Chapter 2:Sociology s Family Tree: Theories and Theorists

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1 Chapter 2:Sociology s Family Tree: Theories and Theorists 1

2 What is a Theory? A set of assumptions that attempts to provide a plausible explanation of cause-and-effect (causal) relationships among a group of observed phenomenon. Origin (from the Greek thorós, a spectator), stresses that all theories are mental models of perceived reality. 2

3 Theory Vital to making sense of social life Facts make sense because we interpret them using categories and assumptions 3

4 Categories A class of people or things regarded as having particular shared characteristics 4

5 Assumptions Assumptions are beliefs or ideas that we hold to be true often with little or no evidence required. 5

6 Formal Sociological Theory The importance of formal sociological theorizing is that it makes assumptions and categories explicit Thus, open to examination, scrutiny, and reformulation 6

7 Practical Theory Our lives are filled with theories as we try to understand the world around us Examples: How do we make friends? How to succeed in college? How to get a job? 7

8 Sociological Theories Are propositions that explain the social world and Help make predictions about future events Theories are sometimes referred to as approaches, schools of thought, paradigms, or perspectives. 8

9 Founders of Sociology Auguste Comte ( ) Coined the term sociology in 1839 Also used the term social physics to refer to the new discipline and His organic conceptualization of society 9

10 Auguste Comte Sociology is like other scientific disciplines Laid groundwork for future sociologists Helped build the discipline 10

11 Auguste Comte The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

12 Founders of Sociology Harriet Martineau ( ): A social activist Supported labor unions Abolition of slavery Women s suffrage Traveled around the United States Translated Comte s work from French into English 12

13 Harriet Martineau The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

14 Founders of Sociology Herbert Spencer ( ) Believed that societies evolve by adapting to the changing environment Coined the phrase survival of the fittest Philosophy is often referred to as Social Darwinism 14

15 Herbert Spencer The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

16 Founders of Sociology Emile Durkheim ( ) Worked to establish sociology as an academic discipline Interested in the social factors that bond and hold people together Social solidarity Mechanical solidarity Organic solidarity 16

17 Emile Durkheim The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

18 Founders of Sociology, continued Karl Marx ( ) German philosopher Political activist Contributed significantly to sociology s Conflict Theory 18

19 Videos about Marx ure=related Marxism made simple E4&feature=related The Communist Manifesto Cartoon 2010 Sage/Pine Forge All rights reserved

20 Karl Marx The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

21 Marx Core Ideas Reaction to economic & social conditions due to Industrial Revolution Theory not only interprets the world, but also changes it 2010 Sage/Pine Forge All rights reserved

22 Marx Focus: Economic classes Bourgeoisie--owners Proletariat--workers 22

23 Founders of Sociology, continued Capitalism created social inequality Between the bourgeoisie, who owned the means of production (money, factories, natural resources, land), and the proletariat, who were the workers According to Marx, this inequality leads to class conflict 23

24 Founders of Sociology, continued Max Weber interested in how society was becoming industrialized and The process of rationalization Applying economic logic to all human activity 24

25 Max Weber Believed that contemporary life was filled with disenchantment The result of dehumanizing features of modern societies Bureaucracy Capitalism Oligopolies 25

26 Weber: Dehumanizing Effect of Modern Society Modern capitalism--lifelong entrapment of individuals within organizational structure Efficient accumulation of private wealth as an end in itself Humanity's ever increasing confinement within a bureaucratized, "disenchanted" world, from which there is no escape The Iron Cage 26

27 Max Weber The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

28 Modern Schools of Thought Structural Functionalism: Society is an ordered system of interrelated parts (structures) Social institutions make up society (family, education, politics, the economy) Each structure meets the needs of society 28

29 Modern Schools of Thought, continued Conflict Theory: Social conflict as the basis: Of society and Social change Source of Conflict: Inequality 29

30 1/26 Modern Schools of Thought, continued Symbolic Interactionism: Interaction and meaning as central to society Assumes that meaning is not inherent in object or symbols Shared meaning is created through interaction using symbols 30

31 New Theoretical Approaches Feminist Theory: Gender inequalities in society How gender structures the social world Considers remedies to inequalities 31

32 New Theoretical Approaches, continued Queer Theory: Proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs No sexual category is fundamentally deviant or normal 32

33 New Theoretical Approaches, continued Postmodernist Theory: Social reality is: Diverse Pluralistic Constantly changing No truth, reason, right, order, or stability Everything is relative, temporary etc. 33

34 Theory in Everyday Life The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

35 Theory in Everyday Life Perspective Level of Analysis Focus of Analysis Case Study The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology, 2nd Edition Copyright 2010 W.W. Norton & Company

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