerful social forces, sociology can help us to know ourselves, our capabilities and limitations. Sociological explanation of suicide - sociology takes a unique, surprising, and enlightening perspective on social events - suicide appears to be the supremely antisocial and nonsocial act - Emile Durkheim – suicide is more than just an individual act of desperation resulting from psychological disorder, but suicide rates are strongly influenced by social forces o – argued that human behavior is shaped by social facts or the social context in which people are embedded - Rates of suicide and rates of psychological disorder: o Women slight more than men were in insane asylum BUT four men committed suicide for every woman who did o Jews had highest rate of psychological disorder among the major religious groups in France BUT lowest suicide rate o Psychological disorder occurred most frequently when a person reached maturity BUT suicide rates increased steadily with age - Social solidarity = refers to the degree to which group members share beliefs and values o = the intensity and frequency of their interaction o the greater the degree and intensely they interact = more solidarity = more firmly anchored individuals are to the social world and less likely to commit suicide o lower suicide rates = high degree of solidarity at least with o e.g. married adults are half as likely as unmarried adults to commit suicide o women – less likely to commit suicide because they are more generally involved in intimate social relations of family life than men o jews – less likely than Christians because centuries of persecution have turned them in to a group that is more defensive and socially tightly knit o elderly – more prone than the young and middle-aged because they are most likely to live alone ,widowed, etc. o high rates of church membership in USA show low suicide rates - types of suicide according to Durkheim: 1 SOCA01: Lecture 1 - C: Chapter 1 Altruistic Suicide Egoistic Suicide Anomic Suicide Occurs in high-solidarity Occurs in low-solidarity settings, Norms tightly settings, where norms govern behavior governing behavior are vaguely defined suicide in the group Results from a lack of Anomie = without order interest (altruism = integration of the devotion to the interests individual into society of others) because of weak social ties to others - social structures = stable patterns of social relations o identify and explain the connection between people’s personal troubles and social structures in which they are embedded  one of sociologist’s goals - microstructures – patterns of relatively intimate social relations formed during face-to-face interaction. Families, friendship circles, and work associations are all examples of microstructures. o e.g. you are more likely to find a job faster if you understand “the strength of weak ties” in microstructural settings. - Macrostructures – over-aching patterns of social relations that lie outside and above one’s circle of intimates and acquaintances. o Include classes, bureaucracies and power systems such as patriarchy o E.g. spouses share domestic responsibilities = less likely to divorce o Patriarchy – traditional system of economic and politic inequality between women and men - Global structures – patterns of social relations that lie outside and above the national level. o Include international organizations, patterns of worldwide travel and communication and the economic relations between countries o E.g. In 2002, world’s developing countries paid the developed countries nearly seven times more in interest on loans than they received in official aid = relying exclusively on foreign aid and charity can do little to help solve the problem of world poverty Sociological imagination = (by C. Wright Mills) is the quality of mind that enables one to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures - various aspects of society exert powerful influences on our behavior; we are not perfectly free  “Minority Report movie” - sociological imagination is necessary to understand the social constraints and possibilities for freedom that envelop us - origins of social imagination: o scientific revolution – (Europe. 1550) it encouraged the view that sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence, not just speculation 2 SOCA01: Lecture 1 - C: Chapter 1  19 century, sociology emerged as a distinct discipline = commitment to the scientific method was one firm pillar of the sociological imagination. o Democratic revolution – (1750) suggested that people are responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can therefore solve social problems.  American and French Revolution undermine the idea of God ordained the social order. = shows how society could experience massive change in a short period/people control the society.  Broadened their participation in the government  Organize society and human intervention can therefore resolve social problems o Industrial Revolution – (1780) refers to the rapid economic transformation that began in Britain in the 1780s.  Involved the large-scale application of science and technology to industrial processes, the creation of factories, and the formation of a working class  It created a host of new and serious social problems that attracted the attention of many social thinkers. Theory, research, and values o Auguste Comte – coined the term sociology (1838) and place the study on scientific foundations. He urged slow change and the preservation of all that was traditional in social life o Herbert Spencer – second founder of sociology. Both didn’t conduct any research.  Thought societies were composed of interdependent part  “Social Darwanism” – individuals struggle to survive, and the fittest succeed in this struggle and the least fit die before they can bear offspring. This allows societies to evolve from “barbaric” to “civilized” – deep social inequalities exist in society  society operates according to scientific laws o Karl Max o Emile Durkheim o Max Weber  All three wanted to explain the great transformation of Europe and suggest ways of improving people’s lives  All witnessed various phases of Europe’s wrenching transition to industrial capitalism - theory – tentative explanation of some aspect of social life that states how and why certain facts are related - research – process of carefully observing social reality, often to test a theory or assess its validity - (theories are only tentative explanations 3 SOCA01: L
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