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Introduction to Social Analysis. Week 1 Introduction. This second half of the module follows the basic approach to Sociology of examining theory and methods not as abstract topics in themselves but rather as essential practical tools for understanding the social world.

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Introduction to Social Analysis

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This second half of the module follows the basic approach to Sociology of examining theory and methods not as abstract topics in themselves but rather as essential practical tools for understanding the social world.
  • Thus it focuses on the questions sociologist asked and ways sociologists endeavoured to answer those questions by examining models of empirical sociological research.
  • You should endeavour to make links between this section and the founding fathers and sociological issues covered in Semester 1.
course outline
Course Outline
  • For each lecture there is:
    • a reading in the course pack. The selected reading is designed as an introduction to the concepts and ideas used in the lecture.
    • A set of studies which are used in the lecture to illustrate the way that sociologists doing empirical studies have used the concepts and theories discussed.
  • Tutorials are to help you understand the ideas.
  • The essay is intended to improve your skills.
    • Write a book review. Use the knowledge you have gained about sociological concepts and ideas to take a critical look at a particular study. You have to work at identifying the ideas and approached used in that book, and evaluate the study.
why theory
Why theory
  • “Nothing so useful as a good theory”
  • I will teach theory as a practical resource for making sense of society not simply a history of ideas, or ideas for their own sake.
  • I the lectures I will try to make explicit the assumptions about society that motivate and guide the studies under consideration.
  • Example; the Jack Roller takes a naive social problems approach, social engineering and social policies.
How do Sociologists go about making sense of society. What motivates them?
  • What are the questions they ask?
what can we learn from the stories people tell
What can we learn from the stories people tell?
  • What are the possibilities and limitations of using biographies, auto-biographies and life histories to create authentic stories and understand the social bonds which tie people together?
biography and auto biography are necessary but insufficient tools to understand social life
Biography and auto-biography are necessary but insufficient tools to understand social life
  • People’s accounts of their lives, activities, values and behaviour is absolute core of what sociologist work with.
  • It is insufficient in itself. Need tools of interpretation.
  • What should you pay attention to when doing a sociological reading of a life history?
  • Who is telling the story and how it is told
  • What is the context of the story
  • Bottom up as opposed to top down perspectives - Sociological Imagination (C. Wright Mills) the link between private concerns and public issues
  • What is the role of authorship in biography?
how are life histories constructed
How are life histories constructed?
  • Questioning memory in terms of accuracy and selective bias
  • Narrative coherence
  • “Authorship, like identity, is something to be contested and established.”
  • Prue Chamberlayne, Joanna Bornat, and Tom Wengraf. (eds) 2000 The turn to biographical methods in social science: comparative issues and examples New York : Routledge, . Introduction and Chapter by Rustin.
“Describe people as historical formed actors whose biographies necessary to render fully intelligible their historical action in context”
  • “the embeddedness of the biographical account in social macro-structures
  • “the study of a single case involves mobilising tacit or explicit knowledge about other cases”
Chicago school
  • Clifford’s role
  • What do we learn?
  • How do we learn it?
chicago school
Chicago school
  • Context of Chicago
  • Empirical sociology programme
  • Influence of W.I. Thomas
clifford s role
Clifford’s role
  • Part of academic and professional establishment
  • Presents story for its utility – social problems perspective
what do we learn from the book how do we learn it
What do we learn from the book?How do we learn it?
  • “the boy’s own story” – something about Stanely, something about his family and social circle, and something about Chicago
  • Context and commentary from official record and Clifford’s interpretation.
  • We can read study as a historical document telling us about a former society and its values.
  • Doesn’t tell as about – the Jazz Age, Prohibition, or the Great Depression.
gardner katy 2002 age narrative and migration oxford berg 301 45109421 gar
Gardner Katy 2002 Age, narrative and migration Oxford Berg 301.45109421 GAR
  • East End and Bangladesh
  • Narrative styles
  • Cross society and culture comparisons – “the global is local”.
“The informants, it seems, have actively participated in how they are represented. Such appearances are, however, misleading… ... [The authors] chose what words to include, what to edit out, and how to frame the women’s words.
  • .. The book is my narrative as much as theirs. This does not invalidate it; it just makes it one kind of truth amongst others.”
  • (Gardner 2002: 28-9)
Narrative genres very widely and are closely related to existing cultural forms as well as the diverse construction of identity.” (Gardener 2002:31)
  • Essential but limited understanding of what can we understand society from the perspective of only one person
  • Biographical accounts need:
    • Comparison
    • Interpretation
    • Context.