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Other Strands of Sociological Theory (2/24) 1. Chicago sociology 2. Liberalism, Positivism, NeoKantianism, Positivism in Europe and America. 3. When and.

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Presentation on theme: "Other Strands of Sociological Theory (2/24) 1. Chicago sociology 2. Liberalism, Positivism, NeoKantianism, Positivism in Europe and America. 3. When and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Other Strands of Sociological Theory (2/24) 1. Chicago sociology 2. Liberalism, Positivism, NeoKantianism, Positivism in Europe and America. 3. When and how did the 3 classic figures of sociology become classics?

2 Editors, evaluators feedback  I will give you back your papers on Wednesday  With written comments  Which you will hate.  It is a dirty job, but someone had to do it, because the “term paper” that you know how to write will not teach you much.

3 We have argued that:  The classic figures are Marx, Durkheim, and Weber  Who stressed class, norms and organization, respectively  Conflict theories focus on positive feedbacks,  and functional theories on negative feedbacks.

4 Prior to the 1960’s many other figures would have been considered more important.  Parsons from made Durkheim and Weber central figures.  The critics of Parsons from made Marx important.  In Chicago sociology, figures such as Spencer, Comte, or Simmel were considered more important.

5 Chicago sociology  We have seen that in influential set of theorists and researchers at the University of Chicago founded American sociology in the late 19 th c.  They stressed the explanation of different rates of behaviors such as crime or illegitimacy in different neighborhoods.

6 The Chicago School  The sociologists at the University of Chicago established a very rich tradition of empirical description of slums, ethnic and racial groups, gangs, etc.  Robert Park promoted empirical studies: sociologist as (wo)man with clipboard.  Most of them studied in Germany.  Their principal theoretical orientation derived from Simmel, who, like Weber, stressed interpretive understanding and the meaningful basis of human action.

7 Symbolic interaction  The central theoretical framework used by Chicago theorists was formulated in the 20 th c. as symbolic interaction:  All human behavior is meaningful.  Human meanings (definitions of the situation) are developed in interaction in groups.  Thus to understand human behavior the groups and meanings have to be observed.

8 Four (eight) other bodies of theory flowing into sociology:  In Europe and in the United States, four other bodies of theory remained dominant through the 1920’s: th century liberalism (capitalist individualism) 2. Positivism (the attempt to apply the methods of natural science) 3. NeoKantianism (symbolic interaction) 4. Historicism (theories of histo0rical development.)

9 Empirical Strengths of Symbolic Interaction  The interpretive understanding of the behavior in slums and rich suburbs, among gangs and ethnic communities gave sociologists a way of collecting an enormous quantity of data.  Conceptions of groups and neighborhoods, in competition and interaction with each other, focused on basic themes of norms and conflict.

10 The theory of Symbolic Interaction  The Chicago theorists viewed: 1. Human action as based on meaningful definitions of the situation. 2. Definitions of the situation as based on group interactions 3. And groups as internally solidary and in competition with each other.

11 Positive Feedbacks in Symbolic Interaction  We have suggested that many of the theoretical standpoints in sociology can be understood as feedback systems.  And important feedback system was differential association, which amplifies almost any human characteristic Who you know e.g. churchgoers What you do e.g. go to church + +

12 Negative Feedbacks in Symbolic Interaction  At the same time, the social groups and systems of meaning could be analyzed functionally, as systems of roles  In which behavior is functional and the role is replaced Failure to perform the role e.g. not going to church Sanctions or replacement: pressure to go to church + -

13 Much of Chicago sociology was directed against Spencer  Spencer was “Mr. Sociology” from the 1840’s to the 1930’s  His “Social Darwinism” argued that progress was driven by competition and the “survival of the fittest.”  Spencer wrote the first books in English on sociology, arguing for “laissez faire” and the importance of genetic differences.  Against Spencer, Chicago sociologists saw human behavior as socially shaped.

14 Liberalism and Social Darwinism  19 th c. Liberals were not “liberal” but “conservative”  They stressed competition and genetic variation,  and so they opposed labor laws, income tax, and social policy generally.  In the US, Spencer was very popular with the robber barons that controlled American education, and William Graham Sumner was an exponent  Charles Murray is a contemporary example

15 Liberalism and Individualism 1. Europe: Spencer 2. US: Sumner  Popular explanations of crime, income, educational success, addiction, etc. often stress individual traits.  One can always ask why this individual rather than that one develops cancer, fails school or abuses drugs.  But such explanations may be useless in explaining rates and structures relevant to health, education or drug abuse.

16 Positivism 1. Europe: Saint-Simon & Comte 2. US Ward  Saint-Simon and Comte developed a project of a “social physics.”  Saint-Simon was also one of the founders of socialism.  Their work does not look very scientific today.  In the US, Ward was a main exponent.

17 NeoKanianism 1. Europe Simmel 2. US: Mead and Thomas  Kant’s argued that our conceptualizations make our knowledge possible.  And figures such as Mead or W.I.Thomas insisted that the ways that people think about reality is real in its consequences. (I.e. belief in witchcraft creates witches.)  This became one source of symbolic interactionism

18 Historicism 1. Europe Toennies 2. US: Park and Small  Other European theorists developed historical description and conceptualization of social change.  Toennies Community and Society was an elaborate conceptualization of different kinds of social structures.  Ch. 5 of One World noted that there were many analyses of social development that were the basis of modern sociology.

19 The Rise and Fall of Chicago  The distinctive development of sociology in the US led to a more rapid development of empirical research,  Which accumulated until there was an intense need for theoretical consolidation,  Leading to the domination of anti-Chicago theorists, such as Parsons and Mills, in the mid-20 th century

20 Rise  For more than a generation, sociologists trained at the University of Chicago dominated the bulk of other Departments in the US  They conducted empirical research  which was often descriptively rich,  but theoretically weak.

21 Fall  Many other universities were marginalized as was the work of many important sociolgists not trained at Chicago  For example DuBois’ The Philadelphia Negro (1895) pioneered all of the methods of community studies and the ideas of Myrdal,  But he was never given recognition in sociology.  The resentment of Chicago led to the rise of functionalism and the adoption of the American Sociological Review in the 1940’s

22 Chicago Sociology Today  William Julius Wilson  Concept of the underclass and the Truly disadvantaged  The culture of poverty driven by job flight  Elijah Anderson  Concept of “street” vs. “decency”  Problems of interpretive analysis.

23 Elijah Anderson: Vice president of ASA 2002 Streetwise: Race, Class and Change in an Urban Community (1990) Code of the Streets: Decency, Violence and Moral Life in the Inner City (1999). Topic of symposium American Journal of Sociology May 2002 ( Entry to the methodological and substantive findings of urban ethnography as possible paper topics)

24 Groups and Norms along Germantown Ave.  The head of Germantown Ave. (Chestnut Hill) is very upper class; and the foot is very lower class.  *pp shows the same structure of Lancaster Ave. from ghetto poverty to the “main line.”  The head is characterized by a norm of civic politeness; the foot by “rep” or “juice.”  The head is white; the foot is black.  Is this an example of institutional racism?

25 Structures that make the code of the streets crazy in Chestnut Hill  Some Chestnut Hill residents see most blacks from down town as very “rude.”  Where does that behavior come from?  Anderson argues that down town, showing that you are “bad” and that anyone who “messes with you” is “asking for trouble” is adaptive.  If you behave that way in Chestnut Hill, people will look at you as though you are crazy, and you may be arrested.  Anderson argues it is like a language, a code.

26 Situations and structures making resisting the code of the streets hard at the foot of Germantown Ave.  Similarly, if you behave, downtown, in a way that would work and would be appropriate in Chestnut Hill, people will look at you as though you are a turkey, and take advantage of you.  But in Chestnut Hill being “nicey-nicey” signals status, class, kindness and character.

27 e.g. #1 The Story of Robert: Small business and Old Heads  “When I was dealing, I was treated as a king, and no one messed with me.”  “When I follow the rules, I am in a dead end, everyone steals from me and every petty bureaucrat dumps on me.”  The view of the “old heads” in Mantua is that they are suckers and pathetic Toms.  Why?

28 “Old Heads”  In Streetwise Anderson argued that the social disorganization of Mantua stemmed from the loss of status of the “old heads.”  i.e. those people who had played by the rules and who had been able to get good jobs in the period ,  were the “last hired” (in ); and so they were “first fired” (in ).  Anderson argues that this was not just tough luck for them, but a catastrophe for the community and a disaster for the society.  Similar debates concern whether street venders are a crucial role model and escape hatch for urban youth.

29 Why Does the city discourage venders?  In the overall structure of power and influence, people like Robert are at the bottom.  The city department that issues and enforces vendor licenses is mainly responsive to storeowners that regard Robert as a nuisance.  What are the main priorities of the police?  Anderson suggests that no one with any power or influences is particularly interested in having Robert succeed; but his success is key to who wins the battle between the “street” and “decency”

30 Example #2: the story of Tyree  Tyree’s Grandmother - “decent folk.”  The ‘bols’  Tyree’s situation.  Tyree’s solution.  The Outcome of Tyree’s solution: He is now in a gang, fighting in the street; and hanging around with the worst people.

31 Why doesn’t he “Just Say No”  The structure does not insure that every person joins a gang; certainly not with commitment, but  It insures that enough do so that the structure is reproduced.  Those not in a gang, get it from all sides.  “Not an option?” Well, not quite. But there is a special role for those who have no group.  They are losers; they are bullied; they are cowards; they are turkeys.  The structure of alternatives means that the constrained choices reproduce the structure.


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