Unit 2. the awakening of the sociological imagination part 2
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  • Macro level: focus on broad social structures that characterize society as a whole. Micro level: focus on social interaction in specific situations (focus on action, interaction and meaning to experience)
  • Comte father of sociology. His context: examined social changes as French revolution and industrial revolution. Spencer was inspired by Darwinism, he studies the human body also, and used this as analogy for society. Just as the body is dived in parts with each a function, so is society.
  • Parsons, a US Sociologist elaborated further on the different parts/functions of society and emphasized on the role of socialization in society. Merton expands the notion of social functions further and introduces to concepts of manifest, latent functions and social dysfunctions.
  • Max weber was the founder of social action perspective and this perspective influenced symbolic interactionism

Unit 2. the awakening of the sociological imagination part 2 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. 1
  • 2. Objectives of Unit 2:
    Discuss findings/experience of Assignment 1: “Doing Nothing”
    Reflect on the concept of “theory” in Sociology
    Introduce the ‘classical’(traditional) perspectives in Sociology
    Introduce the newer perspectives in Sociology
    Introduce a global perspective in Sociology (unit 3 & 9)
    Introduce briefly common methodological approaches (tools) in Sociology
  • 3. 3
    Assignment 1: “Doing Nothing”
  • 4. 4
    A theory is…. Hmmm !?
  • 5. 5
  • 6. What is a Theory?
    Attempts to understand the (social) world and our place in it, has led to the development of theories
    Theories are abstract propositions about how things are as well as how they should be; an explanation of how we think things work
    We refer to theories as approaches, schools of thought, paradigmsor perspectives.
    This implies that they are different approaches!
    Social theories are guiding principles or abstract modelsthat attempt to explain and predict the social world
    A theory is comparable to a map. When you discover new places, you have to modify this map
  • 7. 7
  • 8. 8
  • 9. 9
  • 10. 10
    Is there something like ‘down’ or ‘above’? ‘down’ and ‘above’ become relative…
  • 11. Example of a theoretical model: “the social change model”
  • 12. Theories are dynamic, they change…
    Theories have to be tested:
    That’s what scientifically research is all about!
    We develop theories and test them, modify them to fit the reality better, why?
    Theories will change over time, because their area of study they seek to understand and explain:
    Society, itself changes over time
    Theories seek to understand society in periods of both order and change
    Social change makes theoretical change a continual necessity
  • 13. 13
    The object of study is on the move
  • 14. Have you ever tried to photograph a moving object?
  • 15. Different theoretical perspectives
    In attempting to develop theories about humans and societies, sociologists face a wide range of choices:
    What issues should we study? How should we link facts together to form theories? What assumptions might underpin our theories?
    I.e. what theoretical maps guides the study of phenomena?
    =Theoretical Perspective
    This is a basic image that guides thinking and research
    There exists an array of basic images that guide thinking and research!
  • 16. The elephant metaphor:poem by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-18-87)
  • 17. The poem/parable’s moral:
  • 18. 18
    ‘Classical’, traditional perspectives in Sclg
  • 19. 3 classical perspectives in Sclg:
    Macro-level perspectives:
    Structural Functionalism
    Conflict theory
    Micro-level perspective:
    Symbolic interactionism
  • 20. 20
    Structural Functionalism
  • 21. Key tenets Structural Functionalism
    Is a framework for building theory that envisages society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability
    Our lives are guided by social structure
    i.e. relative stable patterns of social behaviour
    This frameworks understands social structure in terms of its social functions
    i.e. functions/consequences for the operation of society
    Society is stable, an ordered system of interrelated partsof the social structures. Each structure has a function that contributes to the continued stability of society.
  • 22. Founding Fathers of Structural Functionalism:
    “I focus on social solidarity”
    “Society is comparable to the human body”
    “ To promote social integration during times of radical change”
    Herbert Spencer
    Emile Durkheim
    Auguste Comte
  • 23. Key tenets Structural Functionalism
    The SF perspective organizes sociological observations by identifying various structures of society and studying the function of each one.
    E.g. of social structures (social institutions) are: the family, the educational system, politics, religion, mass media systems and the economy
  • 24. Other theorists that have contributed to SF perspective
    “Society is a system, with parts that have basic tasks, all members should be socialized to maintain order”
    “Social functions can be expanded in manifest, latent and dysfunctions”
    Talcott Parsons
    Robert Merton
  • 25. Social functions expanded (Merton)
    The consequences of any social pattern are likely todifferfor various members of society
    E.g. traditional families provide crucial support for the development of children but also confer privileges on men while limiting the opportunities for women
    We don’t always perceive all functions of a particular social structure:
    Manifest functions: the recognized/intended consequences of any social pattern
    Latent functions: consequences that are largely unrecognized and unintended
    Not all the effects if any social structure turn out to be useful: Social Dysfunctions
    i.e. any pattern’s undesirable consequences for the operation of society
  • 26. (dys)functions of….?
    What are the main functions (in terms of manifest and latent) and dysfunctions of the following social structures:
    The family
    Mass media
    The economy
  • 27. Critique on Structural Functionalism
    How can we assume that society has a natural order when social patterns vary from place to place and changeover time?
    By focusing on social integration and harmony SF tends to overlook/hide social inequalities based on social categories such as: ethnicity, gender, age and social class
  • 28. 28
    Conflict Theory
  • 29. Key tenets Conflict Theory
    Is a framework for building theory that envisages society as an arena of inequality that generates conflict and change
    It highlights divisionsin society based on inequalities
    Inequalitiesbased on social class, ethnicity (or race), sex and age
    Theory focuses on dominance,competitionandsocial change
    Conflictbetween categories of people (social groups): dominant vs. disadvantaged categories. E.g. Rich vs. poor
    Aim is not only to understand how inequality is rooted in the way society is organized, but also to do reduce inequalities:
    By promoting and bring about Social Change
  • 30. Conflict Theory
    has a materialistic view of society. It focuses on labor practices and economic reality
    takes a critical stancetowards existing social arrangements (labor market, democracy, inequality between social groups)
    doesn’t believe that science can be objective: “all theoretical approaches have political consequences”. i.e. theories have hidden agendas
    Believes that transformation of society is inevitable(social change)
  • 31. Founding father of Conflict theory:
    “My main task is not to just analyze how society reproduces inequality, but my task is to change this!”
    Karl Marx
  • 32. Critique on Conflict Theory
    CT highlights inequality and overlooks how shared values or interdependence generate unity among members of society
    CT sometimes pursuits explicitly political goals (it wants to bring social change) and because of this it sometimeslacks scientific objectivity*
    * The objectivity of science is a much disputable notion in science on itself
  • 33. Critique on how SF & CT approach ‘Society’
    Both the SF and CT envisage society in very broad terms. “Society becomes a thing on itself” describing our lives as a composite of for example: “family” or “social class”
    we have criticized this notion in unit 1!
    Both SF and CT are considered conservative theories (gone out of fashion!)
  • 34. 34
    Symbolic Interactionism
  • 35. 3. Symbolic Interactionism*
    Is a theoretical framework that envisages societyas the product of everyday interactions of people doing things together
    Is influenced by Weber’s social action perspective. i.e. a perspective that emphasizes the need to understand a setting from the point of view of people in it.
    Human meanings and action shape society
    We act toward things on the basis of their meanings
    Individual/social groups give meaning to the experience of life
    Meaning is process of constant negotiation:
    i.e. meanings can change or be modified through interaction and through time
    *SI is the most influential sociological perspective!
  • 36. Founding father & inspiration of SI
    “Meanings and action shape society. Modern society is the product of a new way of thinking, not just of new technology and capitalism”
    “I look at how we assemble our sense of self over time based on social experience”
    Max Weber
    George Mead
  • 37. Key tenets of Symbolic Interactionism
    Through the human process of finding meaningin our surroundings, we define our identities, bodies and feelings, and come to socially construct the world around us.
    Society as a mosaic of subjective meanings and variable responses:
    E.g. the meaning of the membership of a gang member:
    The one perceives being part of a gang as something to be proud of, you get symbolic ‘status’ in an other part of society, you are appreciated by fellow gang members, they are your family.
    The other sees gangs as something to be feared, a menace for society, a collection of organized crime, peer pressure and stupidity
  • 38. Changing meanings of the concept of beauty for teenagers(1975 vs. 2010):
  • 39. Critique on Symbolic Interactions
    By focusing on day-to-day experience/interactions we overlook the workings of larger social structures
  • 40. Conclusion so far…
    Not one single perspective can cover in its totality the dynamic character of society and social experience.
    A some what more better understanding of society comes from the combination of different perspectives:
    Sociology examines the social world by looking at functions and dysfunctions, conflicts and consensus, actions and meanings
    And still, as we will see, some other angles are lacking!
    Because all 3 traditional perspectives have weakness as well as strengths, they will probably never fully explain the totality of social phenomena, even when taken together…
  • 41. 41
    Contemporary, emerging perspectives
  • 42. 3 new perspectives in Sociology
    New perspectives will, and indeed must, continue to rise. Changes in society, bring changes in our conceptual way of studying it:
    Each is linked to a major contemporary social transformation:
    Changing ideas about gender roles
    Changing notions of sexual identity
    Changes associated with a post-industrial, technologically based society
  • 43. 43
    Feminist Theory
  • 44. First female sociologist
    “I can be considered the first female in sociology. My area of expertise is the study of urban life, I am one of the pioneers of the Chicago School”
    Jane Addams
  • 45. 1. Feminist theory
    Looks at gender inequalities in society and the way gender structures the social world
    Gender is a social construct
  • 46. 46
  • 47. E.g. A feminist analysis of female fairy tale characters
  • 48. 48
  • 49. 49
    Queer Theory
  • 50. 2. Queer theory
    Proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs and that no sexual category is fundamentally either deviant or normal
  • 51. 51
  • 52. 2. Postmodern theory
    Suggests that there is no universal, knowable truth: realities are fluid and diverse
    The kaleidoscope metaphor
  • 53. 53
    “It has all been done. The extreme limit of possibilities have been reached. It has deconstructed its entire universe. So, all that are left are pieces. All that remains to be done is play around with the pieces: that is post-modern”
  • 54. 54
  • 55. 55
    Global perspective in Sociology
  • 56. Global perspective
    The study of the larger world and each society’s place in it
    Importance of interrelations
    Importance of contexts
    We will continue with this theme in unit 3 and unit 9
  • 57. 57
    Common methods in Sociology
  • 58. 58
    “There is no absolutely objective scientific analysis of culture….or social phenomena independent of special and one-sided viewpoints according to which …they are selected, analyzed and organized” (Weber, 1949: 72)
    Max Weber
  • 59. 59
  • 60. 60
    Distinction between Quantative and Qualitative research methods
    Quantative: uses data that can easily be converted into numbers, such as a survey or an experiment
    E.g. Censo 2010
  • 61. 61
  • 62. 62
    Qualitative: involves data that cannot easily be converted to numbers, such as observation or informal interviews.
    Most sociological research uses the scientific method
    This is the standard for acquiring and verifying empirical scientific knowledge:
    After conducting a literature review, a researcher forms a hypothesis stating a potential relationship between 2 or more variables:
    The number of friendships at the work & the level of job satisfaction
    e.g. more friendships at the workplace increases job satisfaction
    Variables must be clearly defined so that they can be measured
    Finally data is collected and the hypotheses tested (deductive)
  • 63. Steps of the scientific Method
    Starting from 1 to 7 = Deductive research
    Starting from 5 (4) to 1 = Inductive research
  • 64. 1. Ethnographic methods
    One way to collect data is through ethnography, a method based on studying people in their own environment in order to understand the meanings they attribute to their activities
    It involves:
    Active participation in and observation of a naturally occurring setting and a written account (field notes) of what goes on there.
    In participant observation the research observes and becomes a member in the social setting
    Anthropology uses this method often
  • 65. Ethnography:
    Snow white joined the 7 dwarfs in their private homes, here she could observe their social practices
  • 66. 2. Interviews
    Involves direct, face-to-face contact with respondents.
    The researcher identifies the target population that she wishes to study and then selects a sample of people to be interviewed from that population
    close-ended questions:
    E.g. Are you for or against the legislation of abortus? (yes-no)
    open-ended question:
    What is your opinion about legalizing abortus? please elaborate…
    What do you think of married couples cheating on each other?
  • 67. 3. Surveys
    Surveys are questionnaires that are administrated to a sample of respondents selected from a target group population
    Tend to look at Large-scale social patterns and employs statistics methods of analysis
  • 68. 68
    URL: www.censo2010.aw
  • 69. 4. Experimental methods
    Experiments are formal test of whether an independent variable causes the dependent variable that are performed in a controlled setting where all aspects of the situation can be controlled.
    Comparison between experimental group vs. control group (sample without intervention)
    Experiments in social science are very difficult to conduct because of ethical questions:
    Twins separated at birth, one grows-up in a nice family, one in a dysfunctional family?
  • 70. Pill to make you dance at a party when you don’t like dancing
    Control: she takes a placebo pill
    Experiment: she takes the to be tested pill
  • 71. 5. Emerging research tools:
    Life stories (narratives)
    Logs and time-budgets
    Visual sociology: Photography
    Visual sociology: Film and video
  • 72. Issues in Social science research
    Social scientists/researches should be Value-free
    Code of ethics to avoid bias, protect respondents from harms, privacy issues and unethical behavior in the name of science etc.
    On the wikispace you can find examples of different code of ethics for social sciences
  • 73. E.g. Unethical research
    Article trackback:
  • 74. 74
    Awakening thesociological imagination:
    “Studying = feeling like a space traveler, flying above earth, fascinated by its organizing ecology & exploring its encoded meanings”
  • 75. 75
    Social Scientists…
  • 76. Assignment 2:
  • 77. Understanding the London Riots
    See Assignment 2 on the wikispace: “Free-styling” sociological imagination: Understanding the London Riots.
    As sociologists-in-training we will attempt to understand the riotscarefully. Follow the instructions for this assignment on the wikispace.