Perspectives and Theories in Sociology Study Guide
Perspectives and Theories in Sociology Study Guide SOCL 313
SUNY College at Oneonta
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This 8 page Study Guide was uploaded by Andrew Edwards on Tuesday February 9, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to SOCL 313 at SUNY College at Oneonta taught by Professor Brian M. Lowe in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 48 views. For similar materials see Perspectives and Theories in Sociology in Sociology at SUNY College at Oneonta.
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Date Created: 02/09/16
Perspectives and Theories in Sociology Study Guide By: Andrew Edwards Introduction to Sociological Theories (Notes from Sociological Theory In The Classical Era +Perspectives and Theories in Sociology) Background An era has concluded when people develop nostalgia over it. The educated French thought the MiddleAges were a time when people were impoverished yet lived in happiness since everybody knew their place and there was no conflict. The MiddleAges were fraught with violence after the fall of the Roman Empire and people lived in homes that were without heat, had too many people in them, unclean, and places that were full of disease. Religious conflict was also present due to the Protestant Reformation and other changes in religious ideology, a lot of persecution was carried out by the Church and its Inquisition, the Church owned one third of the land in Europe, and the Church financially supported kings and sometimes their soldiers. In the 1700’s, religion lost its foothold in kingdoms such as England and France and the Enlightment period began with thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau. Despite the positives of the Enlightenment period, the French Revolution, which was supposed to be a chance for order and reason to prevail, led to violence and unrest since those against the French Revolution were killed by individuals such as Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety. Napoleon took over and was the Emperor of France and had taken over a few other nations before he was defeated and a constitutional monarchy came into power in 1815. Henri De SaintSimon He was born an aristocrat in 1760 and died in 1825. He took advantage of the French Revolution by making speeches, assisting the poor, and suggesting what changes ought to be made. SaintSimon ran out of money and struggled to make a living until the constitutional monarchy was put back into power in France in 1815. He made a living as a writer and he wrote papers that supported industrialism and said it would improve the conditions caused by feudalism. He famously said that France would be hindered more by the loss of the artists, scientists, engineers, artisans, and businessman than by the loss of the aristocrats and ruling elite. His motto was “All men must work”, which would later become “each according to his capacity” thanks to his followers and it became a part of the motto for communism. His followers believed in the pursuing of outstanding achievements that were more social in nature and after his death, they created a shortlived society based on social harmony. He wanted to maintain society as it was and believed that studying aspects of society ought to be done in a scientific manner. He supported economic reforms based on socialism but did not develop the idea as much as Marx did. Auguste Comte Lived from 1798 to 1857 Served as SaintSimon’s secretary and developed their beliefs on history and industrial society together until their falling out in 1824. Law of three stages: theological, metaphysical, and positive Theological: deities based on humans were at the center until 1300 MetaPhysical: God and his existence explained everything (1300 to 1800) Positivist: more focus on the physical world and the use of science Sciences developed in an order of increasing complexity: mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and sociology Believed that psychology was under biology. Believed that society is a cumulative culture Society is like an organism that only exists as consciousness and social institutions continue from one generation to the next. Believed social change moves in the same way and that progress in every different area happens at the same time His new science became a cult called the Religion of Humanity and called society the “Great Being” He is the person to have first used the term sociology and had based his views in science. He wanted to base sociology on the hard sciences. Believed in the evolution of society and that reform could assist it Sociology consisted of studying the most important aspects of social systems based on methods supported by history so testable conclusions can be made. Socialism’s Role in Developing Sociology Capitalism and the industrial system showed many flaws so some sociologists believed socialism was a plausible way to end the problems caused by industrialism. Most early sociologists were opponents of socialism and were more fearful of it than capitalism even though they believed capitalism was flawed. The worry over socialism inspired the development of sociological theory far more than Marx’s support of socialism. The Enlightenment This was a time of intellectual advancements related to philosophy and science. The most influential thinkers were Rousseau and Montesquieu. The sociologists that were influenced the most positively by the Enlightenment were Alexis de Tocqueville and Karl Marx. Enlightenment theorists focused on the individual while the more conservative thinkers focused more on society. A lot of sociological thought arose from this period and people could debate in the open without much government intervention. Alexis de Tocqueville Deemed as more like a political science but still contributed to French Sociology. Best known for Democracy in America Supported freedom but was against centralized government since he believed that restricted freedom and was against equality since it led to mediocrity. Emile Durkheim Greatly contributed to sociology in France and increased its recognition Believed that sociology had to establish social facts, which were made forces and structures that were outside of the individual and dominated them Focused on the reasons for differences in suicide rates among different types of groups, areas, and nations He made a distinction between nonmaterial and material facts, but he focused mainly on nonmaterial social facts. He believed that early societies were maintained by nonmaterial facts and a powerful shared sense of morality or a strong collective conscience. Durkheim believed that the modern division of labor was incapable of maintaining society. He thought the source of religion was society and used the phrase totenism to discuss the making of things such as animals and plants into gods within religion. He sought to improve society rather than inspire revolution since he associated society with God. Hegel Two concepts summarize his ideology: dialectic and idealism. Dialectic is a method of thought and a symbol of the world. Idealism is the emphasis on the mind and mental products instead of the material world. He believed there was discrepancy between what people are and what they could be which was settled when the individual accepted their place in bigger picture of society. He believed in change in the world through evolution, but only as a subjective theory that included change happening at the level of the consciousness. History moved through ideas. Feuerbach Believed that there should be focus solely on the material reality that affects humans God is merely a presentation by people of what makes them human onto a detached entity. People attach many positive traits to God while calling themselves weak and sinful. Believed that such a belief system must be abolished and that it could be done through an ideology that focused on people. Marx He was inspired by Feuerbach and Hegel, yet he offered different ideas. He was opposed to Hegel’s idealism since he supported focusing more on the physical world. He believed that problems are caused by sources in the physical world. He thought Feuerbach’s ideas fell short since he only focused on the material world. He based his economic ideas on his observations of the works such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Labor theory of value: The profit capitalists make is due to taking advantage of the laborer’s work. Surplus value: gained by paying laborers less than how much they work so they can gain money and reinvest it. He was inspired by reports of the negatives of capitalism, but rejected the idea that they were bound to happen and criticized the methods that supporters of capitalism said people ought to use to gain financial success. He believed in the use of the dialectic, not cause and effect. He focused more on his idea that capitalism would destroy itself rather than on what a perfect socialist society would be like. Max Weber Focused more on ideas and their impact on the economy. Ideas are influenced by aspects of the physical world but they also affect structures in the physical world. He believed that social stratification should include status and power. He was more influenced by Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche, especially Nietzsche’s idea of standing up to the power of bureaucracies and other institutions in society. He used the idea of formal rationality, which focused on the individual making decisions based on means and ends. He was less radical than Marx so he was a solid alternative for sociologists in the United States who looked for an influence along with Durkheim and other similar theorists. His ideas were more founded in academic research and history, were based on cause and effect thinking, and were focused on a variety of topics. Georg Simmel He contributed a lot to symbolic interactionism, the idea that people act based on their world view. He focused more on action and interaction. He also wrote essays that were very simple to read along with scholarly publications. He also discusses how people in a group of two (dyad) can act in different ways than they could in a group of two. (One people could solve differences between the two others or two people could exploit the third person). Herbert Spencer He believed in laissez faire, which is keeping the government out of the economy unless it must intervene to protect people. Evolutionary Theory: Society increases in size through reproduction and individuals joining together & societies must at some point engage in warfare such as conquest to bring people together and transition to an industrial society. He believed in the progression towards a perfect state. He believed in survival of the fittest, which was against ameliorism, the resolving of issues by helping individuals. Terminology Theory is a set of broad statements about things that happen, but they also describe and foretell an occurrence that is being analyzed and create hypothesis that can be tested and discredited. Nonrational action involves basing believes on personal ideals, morals, beliefs, and norms/doing something even if it does not produce positive results for the individual Rational action is based on trying to receive as many benefits as possible while lessening the costs/doing something because it leads to positive results for the individual (Notes from class) First Documentary The first documentary was about an Evangelical Christian who believes in the sanctity of life. The man that the video is about is confused about the circumstances in which a person can take another person’s life. The documentary also states that a lot of Evangelicals were Democrats until Reagan came into office since he engaged with Evangelicals effectively. Evangelicals at one point, began to align many of their beliefs with Republican politicians even if some of their principles conflicted with Republican ideas. Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of selftranscendence by Johnathan Haidt He mentions that Durkheim coined the term homo duplex to describe humans as having two stages: profane (seeking of basic pleasures) and sacred (collective joy and uniting through religion) War, dancing, meditation, and drugs appear to result in selftranscendence. Charles Darwin believed in group selection and that a group with members that protect and assist each other would be more likely to succeed. An argument against group selection is that free riders can get away without doing work and that if such a problem is not resolved, the group cannot survive. Humans are not forced to work together. Notes Natural Science theories are structured while Social Science theories tell a story. Natural Science is broad in focus while Social Science is more specific. Natural Science requires limiting the amount of variables while Social Science studies are too large to be based on small groups. The ability to act (Agency) does not exist in Natural Science while it exists in Social Science. Agency and Structure is also a matter of how much the individual is involved versus how much society is involved. Micro: individual, macro: social structures Durkheim believed there must be precontractional solidarity in order for a society to function. Epistemology is the study of knowledge and how it is gained. Ontology is the study of the nature of existence. Teleology is the study of the direction society is moving in. Glock and Ringer studied relative depravation and found that women, older citizens, lower class citizens, and those who are single and/or do not have children are more likely to suffer from relative depravation. Nomothetic is a form of explanation that focuses more on general groups of occurrences whereas idiographic is more based on graphs. Through looking at the timeline of when countries gave women the right to vote, it can be concluded that factors such as the culture and the presence of an expanding middle class can have an impact on whether or not reform is pursued. Correlation does not equal causation. A variable must be present so a phenomenon can take place, but a variable being present does not mean a phenomenon will happen. Control: nothing happens, experimental: the experimental variable is used Social Sciences are based on history, analyze revolutions and revolts, and surveys that are closed and surveys that are open. In the MiddleAges, it made sense to have more children since they were needed for assisting with agricultural work and family was once an economic unit that had to cooperate. Americans believed capitalism had its benefits but it was a Faustian bargain (it came with terrible costs) Weber: believed that people do what they do for a benefit Marx was a writer who had a lot of influence on history in the 1900’s. Marx was partially influenced by Rousseau and believed that humans had a lot of potential, but a certain type of society was needed to accomplish to realize that potential which included freedom and the ability for everybody to have an equal status. Rousseau thought that humans could be made perfect and such perfection had to be achieved by changing society and like Marx, he was against the current social order. Hegel, who was a huge influence on Marx, came up with the idea of the dialectic, which discussed how thoughts, structures, or classes affect one another. Marx believed that communism was the riddle of history solved. Gemeinschaft: feudal system with king and/or queen, individuals that held a certain position such as a king or queen held that position until they died or were overthrown, many people lived in rural areas and religious figures had a lot of power, not much access to information about the world Gesellschaft: Once a person’s time in power ends, their position goes to somebody else, separation of church and state, more information available about the world, there are many different religions, there are smaller families that are not economic units like they once were, more people lived in urban areas.
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