Soc. 101 rw ch. 2


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Soc. 101 rw ch. 2

  1. 1. Sociology’s Family TreeTHEORIES & THEORISTS CHAPTER 2
  2. 2. Outline What is a theory? Sociology’s Roots Classical Soc. Theory (Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud) Modern Schools of Thought New Theoretical Approaches
  3. 3. Sociological Theories Sociological Theories– abstract propositions that both explain the social world and make predictions about future events Ex. Mental illness-diff. theory means diff. treatment  14 century London-Caused by moral failing/demon possession or individual weakness---Taken to Bethlem  Colonial U.S.-Caused by astrological position of moon at time of birth (lunatic)---bleeding or long-term vomiting  1930s U.S.-Located in a particular portion of brain---could be cured by lobotomy (removal of part of the brain)  Present day U.S.-caused by problems of brain chemistry *Theories change over time because society itself changes, and theories try to explain society
  4. 4. Eurocentrism & Sociology Eurocentric-tendency to favor European or Western history, culture, and values over other cultures  Both the social world and social theory are eurocentric (privilege West)  Ibn Khaldun-14th century- came up with concept of assabiyah (social cohesion) before Durkheim by 500 years
  5. 5. Sociology’s Roots Auguste Comte (1798-1857) – French scientist  Father of Sociology; coined “sociology”  Grew up in aftermath of French Revolution/political instability  Believed science could be used to run society efficiently Positivism – argues sense perceptions are the only valid source of knowledge  Seeks to ID laws that describe the behavior of a particular reality  Aligned “positive” knowledge with scientific factual knowledge Scientific method-emphasizes collecting concrete data through observation and experiment  Comte imagined applying scientific method to social affairs
  6. 6. Sociology’s Roots “Mrs.” Harriet Martineau (1802-76)– Support of unions, women’s rights, abolitionist  Traveled to the U.S.-judge democracy  Translated Comte’s Introduction to Positive Philosophy into English Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) – First great English-speaking sociologist  *Societies, like biological organisms, evolve through time by adapting to changing conditions – Social Darwinism  Coined phrase, “survival of the fittest”
  7. 7. Classical Sociological Theory Classical period began in 1800s  Beginning as substantive discipline  Theoretical foundations for all work that followed  Industrial Revolution influenced development Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) – French – established sociology as important science – used scientific method in Suicide Hoped science could stabilize France in aftermath of defeat in Franco-Prussian War
  8. 8. Classical Sociological Theory Suicide-theorized was caused by anomie- sense of disconnection brought about by changing conditions of modern life Solidarity-unity within a particular society Mechanical solidarity – describes types of social bonds of agrarian society – shared traditions & beliefs lead to social cohesion Organic solidarity – describes social bonds modern industrialized society-interdependence, tasks performed and individual rights
  9. 9. Classical Sociological Theory Karl Marx- (1818-1883) German social philosopher, economist and political activist Collaborated with Friedrich Engels *Believed that conflict between social groups is central to the workings of society and the engine of social change Social Inequality – uneven & unfair distribution of resources. Result of capitalism –class struggle b/w “haves” and “have-nots” Means of Production-anything that can create wealth: money, property, factories, etc…
  10. 10. Classical Sociological Theory Proletariat – workers, no means of production  Tended to be compliant with existing social order Bourgeoisie-owners of “means of production” Alienation –sense of dissatisfaction the modern worker feels as a result of producing goods that are owned and controlled by someone else  Proletariat suffered b/c they were unable to directly benefit from the fruits of their own labor Socialism-political system based on state control of economy to reduce social inequality
  11. 11. Classical Sociological Theory Max Weber – German sociologist Protestant ethic Rationalization-application of economic logic to all spheres of human activity in order to increase efficiency- Studied Bureaucracies-institutions characterized by hierarchal authority and fixed procedures. Investigated how economics were related to all human activity (education).
  12. 12. Classical Sociological Theory Weber postulated that people were trapped in: Iron cage-technical conditions of machine production control our lives through rigid rules and rationalization/bureaucratic rules  Modern life characterized by disenchantment and dehumanization Verstehen – empathetic understanding  Describes how soc. scientist should approach study of human action  Researchers should avoid bias/opinions in work
  13. 13. Classical Sociological Theory Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Austrian psychiatrist Psychoanalysis-The subconscious and unconscious responsible for most of our drives and impulses-learned thru dream interpretation *Concerned with the large-scale social changes of the Industrial Revolution & effect on individual  Repression-taboo desires return via dreams, slips of the tongue, neuroses, etc…  Sublimation-desires channeled into healthy and acceptable expressions/hobbies
  14. 14. Modern Schools of Thought Structural Functionalism – society is unified whole that functions because of the contributions of its separate structures Comte, Spencer, Durkheim wanted to study order because social change had previously happened much more slowly Society as sui generis Structures – social institutions relatively stable over time, meets needs of society (family, etc.)
  15. 15. Modern Schools of Thought Dysfunction – disturbance to some aspect of social system-must lead to institutional change  Families not disciplining kids?-falls on schools, courts… Structural Functionalism Tenets 1. Society is stable system of interrelated parts 2. Each structure has a function that contributes to the continued stability of the whole Critiques-static model of society/no interest in individual, social inequality functional?
  16. 16. Modern Schools of Thought Conflict Theory – Marx – struggle over resources & power dominates society. Ideology of society is influenced by wealthy & powerful  Increasing economic power of industrial capitalism primary tool for oppression of the poor  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”-Karl Marx False consciousness-denial of truth by the oppressed-fail to recognize interests of ruling class in their ideology-allowed inequalities in class structure to continue
  17. 17. Modern Schools of Thought To change: we need Class Consciousness or Revolutionary Consciousness – challenge those in power and inequality in society Dialectical Model – Marx’s model of historical change Thesis (belief) – Antithesis (opposite belief) and Synthesis (compromise of both) Praxis – practical action – act on what you believe Critical Theory – media or mass communications and popular culture important part of capitalism Critique-can ignore stable parts of society
  18. 18. Modern Schools of Thought Symbolic Interactionism - interaction and meaning central to society –meanings in life are created through interaction in society- not inherent 1. We act towards things on basis of their meanings 2. Meanings are not inherent/created through interaction 3. Meanings can change or be modified through interaction
  19. 19. Modern Schools of Thought George Herbert Mead & the Chicago School Did actual field research about social interaction Related to pragmatism-organisms make practical adaptations to their environments Believed language (verbal & non-verbal) is crucial to the development of self and society Erving Goffman – Dramaturgy – uses idea of theatre to explain how we present ourselves  Frontstage and Backstage
  20. 20. New Theoretical Approaches Feminist Theory – looks at how gender & power are linked in our society – patriarchal Queer Theory – 80’s & 90’s – sexual orientation categories are just social constructs- none deviant or normal Postmodernism – no constants in society – all areas in flux, diverse – Hip Hop-old with the new Wal-Mart Assignment – page 54 & 55