Perspectives of Sociology


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1. Compare and Contrast the three perspectives in Sociology.
Functionalism- A theoretical perspective, associated with Emile Durkheim, based on an analogy between social systems and organic systems. The character of a society's various institutions must be understood in terms of the function each performs in enabling the smooth running of society as a whole. Stable and made of intellectual social structures that work in harmony. Against change and believes changes reinforces the death of society.
ƒÜ     Conflict Perspective- Made up of only interest. Each society seeking to meet its own goals. Believes change is constant with potential positive consequences. A theoretical approach, such as Marxism, focusing on the notion that society is based on an unequal distribution of advantage and is characterized by a conflict of interests between the advantaged and the disadvantaged. Associated with Karl Marx.
ƒÜ     Symbolic Interactionism- A theoretical approach which focuses on the role of symbols and language in human interaction. Society consists of organized and patterned interactions among individuals. Interactionists focus on the subjective aspects of social life, rather than on objective, macro-structural aspects of social systems. One reason for this focus is that interactionists base their theoretical perspective on their image of humans, rather than on their image of society (as the functionalists do).

2. What did each of the following individuals contribute to Sociology?
Auguste Comte- ¡§Father of sociology.¡¨ Comte thought that sociology was a science employing observation, experimentation and comparison, which was specifically relevant to the new social order of industrial Europe. Comte's scientific positivism was conjoined with an evolutionary view of society and thought which he saw progressing through three stages: theological, metaphysical and positive. Comte studied the functional contribution of social institutions (such as the family, property and the state) to the continuity of social order. Human thought progressed by a process of decreasing generality and increasing complexity. Employing an organic analogy, Comte argued that society, through the division of labor, also became more complex, differentiated and specialized.
ƒÜ     Karl Marx- Marx was interested in the concept of alienation. One of the senses that he gave to the term was that of alienated labor, in which condition man had work imposed on him by others, a theme that was to run through all his subsequent contributions. Marx is best known for his views on the relationship between economic life and other social institutions. (Theory of Base and Superstructure). He thought that human labor was the basis of social activity, but also held that social institutions, like the state or the family, were relatively independent of the economy in their development and even had an influence on the operation of the economy.

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Those who own and control the means of production, and are able to take the product, form one class and those depending on their own labor alone the other. The form of the relations of production will vary from society to society, producing different class relations. He believed that change does not follow automatically from changes in the economic structure; class struggle as the active intervention of human beings is necessary. Developed the labor theory of value, the theory of capital accumulation, and the possibilities of capitalism's internal collapse.

Emile Durkheim- Defined the subject matter and establish the autonomy of sociology as a discipline. He explained that social phenomena occurred by reference to the actions and motives of individuals. He had a collectivist perspective on sociological analysis. He denied that the utilitarian version of individualism could provide the basis on which to build a stable society. He also asserted that the sociological method was to deal with social facts. The central theme of Durkheim's sociology was the idea of moral compulsion and normative constraint. He advocated guild socialism as a means of rebuilding cohesive and solitary social communities.
ƒÜ     Max Weber- He provided a systematic statement of the conceptual framework of the sociological perspective; he developed a coherent philosophy of social science, which recognized the essential problems of explanation of social action; in a variety of substantive fields, he grasped the basic characteristics of a modern, industrial civilization; through these empirical studies of modern society, he identified a number of key issues which have become the foci of the principal debates within the discipline; his own life in many respects provides a forceful example of sociology as a vocation. Weber's analysis of the methodological and philosophical problems of sociology is conventionally regarded as a form of NeoKantianism. Weber implicitly presented rationalization as the master trend of Western capitalist society. Rationalization is the process whereby every area of human relationships is subject to calculation and administration. Weber detected rationalization in all social spheres - politics, religion, economic organization, university administration, the laboratory and even musical notation. Weber's sociology as a whole is characterized by a metaphysical pathos whereby the process of rationalization eventually converted capitalist society into a meaningless 'iron cage'.

3. Select a culture and identify and give examples of each of the components of culture.
ƒÜ     Culture- Italy
ƒÜ     Symbols- On the Italian flag, green means hope, White means faith, and Red means charity.
ƒÜ     Language- Italian
ƒÜ     Values- Their culture, art, food, wine, family, films, and music.
ƒÜ     Norms and Taboos- Greet with a kiss on cheek, slow at making decisions, pride for their town of origin, etc. Avoid talking about religion, politics, or WWII. Considered insulting to ask someone you just met about their profession.
ƒÜ     Holidays- Italy has many local city holidays. Labor Day is on May 1.
ƒÜ     Superstitions- 17 is unlucky number.
4.     Language and its areas.
ƒÜ     Symbols - Anything that can carry a meaning. Can bind or unite people together or separate them. Allow people to make sense of their lives
ƒÜ     Gestures- The way we use our bodies to communicate with each other.
Our culture teaches us what specific gestures communicate or mean.
A gesture in one culture may mean something completely different in another culture.
ƒÜ     Language- Language is communicating through a system of symbols. Language is a universal requirement for the survival of a culture. Language and intimate interaction are essential to the development of human beings. With language we can share our: Past, Future, Perspectives, and Goals.
ƒÜ     Values- They is culturally defined standards. They define what is right, wrong, good, and bad. Desirability, goodness, beauty and undesirability are judged by a culture's values. Guidelines for social living are established by values. Social values and general beliefs are reflected in the norms of a society.
ƒÜ     Norms- Norms are the rules and expectations we develop based on our cultural values. They are determined by a society and they guide the behavior of its members. Much of what we learn as we grow up has to do with the norms of our society. Norms can be: Proscriptive (what not to do!) Prescriptive (what to do!) Types of Norms Mores (of great moral significance) Folkways (of little moral significance) Taboos (violations which are horrific).
ƒÜ     Sanctions- Sanctions are what a society uses to reinforce its cultural norms. Positive sanctions reward people for adhering to a norm. Examples of positive sanctions include: a hug, pat on the back, a raise, promotion, and a prize. Negative sanction punishes people for breaking a norm. Examples of negative sanctions include: a spanking, going to jail, and being fired.

5. Relations between norms and sanctions. Differences between different sanctions.
ƒÜ     Sanctions reinforce the cultural norms.
ƒÜ     Formal sanctions are well-defined and can only be applied by people with proper institutional credentials.(Specific recognized people)
ƒÜ     Informal sanctions are general and can come from anyone.

6. Subcultures V.S. Countercultures
ƒÜ     Counterculture- Counter culture opposes the dull, unreflective, self-congratulatory uniformity of conventional political values. They displayed a growing desire for more control over personal development, greater equity and fluidity in social relationships, a heightened respect for nature and promoted the revival of more decentralized, autonomous communities. Their values and norms are at odds with those of social mainstream. In this sense, the mafia, street gangs, hippies, and the Amish are countercultures of the United States.
ƒÜ     Subculture- Set of people with distinct behavior and beliefs within a larger culture. The essence of a subculture that distinguishes it from other social groupings is awareness of style and differences in style, in clothing, music, or other phenomena. They incorporate large parts of their mother cultures, but in specific instance may differ radically. Some examples are: Hackers, Skinheads, Thieves, Druggies, etc.

7. Taste Cultures
ƒÜ     Taste is the ability to make discriminating judgments about aesthetic and artistic matters
ƒÜ     It reflects and shapes particular states of social relations. Taste is part of the process by which social actors construct meaning about their social world, classifying people, practices, and things into categories of unequal value. It is displayed in conversation, habits, manners, and in the possession of goods, which signal co-membership into communities of wealth or knowledge. Taste serves as an identity and status marker in processes of exclusion and inclusion. Displays of taste contribute to the creation of networks and shared identities within groups, but it also allows for the identification and exclusion of outsiders whose standards of taste differ and who do not belong. Taste cultures are clusters of cultural forms which embody similar values and aesthetic standards
ƒÜ     One of the most ubiquitous and ritually potent classifications of tastes in modern times is the distinction between high culture, based on formal aesthetic standards and displayed in museums, theaters and symphony halls, and low or popular culture, in its commercialized and folk versions. The ritual strength and universality of the high/low boundary, however, has varied over time, in different societies, and across cultural genres. In the United States, several observers have noted that after a period of relatively low differentiation and hierarchization through much of the 19th century, tastes became more sharply polarized at the turn of the 20th century. In a process whose pace varied in different geographical locations and across cultural genres, high and low culture became more strongly differentiated and the boundary between them gained in ritual potency

8. Ethnocentrism, Cultural Relativity, and Cultural Fallacy.
ƒÜ     Ethnocentrism- Ethnocentrism derives from the Greek word for people, ethnos. Ethno centrists see their community or nation as the model against which all others have to be judged. By implication other people's ways of thinking and behavior are aberrant, strange and inferior
ƒÜ     Cultural Relativity- An approach that denies that any one way of living is superior to others; all cultures are equal.
ƒÜ     Cultural Fallacy- Taking one's own culture as the standard of good by which all cultures should be judged

9. Social Change
ƒÜ     Alteration in basic structures of a social group or society. Social change is an ever-present phenomenon in social life, but has become especially intense in the modern era. The origins of modern sociology can be traced to attempts to understand the dramatic changes shattering the traditional world and promoting new forms of social order.

10. Communication
ƒÜ     The transmission of information from one individual or group to another. Communication is the necessary basis of all social interaction. In face-to-face contexts, communication is carried on by the use of language, but also by many bodily cues which individuals interpret in understanding what others say and do. With the development of writing and of electronic media like radio, television, or computer transmission systems, communication becomes in some part detached from immediate contexts of face-to-face social relationships


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