SOCI 1010 – 2013/2014 Professor Davidson
What is Sociology?
Systematic study of behaviour in human societies (Logic and evidence)
How do we explain patterns of behaviour in sociology?
A. Structure: Decisions structured by social institutions
Social Institution: Family, School, Government, Media
B. Agency: Decisions based on free will, in that we are the agents of our own lives.
Two scopes of sociological research
A. Micro: Small group level interactions (Family, Peer group, coworkers)
B. Macro: Large social organization (Universities, Churches, Towns)
C. Wright Mills – ‘Sociological Imagination’ – connection between personal troubles and public issues.
Example: A couple’s marriage that breaks down can be linked to a broader realization of many
marriages breaking down in society. This then can correlate to the notion that there is an absence of
public daycare, forcing one parent to stay home, creating potential problems for each individual
marriage. Therefore, it is no longer a personal problem when using our sociological imaginations, but a
widespread social issue.
Purpose: Theories are tools to help us understand social issues, organize our ideas, and interpret reality.
Four main theoretical paradigms
1. Functionalism – Institutions keep society in equilibrium
Key Figure: Durkheim – In an attempt to understand why people commit suicide, Durkheim
believed that the individual was disconnected from the social institutions that were
fundamental to their well-being.
2. Conflict – Society is in constant class struggle which generates social change
Key Figure: Karl Marx – Communism Manifesto 3. Symbolic Internationalism – Society is the shared reality of interactions with one another
creating meaning, shared through elements such as language, a system of symbols