Chapter 1 Notes
Chapter 1 Notes SYG 1000
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nicole Lopez on Monday January 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SYG 1000 at Florida State University taught by Gloria Lessan in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 106 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology in Sociology at Florida State University.
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Date Created: 01/18/16
Chapter 1: What is Sociology? • Sociological imagination: the application of imaginative thought to the asking and answering of sociological questions o Someone using the sociological imagination “thinks himself away from the familiar routines of daily life” • Social structure: the underlying regularities or patterns in how people behave and in their relationships with one another Social Constructions • Sociology teaches us that we are freer than we think o The things that we think are actually created by human beings • Social construction: an idea or practice that a group of people agree exists o It is maintained overtime by people taking its existence fro granted Social Order • An explanation for social orders is social norms • Socialization: the social process through which children develop an awareness of social norms and values and achieve a distinct sense of self o Most abundant during childhood, but can continue throughout life o No individual is immune from the reactions of others around them • Norms explain some of the ways in which we are inside society, and society is inside us • The existence of social order is not taken for granted • In many ways, the lives of individuals are quite determined by their social roles, gender, race, and class Social Change • Max Weber looked at the way the world had been changing due to the influence of massive large scale organization • Karl Marx examined how industrialization had changed the structure of an entire society • Emile Durkheim discussed how the historical changes wrought by industrialization and urbanization had led to the increasing specificity of the roles individuals fulfilled The Development of Social Thinking • Sociologists often disagree about how to study human behavior and how best to interpret research results • Sociology is about our lives and our behavior, and studying ourselves is the most complex endeavor we can undertake Theories and Theoretical Approaches Auguste Comte (1798-1857) • He invented the word sociology to describe the subject he wished to establish • He believed that the scientific method could be applied to the study of human behavior and society, and that this new field could produce knowledge of society, based on scientific evidence • In addition to the scientific study of life, Comte felt that sociology should contribute to the welfare of humanity by using science to predict and control human behavior • Later in his career, Comte drew up ambitious plans for the reconstruction of French society and the rest of the world Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) • He drew on aspects of Comte’s work • According to him in order to have a scientific basis, sociologist must develop methodological principles to guide their research • Social facts: the aspects of social life that shape our actions as individuals o Durkheim believed that social facts could be studied scientifically o His famous principle was “study social facts as things” • Durkheim saw society as a set of independent parts, each of which could be studied separately o These specialized parts work in harmony with one another, if they do not, the life of the organism is under threat • For a society to have continuing existence over time, all institutions must work as a whole • Organic solidarity: the social cohesion that result from the various parts of a society functioning as an integrated whole o Durkheim argued that the continuation of a society depends on cooperation • Social constraint: the conditioning influence on our behavior of the groups and societies of which we are members o Social constraint was regarded by Durkheim as one of the distinctive properties of social facts • He argued that society is far more than the sum of individual acts • Social structure limits what we can do as individuals • Division of labor the specialization of work tasks by mean of which different occupations are combined within a production system o All societies have at least one form of division of labor, especially between men and women o He argued that as the division of labor expands, people become more dependent on one another • Durkheim showed that social factors influence suicidal behavior • Anomie: a feeling of aimlessness or despair provoked by modern social life • Processes of change in the modern world are so rapid and intense they give rise to major social difficulties Karl Marx (1818-1883) • His ideas contrast sharply with those of Comte and Durkheim • He sought to explain social changes arising from the industrial revolution • Materialistic Conception of History: the view in which material, or economic factors have a prime role in determining historical change o It is not the ideas or values human beings hold that are the main source of social change, rather social change is prompted primarily by economic influences • The conflicts between classes, rich vs. poor, provide motivation for historical development o “All human history thus far is the history of class struggle” • Marx concentrated on change in modern times, for him the most important changes related to capitalism • Capitalism: an economic system based on the private ownership of wealth, which is invested and reinvested in order to produce profit • Capitalism is a class system in which conflict is inevitable because it is in the best interest of the ruling class to exploit the working class • According to Marx, in the future, capitalism will be supplanted by a society with no divisions between rich and poor Mark Weber (1864-1920) • He was influenced by Marx but was also critical of some of Marx’s major views • He rejected the materialistic conception of history and saw class conflict as less significant than did Marx • Weber believed that cultural ideas and values shape society and affect individual actions • Bureaucracy: a large organization that is divided into jobs based on specific functions and staffed by officials ranked according to hierarchy Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) • She was called the first woman in sociology • She is now credited with introducing sociology to England through the translation of Comte’s “Positive Philosophy” • She argued that when one studies a society, one must focus on all its aspects • She insisted that an analysis of a society must include all its members • She was the first to turn a sociological eye on previously ignored issues such as marriage, children, domestic and religious life • She argued that sociologists should do more than just observe, they should also act in ways to benefit society W.E.B Dubois • He was the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University • He came up with the concept of “double consciousness” as a way of talking about identity through the lens of the experiences of African Americans • He was the first social researcher to trace the problems faced by African Americans • He connected social analysis to social reform Understanding the Modern World: The Sociological Debate • According to Marx, the impulse behind social change in the modern world resides in the pressure toward constant economic transformation produced by the spread of capitalism production • According to Weber, non economic factors have played the key role in modern social development o His understanding of the nature of modern societies contrasts with Marx’s • Rationalization: a concept used by Weber to refer to the process by which modes of precise calculation and organization involving abstract rules and procedures, increasingly come to dominate the social world Symbolic Interactionism • Symbolic interactionism: a theoretical approach in sociology developed by George Herbert Mead that emphasizes the role of symbols and languages as core elements of all human interaction • Symbol: one item used to stand for or represent another, as in the case of a flag, which symbolizes a nation o All interactions among individuals involve an exchange of symbols Functionalism • Functionalism: a theoretical perspective based on the notion that social events can be best explained in terms of the functions they perform • Manifest Functions: the function of a type of social activity that are known to and intended by the individuals involved in this activity • Latent functions: functional consequences that are not intended or recognized by the members of a social system in which they occur Marxism and Class Conflict • Marxism: a body of thought deriving its main element from the ideas of Karl Marx • The concept of power is of great importance to Marxist sociologists • Power: the ability of individuals or the members of a group to achieve aims or further the interests they hold o Power implies the capability of individuals or groups to make their own interests count, even when others resist • Ideologies: shared ideas or beliefs that serve to justify the interests of dominant groups o The concept of ideologies connect closely with that of power, since ideological systems serve to legitimize the power that groups hold • Many conflicts are about power because of the reward it can bring • Feminist Theory: a sociological perspective that emphasizes the centrality of gender in analyzing the social world and particularly the uniqueness of the experience of women • Feminists argue that women’s experiences are central to the study of society o Feminist theory emphasizes that gendered patterns and gendered inequalities are socially constructed • Today, feminist sociology focuses on the intersection of gender, race and class Rational Choice Theory Weber thought that all behavior could be divided into 4 categories 1. Behavior oriented toward higher values, such as politics 2. Behavior oriented toward habit, such as walking to school on a familiar path 3. Behavior oriented toward affect (emotions), such as falling in love 4. Behavior oriented toward self-interest, such as making money • Rational choice approach: the theory that an individual’s behavior is purposive o The rational choice theory finds few irrational mysteries in life Post Modern Theory • Postmodernism: the belief that society is no longer governed by history or progress o Postmodern society is highly pluralistic and diverse Theoretical Thinking in Sociology • Theories are more narrowly focused and attempt to explain particular social conditions or type of events o They are usually formed during the research process and suggest other problems for subsequent research • Microsociology: the study of human behavior in contexts of face-to-face interaction • Macrosociology: the study of large-scale groups, organizations or social systems
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