Self and Society "Who more than others, and why?? Some opening insights from C. Wright Mills: "The Sociological Imagination." Consider various social issues with "a sociological imagination." - Unemployment - Health care What good is the sociological imagination? 1. 2. 3. A couple of more examples and insights: Sociological Theory I -- Macro-Theory Introductory remarks on two basic theoretical perspectives: Functionalism & Conflict theory The "Fathers" of the Field (Dead White Guys) - Emile Durkheim ? And Suicide - Max Weber ? And the Protestant Ethic - Karl Marx ? And the Communist Manifesto Functionalist and Conflict Theory in greater detail: A summary of MACRO THEORIES: Functionalism and Conflict 1. Functionalism: Functionalist view of Society: - INSTITUTIONS fit people into their slots. They provide people with stability and security. (Gov't, Family, Church, School, Economy, Health care.) - Successful societies provide jobs and roles for their people that are appropriate to their place. Inequality is good; the cream rises to the top. - Institutions should be inter-dependent so that the society reaches a balanced equilibrium. - Morality is defined in terms of consensus. What the majority agree is right, is right. - Dissent is considered deviant; change EVOLVES slowly as consensus is reached. Functionalist view of Human Nature: - People are naturally competitive; self-interest is natural; personal needs take priority over the needs of others. As in species evolution, the fittest survive. - Humans are capable of reason. This ability to reason suggests it is a rational choice to surrender to social authority; cohesion, agreement. Consensus promotes stability. - People are fundamentally different according to talents and abilities. Therefore, people are of different WORTH. This motivates and justifies stratification systems which put people in different slots in the society according to social class. Some argue this is necessary to motivate people to fill functionally important roles, eg. physicians, teachers, etc. (And some have to flip the burgers and fry the chicken) - Functionalist theory suggests people are happiest when they are filling their proper and appropriate place in the smoothly functioning part of the larger whole. Functionalist sociology: - Uses scientific method to search for the social conditions that produce order and consensus. - Hands off approach; let the world evolve according to what functions are needed. - Research is based on gathering DATA. - Seeks to answer questions related to creating an orderly and fair world. Examples of this perspective at work in the society: - College entrance exams; de-regulation of free-enterprise systems like the phone company and airlines; church tax breaks. 2. Conflict Theory: Marx: Saw as the basis for defining society the struggle between workers (proletariet) and factory owners (who control capital and the means of production). Workers have no power but their labor; labor becomes a powerful driving force in the quest for equality. - The engine of society is the class struggle between the owners of the means of production (factories in Marx's time) and the workers who produce more income from their labor than they are paid (surplus value for the owner.) Conflict view of Society - A society can be judged according to the degree to which its institutions treat people humanely. - Inhumane societies are those with characterized by social inequality; which breeds conflict. - It is morally legitimate to challenge institutions which perpetuate inhumanity. Conflict view of Human Nature: - People are naturally cooperative. - Who we are as people is shaped by what we do. Our labor is the basis for our identity. - Humans can always improve themselves. Conflict Sociology: - Studies classes, institutions, organizations and observes how they interact. - CHANGE is the primary focus of study. Conflict is inevitable in the world-view of conflict sociologists; - Society is studied in terms which measure social processes which make social institutions more just and humane. Conflict theory in action: - The struggle for equal rights for women and minorities; the civil rights movement and feminism. Gloria Steimem, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr. SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONIST (MICRO) SOCIOLOGY Symbolic interactionists, simply try to observe, and INTERPRET small group behavior and circumstances on the basis of shared meanings which emerge from understanding SYMBOLS. Interactionist sociology examines human behavior at the individual (micro) level as opposed to the level of social institutions (macro). The Interactionist perspective is sometimes called social psychology. W.I. Thomas: "If men (sic) define situations as real, they are real in their consequences." Interactionist view of PEOPLE: Interactionist view of SOCIETY: Examples and studies: Erving Goffman: - Life as Drama: - Stigma: - physical deformities - blemishes of character - tribal (stigma by association) A Summary of MICRO-THEORY: Symbolic Interactionism Micro-sociology: defines society in terms of INTERACTION and PERCEPTION, and the construction of IDENTITY. Symbolic interactionism asserts that society comtains symbols which people use to establish meaning and relationships, to coordinate actions, & to develop a view of the world and the self; Symbolic interactionists, simply try to observe, and INTERPRET small group behavior and circumstances on the basis of shared meanings which emerge from understanding SYMBOLS. Interactionist sociology examines human behavior at the individual (micro) level as opposed to the level of social institutions (macro). The Interactionist perspective is sometimes called social psychology. W.I. Thomas: "If men (sic) define situations as real, they are real in their consequences." Interactionist view of PEOPLE: - People are, essentially, rational, thinking, and orderly. - What people do, and how they do it, depends on circumstances. - People use SYMBOLS to communicate; symbols have meanings that people come to accept and share. eg., the flag, a funeral procession, the star-spangled banner. Symbols and rituals cause people to interact in prescribed and even predictable ways. Interactionist view of SOCIETY: - How people share their understanding of symbols is what makes a social context. For example, we have all learned what is appropriate behavior when a band plays the Star-Spangled Banner. - Society is artificial. Individuals construct their definition of the world depending on their situation. Situations define the nature of our relationship to what others call "institutions." For example, one's view of the health care system has much to do with one's age and income. - "Institutions" are concepts we keep in our heads, but don't act on very much. A "micro- sociologist" wouldn't study a balance sheet to determine how healthy a business was. He or she would talk to the people on the assembly line. Research Methods For reference: Martin, Patricia Yancy, and Robert J. Hummer. 1989. "Fraternities and Rape on Campus." Gender and Society 3:457-473. Steps in the scientific process of research: 1. Select a topic 2. State the problem and its significance (clarify: independent and dependent variable) 3. Review the literature -- develop theory. 4. Formulate your research HYPOTHESIS. (in terms of the Independent and Dependent variable) 5. Collect Data in one of more of the following ways: (with concern for "validity" and "reliability") a. Surveys b. Experiments c. Participant observation d. Unobtrusive measures/existing data. - content analysis - secondary data 6. Conclude: Report findings/discuss implications 7. Subject work to critique Ethical issues in research CULTURE Culture - Examples, definitions, initial concepts Elements of Culture A. Language B. Symbols C. Norms a. folkways b. mores c. taboos D. Sanctions (Social Control) E. Values. Variation within culture (a vocabulary lesson) Sub-cultures Countercultures Culture shock Ethnocentrism Cultural relativism Xenocentrism þÿ
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