Theory 01 Introduction by yTx9N4J2

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									                                                      Sociological Theory
                                    SOC 3104           Fall 2012   Neal King

                           introductory lectures
                          Monday, August 27, 2012

     learning goals
   what makes sociology distinct
   what we assume
   what we theorize
   how we test theories
   how you can use others’ writings to support your own scholarly arguments
   distinguishing among disciplinary foci and levels of observation
   history of liberalism
   ‘society does …’ holism vs. empiricism and conflict sociology

     an example
   cause of faith in god
        focus on ritual
        denial of the supernatural?
   (super)nature as governing law vs. human intervention
   from community to individual
   conflict over religion
   use of religion in conflict

     mechanics
   syllabus, readings, essay prompts, study guides
   http://www.sociology.vt.edu/theory/
   grades, forum, online homework
   https://scholar.vt.edu/portal

     advice
   read more than once
   outline / find a cheap printer
   draw connections between discussions and readings
   check those in class
   use (cite) readings in writing
   show that you understand
                           introductory lectures
                         Wednesday, August 29, 2012

     science
   Sociology defines and explains in terms of group activities.
   Science is a network of professional, routine fact-checking and debate…
   It tests theories by analyzing data.
   Data (observations) are whatever a group believes it can see.

     data on causes
   Scientists theorize by
   proposing links between causes and effects — whatever a group believes
    leads to/is responsible for whatever else
   in terms of data — whatever a group agrees it can see.

     causal inference
   Observation of antecedence
   Observation of correlation
   Inference/imputation that no other force caused the correlation

     how sociology differs
   Sociologically, disciplines are networks (patterns of repeated interaction)
    that focus on particular causal forces:
   Theology
      › supernatural
   Physics and Chemistry
      › strong nuclear, em, gravitational
     how sociology differs
   Biology and Psychology
      › organic
   humanities
      › artistic
   social sciences
      › collective human
   To a sociologist, individuals, gods, and natural forces appear as results or
    effects of group activities.

     ‘illusion’
   disciplinary assumption behind choice of word “illusion”
   Theorists can be sloppy, but sociology does not require this.
   Group membership shapes perception and judgment, and strong group
    ties lead members to take them for granted.
     professional disillusion
   Facts, like data, are what groups agree they can see.
   Morals and values, good as opposed to bad, are what groups agree
    honor them.
   Science rewards professionals for telling these apart and focusing on facts
    not values.
   professional rewards for competitive fact-checking and debate over
    methods
   focus of prestige: checking of claims rather than affirmation of values
   basis of professional disillusionment

     History : God vs. humankind
   The Old World’s causal attributions:
         supernatural forces, individual choices
   Medieval people knew, in submission, what God gave them to know, to
    appreciate without alteration.

     state making and capitalism
   Modernization (central govt., mercantile capital, technology, mass ed.)
    increased use of human and physical science.
   Conflict between legal regulation and private enterprise distinguished
    “society” from “state”,

     The Enlightenment
   … drawing attention to huge consequences of group activities for human
    survival.
   Mercantile voyages drew attention to very different group activities.
   Faith in ordained orders declined in favor of search for solutions to social
    problems …

     modern study of problems
   Philology — of what people not God say, of limits on our abilities to speak
    to each other
   Biology — of life not creatures, of limits on our existence
   Economics — of what people make not what God provides, of limits on
    what we can have

     man not God as subject
   For many groups, the goal of study shifted
   from understanding our world and then joining the creator in a perfect
    kingdom in the next life,
   to overcoming our limits and constructing utopia on earth.
     The Enlightenment
   Sociology thus arises in the modern world, studying it and developing
    theories like this sentence.
   It explains not in terms of the will of God or individual people but in terms
    of group activities.

     caveat
   in addition to tendency to imply unique validity of sociological thought,
   habit of turning focus to individual decision-making and intention
   (My instruction: Ignore both of these when they come up in the texts. I’ll
    point them out FYI.)

     in group-activity terms
   facts: what groups agree they can observe
   values: what groups agree honor them
   individuals: members of groups
   Gods: symbols of group powers
   culture: activities that distinguish groups

								
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