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Sociology Powered By Docstoc
					   The social science discipline that looks at the
    development and structure of human society
    and how it works

   Sociology is the study of social life, social
    change, and the social causes and consequences
    of human behavior.
Sociology may be defined as:

(1) the science of society;

(2) the study of human behavior in social context;

(3) the study of social interaction and groups; or

(4) a systematic understanding of social interactions,
    organization, and change.
   Human behavior: individual or society? Is human behavior
    shaped more by individual will, interests, and creativity, or by
    societal constraints and motivations?

   Social order: consensus or conflict? Is the regular, predictable,
    orderly nature of many social environments the product of
    consensus or agreement among all participants, or does it result
    from the domination of particular groups?

   Social organization: structure or culture? Which is more
    responsible for the organization of social institutions and
    interactions: cultural elements (such as patterned meanings,
    values, and norms) or structural elements (such as classes, groups,
    and roles)?
   Society through time: stability or change? Are societies relatively
    fixed, with only periodic moments of change, or are they constantly
    undergoing transformation, with relatively few moments of stasis?

   Level of analysis: macro or micro? At what level should we examine
    society? Should we take a macro approach and examine big structures
    and patterns (e.g., the class system, the totality of shared meanings and
    beliefs)? Or should we take a micro perspective and look at local,
    moment-to-moment phenomena (e.g., interpersonal interaction)? Or
    should we find a third, middle approach (e.g., exploring organizations
    and institutions)?
   Sociologists investigate the structure of groups,
    organizations, and societies, and how people
    interact within these contexts.

   All human behaviour is social so the subject matter
    of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the
    hostile mob; from organized crime to religious
    cults; from the divisions of race, gender and social
    class to the shared beliefs of a common culture;
    and from the sociology of work to the sociology of
    sports. (ASA)
   We all play certain roles in our society – Social Scientists refer to
    this as status

   Status is the term used to describe our position within an

   For eg. TL Kennedy – There are many positions at TL ranging
    from teacher, vice-principal, guidance counselor, principal,
    student and superintendent – Can you put them in order on the
   Hierarchy is the ranking system used in any particular
    environment based on authority of power

   Each position or role requires a certain type of expertise which is
    valued by society. Other roles may not be valued but are still
    useful to society according to a certain Sociological school of
    thought. Do you know the school of thought that believes that
    everything in society serves a purpose?

   In order to distinguish between these roles people are expected to
    dress and act in a certain way

   On any given day we can play many different roles in society – eg.
    A parent can drive their kids to school and then go to work and
    teach their students
   Values – Society carries with it a system of values. A
    particular set of values are assigned to each role. The
    practitioners of these roles are expected to accept and
    internalize these values.

   Norms – These are rules set out for a particular role that are
    considered standard behaviour (eg. Catholic Priests are
    expected to be celibate)

   Rules – These are developed by
    cultures based on their system of
   Deviance – Any behaviour that is different from the societal
    norm. It is deviant because we, as a society, do not accept it

   Deviance can range from simple eccentricities to behaviour
    that harms society or is considered disreputable

    “We must not say that an action shocks the common
    conscience because it is criminal, but rather that it is criminal
    because it shocks the common conscience. We do not
    reprove (denounce) it because it is a crime, but it is a crime
    because we reprove it” Emile Durkheim
   Sociology has formed a
    strong link with the justice

   A fundamental
    component of modern
    imprisonment is
    rehabilitation, or trying to
    re-educate and resocialize
    inmates so that they can
    grow to accept society’s
    values and norms
   Sociologists have debated among themselves
    about the real nature of society

   As societies change and become more diverse
    sociologists need to consider cultural diversity
    when considering sociological issues
   Structural-Functionalism or
    Consensus Theory, is traced
    Emile Durkhiem.

   Conflict Theory or
    Neo-Marxism stems from
    Karl Marx

   Symbolic Interactionism is clearly related
    to Max Weber.
   This theory stresses order and stability in
    society. It emphasizes that a society can not
    survive unless its members share some
    common values, attitudes, and perceptions:

    (1) that each part of the society contributes
         to the whole

    (2) that the various parts are integrated with
         each other

    (3) that interdependence keeps societies
         relatively stable.
   A society or group is a system of integrated

   Social systems tend to be relatively stable and
    persistent, and change is usually gradual.

   A society or group cannot survive unless its
    members share at least some common beliefs,
    norms, and values.

   Social integration is produced by the consensus
    of most members of society on some norms and
   According to structural-functionalism, each society should provide
    its members with the fundamental requirements for functioning

   A system must have a way of fulfilling material needs, a system
    for socializing and educating the young, a way of regulating
    Human reproduction (usually marriage)

   Structural-Functionalists believe their role is to try to explain the
    role of society’s systems in enabling human society to function

   Structural-Functionalists do not concern themselves with change
    but instead with how society works to meet their needs
   Functional prerequisites: Needs that all societies have and must meet in order to
    survive. Some examples: communication, social control, provision for sexual

   Function: Consequences of an institution or practice that are beneficial or essential
    to the social system.

   Dysfunction: Consequences of an institution or practice that are destructive to the
    social system. It may be that these institutions and practices were once beneficial,
    but social change altered their effects.

   Manifest function: The intended and/or obvious function of a social institution or

   Latent function: The unintended and/or hidden function of a social institution or
   The conflict perspective stresses conflict,
    power differences, and social change, were as
    the Functionalist perspective emphasizes
    integration, shared values and social stability.
   Societies are always changing

   Conflict and dissensus (lack of general
    agreement) are always present in every
    social system

   There are elements or parts of every social
    system that contribute to change

   Coercion is always present in every society;
    in every society some people have more
    power than others
   Based on ideas originally proposed by Karl Marx (1818-

   Marx believed that economic power led to political power.
    This is the key to understanding societies

   The struggle for economic power means that society is not
    static but ever-changing – social change is the result of a
    change made to the economic system
   Therefore, if we want to understand society, we must
    understand the economic system in place

   Neo-Marxists believe the economic system creates a rich
    class of owners and a poor class of workers

   They also believe that social institutions (churches, schools,
    prisons, family etc.) have been created to perpetuate the
    division between the powerful and the powerless
   Conflict: The social interaction in which participating individuals and/or groups
    all seek, but cannot all achieve, the same goal. Goals can include control of scarce
    resources and power over others. Conflict may be contrasted with cooperation, the
    interaction in which individuals or groups work together to achieve common goals.
    Competition is an orderly, rule-governed form of conflict.

   Power: Conflict theorists believe that power is present in all social relationships.
    Three important sociological definitions of power: (1) the probability that a social
    actor (individual or group) will be able to carry out its will regardless of resistance
    (Weber); (2) the capacity of social structure and culture to shape human action,
    leaving actors little control; (3) the capacity of actors to alter the natural and social

   Domination: Power exerted systematically and continuously by one individual or
    group over another.
How do you think a conflict
theorist studying education
 would likely view modern
       education ?
A conflict theorist studying education would
likely view modern mass education in the
following way:

 It teaches the values and skills of the
  dominate groups in society in the hope that
  they will be accepted and not challenged.

Selects individuals so the power structure of
 society can be reproduced
Interesting to note the single best predictor of
who goes to university is not the individuals’
ability, but the parents’ occupation,
suggesting that to a certain extent higher
education functions to perpetuate status

   Symbol: Anything that can stand for or
    represent something else, such as a word or
    gesture. For example, a word can stand for a
    thing. Hence, language, gestures, and flags are

   Symbolic Interactionism focuses on people and
    how they create, use and communicate with
    symbols, especially language.
   Humans at birth are capable of response to others but are neither
    social or anti-social
   Humans are acting, thinking, feeling beings who make choices
    about how to act
   Humans respond to others, and their responses depend on the
    situation and how it is perceived
   Humans create and use symbols and human interaction is greatly
    influenced by the symbols we use to understand our surroundings
   Through symbolic interaction with others we develop a
    conception of ourselves including a conception of a self that is
    acceptable in the community
   Society is seen as a process in which human beings construct or
    negotiate social order
   Symbolic Interactionists believe humans have complex brains and
    little instinctive behaviour

   This means they can interpret for themselves the stimuli they
    receive in their daily life and attach their own meanings to them

   Eg. One person might pursue fame and fortune while a sibling
    might dedicate his or her life to charitable work in a developing

   It is essentially how we as individuals process and interpret what
    we observe in society, not society’s institutions, that form the core
    of our value system

   For this reason, Symbolic Interactionists focus their research on
    the human mind rather than on structures in society
   Functionalist: may look at the function
    of tests

   Conflict Theorist: may look at the effects
    of the power differences between teacher
    and students.

   Symbolic Interactionist: how individual
    students interpret the class, or the effect
    of the teacher on the development of their
   Feminist Theorists focus on sex and gender issues,
    believing that women have traditionally been
    disadvantaged in society because men have
    discriminated against them

   They believe that men have made the decisions in
    society and that they tend to favour men.
   Liberal (or “Bourgeois”) Feminism, in which the claim of
    women for equal rights is seen in the context of a general
    opposition to various forms of oppression and
    discrimination, independently of other political convictions.

   Liberal feminism tends to emphasize social policy to open
    up professional, better-paid and prestigious jobs to women
    and the elimination of laws discriminating against the
    political, property and social rights of women (encyclopedia
    of Marxism)
   Marxist feminism is a sub-type of feminist theory which
    focuses on the dismantling of capitalisim as a way to liberate
   Marxist feminism states that private property, which gives
    rise to economic inequality, dependence, political confusion
    and ultimately unhealthy social relations between men and
    women, is the root of women's oppression in the current
    social context.
   Marxist feminism is essentially the same as socialist
    feminism and materialist feminism.
   Radical Feminists believe that their natural child bearing
    role has led to a systematic oppression by men

   They believe they live in a patriarchal society in which men
    dominate most of the institutions and are so entrenched that
    women have a difficult time breaking into these fields
   Socialist Feminism is a branch of feminism that focuses
    upon both the public and private spheres of a woman's
    life and argues that liberation can only be achieved by
    working to end both the economic and cultural sources
    of women's oppression
   Inclusionists recognized that conflict could take place in a
    society between ethnic, racial and religious groups as well
    as between economic classes

   Before WWII, most sociologists took an assimilationist view
    of race believing the cultural majority would eventually
    absorb the minority (melting pot)

   In the late 1960s however, changing immigration policies
    changed all this as large numbers of immigrants moved to
    places like Canada to live
     Comparison of the Disciplines
Discipline     Main Focus                                Methods Listed

Anthropology   The development of the human species      Living with the cultural group for
                    and human cultures throughout the         extended periods; observing rituals
                    world                                     and group behaviours

Psychology     Individual behaviour, to discover the     Studying people's feelings, thoughts, and
                     underlying triggers or causes of         personality development through
                     human behaviour                          interviews to determine past
                                                              influential experiences; conducting
                                                              animal experiments, believing
                                                              these will lead to a greater
                                                              understanding of the human mind

Sociology      How people act in group situations; the   Conducting statistical analysis and
                   development and structure of              observation
                   human society and how it works

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