Sociological Theory SOCA 401
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This 24 page Class Notes was uploaded by Era King on Saturday September 12, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOCA 401 at West Virginia University taught by Adam Dasari in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 55 views. For similar materials see /class/202807/soca-401-west-virginia-university in Sociology at West Virginia University.
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Date Created: 09/12/15
Charles Horton Cooley 18641929 Charles Cooley along with George Herbert Mead is known for laying foundation for symbolic interactionist perspective to develop within sociology Symbolic interactionist perspective focuses on understanding of interaction based on communication through the use of symbols This perspective emerged as a competing theoretical body besides the already existing structural lnctionalism and con ict perspectives Cooley is famous for his conception of looking glass self which suggests that the individual s sense of self is mirrored through others Looking glass self is composed of three principal elements 1 Imagination of our appearance to the other person 2 Imagination of his judgment of that appearance 3 Consequent selffeeling such as pride or morti cation Another key concept developed by Cooley is primary group Primary group is characterized by the close intimate facetoface interactions that establish common symbols and meanings Examples family playgroup of children the neighborhood community of elders etc George Herbert Mead 118631931 While Cooley conceived the ideas of self Mead provided a more scienti c evaluation of self and development of self Mead39s concept of Gesture Gestures are movements by one party that are stimuli to another which leads to conversation of gestures Mead differentiated between nonsigni cant gestures that are found at the animal level and signi cant gestures that characterize human interaction Nonsigni cant gesture is an immediate response to a stimuli without thought they are based more in instinct Signi cant gestures are gestures in conscious decision making process used re exively or thoughtfully with another individual Mead placed most importance on vocalized gestures with the most important one being language Signi cance of Symbols and Language Signi cant symbols are those gestures that arouse in the person expressing them the same kind of response indicating collectively shared meanings and ideas Physical objects are symbols but vocal language is the most critical In nonsigni cant Gestures only gestures are communicated In conversation involving language gestures the words and the meaning of those words are being communicated Mead 39s concept of the Self Self is the ability to take oneself as an object Self and mind cannot exist without each other it is impossible to separate mind from self because self is a mental process Self is re exive the ability to put ourselves into others place and think as they think act as they act Mead believes that Self develops in two key stages during childhood 1 Play stage 0 child develops the capacity to play a role of someone else mom dad cartoon character He she learns to be subject who the child is and object mom and begins to develop the concept of self However the child can only play one role at a time 2 Game Stage 0 child begins to develop sense of self in full sense of term 0 A child can now play all the parts in a particular group for example mother father sister brother with a greater understanding of roles expectations and coherence A complete Self is only possible through comprehension of what Mead called the generalized other Generalized other refers to the ability to display the beliefs and attitude of the entire community group organization etc It is also important for the individual to be able to evaluate hisherself from the standpoint of generalized other as a means to be a functional part of the group Mead 39s concept of I anal ME Both 1 and ME are part ofthe larger process of Self The 1 represents immediate response of self to others It is unpredictable and o en unknowable until the immediacy of the moment The ME comprises of social knowledge of roles structures values and beliefs and their implications for social action It represents the selfcontrol and restraint The development of ME in restraining the I signi es a evolved developed social being The ME makes us comfortable in society while the 1 leads us to change Sigmund Freud 118561939 Three components of personality Id is the animal part of self It works on the pleasure principle seeking immediate grati cation polymorphous perversity Superego is the highly socialized self that has internalized norms values and the notion of sin Ego works on the reality principle It serves as a mediator between the id impulse and superego control So what is the difference between G H Mead s I and ME and Freud s Id and Ego For Mead the development of self lies in the ability to take up on the role of generalized other ME 7 a relatively smooth process For Freud the development of self depends on the emergence of a wellbalanced Ego 7 a con icting traumatic experience Three levels of personality The con ict between the id and the superego as well as the role of the ego can be seen at these three levels Conscious level concerns with the things that our mind is aware of Preconscious level can be understood as a vast storehouse of memories most of which may be recalled at will Unconscious level is that area of the psyche where our unknown and repressed desires are kept According to Freud most of our conscious actions stem from our unconscious The struggle between id and superego are dealt by developing certain defense mechanisms such as Sublimation involves channeling an undesirable id striving into an acceptable social outlet Example dancing serves as a sexual release Rationalization involves coming up with acceptable explanations as opposed to real explanations for ones actions Example cheating on a diet by promising an extra work out The con icting components of an individual s personality id and superego are re ected in the society as well 7 instincts and civilization Two types of instincts Eros 7 erotic and sexual instincts This is the life instinct seeking selfpreservation Thanatos 7 aggression or death instinct It is selfdestructive drive towards death On the other hand civilization acts as the superego that controls our instincts of eros and thanatos Development of human sexuality and gender identity Five stages of psychosexual development Oral phase 02yrs 7 mother s breast is the erotic object This stage dissolves with the trauma of weaning from mother s breast Anal phase 3 4yrs 7 anus is the erotic object associated with defecation bowel movement etc This stage ends with the trauma of toilet training Phallic phase 56 or 7yrs 7 phallus serves as a model for both boys and girls This stage ends with the trauma of castration complex for boys and penis envy for girls Latency phase 711 or 12yrs 7 sexual drive libido is suppressed Genital phase begins around 12yrs 7 onset of sexual desires and instinct for reproduction Of all the ve stages of psychosexual development phallic phase is crucial which is characterized by Oedipus complex Until this phallic phase mother is the object of love for both boys and girls But things change with the onset of Oedipus complex for boys and Electra complex for girls Oedipus complex among boys The boy desires to take the fathers place as an object of affection for the mother Views father as a rival which results in the boy s fear of castration The boy is never completely hostile to his father rather he identi es with his father The boy renounces his desire for mother and imitates the patriarchal role Electra complex among girls Absence of penis penis envy leads them to blame and abandon their mother The girl replaces father as her new object of love hoping for him to provide her with a penis and later with a baby The girl does not completely detest her mother as she later starts identifying with the mother and take up her gender role The girl s desire for her father is never completely resolved unlike the boys who are able to give up his desire for his mother This unresolved complex in girls results in incomplete superego Talcott Parsons 19021979 Parsons is an American sociologist and probably the most wellknown lnctionalist theorist who is not European Parsons ambition was to provide a grand systemic general theory of the society A synthesis between the analysis of individual action and analysis of largescale social systems Parsons theory of social action aka voluntaristic theory of social action Characteristics of social action 0 Voluntaristic 7 matter of choice as to how individuals will act 0 Subjective 7 based on personal motivations and needs 0 Culturally limited or restricted 7 governed by norms and values of one s culture 0 Contextbased 7 social action is dependent on the context in which it takes place Parsons Systems Theory According to Parsons a system is a complex unit with boundaries within which the parts are interconnected and within which something takes place Three systems 7 cultural system personality system and social system 0 Cultural system includes the values and norms that guide individual choices 0 Personality system includes individual s motivations and needdispositions 0 Social system includes interrelations between actors Of all these systems Parsons primary focus was on the social system Social system is characterized by roles equilibrium and pattern variables Roles 7 individuals play roles and reciprocate to others roles based on stable institutionalized longterm patterned interactions Equilibrium 7 a system s functional ability can be evaluated based on how well its equilibrium is being maintained Pattern variables 7 actors face lndamental dilemmas but social system provides solutions to such dilemmas depending on whether the social system is modern or traditional Pattern variables 7 these are the ve sets of dilemmas that the actors have to choose from Affectivity versus affective neutrality 7 actors can either engage in emotional relationships affectivity or be more affective neutral Collectivity versus self 7 actors can orient their actions in the interest of their group community or display selfinterest Particularistic versus universalistic 7 actors can decide to judge a person by general criteria universalistic or by criteria unique to that person particularistic Quality ascription versus performance achievement 7 actors can decide to judge people by what they do their achievements or by their personal characteristics ascriptive qualities such as their gender or race or etc Specificity versus diffuseness 7 actors can choose to engage in wide range of activities dif lseness or only speci c purposes Parsons AGIL model Any system has to ful ll certain lnctional needs for its survival and proper functioning Four functional needs A Adaptive lnction 7 the need to relate to the environment by taking and utilizing resources from it Example Economy G GoalAttainment lnction 7 setting of goals for the system Example Government 1 Integrative function 7 maintenance of internal order by development of stable set of norms Example Law L Latency or Pattern Maintenance 7 the generation of sufficient motivation to perform tasks Example School family Parsons views on Gender Two types of leaders emerge in a small taskoriented group such as a family Task leader 7 individual having the best ideas and urging the group to complete tasks This leader is male and is responsible for the economic provision of the family Social emotional leader 7 is the one who keeps family from falling apart This leader is female who is supposed to look alter the emotional and nurturing needs of the family Criticisms against Parsons 0 His grand theories portray him as an armchair theoris 0 Too much importance to norms and values and not enough attention to social con ict 0 His ideas provide a conceptual framework but they can not be considered as theories Robert K Merton 1191020031 Merton is a student of Talcott Parsons However Merton rejected Parsons s attempt to develop abstract grandscale theories in favor of a more modest aim of middle range theories Unlike grand theories middle range theories 7 could clarify limited sets of empirical phenomenon could be empirically tested and could be consolidated into more wide ranging theories Merton s Analysis ofDevz39ance Merton viewed deviance based on an individual s acceptance or rejection of culturally prescribed goals and institutional means of achieving those goals Merton outlined ve different responses that an individual can display in accepting or rejecting these goals and means 1 Conformists 7those who accepts both the societal goals as well as institutional means Example accepting society s goal of being successful and pursuing education and landing in a good job However people experience strain or anomie when the institutionally permitted means to succeed were unavailable Hence this analysis of deviance is also known as strain theory There are four ways of adapting to this strain which represent different forms of deviance 2 Innovators 7 they accept the goals of being success ll but reject the institutional means legitimate ways of succeeding Examples thieves whitecollar criminal cheaters in examination 3 Ritualz39sts 7those who do not accept the goals but they pursue the institutional means Example bureaucrats who slavishly follow the rules 4 Retreatz39sts 7 those who withdraw from the rat race by rejecting both goals and means Examples chronic drunkards drug addicts ascetics 5 Rebels 7those who withdraw their allegiance to the prescribed goals and means and seek to substitute new set of goals and means to achieve them Example members of revolutionary movements Merton also broadened the horizons of lnctionalist analysis by introducing concepts such as manifest function latent function and dysfunction Manifest function ithe intended and recognized consequences of social action upon other social actors or institutions Example schools providing education legal institutions maintaining peace and order Latent function 7the 39 J J and uiu 39 J J of social action upon other social actors or institutions Example Hopi Indians when they engage in rain dance whether it rains or not the ceremony serves the lnction of uniting the group Dysfunction 7 where the consequences are negative for some individuals or groups Example bureaucracy leading to red tape Niklas Luhmann 1 19271998 Luhmann developed his own systems theory drawing from Talcott Parsons s general systems theory cognitive biology and cybernetics Luhmann s ideas on modern society Society or a system does not have one particular central institution Unlike other theorists e g in case of Karl Marx it was economy for Durkheim it was collective consciousness Modern society is not a single social system with related parts but several systems Such as 7 religion law education organizations personalities etc Such compartmentalization is good in case there is a crisis in one subsystem it is contained only to that system and not affect others Luhmann s ideas on System and Environment The key to understanding Luhmann39s meaning for a system is the distinction between a system and its environment The system is always less complex than the environment Example a manufacturer or industry is a system that deals with a complex environment amp then simpli es the environment ie extracting raw materials through costbenefit analysis Systems develop new subsystems amp establish various relations between these subsystems in order to deal effectively with their environment If not they would be overwhelmed by the complexity of the environment The modern society is highly differentiated and complex Risk and danger are present in most aspects of our society Especially in our technology politics and economy These risks and dangers can be reduced by building trust and by controlling distrust In order to have con dence in the workings of the society people put their trust in the institutions and actions of others Example you trust your bank with your money your car with your mechanic etc Control of distrust as well works towards accepting the complexities of the society Example we overcome our distrust in the safety of automobiles by installing features such as seatbelts and airbags Luhmann s ideas oriAutopoiesis Luhmann employs this term autopoiesis to refer to systems that display selfre exivity using itself as a reference point to act upon something and selforganization Autopoietic systems have four characteristics 1 They produce the basic elements that make up the system E g economy generates money government initiates new bills amendments committees etc 2 Autopoietic systems are selforganizing with little or no involvement of other systems Eg government 3 Autopoietic systems are selfreferential E g legal system has laws that refer to other laws to be enacted applied and interpreted 4 Autopoietic systems are closed systems There is no direct connection between a system and its environment Anthony Giddens g 1938 1 Giddens considers himself a modern social theorist and argues that we continue to exist in a modern world one in its advanced stages late modernity Giddens s Juggernaut ofMoalernity Giddens views modernity as a JUGGERNAUT a massive unstoppable force that moves forward by all means Modernity refers to the social world that emerged in postfeudal Europe which has impacted beyond Europe Modernity more or less refers to the industrialized world In the sense that the discipline of sociology can be seen as a project trying to make sense of this modernity Giddens s Theory of Modernity utilizes concepts such as distanciation power trust anal risk Distanciation refers to the expanding nature of the modern society where spacetime shortens Example telecommunications phones internet transportation airplanes Power 7 can be both constraining as well as enabling has a transformative capacity This notion of power is different from the earlier theories as power is vested both in the structure as well as individual example of structuration Trust 7 is the leap of faith that provides us more confidence in individuals or systems that we deal with very similar to Luhmann s idea Riski individuals are always calculative of the risk whether they can afford to take it or not Individuals are also planning to minimize or avoid risk Giddens views it as colonization of the sture Example Insurance industry Risks can be seen in four areas of our lives 0 Government risks surveillance 0 Military risks wars 0 Economic risks booms and busts 0 Environmental risks disasters Giddens s structuration Giddens uses his idea of structuration to bridge the gap between structure and agency This is one of the long standing theoretical issues in sociology that was resolved by Giddens According to his structuration individual and social institutions do not exist independent of each other Rather they are mutually dependent on each other JURGEN HABERMAS 1929 1 Habermas is a neoMarxist intellectual affiliated with Frankfurt school of critical theory While Karl Marx viewed humans as homofaber worldlabor as a de ning characteristic Habermas expanded on that by attributing language or communication as an innately human trait Habermas distinguished between distorted and undistorted communication Distorted communication 7 is similar to Karl Marx s notion of false consciousness This type of communication is constrained and colored by dominant forces of the society such as politics and science Undistorted communication 7 is where people can openly criticize each other and openly defend themselves with regard to the validity claims According to Habermas the presence of undistorted communication is a prerequisite for the ideal speech community Ideal speech community is possible when there are no obstacles whatsoever in the way of undistorted communication Although the ideal speech community or such situation never exists in reality it is a yard stick for critical theorists to judge the society and criticize distorted communication H abermas s evolutionary model of social change Organizational Principle Social change leading to crisis of this society Primitive society Kinship system Demographic growth Traditional society Power and control of the Exploitation and repression leading to state class struggle Liberal capitalist Economic exchange Separation of economic and political society relationship between systems resulting in uctuating wage labor and capital economy Organized or State Interdependent economy Preference for corporationsindustry regnlated society and polity lag in 39 quot Legitimacy of the society comes under crisis due to this nexus between polity and economy as well as lack of public dialogue This Legitimation crisis can be resolved by achieving normative consensus ie through communicative competence leading to undistorted communication and ideal speech community H abermas s four stages of cognitive anal moral development The communicative competence and normative consensus collectively held rules are internalized in four stages of cognitive and moral development These stages of development are based on G H Mead s ideas of self Symbiotic stage 0lyrs 7 the child is oblivious to its environment Egocentric stage 23 yrs 7 child learns distinguish between self and the environment only to sl ll his or her needs Socio centric stage 4 yrsadolescence 7 learns and understands symbols and meanings in relation to others Universalistic stage 7 develops ability to think abstractly and critically displays autonomy and altruism communal interest not self interests Frankfurt School and Critical Theory Institute of Social Research ISR was found in Frankfurt in 1923 which would later become popular as Frank lrt School Frankfurt School is not an institution or a reference to a place it is a body of work involving various scholars who shared similar intellectual leanings had their origins in ISR Some of the scholars associated with Frankfurt School Max Horkheimer Theodore Adorno Herbert Marcuse Walter Benjamin Erich Fromm Friedrich Pollock Leo Lowenthal Jurgen Habermas considered second generation critical theorist This is also known as one of the many forms for neo Marxist theory Critical theory s project is to expand and revise orthodox Marxist ideas to understand the new changes happening in the society New directions away from traditional Marxist ideas 0 Shifting the focus away from economics towards culture 0 Integration of Fruedian Psychology with Marxism Critical theory has an emancipatory goal of bridging the gap between theory and practice where theory through critique of the society will serve as a catalyst to change World System Theog Late 1960s witnessed criticism of western sociology especially theories of modernization by scholars in the third world countries Modernization theories 7 are evolutionary theories that explain processes of social progress and development Example Talcott Parsons s pattern variables W W Rostow s takeoff model Modernization theorists view that social change from tradition to modernity is always good and desirable Modernization theorists also predict and even prescribe the same path in which western societies evolved to be the best path for underdeveloped countries as well Dependency theories 7 came up with a strong criticism against such modernization theories Dependency theories view modernization theories as ethnocentric as their model of development is grounded in the Western hemisphere Andre Gunder Frank was one of the scholars who strongly advocated ideas of dependency theory Lack of development is not due to the lack of capital or skills of a particular nation but because of the international division of labor Transfer of surplus from underdeveloped to developed countries results in lack of surplus to pursue development in the former Selfreliance and breaking away from developed nations is the only hope for underdeveloped nations A G Frank outlined core and peripheral nations and the dependency of the core on periphery for raw material cheap labor etc that sustains global inequalities Immanuel Wallerstein proposed a world system theory that would explain the origins and development of capitalism as a global economic system Though some of his ideas are based on dependency theorists Wallerstein s world system analysis is very broad in scope compared to the dependency theories Four major tenets of world system theory 0 Division of labor and classes is a worldwide phenomenon 0 Economics is the predominant factor not politics politics serve economics 0 The world system is made up of three types of units 7 core periphery and semzperzphery 0 Change is continuous it is NOT unidirectional it is not revolutionary Three units of world system Core 7 nations that are economically and politically dominant industrially developed and exploit rest of the system Periphery consists of those areas that provide raw materials to the core and are heavily exploited by it Semzperzphery is a residual category that encompasses a set of regions somewhere between the exploiting and the exploited These nations serve as a buffer between core and peripheral nations Symbolic Interactionism Symbolic Interactionism has its focus on everyday life More speci cally interaction action and people as agents and the symbols and their meanings are deeply implicated in it Herbert Blumer is credited with coining the term symbolic interactionism Though the roots of this symbolic interactionist perspective can be traced back to C H Cooley and G H Mead Blumer is known for very clearly outlining the premises of symbolic interactionism Human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings those things have for them The meaning of such things is derived from or arises out of the social interaction that one has with one s fellows These meanings are handled in and modi ed through an interpretive process used by the persons in dealing with the things he or she encounters Erving Goffman 119221982 Erving Goffman made major contributions to the study of social interaction in everyday life Dramaturgical approach 7 Goffman employed drama as an analogy for the staging of social meetings To Goffman self is not a possession of the actor but rather the product of the dramatic interaction between actor and audience Because self is a product of dramatic interaction it is vulnerable to disruption during the performance Much of Goffman s work deals with such disturbances how they are prevented or handled Goffman characterized this as impression management techniques that actors use to maintain certain impressions in the face of problems they are likely to encounter and the methods they use to cope with these problems In this scheme of dramatic presentation of self actors maintain a front stage and a back stage Front stage is that part of the dramaturgical performance which generally functions in rather xed and general ways to define the situation for those who observe the performance The enactment of front stage requires appropriate physical setting and a personal front Physical setting physical scene that ordinarily must be there if the actors are to engage in a dramaturgical performance Personal fronti includes expressive equipment viz clothing style speech pattern facial expressions body language age sex and racial traits etc Back stage is where facts suppressed in the front stage or various kinds of informal actions may appear Performers can reliably expect no members of their front audience to appear in the back Goffman s domain of interaction Since people generally try to present an idealized picture of themselves in their front stage performances inevitably they feel that they must hide things in their performances Actors may want to conceal secret pleasures engaged in prior to the performance that incompatible with the performance Actors may want to conceal errors made in the preparation of the performance as well as steps taken to correct these errors Actors may nd it necessary to show only end products and to conceal the process involved in producing them It may be necessary for actors to conceal from the audience the dirty work involved in the making of the end products In giving a certain performance actors may have to let other standards slide Actors probably nd it necessary to hide any insults humiliation or deals made so that the performance could go on Goffman distinguishes between a performer and a character Performer is the fabricator of impressions involved in staging a performance Character refers to the spirit strength and qualities that the performance is designed to evoke According to Goffman there are situations that are not conducive for actors to carry on a successful performance Usually the performer has considerable control over the image of his or her self But such control is compromised when there is a stigma attached to those individuals Stigma is a social attribute which is discrediting for an individual or group Three types of stigma Physical deformities abominations of the body viz obesity physically disabled skin blemishes etc Blemishes of individual character 7 such as unnatural passions homosexuality lack of selfrestraint alcoholism etc Tribal stigmas or stigmas of social collectivities 7 attributes of race tribe nationality etc No matter what the stigma is there is likely to be a gap between one s virtual identity and actual identity Virtual identity refers to what a person ought to be as expected by others Actual identity refers to what a person actually is attributes that he or she is proven to possess Another scenario other than stigma that curtails one s self and disrupts successful performance is a total institution Total institution can be de ned as a place of residence and work where a large number of likesituated individuals cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time together lead an enclosed formally administered round of life Examples prisons mental hospitals monasteries boarding schools etc Inhabitants of total institutions are stripped of the freedoms and resources to manage their selfpresentation that are normally provided by social arrangements As a result they are subjected to mortifications of self Mortification of self 7 refers to the processes of killing off the multiple selves possessed prior to one s entrance into the total institution and replacing them with one totalizing identity over which the person exercises little if any control
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