Social theory durkheim i
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http:// bit.ly/soc97. Vaughn Tan. SOCIAL THEORY durkheim I. Our agenda. Reading and writing about sociology Durkheim Sociology Emergence History Complex societies Solidarity Ritual. reading and writing about sociology. “I argue that how we understand Marx’s thinking in X is …”

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SOCIAL THEORY durkheim I

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Social theory durkheim i

http://bit.ly/soc97

Vaughn Tan

SOCIAL THEORYdurkheim I


Our agenda

Our agenda

  • Reading and writing about sociology

  • Durkheim

    • Sociology

    • Emergence

    • History

    • Complex societies

    • Solidarity

    • Ritual


Reading and writing about sociology

reading and writing about sociology


Social theory durkheim i

  • “I argue that how we understand Marx’s thinking in X is …”

  • “I argue that Marx’s thinking in X is…”

  • Evidence

  • Patterns (PESC) vs facts (PE and SC)

  • Patterns of patterns (e.g. rationalisation)


What is sociology what are its challenges

what is sociology, what are its challenges?


Social theory durkheim i

“The sociologist [must] put himself in the same state of mind as physicists, chemists, or physiologists, when they enquire into a hitherto unexplored region of the scientific domain. When he penetrates the social world, he must be aware that he is penetrating the unknown. He must feel himself in the presence of facts whose laws are as unsuspected as were those of life before the development of biology; he must be prepared for discoveries which will surprise and disconcert him” (60).


Social theory durkheim i

  • What’s the difference between a descriptive, explanatory science and a prescriptive, normative one?

  • How is a normative account of society different from an ideal typical account of society?

  • What are social facts and what does this mean for sociology?


Social theory durkheim i

“However widely they differ, all of these phenomena express the life of a given society. They are the elements of organs of the social organism. Unless we try to understand how they harmonise and interact, it is impossible to know their functions. We shall fail even to identify their nature, for they will seem to be distinct realities, each with its independent existence; whereas they are actually parts of a whole … all events in society are related” (53).

“societies, like organisms, can be classed into forms and types” (54)


Social theory durkheim i

“A society is not a collection of individuals which an enormous and monstrous machine keeps united and compressed against each other by the use of force … No, solidarity comes from the inside and not from the outside … One cannot study one social function wholly in isolation from others” (56-57).


Social theory durkheim i

“A thing is any object of knowledge which is not naturally controlled by the intellect, which cannot be adequately grasped by a simple process of mental activity. It can only be understood by the mind on condition that the mind goes outside itself by means of observations and experiments, which move progressively from the more external and immediately accessible characteristics to the less visible and more deep-lying. To treat the facts of a certain order as things thus is not to place them in a particular category of reality, but to assume a certain mental attitude to them” (58).


Social theory durkheim i

“A social fact is to be recognised by the power of external coercion which it exercises or is capable of exercising over individuals … This power can be recognised in turn either by the existence of some definition sanction or by the resistance offered against every individual act that tends to contravene it” (64).


Social theory durkheim i

“The determining cause of a social fact must be sought among antecedent social facts and not among states of individual consciousness … The function of a social fact must always be sought in its relation to some social end” (74).


Social theory durkheim i

“Since [social] practices are merely social life consolidated, it is legitimate … to study the latter through the former” (66).


Challenges

Challenges

  • Phenomena pre-exist analysis (59)

  • Inherent subjectivity (60)

  • Data loss and inaccessibility (60)

  • Social life constantly in flux (66), “a fleeting reality, which the human mind will perhaps never be able to grasp completely” (67).


Emergence

“It is in the whole, not in the parts.”

emergence


Social theory durkheim i

  • What is society?

  • What lies underneath society?

  • Where does society come from?

  • What are it’s chief characteristics?


Social theory durkheim i

“If, as we may accept, the synthesis sui generis which every society constitutes yields new phenomena, differing from those which take place in the individual consciousness, we must also admit that these facts reside exclusively in the very society itself which produces them, and not in its parts—that is, its members” (69).


Social theory durkheim i

“It implies … that collective ways of acting or thinking have a reality outside the individuals who, at any moment of time, conform to it … Of course, the individual plays a role in their genesis. But for a social a social fact to exist, several individuals, at the very least, must have contributed their action; and it is this combined action which has created a new product” (71).


Social theory durkheim i

“When we undertake to explain a social phenomenon, we must seek separately the efficient cause which produces it, and the function it fulfils” (82).


Sociology as comparative history

SOCIOLOGY ASCOMPARATIVE HISTORY


Social theory durkheim i

“In the same way, in order to be able to discover with greater certainty the way in which the concrete events in a definite period of history are linked together, it is useful to know the general relationships of which specific relationships are instances as if so many applications” (78).


Social theory durkheim i

“As soon as history becomes a comparative discipline, it is indistinguishable from sociology” (78).

“The present … is no more than the prolongation of the past, from which it cannot be separated without in large part losing its whole meaning” (79).


Solidarity keeping things together

solidarity(keeping things together)


Social theory durkheim i

  • How are mechanical and organic solidarity different?


Social theory durkheim i

“We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it” (124).


Social theory durkheim i

“There are in us two forms of consciousness: one contains states which are personal to the character of each of us, while the states which comprise the other are common to the whole society. The first represent only our individual personality and constitute it; the second represent the collective type and, consequently, society, without which it would not exist” (128).


Social theory durkheim i

“We recognise only two kinds of positive solidarity…:

  • The first ties the individual directly to society without any intermediary. In the second, he depends upon society, because he depends upon the parts which compose it.

  • Society is not seen in the same aspect in the two cases. In the first, what we call ‘society’ is a more or less closely organised totality of beliefs and sentiments common to all the members of the group: it is the collective type. By contrast the society to which we are bound in the second instance is a system of differentiated and specialised functions which are united in definite relationships. These two societies really make up only one. They are two aspects of one and the same reality, but nonetheless they must be distinguished.

  • … The first can be strong only to the degree that the ideas and tendencies common to all the members of the society are greater in number than those which pertain to each individual member … the latter presumes that [individuals] differ … each one [with a sphere of action which is peculiar to him.” (138-140)


Social theory durkheim i

“We recognise only two kinds of positive solidarity…:

  • The first ties the individual directly to society without any intermediary. In the second, he depends upon society, because he depends upon the parts which compose it.

  • Society is not seen in the same aspect in the two cases. In the first, what we call ‘society’ is a more or less closely organised totality of beliefs and sentiments common to all the members of the group: it is the collective type. By contrast the society to which we are bound in the second instance is a system of differentiated and specialised functions which are united in definite relationships. These two societies really make up only one. They are two aspects of one and the same reality, but nonetheless they must be distinguished.

  • … The first can be strong only to the degree that the ideas and tendencies common to all the members of the society are greater in number than those which pertain to each individual member … the latter presumes that [individuals] differ … each one [with a sphere of action which is peculiar to him.” (138-140)


Complex societies

complex societies


Social theory durkheim i

  • What distinguishes a complex, highly specialised society from a simple society?

  • What is this “conscience collective” Durkheim keeps talking about?

  • What happens to the conscience collective in complex, differentiated societies?


Social theory durkheim i

“These are formed, not by the repeition of similar, homogeneous segments, but by a system of different organs each of which has a special role, and which are themselves formed of differentiated parts … [they are] co-ordinated and subordinated one to another around the same central organ which exercises a moderating action over the rest of the organism” (143).


Ritual religion

ritual, religion


Social theory durkheim i

  • What does ritual do for societies?

  • What is “collective effervescence” (see 230)?

  • What does collective effervescence do for the individual in society?

  • Why does religion gradually transform from more prescriptive to more interpretive forms?

  • Would Durkheim and Weber agree about the strength of the Protestant ethic? (see 243)


Social theory durkheim i

“A religion is a unified system of belief and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into a single moral community, called a ‘church,’ all those who adhere to them” (224).


Social theory durkheim i

“What we find at the origin and basis of religious thought are not definite and distinct objects and beings possessing a sacred character of themselves but abstract powers, anonymous forces, more or less numerous in different societies, and sometimes even reduced to a unity …” (227).


Social theory durkheim i

“When individual minds are no isolated, but enter into close relation with, and act upon, each other, from their synthesis arises a new kind of psychic life … Sentiments created and developed in the group have a greater energy than purely individual sentiments” (228).


Social theory durkheim i

“When individual minds are no isolated, but enter into close relation with, and act upon, each other, from their synthesis arises a new kind of psychic life … Sentiments created and developed in the group have a greater energy than purely individual sentiments” (228).

“It is no longer merely an individual who speaks; it is a group incarnate and personified” (230).


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