The Sociological Perspective Sociology seeks to understand the relationship between the individual and society with:
C Wright Mills: Sociological Imagination A quality of mind that allows us to connect: “Personal troubles of the milieu” with “Public issues of social structure” Examining these relationships gives us the knowledge to understand society, our place in it, and the ability to make changes
Understanding and Explaining HIV/AIDS Cultural Explanations Virility is strongly linked to masculinity in many cultures affected by HIV/AIDS Low status of women Social Structure Explanations Global poverty and inequality create low immune systems Underdevelopment limits economic opportunities Political Explanations Lack of adequate health care and access to treatment Political policies that do not address the issue Individual Explanations Lack of education and poor choices
Social Consciousness Another sociologist, Peter Berger, believes that we need a social consciousness or “A form of consciousness that enables us to see the "reality" behind the "facades." He asks us to critically examine the things that are familiar to us as unfamiliar “It can be said that the first wisdom of sociology is this – things are not what they seem.”
Practicing Social Consciousness Have you ever asked yourself: Why do women shave their legs? Why is it normal in our culture for women to shave their legs and not men?
Asking How & Why (and when) with Social Consciousness When did this ideal emerge? In the 20 th Century when women’s legs became more visible due to shorter skirts and changing fashion How did this ideal emerge? Needed to have the right technology to make shaving easy and safe. The safety razor emerged on the market in early 20 th Century. Why did this ideal emerge? Anglo-American cultural standard: leg hair is unfeminine Cultural mechanism to increase sexual dimorphism (difference between sexes in the same species)
The Origins of Sociology The sociological discipline emerged at the end of the 19 th C at the intersection of 3 major revolutions Scientific Revolution: idea that we can objectively study society Democratic Revolution: idea that ‘the people’ are responsible for making decisions that shape and change society (not God) Industrial Revolution: created significant and lasting changes in society and people’s daily lives
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Association of Marx with Communism obscure his contribution to sociology and his ideas. Communism is a later application of his ideas. Marx focused on the economic relations of society as the source and solution of social conflict He believed that social scientist’s task is to analyze and explain conflict, which drives social change
Emile Durkheim (1858-1918) While Marx was concerned with the source of conflict in society, Durkheim wondered what tied people to each other and society Focused on division of labor in society Durkheim believed that the social scientist’s task is to analyze and explain solidarity and the mechanisms through which it is achieved
Max Weber (1864-1920) Weber believed that the structure of society could be explained by observing the behavior of people in society that supports that structure and the ideas/values that motivate those actions. Focused on how society became rationally organized Weber believed that social scientist’s task is to explain the course and consequences of social action He was concerned with social actions and the meaning people attach to their behavior.
Why are the DWEM’s still relevant? Early sociologists studied the rapid and far-reaching changes that brought by Industrialization; these changes are the foundation of the society we live in today Globalization – cultural, social, and economic interdependence Post-Industrial society – economy based on services and education Rationalization – dominance of value-rational thought/action Division of labor and specialization – jobs, education, geography