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SOC103Ch1Detailed Notes.docx

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Lorne Tepperman

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Chapter One Detailed Notes: Introduction to Sociology:  Sociology and the other social sciences arose out of a desire to explain such differences, and to find patterns in people’s social relations.  Sociologists find that using ‘common sense’ to understand the world is usually not enough.  ‘Common sense’ knowledge is that uninspected package of beliefs, understandings, and propositions that people assume to be prudent and sound. This blind assumption often leads to incomplete and inaccurate explanations  Many psychological problems — even varieties of mental illness – have social origins  Sociologists note that what people get in life is largely the result of circumstances beyond their control  Ie. Patterns associated with unequal opportunities  Those born in higher social classes tend to stay there, and so too do people in humbler circumstances. Ways of looking at sociology:  The two main macroanalytical approaches that have emerged in sociology are the functional theory and critical theory, while the major microanalytical approach is symbolic interactionism.  Feminist theory and postmodern theory are important additions to and variants of these major forms Functional Theory:  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 structures – families, the economy, government, education, and others.  Ie. Families reproduce and nurture members of society, while the economy regulates the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.  Robert Merton argued in his classic work that social institutions perform both manifest and latent functions.  Manifest functions are those that are intended and easily recognized  Latent functions are unintended and often hidden  Ie. Education is intended to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and cultural values that will help them to work effectively in society  At a latent level, education also works as a regular ‘babysitter’ for young children and teenagers not yet ready to take full-time jobs  One of the classic ideas in sociology introduced by Emile Durkheim  Durkheim introduced the term ‘normlessness’ to reflect the condition typical in times of rapid social change, in which social norms are weak of in conflict with one another.  The manifest function of crime – law breaking – is usually to benefit the law breaker (thief, robber, etc.) But Durkheim noted that crime is universal (found everywhere, all the time), so perhaps it serves a latent function for society as well: by mobilizing popular sentiment, it helps clarify the social boundaries for proper behaviors. This way, it strengthens social solidarity, which every society needs  This approach helps us understand why changes in one part of society bring about changes in other parts  Ie. Why changes in family life, such as increasing divorce and single- parenthood, have important, usually unconscious and unintended consequences for work and education  Functionalists also characteristically explain social problems by focusing on the failure of institutions to fulfill their roles during times of rapid change.  This view of social problems holds that sudden cultural shifts disrupt traditional values and common ways of doing things  From the functionalist perspective, the best way to deal with social problems is to strengthen social norms and slow the pace of social change Critical Theory:  Another major approach, arises out of the basic division between society’s ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’  Cr
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