Notes for week of 11/30-12/4
Notes for week of 11/30-12/4 SOCI 1101
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Paige Notetaker on Saturday December 5, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOCI 1101 at University of Georgia taught by Cooney in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 22 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology in Sociology at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 12/05/15
Sociology 1130 Sociological theory like all sciences sociology seeks not just to discover facts but to explain them expanation is the job of theory we judge how good scientific theory by whether it is scientific theory testabe can be falsified genera applies to many facts vaid supported by the evidence simple elegant internally consistent original sociological theory many types but we ll discuss four 1 Motivational theory 2 Rational Choice theory 3 Conflict theory 4 Pure sociology metatheories the four are really metatheories or theoretical systems different ways of generating explanations of social behavior and institutions each has its virtues we ll look mainly at how each approaches a problem violence motivationalism motivationaism is a socialpsychological theory it assumes that behavior originates in the mind and that the mind is shaped by the social environment eg what drives people to become terrorists explains individual behavior with the impact of social forces on individual motivations social forces gt motivations gt behavior microlevel example Weber s theory of the rise of capitalism calvinism gt worldly success gt capitalism microlevel example Robert merton s theory of crime culture of success for all class barriers to success for lower class gt frustration at lack of success gt lower class crime cultural values theory cultural values theory is a microlevel theory explains behavior with the motivations that come from abiding by cultural values ex Nisbett and Cohen s theory they ask Why is the South more violent Nisbett and Cohen the south is more violent because southerners react more aggressively to insult why Because the south has a culture of honor violence is the approved way for people especially for men to respond to insult this honor violence does not target women unlike the family honor of middle eastern countries cause cultures of honor arise in frontier herding economies no law is available in frontiers livestock is relatively easy to steal so they must appear tough in order to deter thieves experiments N and C conducted experiments with white men Southerners vs nonsoutherners at University of Michigan eg the asshole experiment bumped southerners showed levels of cortisol and testosterone 23 times higher than bumped nonsoutherners their theory is a good example of motivationalism frontier herding gt honor culture gt violent dispositions or motivations gt violent behavior intriguing theory but it raises some questions questions 1 Southerners only react violently to some insults When Against whom 2 Why does the culture of honor survive when the herding economy has long disappeared from the South research on theory continues strengths many different motivational theories generality many are supported by good evidence eg theories of criminal behavior weaknesses motivationalism really only explains motivations why people want to do certain things eg be violent does not explain when where or against whom they will do it testability can human motivations be measured are the core claims of motivationalism testable eg some terrorists scholars have abandoned search for motivations and ask instead How where when will they commit terrorism Sociolo 122 Dining tonight will you eat at home tonight or eat out home is cheaper out is more fun less boring etc rational choice theory RCT says that all human behavior involves decisions like this we weight up costs and benefits of all the possibilities and choose the most beneficial option for us though we may not be aware we are doing so Definition RCT explains social behavior with he calculated choices made by selfinterested individuals people choose whatever action yields the greatest net benefits or lowest net costs net benefits surplus of benefits over costs RCT vs Motivationalism unlike motivationalism RCT assumes that all human beings have the same motivation to increase pleasure or satisfaction and avoid pain pleasures and pains differ across individuals applications RCT is a longestablished way of thinking eg Adam Smith Jeremy Bentham found across the social sciences eg political sciences RCT dominates economics RCT can be seen as applying economic reasoning to other behavior eg deterrence theory of crime deterrence theory crime declines as the cost of crime increases cost certainty and severity of punishment research shows that certainty has more deterrent impact than severity eg more cops vs longer sentences deterrence is a powerful but simplified RCT only looks at costs religion behavior also depends on benefits eg why do strict religions flourish eg mormonism orthodox Judaism etc high costs restrictions financial dietary sexual RCT but the benefits are even greater only the committed participate they do so frequently and fervently result a more satisfying religious experience violence violence has costs and benefits eg topical issues of college sexual assault recent DOJ study has two goodnews findings 1 College sexual assault is declining 2 College females has lower rates of sexual assault than noncollege females of same age reading Bachman et al apply RCT to college rape nterested in what prevents college rape Hence they focus on the costs of college rape for the offender possible cost of rape arrest expulsion social disapproval bad conscience shame for hurting the victim research male students read scenarios in which students had sexual intercourse with a female despite her objections the scenarios varied the facts of the case eg sometimes the woman was returning home from shopping sometimes from a party the men were asked to rate the likelihood 010 scale that 1 The victim would report the incident 2 The offender would suffer various sanctions eg arrest expulsion disapproval 3 The subject would do what the rapist did findings respondents said they would not do as the rapist did if they believed the male would be formally punished that the rape was morally wrong not important was social disapproval shame limitations the research has clear limitations 1 The sample is small 94 and from just one university 2 Asking people what they would do is not the same as discovering what they would really do their theory has limitations too they do not consider the benefits of rape for therapist these might include eg peer approval still the paper illustrates the logic of RCT behavior is not set in stone it varies with the costs and benefits for the individual actor strengths of RCT very general admirably simple core idea supported by evidence people do respond to incentives costs benefits weaknesses of RCT people often criticize RCT for painting an unrealistic rational view of human conduct but that is not relevant scientifically more important issue is how well the theory meets the criteria of good science testability generality validity simplicity and originality of these testability is more questionable testability to test RCT fully we need to measure how strong people value costs and benefits eg peer approval liking of violence shame we cannot observe these or measure directly if we cannot measure them the theory can never be m tested did the benefits really exceed the costs we don39t know Sociolo 124 Confict theory for years the US government has claimed a shortage of money for alleviating poverty or improving public schools yet in 2008 the US government suddenly came up with over 700 billion to bail the banks out confict theory CT has simple but persuasive answer the banks have money and influence government media etc sociallevel theory confict theory CT is a sociallevel theoretical approach motivationalism and RCT are individual level approaches focus on the behavior of individuals social level theory goes beyond the individual focuses on other social arrangements and groups definition CT explains social behavior and arrangements with the struggle between groups pursing their collective interests Macro version of RCT CT sees group conflict rooted in competition for scarce resources money prestige etc as the key to understanding social life CT asks who benefits conflict theory 2 groups in conflict can be social classes genders ethnic groups etc depending on the version of CT through these conflicts and struggles some groups come to dominate others people may think that social institutions serve everybody s interests but they really serve the interests of powerful groups so CT often has a cynical sociological eye marxism classic example of CT the struggle between social classes is the principle feature of human history capitalist society has two main classes bourgeoisie owners of means of production proletariat workers interests of the bourgeoisie and proletariat are objectively in conflict but not necessarily subjectively in conflict under capitalism the conditions of the working class will deteriorate eventuay the conflict will intensify and erupt in a revolution a new classes society will emerge socialism marxism and history history has not turned out the way Marx and Engels prophesized 1 Conditions of working class have not deteriorated but improved greatly 2 With stock ownership there are no longer just two social classes in capitalist societies 3 Socialism came about in the least not the most advanced capitalist societies virtues still marxism is right hat social class stratification is a powerful explanatory variable eg the bank bailout has also inspired many theories of social life eg criminal justice criminal justice CT argues that the criminal justice system serves the interests of the rich and powerful by eg punishing the poor and powerless severely being lenient toward the harms of the wealthy and powerful eg environmental w collar crime police focusing on the individual and not the inequality that produces the crime imprisoning criminals and thereby creating career criminals violence CT sees violence as a means to perpetuate group dominance eg the state rules over society hence states treat challenges to their authority such as revolutions or terrorism very strictly eg 911 rape Brownmiller sees rape as a means by which men dominate women not just through rape itself but also through the fear of rape research shows male dominance higher in more violent societies Brownmiller rape rape prob she is not trying to explain who rapes whom when but rather why we have rape at all and what are its consequences very scholarly and influential book argues eg that rape was traditionally seen not as a crime against the woman but against her husband or father the book is also controversial eg the effect of rape is to subordinate women but is the primary goal of the rapist subordinationpower as power rape inflicts pain and humiliation on victim some rapes very violent offender does not always have orgasm male prison rape clearly involves strong dominating the weak but does rape have no sexual element as sex eg compared to nonrapists college men who raped were more dissatisfied with heir sex lives because of peer pressure typically tried to have consensual sex first also young women and men more likely to be raped sexual attractiveness lem knowing motives or purposes of rapists or anybody else is difficult maybe impossible we can study amp know is where when against whom rape occurs and what effects it has on the victims and society strengths people often find the alternative perspective of CT to be extremely revealing see the world in a new way emphasizes a key variable stratification generality simplicity much validity weaknesses overemphasis on stratification interests of powerful can diverge can descend into conspiracy theory core testability we can observe group behavior but can we observe the group s interests