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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 SY101.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Greg Bird

SY101 Chapter 1 The Sociological Perspectives  Examine patterns of social relations  Provide unique perspectives on social events that differs from commonsense understanding  Can be used to analyze how people commonly understand the world Sociological Explanation  Durkheim, French sociologist, functionalist  Theory of suicide (1858-1917): suicide rates decline and then rise as social solidarity increases  He challenged the commonsense of suicide “self death”  Suicide rates strongly influenced by social forces  Extremely social act, example: bullying, social isolated, poverty, war  Examined the association between rates of suicide and rates of psychological disorder  Suicide rates and rates of psychological disorder appeared to vary inversely  Why? Suicide rates varied as a result of differences in social solidarity  Social solidarity: degree to which group members share beliefs and values  Values: ideas about what is good/bad, right/wrong  Durkheim expected high solidarity groups have lower suicide rates  Supported argument by finding suicide rates highest amongst  Unmarried adults: marriage creates social ties  Men more likely than women: less involved in social relations of family  Christians are more than Jews: more defensive and tightly knit  Seniors are more likely than young: live alone, lost spouse, lack job  Likelihood of committing suicide decreases as the degree to which on is anchored in society increases Two Social Forces Influencing Suicide Rates 1. Social Integration: connection between individuals and the group 2. Social Control: regulating norms, values, expectations, individual responsibilities, etc  Too much or too little, result in suicide Continuum of Suicide Weak Strong Social Control Anomic Fatalistic Social Intergration Egoistic Altruisic Type of Suicide Individual Collective Individualistic Types of Suicide 1. Egoistic Suicide  Weak social integration (cant depend on others)  “Excessive individuation”  Example: senior who recently lost their life partner  May suffer from depression, no real meaning to life,  Most prevelant because we live in an individualistic society 2. Anomic Suicide  Weak social control governing behaviour  Social control over norm and values, believed norms and values are important to hold society together, without them society wont function  Norms and values are important for regulating peoples behaviour, no chaos  Morally regulating our interactions with each other  Durkheim says norms and values start to break down, example- during war, 9/11 terrorist attack, financial crisis, economic disasters, end of relationship, recently lost job, if society processes to quickly, people become confused, norms and values wont match up to social world, norms and values left behind  We have rules but we don’t have matching values and norms, have not come to consensus.  Example: person commits suicide after a stock market crash Collective Types of Suicide 1. Altruistic Suicide  Strong social integration and social control  High solidarity and suicide rates  Results from norms very tightly governing behaviour  Example: soldiers who willing give up their lives to protect comrades commit suicide out of a sense of patriotism, sacrifice themselves  Social repression comes extensive  Examples: police officer, firefighters (die on line of duty) put their body on the line for the good of the people  These examples are counter to commonsense  Durkheim regrets making theory after his son died in WW1, then he died of regret 2. Fatalistic Suicide  Excessive social control over norms and values  Social norms and values way too strong  Society too impressive, kill themselves as they feel it is the only way out  North America, prisoner taking own life because they don’t want to spend life in prison  Non common sense because Durkheim says the cause of suicide is society  It was society who put them in prison, he said it is not an individual act, society who enforces discipline in jail  Examples: prisoner serving life sentence committing suicide Social structure  Relatively stable patterns of social relations  Aspect of social structures, such as level of solidarity, affect your innermost thoughts and feelings, and influence your actions to shape who you are Sociological imagination  C. Wright Mills  Ability to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures  3 levels of social structure 1. Microstructures: patterns of intimate social relations formed during face- to-face interactions. Examples: families, friends, work associations 2. Macrostructures: patterns of social relations that lie outside and above circle of intimates. Examples: religious institutions, social class Important macrostructure is patriarchy: economic and political inequality between men and women 3. Global structures: patterns of social relations that lie outside the national level. Examples: international organizations, patterns of worldwide communication and travel Origins of Social Imagination The Scientific Revolution  Encouraged the view that sound conclusions about the workings of society must be based on evidence, not speculation  Using evidence to make a case for a particular point of view The Democratic Revolution  People are responsible for organizing society and that human intervention can solve social problems The Industrial Revolution  Created a host of new and serious social problems that attracted the attention of social thinks  As a result of the growth of industry, masses of people moved from countryside to city, worked in mines and factories, lost faith in religion  Scholars hadn’t seen sociological laboratory like this, industrial revolution responded by creating the social imagination Sociological Theories and Theorists Functionalism  Macro approach  Values  Durkheim  Functionalist theories incorporate four features 1. Stress that human behaviour is governed by social structures Example: Durkheim’s theory of suicide: patterns of social solidarity influence suicide rates 2. Show how social structures maintain social stability, functionalists analyze how the parts of society fit together and contribute to stability Example: Durkheim argued that high solidarity contributes to maintenance of social order, social instability results in higher suicide rates 3. Emphasize the social structures are based mainly on shared values, values and norms hold society together 4. Suggests that re-establishing equilibrium can solve social problems. Conflict Theory  Opposite of functionalism  Macro  Inequality  Incorporate four features 1. Focuses on large, macrolevel structures such as class relations or patterns of domination. - society defined as the rich and poor - economic class - inequalities of power 2. Shows how major patterns of inequality produce social stability in some circumstances and social changes in others. - Ruler needs to be fox and lion, - Smart and witty plus strong and fierce 3. Stresses how members of privileged groups try to maintain their advantages while subordinate groups struggle to
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