Sociological Perspectives The “story” of Sociology tends to be placed in boxes. While sociologists are associated with certain perspectives, they are more complex that your text suggests. To make it easy to understand, Sociology is divided into “perspectives.”
Sociological Perspectives Conflict –Society changes as a result of struggles of various groups against each other. Interactionist –The world is socially constructed - meaning that we interpret the world around us and act based on those interpretations. Functionalist –The elements of society are understood by their role (function) in maintaining society.
Karl Marx Lived from 1818 to 1883 Political Economist Studied Philosophy Associated with the Conflict Perspective Lived from 1818 to 1883 Political Economist Studied Philosophy Associated with the Conflict Perspective
Marx and Political Economy Marx criticized political economy of his time. Political Economists Like David Ricardo and Adam Smith ignored the detrimental impact of capitalism on workers.
Classes Classes arise out of the ability of one group to take what some else produces. –Slave owners take the slaves’ labor and what they produce. –Feudal lords take what peasants produce. –Workers under capitalism receive wages instead of what they produce.
Two Classes Capitalists and Workers are bound together by their relationship. –Capitalists want more production from the workers. –Workers want more wages for the work they do.
Conflict Perspective Marx argued that the purpose of studying society is to better understand it and change it for the better. The Conflict Perspective follows this tradition by studying conflicts and inequalities between groups. –Ethnic Conflict –Gender Inequality The Conflict Perspective also suggests changes. –Informs public policy decisions. –Studies and participates in social movements.
Max Weber Lived from 1864 to 1920 Historical Sociologist Critical of Marxists Associated with Interactionist Perspective Lived from 1864 to 1920 Historical Sociologist Critical of Marxists Associated with Interactionist Perspective
Critical of Marxists Weber criticized the simplistic view of Marxists during his time. –However, Weber, as well as so-called Marxists oversimplified Marx. –Weber actually followed Marx’s historical sociology approach.
Sociology as Science Weber opposed Marx’s view that Sociology should actively promote change. Weber felt Sociology should have “value neutrality” and be an objective science.
Verstehen Weber also argued that Sociologists should attempt to study their subjects deeply. Research should attempt to find the multiple causes of a social issue. Sociology is different from “natural” sciences in that it is “interpretive.”
Interactionist Perspective The focus on interpretation in the concept of Verstehen is the link between Weber and the Interactionist Perspective. The Interactionist Perspective attempts to understand the meanings people associate with their social actions and the social institutions around them. –How do people define themselves? Ethnicity Gender
Emile Durkheim Lived from 1858 to 1917 Wanted to make Sociology a science. Concerned with what held society together Associated with the Functionalist Perspective Lived from 1858 to 1917 Wanted to make Sociology a science. Concerned with what held society together Associated with the Functionalist Perspective
Social Facts Durkheim argued that Sociologists should study “social facts” instead of philosophy and moral arguments. Social facts are material and non-material things created by people. –Material social facts are laws, art, technology, etc. –Non-material social facts are values, morality, etc.
Integration into Society Social institutions help integrate people into society. Some institutions are better than others. –Durkheim used the example of religion to explain Suicide. Catholics committed suicide less than Protestants because the Protestants had greater freedom in their religion.
Functionalist Perspective Durkheim’s analysis of the role of institutions to integrate people into society demonstrated the “function” of social institutions. People who follow the Functionalist Perspective attempt to demonstrate how different social institutions provide a function for society. –Law enforcement and courts plays the function of controlling unwanted behavior. –Religion performs the function of a sense of community. –Education socializes students to be good workers.
Sociological Perspectives Conflict (Marx) –Society changes as a result of struggles of various groups against each other. Interactionist (Weber) –The world is socially constructed - meaning that we interpret the world around us and act based on those interpretations. Functionalist (Durkheim) –The elements of society are understood by their role (function) in maintaining society.
Your Job What do you like about your job? –What do think are the positive elements of a good job? What do you hate about your job? –What are the worst things about a bad job?
Alienation According to Karl Marx, there are 4 forms of alienation. –Product –Process –Species Being –Others
Alienation from Product Estrangement from the things we make –The things we make do not belong to us. –As the worker produces, they are debilitated. Estrangement from nature –Workers do not engage environment directly. –Products take on a life of their own.
Alienation from Process The mental aspect is stripped from labor. –People do not have control over their work. People do not meet their needs directly. –Work is a means to earn wages. –Wages are used to buy the things we need.
Alienation from Others Relations between people become relations between people and objects. –No longer meet our needs through people we know. People treat each other as workers, not as fellow people.
Alienation from Species Being What it means to be a social being is lost in wage work. –The ability to be creative in what we make is stripped away. –The social nature of making things is taken away since we usually do not know who ends up with the things we make.