Fuzzy Science “It is difficult to paint a clear picture of a fuzzy objects” –Wittgenstein Sociologists don’t make statements like… “This causes that” “If you do this, that will happen” But instead… “If that happens, it is likely this will happen”
So Is It Real Science? Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle “It is impossible to measure, predict, or know both the position and momentum, simultaneously, of a particle, with unlimited precision in both quantities” If it was possible, we could predict the future position of everything in the cosmos
So Is It Real Science? Inability of physics to predict the future doesn’t mean it’s not a real science Embracing chaos
Paradigms Theoretical perspectives, frameworks or models of how the world works Three main paradigms Structural Functionalism Conflict Theory Symbolic Interactionism
Structural Functionalism Most closely associated with Weber & Durkheim Also called… Systems theory Equilibrium theory Functionalism
Structural Functionalism Within a particular society, there is a great deal of consensus about what values and norms are important. Society is an entity made up of many integrated parts. When one part changes, the other parts change in response. Society tends to seek stability and avoid conflict; conflict is dysfunctional or pathological.
Structural Functionalism Interprets society in terms of its large structures and their functions Overall functioning of a social system is dependent on each structure doing its job
Structural Functionalism Focus on what holds society together and how changes in one part lead to changes in another Each structure is interrelated with and interdependent on every other structure
Structural Functionalism The function of each structure leads to the overall maintenance and stability of the system Social systems have an underlying tendency towards stability and equilibrium
Structural Functionalism Robert Merton Manifest functions – intended and recognized Latent functions – unintended and unrecognized Dysfunctions – when the consequences of the system lead to instability or system breakdown
Structural Functionalism Social systems exist because they fulfill some function for society Focus on order and stability The social process is a continual effort to maintain harmony Society is basically consensual, integrated and static
Structural Functionalism Criticism Supports the status quo Herbert Gans – Positive Functions of the Undeserving Poor: Uses of the Underclass in America Merton’s latent functions
Uses of the Underclass Risk reduction “Distances the labeled from those who label them. By stigmatizing people as undeserving, labelers protect themselves from the responsibility of having to associate with them, or even to treat them like moral equals, which reduces the risk of being hurt or angered by them.”
Uses of the Underclass Scapegoating “Being too weak to object, the stigmatized poor can be accused of having cause social problems which they did not actually cause and can serve as cathartic objects on which better-off people can unload their own problems, as well as those of the economy, the polity, or of any other institution, for the shortcomings of which the poor can be blamed.”
Uses of the Underclass Economic banishment “Often, they are effectively banished from the labor market before entering it because employers imagine them to be poor workers simply because they are young, male, and Black.” Supplying illegal goods
Uses of the Underclass Job creation “The larger the number of people who are declared undeserving, the larger also the number of people needed to modify and isolate as well as control, guard and care for them.” Moral legitimation “Undeservingness justifies the categories of deservingness and thus supplies moral and political legitimacy”
Uses of the Underclass Norm reinforcement “Norm violations and their punishments also provide an opportunity for preserving and reaffirming the norms.” Popular culture villains
Uses of the Underclass Institutional scapegoating “Some of the responsibility for the existence of poverty, slums, unemployment, poor schools and the like is taken off the shoulders of elected and appointed officials who are supposed to deal with these problems. Conservative power shifting Spatial purification Gentrification
Uses of the Underclass Reproduction of stigma and the stigmatized “In some instances, this process works so speedily that the children of the stigmatized face ‘anticipatory stigmatization,’ among them the children of welfare recipients who are frequently predicted to be unable to learn, to work, and to remain on the right side of the law even before they have been weaned.”
Uses of the Underclass Extermination of the surplus “The early departure of poor people from an economy and society which do not need them is useful for those who remain.”
Uses of the Underclass Conclusions Criminal behavior among the poor is largely poverty related Undeservingness is an old stereotype Undeserving poor continue to exist because they serve positive functions The only way to eliminate this notion and its functions is to eliminate poverty
Conflict Theory Most closely associated with Marx and Mills
Conflict Theory Within any particular society there are subgroups of people who cherish different beliefs and have conflicting values and goals. Society is made up of subgroups that are in ruthless competition for scare resources. Society is never harmonious; conflict is normal.
Conflict Theory Focuses on… The kinds of things that create tension and conflict between people and groups of people The ways people from one group may exploit people from another group Society is best understood in terms of conflict and power and one class of people will always try to exploit another
Conflict Theory The “haves” will always defend and protect their interests at the expense of the “have nots”
Conflict Theory Conflict does not mean destruction, disorder and chaos The enemy of my enemy is my friend Brings social problems to light
Conflict Theory The social process is a continual race to get ahead Society is characterized by constraint, conflict and change Criticism Overlooks the less controversial and more orderly aspects of society
Symbolic Interactionism Most closely associated with George Herbert Mead, Charles Cooley and the Chicago School Also called…. Social constructionism Interest in how people construct their social worlds
Symbolic Interactionism How people act depends on how they see and evaluate reality. People learn from others how to see and evaluate reality. People constantly work to interpret their own behavior and the behavior of others to determine what these behaviors means. When people do not attach the same meanings to behaviors or perceive reality in the same way, there will be misunderstandings and conflict.
Symbolic Interactionism Focuses on.. How ideas emerge from social interaction The effects of these ideas on interaction Studies individuals within society Attention to definitions and meanings people attach to situations
Symbolic Interactionism Society exists within every socialized individual Microcosm External forms and structures of society come about through social interactions that take place between individuals on the symbolic level
Symbolic Interactionism Mead What separates man from animals is his ability to use symbols Symbols allow us to create social institutions, societies and culture Behavior is based on personal interpretations of language and symbols in a situation, not the situation itself Minimal agreement on meanings
Symbolic Interactionism Examines patterns and processes of everyday life that are generally ignored by other theories Brings up questions about the self, the self in relationship with others, and the self and others in the wider social context Criticism Ignores large-scale structures
Socialization The socialization process is coercive, forcing us to accept the values and norms of society. The values and norms of society are agreed upon by all members of society because there is a “social contract” in effect which protects us from one another and keeps society stable and balanced. The socialization process is voluntary, and we accept or reject the values and norms of society at will.
Deviance The language used to label groups or individuals as deviant is highly symbolic and “coded.” Deviance is defined by those in power; therefore, what is deviant is whatever offends the powerful or causes them to believe they are losing power. Deviance is usually dysfunctional for society and arise from conditions of discontent.
Education Education enhances the operation and stability of society by systematically teaching certain skills and knowledge, and transmitting these from one generation to the next. School plays a vital role in shaping the way students see themselves and reality. School routinely provides learning according to students’ social background, thereby perpetuating inequality.
Religion Religion is the “opiate of the masses,” and acts like a drug, keeping people from rising up against their oppressors. Religion helps to maintain social stability and balance by binding people to the normative aspects of their society. Religion is a set of symbols that identify and join together individuals who believe in them.