SOCIETY AND YOU week 2 lecture

SOCIETY AND YOU SOCIALOGICAL PERSPECTIVE ON YOU WEEK 2 - LECTURE Point of departure Social process: structure and agency Analytic focus: material and cultural Level of analysis: micro and macro perspectives Sociological theory: is a model for studying society as a whole or a specific element of social life. But what is society and who are you? What is society?... our answer depends on what we focus on.... Four influential perspectives Functionalist - focus on how society holds together. Conflict - focuses on social divisions that impede greater harmony. Interactionist - focuses how individuals shape one another's lives. Feminist - focuses on gendered dimension of social life and inequality. Functionalist perspectives (The focus is on the system as a whole) - Our social order is naturel. - Emphasis on coordination and integration needed to make the whole system work. - People fulfill roles within the system which enable it to function. o Analogy - a cell - Society norms (accepted way of doing things) and values (beliefs held about what is right and wrong important or unimportant about how we should live) function to ensure that you find meaning and belonging in the society. - Sociologists like Emile Durkheim are interested in these processes (complex interconnection of norms and values) Textbook examples - Food serves as a totem (something that represents aspects of a group shared identity) that bonds groups through shared meaning. - Sacred rituals and items bond people together distinguished from ordinary life. - Likewise for local and national identity - festivals, flavour, profiles, recipes
Key implications - Challenges the idea that humans are hyper-individualistic by nature. - We could not exist without society or other people. - By nature, we are social beings. - Inequalities do exist and are often necessary. Conflict perspectives - Focus on struggles over power, resources, prestige, beliefs. o Analogy: a competition (often unequal and may be rigged) - May address various systems of inequality (racism, capitalism, patriarchy) - Doesn't necessarily assume people are antagonistic by nature (social structure creates antagonistic behaviors or designed to put people against one another) - Ideology is a set of beliefs attitude opinions that create an idea. - Creates world view reflecting the dominant groups interests. - Leads us to assumptions that legitimate that status quo. o Greed is natural rather than socially produced. o Uneducated people are personally to blame for car crashes. - Inequality puts you at greater risk of dying from a car crash. o Can't afford cars with new safety features. o Longer commutes. o Riskier environment for pedestrians o Trauma centres less likely to be in your neighbourhood. o But ideology makes us assume the poor are worse drivers. Textbook example: Mass food production Global capitalism - Labor exploitation (incl. child labor) - Env. Degradation, factory farming - Unequal access to healthy food - unequal health outcomes - E.g., The 200$ burger Key concept: commodity fetishism obscures the true social relationship involved in making a product. - The cost of production is concealed. - Were alienated from the people and natural world what creates the commodity. - The fetishized commodity acquires whatever qualities are most marketable (status sex appeal resistance) Feminist perspectives - Focuses on how gender inequalities operate within society (macro) as well as interactions (micro) - Critically analyzes how systems of male dominance (soc. Structure) pattern our choices of behaviors (agency) - Highlights cultural and material processes that might otherwise be ignored in sociology. - Social research can contribute to ending sexism.
- Women tend to occupy lower status position than men within both male and female dominated industries. o 60% chefs are men. o 72% of food helpers are women. - Restaurant workers file more sexual harassment claims than employees of any other industry. o 90% of women and 70% of men experience harassment in the restaurant industry. What is society? Symbolic interactionist perspectives focus how individuals shape one another's lives. - Emphasis on the processes that create shared meanings among people. - Analogy: Social reality is something we construct together on an ongoing basis. Three basic premises 1. We act toward things based on meaning we assign to them. 2. Those meaning are formed by social interactions. 3. There is a processes of interpretation (and modification sometimes) Putting it into practice Qualitative research Ethnographic research - Systematically observing and interacting with people to observe their way of life from an insider's perspective. - E.g., freegan subcultures (SOEL, Ch. 2.4). Interview research - Talking to people about their experiences in a systematic way - See "Sociologists in Action," inSOEL, 2.2.3 Research principles - "Cultural Relativism": trying to understand a person's beliefs, feelings, behaviours in relation to that culture. - Avoid "Ethnocentrism": taking one's own culture and views as the standard for understanding (and often judging) other cultures. - "Making the strange familiar and the familiar strange." Who are you? - Socialization, Development, & Identity All theories recognize that people are socialized. as we have discussed, - Our Focus: Broad concepts for how socialization takes place.
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