SOC 3104 Fall 2012 Neal King
Monday, August 27, 2012
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
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
syllabus, readings, essay prompts, study guides
grades, forum, online homework
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
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
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.
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:
Physics and Chemistry
› strong nuclear, em, gravitational
how sociology differs
Biology and Psychology
› collective human
To a sociologist, individuals, gods, and natural forces appear as results or
effects of group activities.
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.
Facts, like data, are what groups agree they can see.
Morals and values, good as opposed to bad, are what groups agree
Science rewards professionals for telling these apart and focusing on facts
professional rewards for competitive fact-checking and debate over
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”,
… drawing attention to huge consequences of group activities for human
Mercantile voyages drew attention to very different group activities.
Faith in ordained orders declined in favor of search for solutions to social
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.
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.
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