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NEW- Intro to Theory

by: Jocelyn Rossell

NEW- Intro to Theory Sociology 3488

Jocelyn Rossell
GPA 3.325
Introduction to Sociological Theory
Paul Malackany

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Notes from Brandy, lecture on new introduction to sociological theory
Introduction to Sociological Theory
Paul Malackany
Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jocelyn Rossell on Tuesday November 17, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 3488 at Ohio State University taught by Paul Malackany in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 18 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociological Theory in Sociology at Ohio State University.


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Date Created: 11/17/15
The Study of Classical Theory There are four major perspectives in sociology Functionalism based on the work of the early theorists Comte Durkheim Con ict theory based on the work of Karl Marx and Max Weber Symbolic interaction based on the work of Max Weber and Georg Simmel and phenomenology based on the work of Edmund Husserl and Alfred Schutz Rational choice based on the work of George Homans and Peter Blau Sociologists study a subject Use a particular perspective with assumptions Emphasize a particular research method and the types of questions they want answered Research is based on ways of looking at things advanced by theory Ex Research on children has typically been from the perspective of adults Do we want to know an adult s perspective on a child s behavior or the child s perspective on hisher behavior 0 Adult perspective observe and draw conclusions 0 Ask them about their world when old enough Ex Do we want to know the causes of poverty from the perspective of the people who are poor the mayor of the city the middle class living in the suburbs wealthy senators the police Ex Do we want to know the factors associated with a behavior or the way an event is related to consequences of a behavior If you were studying the events at Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown where would you start 0 Look at history of community Assumptionshypotheses of sociology Are expressed systematically The general principles of a theory may relate to many events that appear to be different but have some similarities Concepts are words symbols that represent a phenomenon Concepts are abstract ideas generalized from particular instances Ex Durkheim s anomie is a concept and Marx s alienation is a concept Concepts allow us to see parts of social reality that we may otherwise not see Theories differ in Theories are concerned with largescale characteristics of social structure and roles macrosociology or they are concerned with person to person encounters and the details of interaction and communication microsociology Macro sociology largescale characteristics of social structure and roles Functionalism and con ict theory 0 Behavior is predictable determined and can be explained 0 There are underlying forces and needs that shape behavior 0 Both accept that internalized norms and values are characteristic of a society Functionalists recognize 0 Functional imperatives that are common to all human beings I Structures necessary to the survival of a society 0 All societies must do and meet Con ict theorists emphasize o Interests which they treat as self evident but include freedom from subjugation being in a position of power and possessing more rather than less wealth and status Micro sociology details of human interaction and communication Symbolicinteraction and phenomenology are micro sociological theories Symbolicinteractionists emphasize the creative way people interpret meaning during an interaction Symbolicinteractionists distinguish between the me which incorporates learned attitudes and meanings and the I which is innovative and unpredictable Phenomenology emphasizes the continual nature of interpretation but instead of contrasting I and Me they point out the pervasive unpredictable nature of inferences and assumptions Our social world and our experience of society and social interaction are things that we build up as we go along not things that are objectively real We should not develop concrete propositions that impose a misleading character of xed meaning and structure on this process Theories differ in underlying their approach Theorists differ on whether they view human behavior as determined functionalism and con ict theory and predictable or whether they emphasize human creativity symbolic interaction and phenomenology This creativity makes it impossible to predict human behavior Theorists also differ on whether humans are motivated by interests or values Functionalists believe that people s motives and behaviors are a function of the social values they internalize People s basic behaviors are formed by their birth into a particular society they do not exist independently Con ict theorists emphasize interests such as being free from oppression being in a position of power having more or less status and wealth Con ict theorists see interests as the primary force behind all behavior Symbolicinteractionists believe that values are incorporated into the me which includes learned attitudes and meanings and the innovative and unpredictable I Phenomenology is also concerned with continual interpretation and emphasizes values Our whole social world and experience of society and social interaction and thins that we build up as we go not things that are objectively real One should not develop concrete propositions that impose a misleading character of xed meaning and structure People trust each other to behave in certain situationspecific ways and see this trust as the underlying basis of human behavior Rational choice theorists discuss the importance of social values and tastes which de ne preferences They base their arguments on objectives that are seen as universal and therefore assumed Theorists differ in whether they advocate deductive general to specific or inductive particular to general reasoning Deductive reasoning begins with a hypothesis about a question and uses logical reasoning to deduce its empirical implications Basic concepts are spelled out before they are used to form a hypothesis The hypotheses are then tested in the real world Inductive reasoning begins with observing Researchers do not start with a clearly defined hypothesis as that may lead to the researcher ignoring an important aspect of the topic Inductive scientists get to know a subject and situation and gradually build up or induce descriptions and explanations of what is going on Inductive scientists believe the researcher should observe and experience a situation first and then infer or induce from it what is going on Inductive scientists believe that deductive reasoning falsely implies that action and interpretation are determined by prior events Sociologists should be concerned with how people in a particular situation see things and then build up from there Critical theorists also reject deductive reasoning arguments cannot be assessed objectively Critical theorists also do not support inductive reasoning They assume that fact and value are inseparable and they propose an anti positivist approach They relate social phenomena to their history and suggest that there may be interpretations different from or superior to that which exists Sociologists differ in their acceptance of quantitative data Deductive models tend to be quantitative while inductive models tend to be qualitative using words to describe and explain rather than numbers Functionalism con ict theory and rational choice theory are deductive Symbolic interactionism and phenomenology are both inductive approaches They observe and experience a situation and them infer or induce what is going on SI believes that sociologists should concentrate on understanding how people in a situation see things and then build up from there Phenomenologists argue that deductive theories imply a single objective reality Instead what any person describes is her or his own view of reality Symbolicinteractionists generally dislike quantitative techniques as they believe that numbers distance the observer from the area of life being studied Some inductive researchers believe that quantitative techniques can be used in combination with inductive techniques Theories differ on What is the objective of theory Is it to describe or explain or predict Objectives are closely associated with methodology and with whether the perspective accepts a scienti c model for social science S1 and phenomenology want to describe the human experience They believe that general explanatory arguments miss much of people s experiences Functionalism con ict theory and rational choice want to explain behavior Functionalists are more concerned with description than con ict theorists who are more concerned with explanation Rational choice theory and social exchange theory are most concerned with explanation They argue that the complexity of social life makes prediction impossible Comparison of sociological perspectives Level of analysis 0 Macro o Functionalism o Symbolic interactionism 0 Micro 0 Con ict o Phenomenology o Rational choice View of human beings Predictable Creative Functionalism Symbolic interactionism Con ict Phenomenology Rational choice Motivation for human social action Values Interests Functionalism Con ict Phenomenology Rational choice Symbolic interactionism Scienti c approach Deductive Inductive Functionalism Symbolic interactionism Con ict Phenomenology Rational choice much of this information came from Contemporary Sociological Theory 5th ed Ruth A Wallace and Alison Wolf


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