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SOC103H1 (103)

SOC103 Starting Points (ALL)

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University of Toronto St. George
Lorne Tepperman

o Conflict (or critical) theory = Macroanalytical approach  Arise from the basic division between society’s haves and have-nots  Focus on the unequal distribution of power or the domination of one group by another  Whether they focus on class, gender, or race  Focus on power relations between people of different social classes, races, genders, etc.  Views society as a collection of varied groups (e.g., social classes) that compete with each other for social dominance (e.g., gain power and control)  Karl Marx says the social problems of the modern age are not due to industrialization and urbanization (e.g., class conflict)  The social problems of the modern age are due to capitalism and economic inequality  The bourgeoisie are elite owners of the means of production o Controls the economic system o Uses their economic power and political influence to ensure dominance  The proletariat are working class that sell their labour in exchange for wage  The solution to social problems is to abolish the class differences o Symbolic interactionism = Microanalytical approach  Interaction is the processes by which people trying to meet each other’s expectations relate to each other  Expectation is a shared idea about how people should carry out the duties attached to a particular status  Focus on small-group interactions  Focus on the glue that holds people together in social relationships  Howard Becker argues that marijuana smoking is a social problem only because influential moral entrepreneurs make it one  Labelling theory is where any given social problem is viewed as such only because an influential group of people defines it to be  Herbert Blumer proposes that social problems develop in states that include social recognition, social legitimizing, mobilization for action, and the development of an official plan o Feminist theories  Considered to be a branch of critical theory  Focus on gendering and gender inequality  Focus on relations of inequality  Focus on relations of dominance and subordination between men and women  To be a woman is often to act out a role that men have defined  The common theme in many types of feminism is the view that domination of women is not a result of biological determinism, but is a result of socio-economic and ideological factors, called closure and usurpation  A set of assumptions of feminist research:  Personal life has a political dimension  Both the public and privates spheres of life are gendered  Women’s social experience differs from men’s  Patriarchy structures the way most societies work  Women and men view the world differently  Major focus on the gendered nature of deviance and control characterize feminist research  An interest in the gendering of experiences o Some experiences are specifically male or female (e.g., violence against women, women’s economic vulnerability through job insecurity and divorce, and women’s vulnerability to male-dominated standards of attractiveness and social worth)  An interest in the problem of victimization o Intersectionality is the interaction of gender with other victimizing social characteristics, such as class and race) to produce particular combinations of disadvantage (e.g., black men, or Muslim immigrant women)  The relationship between events in the private sphere (e.g., domestic violence) and events in the public sphere (e.g., cultural and legal tolerance of domestic violence)  The gendering of law enforcement practices (e.g., how the police treat prostitutes compared with how they treat prostitutes’ customers)  The survival of patriarchal values in the legal system (e.g., the centuries of failure to concede that a husband might be guilty of raping his wife)
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