Starting Points Chapter 1 Notes
* Come to understand the main competing approaches of sociology and see how
they can be fused together to give us an understanding of society
* Learn about the history and development of sociology as a social scientific
* 2 social revolutions were important for growth of sociology
> Industrial revolution (people into harsh urban conditions)
> The french revolution (convinced that new social and political arrangements were
* Key thing I learn from sociology
> how we know what we know.
> how we view and judge different pictures of reality
* reasons why we do things this way and they do things that way
* using common sense to understand the world is not enough
* The central goal of sociologists is to replace such faulty common sense reasoning with
Ways of looking at… Sociology * 2 main microanalytical approaches that have emerged in sociology are the structural
functional theory and critical theory. Also symbolic interactionism.
* Functional theory views society as a set of interconnected parts that work together to
preserve the overall stability and efficiency of the whole.
* Robert Merton argues that social institutions perform both manifest and latent functions.
> Manifest functions = those that are intended and easily recognised
> latent functions = by mobilising popular settlement, it helps clarify the social boundaries
for proper behaviour
* Durkheim argues crime is universal, thus it is latent function for society
* Durkheim introduced the term anomie and formlessness
* arise out of the basic division between society’s “haves” and “have nots”.
> critical theory, whether they focus on class, gender, race, or something else - are always
about the unequal distribution of power - about domination of one group by another
* Critical theory originates in the works of Karl Marx.
* Proponents of Marxist critical5 theory argue that social problems stem from economic
inequality of two groups.
> bourgeoisie (rich) and proletariat (poor)
* Marxist solution to social problems required abolishing bourgeoisie Symbolic Interactionism
* focuses on small group interactions.
* focus on the glue that holds people together in social relationships.
* labelling theory, a major theory in the symbolic interactionist tradition
> any given social problem is viewed as such simply because an influential group of people
defined it so.
* Herbert Blumber argues that proposes that social problems develop in stages that
include, social recognition, social legitimating, mobilisation for action, and finally the
development and implementation of an official plan
* focuses on the relations of dominance and subordination between men and women
* first wave of feminist movement = mid 19th century - early 20th century
* common theme in the many types of feminism is the view that domination of women is not
a result of biological determinism but is a result of socio-economic and ideological factors
> Weber called closure and usurpation
* For men and women, they experience their divorce differently.
* feminists are especially interested in women’s victimisation and the experiences of other
> especially interested in intersectionality (interaction of gender with other victimizing
social characteristics such as class and race Post Modern Theories
* especially interested in unmasking ideologies that protect the dominant social order.
* modernism holds the view that through science we can discover the truth about reality,
and there is only one truth per situation
* post modernists argue that rationality is neither sure not clear, and that our knowledge is
situation-specific- always limited to particular times, places, and social positions.
* post modernists assert that reality is fragmentary
> all we have are dis jointed, often conflicting accounts of reality
* Postmodern movement, by denying universal knowledge and highlighting the value of
local or particular insights, has an obvious attraction for counter-cultural movements and
* Foucault’s picture of modern disciplinary society are 2 primary techniques of control
> hierarchical observation, normalising judgement and continual examination
Classic Studies… Suicide
* Durkheim argues that if suicide were strictly psychological, the sign of a person’s insanity,
then it would show no social patterns.
* Altruistic suicide means suicide that is motivated by a sense of societal duty.
> this type of suicide explains why the rate of suicide is higher among soldiers that among
civilians. * anomic suicide means suicide resulting from an absence of social regulation and norms,
as sometimes happens after a sudden social shock or