Sociology Lesson 2: Theories and Theorists

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Theory

An abstract proposition that both explains the social world and makes predictions about future events.

Auguste Comte

Is often only rembered for coining the term "sociology", though his other contributions to the discipline were also significant. Developed the theory of positivism.

Positivism

Argues that sense of perceptions are the only valid source of knowledge.

Scientific Method

Comte developed this method. A procedure for aquiring knowledge that emphasized collecting concrete data through observation and experiment, could be applied to social affairs.

Harriet Martineau

English journalist and economist. Traveled to the United States and studied American society, which she believed was flawed and hypcritical because of the existence of slavery and the fact that both women and blacks were denied equal rights.

Introduction to Positive Philosophy

Harriet Martineau's translated this work by Comte into english.

Herbert Spencer

Was the first great English speaking sociologist. Advocate of the idea of evolution before Darwin, coined phrase "survival of the fittest. Believed that societies, like living organismse evolve through time by adapting to their changing environment. His philosophy is referred to as "social Darwinism".

Social Darwinism

Lifestyle according to Darwin's theory of natural selection which explained why some people in society prosper and others don't.

Emile Durkheim

French Sociologist who spent much of his life as an important academic discipline. In his first major study, he demonstrated that social bonds exist in all types of societies (mechanical and organic).

Mechanical Solidarity

Social bond where shared traditions and beliefs created a sense of social cohesion. Ex: the Amish.

Organic Solidarity

Social bond based on a division of labor that created interdependence and individual rights. Ex: modern cities.

Karl Marx

Communist Manifesto, Marx is a socialist, says after modern industry, society split between middle class (bourgeoisie) and modern working class(proletariat), that next working class would take over, should make a socialist society of revolutionary workers. Followed theory of Hegel.

Bourgeosie

Term used to describe the Capitalist owners who controlled all means for producing wealth in industrial society. Marx believed these people exploited the working class

Proletariat

A social class comprising those who do manual labor or work for wages.

Capitalism

Marx was strongly against it. Is an economic system characterized by the private ownership of the means of production, the pursuit of profit, and market competition.

Max Weber

His work based on life experience. expressed a pessimistic view of social forces, such as the work ethic, that shaped modern life. shift between traditional society --> modern industrial society.

Rationalization

The application of economic logic to all human activities, due to the bureaucracies throughout society.

Disenchantment

Weber believed in this. The inevitable result of dehumanizing features of bureaucracies that dominated modern society.

Functionalism

Traced to the ideas of Comtre, Spencer, and Durkheim. The assumption that society is a unified whole that functions because of the contributions of its seperate structures. How mental and behavioral processes function and how they enable the organism to adapt, survive, and flourish.

Structures

The different large-scale institutions that make up society (family, education, politics, the economy. Each of these different parts of society meets the needs of society by performing special functions for the whole (society).

Robert Merton

Contributed the terms "manifest and latent functions" to the functionalist perspective.

Manifest Functions

The functions of a type of social activity that are known to and intended by the individuals involved in the activity. The obvious intended functions of a social structure for the social system.

Latent Functions

The less obvious unintended functions of a social structure.

Conflict Theory

Sees social conflict is the basis of society and social change, and emphasizes a materialist view of society, a critical view of the status quo, and a dynamic model of the historical change, emerged from writings of Marx. A theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of groups that are competing for scarce resources

Symbolic Interactionism

Sees interaction and meaning as central to society and assumes that meanings are not inherent but are created through interaction. A theoretical perspective in which society is viewed as composed of symbols that people use to establish meaning, develop their views of the world, and communicate with one another. The process by which things are socially constructed.

Three Tenets of Symbolic Interactionism

1. Human beings act towards ideas, concepts and values on the basis of the meaning that those things have for them.

2. These meanings are the products of social interaction in human society.

3. These meanings are modified and filtered through an interpretive process that each individual uses in dealing with outward signs.

Feminist Theory

Theory that looks at gender inequalities in society and the way that gender structures the social world.

Queer Theory

A paradigm that proposes that categories of sexual identity are social constructs, and that no sexual category is fundamentally either deviant or normal. , social theory about gender identity and sexuality that emphasizes the importance of difference and rejects as restrictive the idea of innate sexual identity.

Postmodern Theory

A paradigm that suggests that social reality is diverse, pluralistic, and constantly in flux. The world is more complex than we originally thought, Ethnomethodology, Social Psychology, Dramaturgy, Phenomenology

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