Sociology 2240E Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Auguste Comte, Sociology

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Published on 17 Apr 2014
School
Western University
Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 2240E
Introduction to Classical Sociological Theory – A historical sketch of sociological
theory: The Early Years (September)
Overview:
we are headed to an increasingly centralized world with less individual freedom
(Alexis de Tocqueville)
we are evolving in the direction of a world dominated by science (Auguste
Comte)
the world is moving in the direction of increasing order and harmony (Herbert
Spencer)
capitalism is based on the exploitation of the workers by the capitolists (karl
Marx)
the modern world offers less moral cohesion than did earlier societies (Durkheim)
the modern world is an iron cage of rational systems from which there is no
escape (Max Weber)
the city spawns a particular type of person (Simmel)
gender inequality explains most of individual experience, the ills in society, and
history (Charlotte Perkins Gilman)
a “veil” rather than a wall seperates African Americans and whites (Du Bois)
people engage in conspicuous consumption (Veblen)
knowledge is shaped by the social world (Mannheim)
people’s minds and their conceptions of themselves are shaped by their social
experiences (Mead)
in their social relationships, people often rely on tried and true “recipes” for how
to handle such relationships (Schutz)
society is an integrated system of social structures and functions (Parsons)
Introduction
by classical sociology, we mean theories of great scope and ambition that either
were created during sociology’s classical age in Europe or had their roots in that
period and culture
Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory
All intellectual fields are shaped by their social settings
Political Revolutions
Almost the immediate factor for the rise of sociological theorizing in the 19thc
Impact of the revolutions had a positive effect on societies and many positive
changes resulted
Tocqueville saw negative changes however
oDisturbed by the chaos and disorder, especially in france
oHad a desire to restore order in society
oSought to find new bases of order in socierties that have been overturned
by the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries
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The Industrial Revolution and the Rise of Capitalism
Large numbers of people left farms and agricultural work for the industrial
occupations offered in the burgeoning factories
Large companies arose to provide the many services needed by industry and the
emerging capitalist economic system
In this economy, a free market place was ideal
Few profited great, while most suffered long hrs and low wages
All of this, involved the enormous upheaval in western society that affected
sociologists greatly
The Rise of Socialism
Most sociologists were opposed to it and feared it
Marx was a supporter of the overthrow of the capitalist system with the
replacement by a socialist system
oHowever, did not develop a theory of socialism
oBut spent time criticizing capitalistic societies
Feminism
There has always been a feminist perspective
oWomen everywhere all the time have been mistreated
oA main focus on the professional (job) side of women
oMen made conservative responses to the feminist arguments going on
around them
Made issues of gender an inconsequential topic to which they
responded conveniently rather than critically in sociology
Urbanization
Large numbers of people in the 20th centuries were uprooted from their rural
homes and moved to urban settings
oWas caused from jobs created by the industrial system in the urban areas
oBecame hard for people to adjust to this way of life
oOvercrowding, pollution, noise, traffic, etc – these problems attracted
sociologists, especially Weber and Simmel
Religious Change
Social changes brought on by political revolutions, the industrial revolution and
urbanization had a profound effect on religiosity
Sociologists who came from religious background became interested in this field
and wanted to improve people’s lives
For some, (Comte) sociology was transformed into a religion
Durkheim: wrote 1 religious work. Mortality played a key role
Weber: devoted to the religions around the world
Marx: interest in religiosity, but orientation is more critical
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Spencer: religion as a significant component of society
Intellectual Forces and the Rise of Sociological Theory
Intellectual forces cannot be separated from social forces
The many intellectual forces that shaped the development of social theories are
discussed within the national context in which their influence was primarily felt
The Enlightenment
Critical element in terms of the later evolution of sociology and a period of
remarkable intellectual development and change in philosophical thought
Most prominent thinkers associated were:
oMontesquieu & Rousseau
Enlightenment thinkers focus on the individual
The influence of the enlightenment on sociologic theory, however was more
indirect and negative than it was direct and positive
The emphasis to sociologists was on producing grand, general and abstract
systems of ideas that made rational sense
oThey wanted to mix empirical research with reason
Characterized by the belief that people could comprehend and control the
universe by means of reason and empirical research
Enlightenment philosophers were inclined to reject beliefs in traditional authority.
When examined traditional values and institutions, they found them to be very
irrational.
The theorists most directly and positively influenced were Tocqueville and Marx
The Conservative Reaction to the Enlightenment
French sociology became rational, empirical, scientific and change-oriented, but
not before it was also shaped by a set of ideas that developed in reaction to the
Enlightenment
oFrom the start, has been a mix of Enlightenment and counter-
enlightenment ideas
Most extreme form of opposition to Enlightenment ideas was French Catholic
counterrevolutionary philosophy
oReacting against the Enlightenment & French revolution
God was the source of society and reason was seen as inferior to traditional
religious beliefs
The conservatives turned away from what they considered “naïve” rationalism of
the Enlightenment
oRecognized irrational aspects of social life and assigned them positive
value
oEmphasized social order
Zeitlin outlined 10 major propositions that he sees as emerging from the
conservative reaction and providing the bases for the development of classical
French sociological theory:
1. The conservative reaction led to an emphasis on society and other large-
scale phenomena (society was seen as having an existence of its own)
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