Social theory
Download
1 / 44

SOCIAL THEORY - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • 160 Views
  • Updated On :

Vaughn Tan SOCIOLOGY 97. SOCIAL THEORY. Our agenda. Introductions Logistics Sociology as a social science What is social theory and what’s it good for? Jeff Alexander’s view of social theory Theory in daily life The course. Logistics. Front-loaded class Grading Papers

loader
I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
capcha
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'SOCIAL THEORY' - kassidy


An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
Social theory

Vaughn Tan

SOCIOLOGY 97

SOCIAL THEORY


Our agenda
Our agenda

  • Introductions

  • Logistics

  • Sociology as a social science

  • What is social theory and what’s it good for?

  • Jeff Alexander’s view of social theory

  • Theory in daily life

  • The course


Logistics
Logistics

  • Front-loaded class

  • Grading

  • Papers

  • No late work (really)

  • Weekly quotes

  • Class participation

  • Laptop policy


Every week
Every week

  • At least 6 hours to read this stuff.

    • I plan on 10-12 hours myself.

  • Plan accordingly.


Sociology as a social science
sociology as a social science


Sociology what is it
Sociology. What is it?

  • Sociology is the study of social phenomena.

  • Social phenomena = People doing stuff together.

  • Same roots (thinkers, motivations, problems) as the other social sciences, which also study people doing stuff together.

  • Today, some things distinguish sociology from the other social sciences.


A history of social science
A history of social science

  • Why?

    • To show that the study of society develops differently based on context.

      • Time

      • Place

      • Power distributions

      • Incumbents


A history of social science1
A history of social science.

  • Just one example: Sociology (Collins, 38-46)

  • Overall, a generalising science driven by political ideology and reform.

  • Morphologically plastic: Different form under different conditions


A history of social science2
A history of social science.

  • US:

    • University expansion in late 1800s, few faculty or department incumbents, recruitment of students, emphasis on liberalism and thus social policy.

  • Germany:

    • Most sociology kept outside universities until liberalism of the Weimar Rep. in the interwar period. Emphasis on historical materialism.

  • France:

    • Liberal Third Republic (1870s), established university faculties required sociology to borrow credibility by using tools of other disciplines.

  • England

    • Established faculties at old universities, no foothold until universities began expanding in 1960s, then emphasis on policy.


Modern american sociology
Modern American sociology.

  • How is modern American sociology different from the other social sciences? (10000-foot view)

    • Social anthropology: Generalisation.

    • Economics: Source of motivation; aggregation.

    • Psychology: Main unit of analysis.

  • There are always exceptions in each discipline.


Social theory what it is what it s good for
Social theorywhat it iswhat it’s good for


Social theory what is it
Social theory. What is it?

  • Theory expresses what we understand of social phenomena in a general form

  • Generalisation (grossly simplified)

    • Abstracting from a particular case

    • To develop an explanation about the behavior of all instances of that case


Social theory


The uses of social theory
The uses of social theory

  • Explanation

  • Prediction

  • Modification


But what s theory really good for
But what’s theory really good for?

Policy making

Troubleshooting

Marketing

Consulting

Investment

  • Explanation

  • Prediction

  • Modification


But what s theory really good for1
But what’s theory really good for?

Policy making

Troubleshooting

Marketing

Consulting

Investment

  • Explanation

  • Prediction

  • Modification


But what s theory really good for2
But what’s theory really good for?

Policy making

Troubleshooting

Marketing

Consulting

Investment

  • Explanation

  • Prediction

  • Modification


Jeff alexander
jeffalexander



Presuppositions1
Presuppositions.

  • Presuppositions affect “facts”

  • Our perception of the world is filtered/modified by our assumptions about how the world works

    • We selectively perceive things

    • We interpret what we selectively perceive


Order and action
Order and action.

  • Jeff Alexander is a brainy guy who has digested vast swathes of social theory and organized it for us.

    • Sociology is generally interested in action (why people do things) and order (why everything isn’t just chaos).

    • Social theory can be broadly divided into groups that believe in particular reasons for action and order.


Action
Action.

  • Rational

    • Instrumental, utility/efficiency maximising

    • Actor is externally driven

  • Normative

    • Idealistic, normative, moral, governed by emotions and unconscious desires

    • Actor is internally driven


Order
Order

  • Collectivist

    • The group imposes order on individuals

    • Individuals likely to act based on social norms

    • Emergent order

  • Individualist

    • Individuals make choices on their own

    • Individual actions make up group behavior

    • Aggregated order


Order and action1
Order and action.

  • This is just one way to conceptually organize the world of sociology, but it happens to be useful for how we’ve structured the course.


Total system vs middle range theory
Total system vs middle range theory.

  • “What general theories do is take these special theories and bring them together. General theories are theories about everything, about ‘societies’ as such, about modernity rather than any particular modern society, about ‘interaction’ rather than about any particular form or genre of interaction. There are special theories about economic classes in society, about the middle class, the working class, and the upper class. But a general class theory, for example Marxian theory, combines all these special theories about classes into a single theory about economic development and class relations as such.” (Alexander, 3)

  • Total system theory, grand theory, general theory

  • Middle-range theory, specific theory, special theory


Making and validating theory
Making and validating theory.

Induction

Deduction

Start with a theory

Think through the theory’s consequences/implications

Look at specific cases where the theory has implications

Evaluate whether theory makes sense

  • Study lots of cases

  • See patterns of similarity or difference

  • Generalise from those patterns



Everyday social theory
Everyday social theory

The basketball team. We hang out and chill together in each others’ rooms on weekends and practice/play basketball games.

  • I don't enjoy walking from my dorm in the quad to classes, especially when it is freezing cold, but I do it every morning.


Everyday social theory1
Everyday social theory

The Athena Program runs mentoring workshops and conferences around issues of gender empowerment, leadership, and activism for low-income high school girls in the Boston area.

  • As a pajama lover, I dread getting dressed in real clothes every morning.


Social theory


Social theory


Social theory


The course
the course in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.


Four traditions in sociology
Four traditions in sociology. in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.

  • Randall Collins is also brainy, and has also digested vast swathes of social theory. Unsurprisingly, he gives us another way to organize social theory.

    • Conflict

    • Rational/utilitarian

    • Durkheimian

    • Micro-interactionist

  • Not a perfect classification but, again, useful.


Conflict
Conflict in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.

  • Marx, Weber

    • Focuses on interactions between people/groups

    • Resources are unevenly distributed.

    • People/groups have interests which are served by resources.

    • Conflict arises in society when people/groups want to redistribute resources.

    • “materialism”


Rational utilitarian
Rational/utilitarian in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.

  • Coleman, Blau, Homans, March, Simon, Hobbes, Mill, Smith

    • Focuses on individuals and their motivations.

    • Main motivation is self-interest.

    • Self-interest is calculated rationally and commensurable.

    • “economistic”


Durkheimian
Durkheimian in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.

  • Durkheim, lots of cultural sociology today

    • Rituals, symbols, social pressure

    • How we think is conditioned by our social context

    • Ideas are infused into the individual by membership in a group

    • Individual reality is thus constructed by social interaction

    • The group imposes itself and reproduces itself in the individual


Micro interactionism
Micro- in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.interactionism

  • Mead, Schutz, Blumer, Goffman

    • Individuals interpret the environment with rules that they develop out of previous experience with the environment.

    • Individuals create society (rules of interpretation) out of what we learn from carrying out our daily lives and interacting with the social and physical environments in which we live.


Social theory

  • Together, Alexander and Collins give us in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.one of many possible ways to think about how to classify the social theory that underlies much of modern American sociology.


Social theory

  • But it’s not as clear-cut as they (and we) make it seem in similar activities because they spend more time with each other and are likely to have more in common with each other.

  • Think about this matrix as we read each theory, and decide how much you believe it fits in the cell it currently occupies.

  • And ask yourself which theory you believe is true (ie, describes the world you are familiar with), and what that implies.