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SOC102 Chapter Summaries L1.docx

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University of Toronto St. George

Lecture#1: Social Problems 1 Social Problems – Chapter 1 What is a social problem?  A condition/pattern of behavior that warrants public concern/collective action  What is sociology  Systematic study of societies The rise of sociology itself coincided with the rise of modern societies There are two aspects to social problems 1) Objective Elements  Measurable features of a negative social condition (eg crime, sexual abuse, pollution) 2) Subjective Elements  Our evaluations of objective conditions and the processes that influence their evolution (eg moral labels)  By bringing together objective and subjective elements (changes in measurable reality and our perceptions of measurable reality, we can define a social problem as a condition and process Sociological Imagination  C. Wright Mills  The ability to see connections between one’s life and the social world  This enables people to distinguish between personal troubles and public issue  This connection is made by closely analyzing reality at two levels o Microsociology: local/personal level o Macrosociology: major bureaucratic organization and social institutions Social ‘reality’  Social reality is a social construct, a set of ideals, beliefs and views that are flexible and open to interpersonal influence  People’s subjective view of reality, not reality itself shapes behavior Moral entrepreneurs  Those who classify social problems and try to make a change Claims – Making  Anything people do to propagate There are 4 basic assumptions made  The world does not present itself objectively to the observer  Historical and cultural specificity recognized  Knowledge is sustained by social process
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