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An overview of structuralist theory.

An overview of structuralist theory.

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  • 1. Structuralism
  • 2. Emile Durkheim
    • Emile Durkheim (1858-1917). Considered one of the founding sociologists and the founder of structuralism and functionalism. That suggests two important assumptions by Durkheim: first, that various social institutions have functions that they fulfill in society, and second that society has a structure. When one part of society is shifted, the whole structure shifts. Durkheim’s parents were French Jews; his father was a rabbi. Studied philosophy and taught philosophy for 5 years before moving into a social science position. Died of a stroke at 59. Durkheim was disliked by many of his colleagues, and it took him many years to advance in his career. This is due in part to anti-semitism, and in part to his zealous insistence that sociology was the most important of the sciences. His defense of the importance of sociology made him many enemies.
  • 3. Durkheim
    • His books include:
    • The Division of Labor in Society , which examines how work is organized (1893)
    • The Rules of Sociological Method , which makes suggestions about social science research methods (1895)
    • Suicide , which looks at the social sources of suicide (1897)
    • The Elementary Forms of Religious Life , which examines the social purposes of religion, looking mostly at aboriginal religions in Australia (1912)
  • 4. Durkheim’s Study of Suicide
    • Near the end of the 19 th century, French sociologist Emile Durkheim undertook an experiment to demonstrate the value of sociology
    • His goal was to explain suicide in terms of social facts—using the sociological imagination
  • 5. Durkheim’s Suicide
    • We usually explain suicide in terms of individual factors such as depression or turmoil
    • There’s no question that every suicide has an individual level explanation in terms of the biography of the person attempting suicide and his/her unique circumstances
  • 6. Durkheim’s Suicide
    • But, suicide rates are social factors
    • They are more than the accumulation of stories of all those who have committed suicide
    • They also tell a story about the society and time period they represent
  • 7. Durkheim’s Suicide
    • Durkheim compared suicide rates for a number of European countries, as well as the change in these rates over time
    • He made a number of important findings
  • 8. Durkheim’s Suicide
    • Suicide rates were higher in Protestant countries than in Catholic countries
    • Suicide rates increased during periods of social turmoil, particularly as these countries transitioned into an industrial economy
  • 9. Durkheim’s Suicide
    • From these findings, Durkheim developed a typology of suicide, focusing on 3 main types:
      • Egoistic Suicide: Persons who are not sufficiently socially integrated (Protestants)
      • Altruistic Suicide: Persons who are too socially integrated (Widows)
      • Anomic Suicide: Persons whose goals do not align with the norms of the society (particularly because those norms are in flux) (Farmers in an industrializing society)
  • 10. Structuralism
    • The view that our social actions are founded upon basic observable patterns (or structures).
    • These structure effectively produce basic laws of the human social world, as biological structures produce basic laws of physiology
    • Although all of the early sociologists qualify as structuralists to some degree, this school of thought is largely traced to Emile Durkheim
  • 11. A Framework for Comparing Theoretical Approaches Relation-ship between the individual and society; how do social exp. Create identity How do different hierarchies work hand in hand to oppress some and privilege others Who is treated as ‘other’? How do the marginalized find power Relative positions of men and women, meanings of gender What does race mean? How is it organized What are the beliefs and values of a society Who rules? How is strat-ification reproduced What need is served by institutions What are the norms, goals, and means? Key Questions Agency Matrix of Domination Dispersed Patriarchy White supremacy; racial dictatorship Hegemony Ruling class, bourgeoisie and capitalists Power important for social cohesion Neutral Implication for Power Social Psychology Comb-ination of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. Sexuality; social boundaries; mainstream Gender Racial hierarchy Systems of Meaning Economics Purpose of every social institution How society is organized; resources and schema Focus of Explan-ation Social Self Inter-sectional Queer Feminist Theory Racial Conflict Inter-pretive Class Conflict Function-alism Structur-alism
  • 12. Structuralism What are the norms, goals, and means? Key Questions Neutral Implication for Power How society is organized; resources and schema Focus of Explanation