Human behaviour is governed by relatively stable social structures, ex. Suicide rates
being influenced by social solidarity.
Social structures maintain or undermine social stability, ex. Growth of industry lowers
social solidarity and creates social instability, leading to suicide.
Social structures are based mainly on shared values.
Re-establishing equilibrium can solve most social problems, ex. Social stability can be
restored by creating unions.
Some social structures may have different consequences for different categories of
2. Conflict theory
Focuses on large, macro-level structures such as class relations, ex. Marx.
Shows how patterns of inequality in society produce social stability or change.
Stresses how members of privileged groups try to maintain their advantages while
subordinate groups try to increase theirs.
Usually leads to the suggestion that decreasing privilege will improve human welfare and
3. Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic interactionism focuses on face-to-face interaction a micro level, such as
between friends or family, ex. Weber.
It emphasizes that understanding human behaviour requires understanding of the
subjective meanings people attach to their social world.
People help to create their social circumstances instead of just reacting to them.
Symbolic interactionism reinforces everyone's subjectivity and thusly promotes tolerance
and respect for minorities.
Attributes = characteristics of people or things. Variables = logical groupings of attributes; ex. the variable of gender is made up of the
attributes of male, female, and gender-queer.
Idiographic = an approach to explanation where we try to explain all the different causes
of something, ex. the myriad reasons why I chose U of T (not getting into NYU, law,
society, and ethics, Trinity One, SDS, Ms. Stryker, the condo, etc.) (55)
Nomothetic = an approach to explanation in which we seek to identify a few causal
factors that influence a condition or event, ex. the primary reasons I chose U of T (55)
5. Groups and organizations
Aggregate = a collection of people who happen to be in the same place at the same time
but have little else in common.
Category = a number of people who may have never met one another but who share a
Functionalists say groups meet people's task oriented and emotional needs.
Conflict theorists say groups involve power relations where some people's needs are
served and others' aren't.
Symbolic interactionists focus on how the size of the group influences the interactions
that take place among members.
Postmodernists say groups are characterized by superficial relations and emotional
Weber said all bureaucracies have a specialized division of labour, a hierarchy of
authority, rules and regulations, qualification based employment, and impersonality.
Informal structure = aspects of people's day to day activities that don't correspond with
the official rules and procedures of the bureaucracy, ex the grapevine.
Goal displacement = when the rules become an end in themselves rather than a means to
an end. Bureaucratic personality = describes workers who are more concerned with following
procedures than with doing the job correctly.
Mcdonaldization = the process by which the principles of the fast-food industry are
coming to dominateAmerican society and the world – George Ritzer.
Basic elements are efficiency, calculability (based on speed and quantity instead of
quality), predictability, control, and dehumanization for customers and employees.
Rationality = the process by which traditional methods of social organization,
characterized by informality and spontaneity, are gradually replaced by efficiently
administered formal rules and procedures (bureaucracy).
Network enterprise = separate businesses which may be companies or parts of companies
join together for specific projects that become the focus of the network.
Networks are held together by a rapid flow of information instead of by an organizational
George Herbert Mead said the key to socialization is the ability to take the role of the
other and be empathetic.
Imitative stage = children younger than two have no concept of themselves as separate
social beings, and they imitate the behaviour of different roles.
Play stage = children adopt roles of significant others and their play shifts from imitative
Game stage = children develop a general impression of the behaviour people expect and
awareness of their own importance in a group and mould their actions to complement the
actions of others in a group.
At this point children are responding to the generalized other, which is a conception of
how people in general rather than someone specific will respond to their actions.
Mead thought the subj