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Sociology and the Real World (Part II)

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1 Sociology and the Real World (Part II)
Chapter 1: Sociology and the Real World (Part II)

2 “Clickers” BC Forum: Channel 42

3 Overview Historical Factors What is Theory? Theoretical Perspectives
Europe MACRO The U.S. MICRO New Theoretical Approaches Tensions Within Sociology

4 The Blind Men and the Elephant By John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)
It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind

5 The First approached the Elephant, And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, At once began to bawl: “God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!” The Second, feeling of the tusk, Cried, “Ho! what have we here So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ’tis mighty clear This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a spear!”

6 The Third approached the animal, And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, Thus boldly up and spake: “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant Is very like a snake!” The Fourth reached out an eager hand, And felt about the knee. “What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain,” quoth he; “‘Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!”

7 The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said: “E’en the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan! The Sixth no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Than, seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant Is very like a rope!”

8 And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong! So oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean, And prate about an Elephant Not one of them has seen!


10 Historical Factors in the Development of Sociology

11 Historical Factors The emergence of social sciences
Borrowing from the natural sciences Applying the scientific method to the study of the social world

12 Historical Factors The Industrial Revolution Invention:
Steam engine Europe (in 19th Century) Spread to U.S. Social Change Radical, rapid transformation of society and everyday life New, widespread social problems



15 Historical Factors The French and American Revolutions
Political change Overthrow monarchies Democracy Social change Rights Freedoms

16 Historical Factors Increases in travel Innovations in communications
Exposure to other societies Compare and contrast social systems cultural practices Innovations in communications Rapid dissemination of information




20 Re-imagining the Industrial Revolution
In-Class Exercise Re-imagining the Industrial Revolution

21 “THEORY” (also known as):
Approach Perspective School of Thought Paradigm

22 Theory What Makes a Good Theory? What is Theory?
Broad, enduring Subject to testing prove, modify or disprove Can adapt to social change What is Theory? Framework for understanding Abstract proposition: explains social world makes predictions about future


24 The Roots of Sociology Auguste Compte (1798-1857)
Applied scientific method Positivism Knowledge gained directly through senses Coined the term “Sociology”

25 The Roots of Sociology Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
Interest in evolution Societies (like organisms) evolve by adapting to changing environment “Social Darwinism” Coined the phrase “Survival of the Fittest”

26 Sociological Theory 3 “Grand” Theories Other Theorists
MACRO (Europe 19th Century) Functionalism Conflict Theory MICRO (U.S. 20th Century) Interactionism Other Theorists Sigmund Freud (Ch. 4) Max Weber (Ch. 5)

27 FUNCTIONALISM Emile Durkheim 1858–1917

28 FUNCTIONALISM (Structural Functionalism)
Understanding rapid social change Could society survive? Focus on stability, cohesion and order Social bonds exist in all societies Mechanical solidarity Shared traditions and beliefs Organic solidarity Division of labor and interdependence Society is a system of interrelated parts Each part helps meet needs of members Social institutions

29 “The Elementary Forms of Religious Life”
Solidarity in secular society Division of sacred and profane Collective effervescence Shared rituals Collective conscience Shared beliefs and values Robert Merton Manifest and latent functions Intended and unintended consequences Dysfunctions may arise Not all are unhealthy Can lead to social change

30 CONFLICT THEORY Karl Marx 1818–1883

Founded by Karl Marx Marxism is NOT Communism Looked at growth of Capitalism Profit-driven private industry Social inequality Concern for the poor, working class masses Marx’s vision: A classless utopia “From each according to his abilities, To each according to his needs”

The powerful protect their own interests Domination, exploitation results in: Resentment, resistance and rebellion Or, “False consciousness” (acceptance of the dominant ideology) Struggle leads to social change “Revolutionary” class consciousness Overthrow the status quo Different groups compete over “scarce” resources Tension between “haves” and “have-nots” Class conflict The Bourgeoisie The ruling class (owners of the “means of production”) The Proletariat The working class

George Herbert Mead Herbert Blumer

American branch of sociology Early 20th Century University of Chicago “Chicago School” used the city as a social laboratory

35 Interactionism Face-to-face interaction and everyday life
Focus on symbols meaningful representations signs, gestures, language Looks at how people: create and interpret social reality act toward each other based on their interpretations


37 Illustration: “The Slap”
Tenets: We act toward things based on their meaning Meanings are not inherent; rather they are derived through interaction Meanings can change or be modified Illustration: “The Slap”

38 Tensions in Early Sociology
Eurocentrism, sexism and racism Accomplishments (praxis) Jane Addams 1860–1935 W.E.B. DuBois 1868–1963

39 New Theoretical Approaches
What is the future of sociology? POSTMODERNISM Derrida, Foucault, Baurdrillard

40 Postmodernism New perspective for era (21st century)
Post-atomic Information Revolution (Digital Age) Characteristics of eras Modernism Reason, science, rationality, linear, universal Postmodernism Relative, fragmented, fluid, multidimensional, temporary The “simulacra” (simulation or fake) Virtual reality as good as (or better than) the real Las Vegas theme hotels Video: Holographic pop star (Japan)


42 Studying Social Life: Research Methods
Next … Studying Social Life: Research Methods

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