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Introducing Sociology (1 of 2)

Introducing Sociology (1 of 2)



Introducing Sociology. Part of the course series:

Introducing Sociology. Part of the course series:
Disciplinary approaches to Organization



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  • Can you see society? Really see it? If you can, can yiu describe it? What does it look like? Sound like, taste like or feel like? These are difficult questions to answer
  • A quality of the mind that allows us to understand the relationship between our particular situation in life and what is happening at a social level

Introducing Sociology (1 of 2) Introducing Sociology (1 of 2) Presentation Transcript

  • trying to capture society to study it
    As part of the course series:
    Disciplinary approaches to organizations
    Introducing Sociology, part 1
  • Introduction to Sociology
    Give a brief introduction Sociology as a social science discipline
    Take a look at some issues and translate these in terms of sociological phenomena
    Highlight the fundamental sociological theories (sociological lenses) (3 paradigms)
  • Society:
    Society = a group of people who shapetheir livesin aggregatedand patterned waysthat distinguish their group from other groups
  • What does society look like?
    The study of society
    Society as an object itself (sui generis)
    if society is an object, than we it can be examined closely and analyzed like any other subject (sounds simple isn’t it? We divide it in pieces and explore each piece carefully)
    A sociologist does to society, what a biologist does to a living organism, or a geologist does to a rock:
    Society becomes something scientifically weighted, measured and dissected
  • A geologist studying a rock:
  • Is Society a concrete object after all?
    But, wait…as we begin to dissect this object, we discover that it’s made up of countless other components
    Of things like: culture, working class, ethnicity
    These things appear to be sui generis (objects on their own) as well: more phenomena to examine by themselves, hmmm, but wait….
    And these components can be broken down even further into seemly endless bits and pieces
    It gets confusing: daunting, almost impossible to imagine we could analyze something so big, with so many parts, the shapes and boundaries are so fluid
  • Society looks like this painting by Kandinsky:
  • What can we see?
    If we can’t see the whole of society, what can we see?
    We can see people living their lives, interacting with each other, working, playing, eating, dancing, flirting, lying, eating, fighting, grieving, driving in their cars, ending their lives by own choice, partying, getting married, divorcing, stealing, loosing their minds etc.
    There are limitless observable phenomena for us to analyze sociologically
    In fact they are all happening around us right now, every moment of every life
    Scoping social phenomena
  • Positioning sociology among other sciences:
    Sociology overlaps with other social sciences, but much of the territory it covers is unique
  • Sociology
    the systematic or scientific study of human society and social behavior, from large scale institutions and mass culture to small groups and individual interactions
    The sociology of The Sopranos would deal with family, mafia, loyalty, the experience of crime, morality, immigration, integration etc.
  • Levels of analysis: micro- and macro sociology:
    Sociology covers a wide range of topics at different levels of analysis
  • Sociological Imagination
    One quality of mind that all the great social analysts need to possess in order to study social phenomena
    The ability to understand “ the intersection between biography and history”
    The interplay between the self and the world
    C. Wright Mills (1916 -1962)
  • Sociology Zen
    You need a Beginners mind: approaching the world without preconceptions in order to see things in a new way…DISCOVERY
    Make Assignment 1 for the next session, we will test this beginner’s mind.
  • 2 conceptual grips for the study of society:
    Human drama: Metaphor of a theater
    All humans play a role:
    • Role: the expected performance of someone who occupies a specific position.
    • Each position has an established script that suggests appropriate lines, gestures and relationships with others (behavior)
    In a specific social structure: the larger structure of the play in which the roles appear. What is the whole set of roles that appears in this play?
  • Roles in a specific social structure:
    E.g. roles: female, mother, friend, lover, professional, cheater, teacher, boss, daughter etc.
    E.g. social structures: workplace, education, family, religion, politics, circle of friends
  • Different roles of a woman…
  • assignment: Three social phenomena
    Drop-out rate is very high in Aruba
    The drug addiction problem is getting out of hand in Aruba (choler)
    Divorce rate in Aruba is very high
    Form 3 groups
    Try to describe the social phenomena as a sociologist would start to do. Don’t just look at the personal level of the actors but try to discover possible mechanisms at societal level.
    Write the questions you ask, and identify the mechanisms you discover. Make a distinction of mechanisms on the personal level of the actors involved and on the societal level (the latter in terms of social structures)
  • Modern school of thoughts: paradigms
    Theoretical umbrellas: they have explanatory broad power
    None of them on their own can give an entirely explanation of a whole social phenomena, each one gives its specific answers
    These are:
    Structural Functionalism
    Conflict theory
    Symbolic interactionism
  • Structural Functionalism (1)
    The 2 words can give an idea of this approach: structure and function
    Founding fathers: Comte, Spencer and Durkheim
    Society is a stable, ordered system of interrelated parts of the structures
    Each structure has a function that contributes to the continued stability or equilibrium of the whole
  • Structural Functionalism (2)
    Structures are defines as social institutions like the family, the educational system, politics, religion, mass media systems, and the economy
    Structures meet the need of society by performing different functions:
    What would be the functions of above mentioned social institutions? (in terms of manifest* vs. latent** functions)
    Dysfunction: a disturbance to or undesirable consequence of some aspect of the social system
    Harmony & stability
    *Manifest: the obvious intended functions of a social institution (or social system
    ** Latent: the less obvious, perhaps unintended functions of a social structure
  • Let’s get back to our 3 social phenomena
    Drop-out rate is very high in Aruba
    The drug addiction problem is getting out of hand in Aruba (choler)
    Divorce rate in Aruba is very high
    Let’s explain these in terms of structure, manifest and latent functions and dysfunction
  • Conflict theory
    Proposes conflict and tension as basic facts of social life and suggests that people have disagreements over goals and values and are involved in struggles over both resources and power
    Theory focuses on dominance, competition and social change
    Founding father: Marx
    A materialistic view of society (focused on labor practices and economic reality, we play by the rules (roles and functions) of these social systems
    A critical stance towards existing social arrangements (labor market, democracy, inequality between social groups)
    A dynamical model of historical change in which the transformation of society is inevitable (change)
  • Symbolic Interactionism
    Most influential
    Founding father: Mead
    We act toward things on the basis of their meanings
    Individual, social groups meaning to experience of life: we negotiate meaning
    Meanings can change or be modified through interaction and through time
  • Changing meanings of the concept of beauty for teenagers(1975 vs. 2010):
  • Example of meaning of work
  • Social aggregation: the organization
  • Food for thought for next session:
    I want you to think about the function, different roles with their specific behaviors, harmony, possible conflicts and meanings of the social aggregation: the organization
  • Next session:
    2 modern paradigms
    Discuss assignment
    Focus on the organization from a sociological perspective