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SOC103H1 (103)
Chapter 1

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Lorne Tepperman

Soc 203 – chapter 1 - Emerged 200 years again a response to new social problems that arose from industrialization, urbanization, and political evolution o 2 social revolution are important for the growth of sociology  The industrial revolution – changed people’s lives by drawing them into harsh urban conditions and new kinds of exploitive, impersonal economic relationships  French revolution – convinced people throughout the western world that social and political arrangements were possible and should be developed o Both revolutions gave the scholars the reason to study social change and social problems - Three important figures who were the first to question how the social world works/ how people live among the cites o Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and max weber - Paradigms of sociology – several approaches sociology takes to explain the variety of the social problems - Sociology – systematic study of social behavior, or the study of society o Society – the large scale human group, whose members interact with one another, share a common geographic territory, and share common institutions o Oriented to solve problems, finding ways to live better  One of the first steps is to move away from moral philosophy. To blame is to not understand Functional theory - Views society as a set of interconnected parts that work together to preserve the overall stability and efficiency of the whole. - Individual social institutions (family, economy, government, education) contribute to the continued functioning of society - Robert Merton – argued that social institutions preform both manifest and latent functions  Manifest – those that are intended and easily recognized  Latent – unintended, and often hidden o This distinction is important because it helps us understand how every social institution has a purpose. The interconnection of societies parts, and how the parts support one another, usually highlights how the parts also influence each other - They characteristically explain social problems by focusing on the failure of institutions to fulfill their roles during times of change o This view of social problems holds that sudden cultural shifts disrupt traditional values and common ways of doing things - Durkheim – introduced the term anomie (‘normalness’) to reflect the condition typical in times of rapid change o Where social norms are weak/ in conflict with one another. - From this perspective, the best way to deal with social problems is to strengthen social norms and make the social change slower Critical theory - Arises out of the basic division between societies ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. The view is more about the unequal distribution of power, about the domination of one over the other. - They reject functionalists’ explanation of social problems, criticizing their limited attention to power struggles and special interest. - This view originated from Marx o He attributed the social problems of the modern age not to industrialization and urbanization, but to capitalism (exploitive system) - Followers of Marx’s critical theory argue that social problems stem from the economic inequality of these 2 groups o Powerlessness of the weaker group may feel alienated, thus unable to change their conditions to level the ground (their social status towards the dominant group) - Marxist solution to social problems requires ownership of the means of production, abolishing the class differences - Max weber later shifted the focus of critical theory away from strict focus on classes to contending status groups. o This enables critical theory to also address other struggles for domination ( gender, ethnic, races) Symbolic Interactionism - They focus on the ‘glue’ that holds people together in social relationships o Shared meanings, definitions, interpretations of interacting individuals - They analyze how certain behaviors come to be defined/framed, and how people learn to engage in everyday activities - Labeling theory – (major theory) rest on the premise that any given social problem is viewed as such simply because an influential group of people defines it so. - Blumer proposes that social problems develop in stages that include social recognition, social legitimating, mobilization for action, development/implementation of an official plan - They are also interested in the consequence of people being labeled as deviants/criminals Feminist Theories - Many consider this view to be a branch of critical theory. o This view is about the inequality of gender and how it makes the lives of women different from the men’s  To be a woman is to act out the role of others men have defined  It shapes all of the women’s most social activities - Common theme is view that domination of women is not a result of biological determinism but as a result of socio-economic and ideological factors (weber call is closure and usurpation) - Several features that come through in the literature on deviance and control characterize feminist research o Feminist research pays the greatest attention to gendered influences on social life (gardening of experiences) o Problem of victimization - feminist are especially interested in woman’s victimization and the experiences of other victimized groups. o Intersectionality – the interaction of gender with other victimizing social characteristics such as class/race to produce combinations of disadvantage - They stress the gendered nature of both deviance and control. They note the gendering of law enforcements, and the survival of patriarchal values in the legal system Postmodern Theories - This view may be considered a form of critical theory, but it’s more than that. - Followers are interested in unmasking ideologies that protect the dominant social order. - It holds the view that through science we can discover ‘the truth’ about reality and there is only one ‘truth’ per situation o If so, then it should be possible to change and improve society through social engineering, using discovered ‘truths’ or natural laws about the social order. - However, it denies all of these assumptions and conclusions o Opposing modernist/Enlightenment rhetoric, it argues that rationality is neither sure/not clear, and our knowledge is situation-specific - Central to this debate between modernism and postmodernism is the concept of objectivity o It’s position hinges on the denial of objectivity and the rejection of claims based on purported (supported) objectivity - The movement of this view has an obvious attraction for counter cultural movement and parties - It’s fascinated by mass media and cultural production in general o Mass media in important in this context because they are responsible for framing/ transmitting conventional ideas about normality, gender, class, science - Foucault – all modern society is a prison o He links the birth of the modern prison in the 19 century to a long history of institutions. Out of this institutional evolution comes disciplinary society with new means of enforcing power  In this society, power is diffuse and internalized – controlling people far more completely than any despot could o His picture of a modern ‘disciplinary’ society are 3 primary techniques of control  Hierarchical observation, Normalizing judgment, continual examination Classical Studies: Suicide - Durkheim: his approach in suicide is based on what he calls the ‘sociological method’ o The principle of this method is that ‘social facts must be studied as things, as realities external to the individual’ o he begins by ruling out the plausibility of strictly psychological explanations of suicide  4 types of suicide due to insanity, melancholic, obsessional, impulsive  Uses the example of Jewish community to explain the inadequacy of purely psychological explanations.  If it was purely psychological, it would show no social patterns. (he notes that social patterns are present) o According to him, egoistic suicide is likely to occur when people fall out of social groups they belong to  Protestants vs. Catholics: protestant feels less tied to their religious institution, lower rate of suicide then Catholics  Divorced/single women with no children are less suicide prone to males in the same situation o Altruistic suicide – motivated by a sense of societal duty  He claims that this explains higher suicide rate for soldier than civilians o Anomic suicide – absence of social regulation/norms
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