SY101 Textbook Notes

Sociology Textbook Notes Chapter 1 1.1 The sociological perspective - explain what the sociological perspective is - Sociology exposes you to a new and unique way of seeing the social world. - Sociology is the systematic study of human groups and their interactions - Sociological perspective is the unique way that sociologists see the world and can dissect the dynamic relationships between individuals and the larger social network in which we all live - The way you act, dress, or eat are socially defined Charles Wright Mills and the Sociological Imagination - He said that people who do not or cannot recognize the social origins and character of their problems may need help to respond to them effectively. - These people will then be unable to see how individual challenges are influenced by larger social forces - You cannot understand individual challenges without understanding the larger social force - Personal troubles result from individual challenges and social issues which are caused by larger social factors - E.g. your individual challenge is an upcoming midterm if you study you will do well but if do not study you might not do well. If you were to do poorly but the exam was fair and everyone else did well, is anyone responsible for your performance? - If instead everyone did poorly in the class it does not stay an individual issue anymore and now become a social issue because now it involves a larger group and requires collective action - Most personal troubles stay personal troubles because many individuals do not relate their issues to the bigger world - Individuals must be exposed to the sociological imagination which is the ability to understand the dynamic relationship between individual lives and the larger society. - You must view yourself from a new perspective (who am i? Why do i think the way i do?) - Enabled us to become more informed about the social forces that have come together to make us who we are. - Once individuals see their own histories in a social context they begin to improve their quality of mind - Those who judge without understanding all of the issues involved might lack the quality of mind and thus view the world in black and white - Those who are unwilling to see the social world as it truly exists are called cheerful robots Peter Berger: Seeing the General in the Particular - Seeing the general in the particular is the ability to look at seemingly unique events or circumstances and then recognize the larger (general) features involved - E.g. seeing one person asking people for spare change is a unique and specific incident that occurred at a specific time and at a specific place but you must understand that there are more homeless people - Understanding this helps you broaden your perspective to larger social patterns
- You must be able to look back and forth between the particular and the general Seeing the Strange in the Familiar - Sociologists must be able to look at familiar things and see them as strange - E.g. the idea of sitting in a big room with hundreds of other students silently writing a exam seems normal but would not occur anywhere else and can be seen as strange to others who are not familiar with writing an exam 1.2 What makes you, you? Engaging the sociological imagination - appreciate how social factors influence the development of self - Everyone to some extent has agency which is the assumption that individuals have the ability to alter their socially constructed lives. - Structure is the network of relatively stable opportunities and constraints influencing individual decisions and behaviour - E.g. being a receptionist in a large multinational corporation influences that person's life and their opportunities and challenges - Structure is not limited to one's occupation or education level but can influence relationships between people - E.g. being in interracial marriage can be defined by the larger society's views on race Minority Status - Individuals part of racialized groups, disabled, etc are more likely to face forms of discrimination. - Question how being a member of these groups would influence a person's view of themselves and the world in general Gender - Many human societies remains a patriarchy which is a pervasive and complex system where men control the social, political and economic resources of society Socioeconomic Status - Socioeconomic status (SES) describes a combination of variables to classify or rank people on criteria such as income level, level of education achieved, occupation, and area of residence. - Although people of a higher socioeconomic status have an advantage over those who are within a lower SES it is strange that some people were just lucky enough to be born into wealthy families and it has nothing to do with the individual themself - Ascribes status refers to attributes whether they be advantages or disadvantages that are assigned at birth (e.g. income level) Family Structure - Studies show that regardless of a child's age, higher income tends to be related to better physical, social/emotional, cognitive, and behavioural well-being Urban-Rural Differences - People who live in small towns report that they are distinct from urban dwellers and that their
rural connections are an important defining feature 1.3 The Origins of Sociology- understand the historical development of sociology Three Revolutions: The rise of Sociology - Three revolutionary events inspired the rise of sociology: the scientific revolution, the political revolution, and the Industrial Revolution Positivism - Positivism is a theoretical approach that considers all understanding to be based on science - A positivist approaches the world through three primary assumptions 1) There exists an objective and knowable reality : positivists assert that the physical and social worlds can be understood through observation, experimentation, and logic. 2) Since all sciences explore the same, singular reality, over time all sciences will become more alike. Positivists assert that since there is only one correct explanation for the physical and social worlds, discipline and scientific boundaries will fall away as we progress in our studies and realize that all science is investigating the same reality. 3) There is no room in science for value judgments. Since all sciences explore the same reality from different perspectives there is no good or bad science. Anti-positivism - Anti-positivism is a theoretical approach that considers knowledge and understanding to be the result of human subjectivity 1) While hard science is useful for exploring the physical world, the social world cannot be understood solely through numbers and formulas. Anti-positivists assert that the formulas the positivists use to explain the universe have meaning only when we collectively assign social value to them and that numbers have only relative importance (e.g. you could be happy with your 85% test score but if the class average is a 90% that does not change your grade but changes your feelings) 2) All sciences will not merge over time, and no single methodological approach (e.g. science) can reach a complete understanding of our world. Anti-positivists suggest that to truly understand the human condition we need to appreciate and validate emotions, values, and human subjectivity 3) Sciences cannot be separated from our values. Values are cultural beliefs about ideal goals and behaviours that serve as standards for social life and that identify as right, desirable, and moral. Positivists believe that all sciences are equal and should not be tainted by value judgments but anti-positivists believe that what we choose to study is also a social expression Quantitative and Qualitative Sociology - Quantitative sociology is the study of behaviours that can be measured (e.g. income levels) which is what positivists use to explore the world whereas anti-positivists explore the world through human engagement - Qualitative sociology is the study of nonmeasurable subjective behaviours (e.g. the effects of divorce) which is an interactive approach preferred by anti-positivists - Neither method is better than the other rather, an integration of both is considered good sociology
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