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Chapter 1

New Society Chapter 1 notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

New Society-Chapter 1 The sociological Explanation of Suicide  Emile Durkheim (1897-1951) demonstrated that suicide is more than an individual act of desperation resulting from a psychological disorder o Suicide rates are strongly influenced social forces o Examined the association between suicide rates and rates of psychological disorders in different groups  Reasoned the idea that psychological disorder causes suicide is supported only if suicide rates tend to be high where rates of psychological disorder are high  Research revealed nothing of the kind asylums, but 4 male suicides for every 1 female suicide  Jews had more psychological disorders than the other main religious groups in France, but the lowest suicide rate  Psychological disorder occurred most frequently when reached maturity, but suicide rates increased with age  Therefore suicide rates and rates of psychological disorders vary un proportionately  Argues: suicide rates vary because of differences in social solidarity in different groups o The more group members share beliefs and values, and the more frequently and intensely they interact, the more social solidarity there is in the group o The more people are anchored to their social world o Therefore less likely to commit suicide o Therefore suicide rates low when social solidarity high *Graph*  Altruistic suicide: when norms tightly govern behaviour therefore individual actions are in the groups interest o Soldier sacrificing himself to save another  Egoistic suicide: lack of integration of the individual into society because weak social ties to others  Anomic suicide: norms governing behaviour are vaguely defined o When society lacks a widely shared moral code, higher anomic suicide Suicide in Canada Today  Durkheim‟s theories hold up today o Durkheim‟s France=Canada 2004 (sex suicide) o Durkheim‟s France: higher rate of suicide of elderly. 1  Canada higher rate of suicide ages 15-16  Strong social ties and shared moral principles have eroded since the 1960s for Canada‟s youth therefore higher rate of youth suicide o Religious attendance lower for youth (less than 1/3) o Unemployment up o Rate of divorce has increased therefore kids brought up in single parent homes o Therefore social solidarity lower for young people, meaning they are more likely to commit suicide during a crisis From Personal Ties to Social Structure  Patterns of social relations affect innermost thoughts and feelings, influence actions and help shape who we are  Relatively stable patterns of social relations=social structures o Three levels of social structure surround and penetrate us  Microstructure: patterns of intimate social relations. Face-to- face interaction. Families, friends, work associates. More likely to know the same people. Strength in „weak ties‟  Macrostructure: patterns of social relations that lie outside and above circle of intimate friends. Class relations and patriarchy. Traditional system of economic and political inequality between men and women  Global structure: International organizations, patterns of worldwide travel and communication, economic relations between countries The Sociological Imagination  American sociologist. C. Wright Mills (1959) called the ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures the sociological imagination o Born when three modern revolutions pushed people to think about society in a new way  Scientific Revolution: began in 1550. Encouraged the view that sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on solid evidence not just speculation  Democratic Revolution: began 1750. Suggests that people are responsible for organizing society and human intervention can solve social problems  Industrial Revolution: began 1780. Created new and serious social problems that attracted the attention of social thinkers 2 Origins of the Sociological Imagination  Scientific Revolution o Less a collection of ideas than a method of inquiry o Core: use evidence to make a case for a particular point of view o When sociology emerged as a distinct discipline in the 19 century, commitment to the scientific method was one firm pillar of the sociological imagination  Democratic Revolution o Second pillar of the sociological imagination o The realization that people control society and can change it o American and French Revolution helped undermine the ideas of how the world used to view the universe o Democratic political upheaval showed that society could experience massive change in a short period of time o Proved people could replace unsatisfactory leaders o PEOPLE control society not God  Industrial Revolution o Third pillar o England 1780 o Because of growth of industry, people moved to cities, worked long hours in dangerous conditions o Lost faith in religion o Confronted faceless bureaucracies and reacted to the filth and
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