What is sociology sept 2013


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  • Berger and Luckmann, the social construction of reality
  • What is sociology sept 2013

    1. 1. What is sociology? Introducing sociology as a discipline Week 4
    2. 2. Today • The sociological imagination – 6 aspects • The historical development of sociological thought – Copernicus, Galileo and the Englightenment • Key sociologists – Comte, Durkheim, Marx and Weber – Forgotten sociologists • Contemporary sociological strands (seminars) – Functionalism, conflict theories and symbolic interactionism
    3. 3. The Sociological Imagination • What can we say about the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee?
    4. 4. Social interaction and social judgements
    5. 5. Global social networks and social and economic development
    6. 6. • Did you know that eighteenth-century coffee houses were centres of gossip and political intrigue for British social elites? • A Coffee-house (c. 1700, anonymous painting, British Museum) ‘Coffee, (which makes the Politician wise, And see thro' all things with his half shut Eyes)’ --Alexander Pope
    7. 7. Contemporary human rights debates
    8. 8. Use your Sociological Imagination • a man cleaning his car on a Sunday morning. • a woman jogging in the park • a person in a suit queuing for the bus to work. 1. World in change – how do they show change? 2. Globalising of social life – how do they reflect globalisation? 3. Links to class and gender – how do they reflect status? 4. Comparative stance – is this the same in every country? 5. The personal = the social – who are the people? 6. Questions of gender – does it matter if it’s a man or woman? With your partner: analyse the situations according to the 6 points. Focus on how the individual’s act goes beyond his/her immediate context. 9
    9. 9. World in change and globalization of social life • The car is a symptom of the industrialized West—both cause and effect of rapid social change in the 20th C. (Fordism: topic 14) • Car manufacturers: – export to every part of the globe. – Some cars (like the Ford Mondeo) are manufactured according to a global division of labour. – same car may have a different price depending where and when you buy it.
    10. 10. Class and comparative stance Certain types of car: symbols of status or virility. viewed as symbols of freedom, mobility, and affluence. (Symbols: socialization and identity.) • It’s a Sunday, so we assume this is a leisure activity. Sunday is, after all, a day when it is the norm not to work in Western Christian societies.
    11. 11. The personal; the social and gender However, the cleaner of the car may be – a taxi driver maintaining his vehicle; – a showroom car cleaner doing overtime; – reluctantly carrying out a chore because their partner made them. • It’s a man: – stereotyped interests and leisure activities. Is there a woman in the background? – What is she doing on a Sunday morning: having breakfast in bed or housecleaning? – Gender: topic 12
    12. 12. Questions of Gender/ Role reversal Stereotypes—what about women washing cars? 13
    13. 13. To summarise, the sociological imagination means that the individual act goes beyond the immediate context • Using water for a non-essential use: – the politics of water is of enormous significance, and the ability to lavish scarce resources on the upkeep of a consumer durable is a luxury specific to affluent ‘First World’ countries. 14
    14. 14. What is Sociology? • Seeing the general in the particular – ‘Sociologists can identify general patterns of social life by looking at concrete specific examples of social life’ (Macionis & Plummer, 2008: 4) – Many factors shape our lives
    15. 15. What is Sociology? • Seeing the strange in the familiar – ‘The first wisdom of sociology is this: things are not what they seem’ (Berger, 1963: 34) – ‘Defamiliarise the familiar’ (Bauman, 1990: 15) • Question whether people do things by choice • Accepting that society guides our thoughts and deeds
    16. 16. What is Sociology? • ‘The Sociological Imagination’ (C. Wright Mills, 1959) – Turns personal problems into public issues – Why is someone unemployed? – ‘Something is wrong with me, I can’t find a job’ (personal) – ‘The economy’s collapsed, there are no jobs to be found’ (public)
    17. 17. What is Sociology? Is society a prison? This question relates to a key debate in sociology: structure versus agency.
    18. 18. Development of Sociological Thinking • Facts show that things occur, and sometimes how they occur • Theories are needed to show why they occur • Theories involve ‘constructing abstract interpretations’ that can be used to explain a wide variety of empirical situations • Not possible completely to separate research and theory
    19. 19. Origins • the late 1700s and early 1800s. • the French Revolution and mid-eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution. • The conditions of possibility were laid before. • We need to look at some history, especially the relationship between religion, thought and science.
    20. 20. Science as an Idea • 1600s: men thought same as for millennia- 100 years later Europe was already transforming its ways of thinking by rationalism. • Nikolaus Kopernikus (1473-1543) – Catholic Priest, mathmatician and astronomer. – heliocentric theory of planetery movement. What‘s this? • New cosmology (replace 15 century-old Ptolemaic system) • earth no longer the centre of the universe, but the sun. • Galileo Galilei (1564- 1642): – believed Copernican cosmology – could prove it using telescopes • Social implications of these ideas: – wholly subversive of the social order. Copernicus Galileo
    21. 21. Why subversive? • The use of science instead of religion to understand the world. ‘What is human nature?’
    22. 22. The Enlightenment • Scientific study of society developed out of the ‘scientific revolution’ • Early ‘sociologists’ believed that human societies can be studied in the same way as in the natural sciences • A period of great optimism – why would science make people optimistic?
    23. 23. Ten features of The Enlightenment 1. Reason 2. Empiricism 3. Science 4. Universalism 5. Progress 6. Individualism 7. Toleration 8. Freedom 9. Uniformity of human nature 10. Secularism
    24. 24. Ten features of The Enlightenment 1. Rationalism– we can gain knowledge using reason, certainty, logic, analytic methods 2. Empiricism – the belief that all knowledge comes from experience; application of scientific method, synthetic methods 3. Science - biology, physiology, physics 4. Universalism – there are rules which are true everywhere 5. Progress – making things better, moving forward 6. Individualism – the individual has different ideas, hopes, desires, and rights 7. Toleration – tolerance of different religious beliefs 8. Freedom –human rights, democracy (Rousseau) 9. Uniformity of human nature – we are the same 10. Secularism – the Church should be separate from the State
    25. 25. Who was the first sociologist? • French author Auguste Comte (1798- 1857) – Coined the term ‘sociology’ in age of turbulent post-revolutionary France – Positivism: a means to understand the world based on science – Saw sociology as the end of a line of development: most complex of all the sciences
    26. 26. Who was the first sociologist? • French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858- 1917) – ‘Study social facts as things!’ – social life can be analysed as rigorously as objects in nature. – Social facts: • aspects of social life that shape our actions as individuals: • the state of the economy • the influence of religion. – Rapid change disrupts traditional life – results in anomie (feeling of aimlessness and despair)
    27. 27. Critical thinking • Durkheim asked why some people decide to take their own lives: – Ethnicity? – Climate? – Mental disorder? – Do the pressures come from inside or outside? • Durkheim chose to study suicide with a purely sociological methodology: – More women – More Protestants than Catholics – More single people than married people – Lower suicides in wartime. Why?
    28. 28. Durkheim (1897) 1. Egoistic suicides: 1. Low integration in society 2. Ties to group are weakened or broken 3. Catholics have less suicides that Protestants (strong social community vs stand alone before God) 4. Marriage protects against suicide 5. Low suicides in wartime 2. Anomic suicide: 1. Lack of social regulation 2. Normlessness due to rapid change or instability in society (eg. Economic upheaval) 3. Altruistic suicide: 1. Over-integration – social bonds are too strong 2. Society is valued more than the invidual 3. WW1; Japanese kamakazi pilots; suicide bombers; ETA; Anti-slave campaigners in USA; hunger striking feminists 4. Fatalistic suicide: 1. Individual is over regulated by society 2. Oppression leads to feeling of powerlessness before fate
    29. 29. Emile Durkheim – Suicide (1897) • Suicide seems to be a purely personal act, the outcome of extreme unhappiness. Is it? • Durkheim discovered different levels in suicide rates in different countries. • social factors influenced suicidal behaviour. • Durkheim turned a personal problem into a public issue.
    30. 30. Karl Marx (1818-1883) One of the most famous sociologists? What do you know about Marx?
    31. 31. Key founders of sociology • Karl Marx (1818-1883) – Sought to explain the changes that were taking place in society during the time of the Industrial Revolution. – Capitalism and class struggle central to writing: capitalists vs. proletariat – Materialist conception of history – economic influences drive social change – Series of stages: primitive; feudal; capitalist, communist – Final stage achieved through inevitable workers’ revolution
    32. 32. Karl Marx • The Communist Manifesto • ‘The history of all hitherto existing societyis the history of class struggles’ • Influences far reaching and taken up by certain leaders as justification of the forced change of a political and social order: • China • Cuba • North Korea
    33. 33. Marx and Religion • God was: – a human construct – an alienated projection of humanity • Religion alienates man from himself by creating an all powerful image of perfection, thus making himself unhappy in the process. • Philosophy must break this dangerous enchantment and bring man back to himself by exposing the sources of religious illusion.
    34. 34. Marx, Capitalism & Class • The possession of power by one group or class inevitably meant the subordination of another. • Revolution was the only answer to this alienation.
    35. 35. Founders of Sociology • Max Weber (1864-1920) – Nature and causes of social change – disagrees with Marx about class – people influence society – Economics, law, philosophy, history – Cultural ideas and values shape society and our individual actions. – The sociology of religion. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: • Religious ideas (espec. Puritanism) created capitalist mentality
    36. 36. Max Weber (1864-1920) • Studied religions of China, India and the Near East, comparing them to the West • The ideal type: – A pure form of a conceptual or anyalytical models that can be used to understand the real world • Rationalization – Tradition, superstition becomes rational, instrumental. – No room for sentiment (emotions) - disenchantment – Science, modern technology & bureaucracy – Bureaucratic domination could crush the human spirit – The Enlightenment has a dark side with new dangers
    37. 37. Summary of The Aims of the Early Sociologists • To use scientific methods to study society – to establish a ‘science of society’; • To explain and understand social change; • To improve/ transform society.
    38. 38. The Aims of the Early Sociologists • Why did they have these aims? • The answer to this question can only be found if put into historical context • A period of rapid modernisation in Europe
    39. 39. The Aims of the Early Sociologists • Industrialisation and the French Revolution (1789) led to a range of rapid social changes, for example: – the breakdown of traditional society (the growth of cities) – the breakdown of religion – the rise of science
    40. 40. The Aims of the Early Sociologists • Modernisation led to new problems that needed new solutions. • For example, urbanisation led to homelessness, poverty, crime, pollution, ill health. • Sociology can help us solve these problems.
    41. 41. Today • The sociological imagination – 6 aspects • The historical development of sociological thought – Copernicus, Galileo and the Englightenment • Key sociologists – Comte, Durkheim, Marx and Weber – Forgotten sociologists • Contemporary sociological strands – Functionalism, conflict theories and symbolic interactionism
    42. 42. Homework Giddens, A (2009), ‘Globalization and the Changing World’, in Giddens, A (2009) [6th Edition] Sociology Cambridge:Polity, pp107- 152 Macionis, J. J. and Plummer, K., Sociology. A Global Introduction, Fourth Edition, (Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.), 2008. Chapter 2. Suggested headings to focus reading and note taking: 1. Types of societies 2. Social change 3. Factors contributing to globalization 4. Theories of globalization 5. The Impact of globalization 6. Global Governance