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SOC103H1 (103)

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SOC103H1Chapter 1Introducing Sociology Sociology emerged 200 years ago in response to new social problems that arose from industrialization urbanizationpolitical revolutionTwo social revolutions were especially important for the growth of sociologyIndustrial Revolution changed peoples lives by drawing them into harsh urban conditions and new kinds of exploitative impersonal economic relationships French Revolution which overthrew the monarchy convinced people throughout the Western world that new social and political arrangements were possible and should be developedHow to live in postrevolutionary societiesPresentday sociology is deeply concerned with how we know what we know how we view and judge different pictures of reality Herodotus world first historian devoted his attention to the differences between Egyptian Greeks and PersiansVoltaire French Enlightenment thinker reflected on differences between English Protestants and French CatholicsMax Weber analyzed different religions to understand why capitalism arose in northwestern Europe but not elsewhereSociology the systematic study of social behavior or the study of societySociety largestscale human group whose members interact with one another share a common geographic territory and share common institutionsSociology began with comparisons look for explanations to explain our differences to find patterns in peoples social relations oriented to solving problemsto find better ways of living togetherNew problems of living in an industrial societyMove social theorizing away fromo Moral philosophy To blame is not to understandSocial life is innately contradictory and paradoxical many good intentions produce bad resultsWhile everyone has agency and free will everyone is also constrained and manipulatedThus everyone is more or less to blame for somethingoIe People living in developed nations benefits from the oppression low wages and poverty of workers in the southern hemisphere lessdeveloped nationsoIe Everyone who enjoys a high level of material consumerism benefits at the expense of future generations whose natural nonrenewable resources we are using upoCommon sense explanations Commonsense knowledge is that uninspected package of beliefs understandings and propositions that people merely assume to be prudent and soundoPsychological and psychiatric theories to explain widespread social problemsOften ignore the root social causes thus miss finding a solution Ie schoolyard bullies usually act the way they do because they themselves are victims Seeing bullies in this wayas victims as well as victimizersis sociological because it looks at the broader social factors that influence how individuals act within society Many psychological problemseven varieties of mental illnesshave social origins Need to get to the interpersonal root of the problem to break the cycle Consider the unequal distribution of social rewards What people get in life is largely the result of circumstances beyond their control Ie patterns associated with unequal opportunities Such patterns perpetuate from one generation to the next shaping the ways people can lead their lives The difference in life experiences from one person to the next is rarely a simple result of higher intelligence more hard work or other personal characteristics 1Ways of looking at sociologyMacrosociology study of social institutions for example Roman Catholic Church or marriage and large social groups ie ethnic minorities or college studentsMicrosociology the study of the processes and patterns of personal interaction that take place among people within groupsFunctional theorySociety as a set of interconnected parts that work together to preserve the overall stability and efficiency of the wholeIndividual social institutions families the economy government education etcRobert Merton that social institutions one kind of social structure made up of a number of relationships ie stable patterns of meaningful orientations to one another People use institutions to achieve their intended goals as students use schools or patients use hospitals perform both manifest those intended and easily recognized and latent unintended and often hidden functions oIe Education is intended to provide students with knowledge skills and cultural values that will help them to work effectively in society Both the school and its participantsformally recognize these roles the expected pattern of interaction with others At the latent level education also works as a regular babysitter for young children and teenagers and also works as a matchmakeroIe Durkheims example of crime Crime is serves the latent function of mobilizing popular sentiment and helps clarify the social boundaries for proper behaviour thereby strengthening social solidarity oFunctionalists explain social problems by focusing on the failure of institutions to fulfill their roles during times of rapid change By this reckoning industrialization and urbanization in North America a century ago caused a sharp increase in social disorganization leading to an upsurge of crime mental illness poverty unsanitary living conditions and environmental pollution oDurkheim introduced the term anomie or normlessness to reflect the condition typical in times of rapid social change in which social norms are weak or in conflict with one another oFrom the functionalist perspective the best way to deal with social problems is to strengthen social norms and slow the pace of social changePolice restraining a protester during a riot illustrates what can happen when social control and norms break down a condition Durkheim termed anomie oSociological imagination an approach to sociology that situates the personal experiences of individuals within the societal context in which these experiences occur Critical TheoryArises out of the basic division between societys haves and havenots Focuses on the unequal distribution of powerthe domination of one group by anotherReject functional explanations criticizing their limited attention to power strugglesKarl Marx where critical approach originates oMarx attributed social problems not to industrializationurbanization like functionalists but to capitalism oBourgeoisie elite owners of the means of production vs proletariat working class who sell their labour oBourgeoisie class controls the economic system they use their economic powerpolitical influence to remain in powerSolution to social problems is to abolish class differences and private ownership of the means of production Max Weber shifted the focus beyond classes to contending status groups This enabled critical theory to also address other struggles for domination ie conflict between men and women and between people of different racial or ethnic groupsSymbolic InteractionismFunctional theory and critical theory focus on large elements of society such as social institutions and major demographic groupsBy contrast symbolic interactionism focuses on smallgroup interactions the glue that holds people together in social relationshipsThe shared meanings definitions and interpretations of interacting individuals2They analyze how certain behaviours come to be defined or framed and how people learn to engage in everyday activitiesLabelling theory that any given social problem is viewed as such simply because an influential group of people defines it soHoward Becker argues marijuana smoking is a social problem because influential moral entrepreneurs make it oneHerbert Blumer proposes that social problems develop in stages that include social recognition social legitimating mobilization for action and finally the development and implementation of an official plan such as a governmentsanctioned war on drugsRoles of stigma and stigmatization as forms of social controlInteraction the processes by which and manner in which social actorspeople trying to meet each others expectationsrelate to each other especially in facetoface encountersExpectation a shared idea about how people should carry out the duties attached to a particular statusFeminist TheoriesBranch of critical theory since it also focuses on relationships of inequalityIn practice most feminist research is a mixture of symbolic interactionist and critical theory 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 socioeconomic and ideological factorsof what Weber called closure and usurpation A unique set of assumptions informs feminist research all personal life has a political dimension both the public and private spheres of life are gendered that is unequal for men and women womens social experience routinely differs from mens patriarchyor male controlstructures the way most societies work and because of routinely different experiences and differences in power women and men view the world differently ie consequences of divorceFirst feminist research pays the greatest attention to gendered influences on social life or the gendering of experiences Some experiences are specifically female or male Ie violence against women womens economic vulnerability through job insecurity and divorce and womens vulnerability to maledominated standards of attractiveness and social worth A second interest is in the problem of victimization Feminists are especially interested in womens victimization and the experiences of other victimized groups Feminists are especially interested in intersectionality the interaction of gender with other victimizing social characteristics such as class and race to produce particular combinations of disadvantageFeminists stress the gendered nature of both deviance and control Ex They call our attention to the relationship between events in the private sphere eg domestic violence and events in the public sphere eg the cultural and legal tolerance of domestic violence They note the gendering of law enforcement practices ex how they police treat prostitutes compared with how they treat prostitutes customers They note the survival of patriarchal values in the legal systemex the centuries of failure to concede that a husband might be guilty of raping his wife Postmodern TheoriesForm of critical theory interested in unmasking ideologies that protect the dominant social orderAssert that reality is fragmentary all we have are disjointed often conflicting accounts of reality Any claim that there is a single knowable and known truth or that any one account is the truth is false and illusory Efforts to find and promote universal or essential truths are selfdeluding or are forms of propaganda designed to confuse and dominate the population It is the job of the postmodern sociologist to analyze these universalizing accounts and expose their flaws At best postmodernists hold that we can discover only particular explanations for particular situations not universal timeless laws of social lifeBy denying universal knowledge and highlighting the value of local or particular insights has an attraction for countercultural movements ththAttacks modernisma 19 and 20 century approach to studying social phenomenaModernism holds the view that through science we can discover the truth about reality and 3
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