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Chapter 2

Sociology 2240E Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Phenomenological Sociology, Social Exchange Theory, Dialectic

Course Code
SOC 2240E
Charles Levine

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Chapter 2- A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory: The Later Years
Early American Sociological Theory
oSchwedinger and Schwendinger argue that the early American sociologists are best described as political
oLiberalism characteristics:
1) Belief in the freedom and welfare of the individual (influenced more by Spencer then Comte)
2) Adopted an evolutionary view of social progress
oEither steps be taken for social reform, or leave it alone. (Laissez-faire doctrine)
Social Change and Intellectual Currents
oUttermost importance are the social changes that occurred in America society after the Civil War
(industrialization and urbanization)
Furman’s view: saw the positive possibilities of industrialization and well aware of its dangers
Not in favour of radically overhauling society
oAmerican sociologists retained the protestant interest in saving the world and merely substituted one
language (science) for another (religion)
oFrom 1854, Sociology was a moral and intellectual response to the problems of American life and
thought, institutions, and greed
oWanted to solve these problems.. like a clergyman working within religion to help improve it and
peoples lot within it.
oSociety had a difficult time developing in Europe
oMore easier going in the setting of the new American university system
oCharacteristic; it was turned away from historical perspective and in the direction of a
positivist or scientific orientation
oEuropeans crated it, Americans were able to rely this group work
Herbert Spencer’s Influence on Sociology
oWas interested in amersion sociology
oMore influential because
oWrote in English
oWork was accessible
oOffered scientific orientation
oOffered Comprehension
oTheory (everyone was a part)
oBreath of ideas aloud his work to mean many different things to many different people
oTheory was soothing and reassuring (telling society positive things)
When undergoing industrialization  moving in greater progress
oHe influenced many other sociologists, most famous American disciple was William Graham Sumner
oSpencers Social Dawrinist, laissez-faire ideas seemed ridiculous in the light of massive social problems,
a world war, and a major economic depression
oHis ideas shaped early American sociology
William Graham Sumner:
oTaught first course in USA for sociology

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oMajor exponent of social Darwinism  changed view later in life
oLiberal view  on the need for individual freedom and his position against government interference
oHe adopted survival of the fittest approach to the social world
oOpposed to helping those who failed
oThis fit with the development of capitalism (difference in wealth and power)
Historical because:
1) Social Darwinism (little more than a crude legitimation of competitive capitalism and status quo)
2) failed to build a solid enough base for sociology with many disciples
Lester F. Ward
oAccepted idea that people had always evolved from lower forms to their present status
oEarlier societies characterized by simplicity and its moral poverty… modern society’s more complex.
Happier, offered greater freedom.
Pure Sociology: study the basic Laws of social change and social structure
Applied Sociology: involved in the conscious use of scientific knowledge to attain a better society
oNot extreme social Darwinist; believed in the need for and importance of social reform
Thorstein Veblen
oNot a sociologist held position in economics department
oProblem with social theory; clash between business and industry
Business: owners are leaders, “captains” of industry’s who focus on the profit of their own company (affect
society as a whole) …. Should be lead by people who understand industrial system and its operation and
were interested in the general welfare
oHe is critical of leisure class (wasteful consumption)
oLeisure class engages in both
1) Conspicuous leisure: non-productive use of time
2) Conspicuous consumption: spending more money on goods that they are worth
Those in all other social classes are influenced by this, resulting in society characterized by the
waste of time and money… .
oFocuses on consumption rather then production
The Chicago School
oFounded by Alvion Small (1892)
oCollaborated on the first sociological textbook
Early Chicago School
oHad a strong connection with religion (ministers were members)
oSociology must be essential to Christianity, interested in social reform combined with being scientific
WI. Thomas (1863-1947)
oFellow at Chicago school
oSignificance emphasis on the need to do scientific research on sociological issues
oHis work moved sociology away from “abstract theory and library research and towards the study of the
empirical world utilizing a theoretical framework
oHis work included 8 years, autobiographical material,, paid writings, family letters, newspaper files,
public documents, and institutional letters.
oHe gravitated from macro sociological study to microscopic  Social psychological orientation

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oKNOWN FOR STATMENT: the emphasis was on the importance of what people think and how this
affects what they do.
oOne of the defining characteristics of Chicago’s theoretical product  symbolic interactionism
Robert Park (1864-1944)
oProfound effect on sociology in general and on theory In particular
oFirst career in journalism, gave him real world opportunity.
oUrban Ethnology (using participant observation techniques)
oAfter Journalism enrolled in philosophy
oEncountered Simmels lectures.. was attracted to the cause of improving the lot of black
1) Dominate figure in Chicago department
2) Was instrumental in bringing Continental thinkers to the attention of Chicago sociologists
3) Been reporter  gained experience  interest in urban ecology
4) Played a key role in guiding graduate students
5) Published the first truly important sociology textbook
oLess time in Chicago… His lifelong interest in race relations lead him to a position at a university
Worked with Cooley and Mead
Charlie Horton Cooley (1864-1929)
oTheoretical perspective was in line with the theory of symbolic interactionism (became Chicago’s
more important product)
oTheorized about large-scale phenomena such as social class, social structures, social institutions but
remembered for social-psychological aspects of social life
o1) Interested was in social consciousness (refused to separate consciousness from the social context)
oKnown as looking glass theory
People possess consciousness and that it is shaped in continuing social interactions
o2) continuing interest and importance of the primary group
oPrimary group: Intimate, face to face group that plays a key role in linking the individual to the
larger society(family and peer group).. this is where individuals grow into a social being.
It is within the primary group that the looking-glass self emerges and the ego-centered child learns to take
others into account, becoming contributing members of society
Mead+Cooley reject behaviouristic view: people are blinded and unconsciously respond to external
oThey believe that people had consciousness, a self, and that it was the responsibility of the sociologist to
study this aspect of social reality
oCooley tried to tell sociologists to put themselves in the place of the individuals (sympathetic
oMany believe this is unscientific mead represents advancement.
Overall: sociology should focus on such social psychology phenomenal as consciousness, action and
George Herbert Mead (1863-1931)
oMost important thinker to symbolic interactionism
oPhilosopher…. this is a paradox because
1) Taught courses in social psychology in the philosophy department taken by many students in sociology
2) Students put together their notes on Mead’s course and published a posthumous volume under his name
(mind, self, society)
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