Notes from Sociology, a MOOC on Open2Study.
Module 1: The Sociological Imagination
Topic 1: The Sociological Imagination
“It made much sense to me to understand what was happening with individuals, why we behave the way that we did, why some people in their lives seem to have so many misfortunes and others much more fortunate. It made so much sense to me to look outside of psychological or individualistic explanations and understand instead how a society can impact on us, how it can impact on the way that we think and the things that we do.”
- Sociologists are interested in sociological change
- Individualistic explanations don’t give us as much explanation as sociological explanation.
- Contemporary Western societies really value individualistic explanations for human behavior
- The Sociological Imagination by C Wright Mills:
- “Neither the life of an individual not the history of a society can be understoon without understanding both.”
- “People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages.”
- Unemployment: No credible individualistic explanation for a structural problem like that.
- Structure vs Agency debate
Topic 2: Social Structure vs Social Agency
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
- Structure vs Agency
- “Look at us. We‘re just like everyone else. We‘ve bought into the same, ridiculous delusion”
- Norms of our society can dictate our behaviors
- Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Might look purely biological
- From a Sociological perspective, there are patterns
- For e.g. in Australia, spike in caeseran births recently. Is it individual, or sociological? Is there agency involved?
Topic 3: Why Sociologists Use Theory
- Anthony Giddens
- reference to a painting
- very intricate
- painting can be described, but can it be ‘understood’?
- title: “Netherlandish Proverbs”
- The title makes things clear suddenly
- Theory understands things at a much a deeper level
- Beginnings of sociology
- Three men (next topic)
- They were alive during a time period of drastic social changes: industrial revolution
- Sociology was developed as a social science to understand and control social change
- Auguste Comte
- Lived through the French Revolution
- “Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal”
- His motto is still blazed across the Brazilan flag: “Ordem e Progresso”
- the idea that we can take the laws of the natural world and apply them to the social world has been heavily critiqued.
- However Comte is credited with coming up with the term “Sociology”
Topic 4: Founding Fathers of Sociology
- Emile Durkheim
- Founding Father of “Functionalism”
- Durkheim was really concerned about these changes from a type a society that was held together by individuals who had very similar types of values, who did very similar types of things to the change over to a society that was more based on diversity.
- Queston of “Social Order” (analogy of a clock and its structure)
- Essentially an economist
- Sociologists like to claim him because he brought the economic back to the social
- Base and Superstructure model is a useful way of understanding the way society operates (More in module 2)
- Base: Economy (It drives what is in the rest of society)
- Superstructure: Everything else - education, religion, family structures
- Tribalism -> Feudalism -> Capitalism -> Socialism (a possible evolution)
- Not a structalist, but more of an interactionist
- Influenced by Marx, but highly critical of him
- He believed in the interaction between structure and individual much more than Marx did
- Ideas of individuals could really change society much more than what Marx or Durkheim believed
- “Verstehen” - grasp by insight
- try and put ourselves into the position of the individuals that we’re studying and to understand what’s happening in their social world by doing this.
Topic 5: Why is Culture Important
- Whale Rider Trailer
- Culture can relate somewhat to the idea of Structure
- You can really see quite clearly distinct interactions within this group, patterns of interaction that are impacting on the way that people think and people act. Its impacting on their roles and how they enact those roles.
- You can also see how culture has changed has somewhat shifted and changed and how it is being expressed differently across the generations
- Sociologists don‘t think and study culture as something that is static. Culture is fluid.
- For e.g. Beauty. How do we guage beauty? Beauty is different across time and space
- Two aspects to culture: material and non-material
- Material: Dress, Architecture, Food
- Non Material Culture: Language, Gestures, Values
- As individuals, food is an important way of representing different things - rituals, status, social relationships
- A problem when we live in diverse societies.
Topic 6: Values, Norms and Sanctions
- What you culture sees as valuable
- Ideas that are going to regulate our behavior
- Deviancy: Going against the norms and values of your society
- Positive and Negative sanctions
- A look, a word or a graver form of punishments
- How Sanctions Work
- Types of Deviancy: Folkways and Mores
- Folkways are simply this idea of, we have an expectation in our society to see things happen in a certain way. That‘s the influence of structure.
- Mores relate to criminal law
- In one society, you don‘t necessarily have a homogenized culture. There may be a dominant culture from which values and norms comes from
- Subcultures: Punks, Hippies etc
- Align themselves with the dominant culture
- May reject some of the values and norms associated with it
- Countercultures: Survivalists
- Go against the dominant culture
Topic 7: Values – Case Study of Australia
- Australia a multicultural society
- There is a dominant culture
- One of the central values: Egalitarianism
- Seen as a Workingman’s paradise in the beginning
- There is a distaste for pretension and authority
- Bob Hawke (everyone loved him), Paul Keating (people disliked him)
- Tall Poppy Syndrome (studies between Australian and American students)
- Another central value: Mateship
- Expressed in male culture
- Loyalty, Fairness, trying to protect the underdog
- Strong under unions
- Originated in the ANZAC
Topic 8: Socialisation Into the Self
- The idea of how the Self gets developed
- Two early social theories
- Self is closely interconnected with the social
- Self develops through interaction with others
- Illustrated well by the film Monster (Charlize Theron who plays the murderer, and the development of her identity)
- Social Psychologist Cooley
- Looking Glass Self
- The idea that as we develop and interact, we start to interpret others and how they react to us. We evaluate the other person’s cues and we change ourselves accordingly.
- George Herbert Mead
- Developing off Cooley, but much more
- Symbolic Interactionism
- When were are babies, we ‘Imitate’
- As we get older, we enter into ‘Play’. We can take on one other role and internalise that role.
- Next stage is the ‘Game’. Instead of just internalising the role of one other, you are internalising the role of many others.
Topic 9: Socialisation Into Gender and Emotions
- How we learn our culture
- We primarily are socialised to our society through agents of socialisation
- 5 Agents of Socialisation
- Family. What does it mean to be a woman and man. Religion.
- Education. It socialises us to our particular society
- Media. Extremely important in presenting to us images and values of society. For e.g. the idea of gender. What it means to be a woman, how do we present ourselves
- Basic emotions common across all societies
- How we express our emotions are very much determined by the societies around us.
Module 2: Inequality in the 21st Century: Local and Global Stratification
Topic 1: Class and Social Stratification
- Good intro to the topic of class and social stratification: story of Romulus, My Father (also made into a movie)
- Family migrated to Australia
- Came to Australia, and were socially excluded
- We not well integrated
- Impacted access to resources, health, social status etc
Topic 2: Impact of Class on Health and Education
- Not an agreed definition upon what class really is. There is a debate
- Class is really about the structural inequalities in our society
- Class can also be seen as a sub-culture of shared norms and values
- How can class impact health?
- Lower class means lesser access to resources -> lower standard of health
- Even in places with welfare states, this class based division of health exists
- This is because the lower in the class heirarchy you are, the less you have access to means of leading a healthy life
- Documentary: The One Percent
- The lower the class you are, the less likely you are to get a higher education
Topic 3: Social Exclusion: The Insider and Outsider
- Are people purposely excluding themselves?
- Film: Gattaca (social exclusion based on genetic makeup)
- Branch Davidians
- Jason Hage
- Concept of Insider and Outsider
- Different class positions, ethnicities and religion produce these divisions
Topic 4: The Question of Social Mobility
- The idea of moving from one class position to another
- Sometimes it is difficult to move from one class position to another, no matter how hard they work
- Gentrification: Might signal that society is moving forward. But people are still stuck in their classes, they have just move forward
- It is important for society to believe in social mobility: it is important to prevent social tension
- 3 Types of Social Mobility
- Generation: Parents working class, children better educated, hence are middle class
- Structural: It’s not about the individual. Large groups of people have gone up/down the class ladder. e.g. Global Financial Crisis
- Exchange: Interesting case between nation states.
Topic 5: How Can We Understand Class Sociologically 1: Marx
- Time period of Marx: American, French and Industrial Revolution
- Influenced by ideas of Enlightenment
- Looked at class from the perspective of access to resources
- Believed in the ideas of progress and rationality
- Dividied society into two main classes:
- People who owned the means of production (Bourgeoisie)
- Everybody else - Proletariat
- Capitalism, Nature of Work, Surplus Value
- Base (Conditions of Production, Means of Production, Production Relation) , Superstructure: Everything else - education, religion
- Marx understood this class system as Being dictated by the capitalist model
- He argued that the world was going to witness “pauperization”, an increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots. The middle class is essentially going to disappear.
Topic 6: How Can We Understand Class Sociologically 1: Weber
- Lived one generation after Marx
- Weber argued that class needs to be looked at in a much more complex way
- Three different ways to understand class
- Property: Individual’s market position is very important. For e.g. if you are well educated and you are a manager in a firm, you have access to resources
- Prestige: Status is important. You can have your status position impact the ability to access certain resources: e.g. Old money vs. new money
- Power: The idea of how a group of people can come together and influence society
Topic 7: Why is Social Stratification Uniersal?
- Ways to stratify society
- Davison Moore argued that . There are number of positions that need to be filled depending on the level of skills. So we are going to pay more money to people who occupy positions that are more important.
- This position has been criticised. There is no such thing as merit? Who decides what is more important?
- False Consciousness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_consciousness
- Working class not truly aware of their class position
Topic 8: Global Stratification
- Historically this has been done by applying labels such as “First World”, “Third World” etc
- Started to move to this idea of “Most industrialized”, “industrializing”
- “Most Industrialized”: A superclass of people who hold most of the wealth
- Brazil (Industrializing)
- No proper access to health and education
Topic 9: Death of Class
- Is class useful?
- Pakulski and Waters - Five different aspects that’s happening in the world, right now, that makes us question the idea of whether class as a concept is
- Process of social change: instead of class, we identify with the things we consume
- Property: People being able to buy stocks etc
- Consumer Power: Individuals consuming outside of class
- Process of Globalization
- Social and Political Implications: We are simply not identifying with classes. Class groups are crumbling
Topic 10: Changes in Understanding Class
- The idea that we live in a world dominated by consumerism and entertainment
- Zygmunt Bauman
- Consumerism etc counteracts, or diminishes, the ideas of counter-cultures, or any forms of revolt against the type of majority or dominant culture.
- individuals are being fed with ideas of individualism and status
- Class needs to be reevaluated
Module 3: Social Structures
Topic 1: Microstructure vs Macrostructure
- How does our individual biographies and the social structures of our societies are intertwined together.
- How does culture reside within the individual
- We will look at it through two case studies: religion and health
- Two broad ways that sociologists look at the social world in trying to make that understanding of how culture is within the individual:
- Macrosociological: media, education, more abstract
- Microsociological: interaction with peers, socialisation within family
- How do structures guide our behaviors and put limits to our behavior
- Another aspect – global structures
Topic 2: The Social Context of Health
- 14th Century, Black Death Plague
- killed a third of the population
- during a time period when there was little understanding of how germs spread
- one particular ethnic group that survived it better than the other groups in the population - Jewish people
- They were more clean, they were washing themselves, buried their dead very quickly
- People from a higher class were less impacted than people from a lower class (due to living in less congested spaces)
- Health goes beyond biological. It’s hard to see that.
- Esp after completion of the THP (The Human Genome Project)
- Response by individuals to such a kind of event is also interesting
- Durkheim’s study of suicide
- It may seem that suicide can be explained psychologically or individualistically
- But it has a strong determination by the type of social structure the individual was embedded within. Suicide rates varied across groups and across countries.
- Three types of suicides
- Egoistic: when an individual was not integrated into the norms and values of society.
- Altruistic: (opp. of egoistic) when an individual is so embedded with the norms and values of a society that he is willing to give up his life for society. e.g. kamikaze pilots from WW-II
- Anomic: values and norms of society disintegrate
- Global structures: life expectancies change according to countries. This is not biological, but due to social structures, healthcare systems etc.
- Life expectancies are broad indicators that might hide certain things. For e.g. Canada and Australia have high life expectancies but their indigenous populations have lower LE than remainder
- Sociologists take a critical stance to the social world.
Topic 3: Health, Illness and Stigmatisation
- How do symbolic interactionists approach health, wellness and deviancy
- Three central tenets of symbolic interactionism:
- Humans act towards things on the basis of meaning those things posseess.
- meanings are not inherent in the object itself, but are produced by social interaction
- These meanings are modified through social interaction and interpretation
- Meaning is something that is socially constructed. Society is something that is constructed through our interactions
- Symbolic interactionism arose in response to dominance of functionalism.
- SIs saw illness as a form of deviancy because of society’s interaction to those people. Functionalists saw illness as a form of deviancy because of the failure of the individual to perform their social role.
- Erving Goffman
- Allowed us to understand the experience of those who are ill thorugh the concept of ‘stigmatisation’
- Three main areas
- When illness itself can be associated with a deviant type of behavior. e.g. AIDS
- When people find a particular illness frightening
- When somebody has an illness that does not fit in with our social expectations
Topic 4: Medicalisation
- The expansion of aspects of our everyday life under medical dominion, e.g. ADHD, obesity, alcoholism, and even Grief
- Not concerned with the biological aspects of an illness or condition, but instead look for patterns like is there an over-diagnosis going on, over-prescription etc
- Medicalisation,is the expansion of the jurisdiction of medicine into our everyday life, taking normal or natural events and turning them into a medical issue or even at times a medical emergency, as we can see in the case of childbirth, pregnancy and childbirth.
- Medicalisation of deviants is an important phenomenon.
- Conrad did work on this
- Absolve the individual of any kind of behavior
- Emphasise the therapeutic instead of the punitive, thus giving more power to the domain of medicine
- Medical imperialism, it’s not just about that. It is also about informed consumerism, which impacts on the idea of medicalisation, because then individuals and groups try to seek out a label for what is happening. A good example is alcoholism.
- There is also a process of Demedicalisation, e.g. Homosexuality
- Media is very influential about giving us messages about health and illness. It is important for us to analyze and unpack these messages.
- Difference in the kind of responsibilities that one has when one is a patient vs when one is a consumer
- As a patient, there is a responsibility to listen to what the doctor says, and at the same time you are freed somewhat of having to pick and choose
- As a consumer, that responsibility shifts, and lays squarely on our shoulders
- Expansion of power into pharmaceutical companies, which now have a lot of power situated in them due to consumerism
Topic 6: How do Sociologists Think about Religion
- Post secularity: Religion going from the private sphere to the public sphere, where we find religions being more and more engaged with social issues
- How do sociologists approach the field. We don’t approach religions and try to understand them theologically, meaning they’re not interested in any truth claims, disproving or proving them. Rather we’re interested in how religion is distributed in society, and we’re also interested in how social changes are impacting on religions as well.
- It is difficult to define religion itself. One approach is a functional approach, what does religion do to a society or for an individual
- Religion = Form of Culture
- Religion = Ritualized Practices
- Religion = Sense of Purpose
- What is missing from the above definition? God. That’s because not all religions equate to theism.
Topic 7: The Religious Landscape in Western Societies
- The proclamation of the death of religion through modernity, reason, scientific and rational approach to knowledge, has not eventuated
- Instead we tend to see today, is more of a religious revivalism as well as a proliferation of religions co-existing together in the same place, a sort of plurality of religion
- Founding Fathers of Sociology, all believed in the decline of religion
- Can’t be understood in a vaccuum, but looking at say, just Europe
- In Europe there has indeed been a decline in religion
- But in NA and Canada, there is a lot of religious vibrancy, although Christianity is the dominant religion
- Other places in the world, for e.g. South America is a very religious continent.
- Looking around, instead of seeing the demise of religion we are seeing a resurgence, vitality, and a kind of plurality, meaning religions co-existing
Topic 8: Religion Through the Functionalist Lens
- Both Marx and Durkheim approached defining religion through this functionalist way
- Durkheim did more work on this
- What are the functions of religion? What does it do for the individual, society?
- What is the meaning of life?
- Religion can be a source of inspiration and comfort
- Safe haven for insecurities and anxieties
- Social solidarity
- Guidelines for everyday life. Lots of researcher connect religion to health.
- Social control
- Adaptation - A way to adapt in a new environment
- Dysfunction of religion
- Being used as a source of potential conflict
- Durkheim did research on the indigenous religions of Australia, using secondary data
- Durkheim divides relgion into the sacred and profane
- Sacred are those things that are set apart. They are the objects that we worship in society. E.h. a totem
- Profane are objects that are outside of that
Topic 9: Religion – Suppressor or Creator of Change
- Marx was not a functionalist, he was more of a conflict theorist
- Function of religion is going to be the maintenance of capitalism.
- Religion is a way to justify the alienation and exploitation that the bulk of of the individuals were facing in this capitalist system.
- “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is ithe spitit of a spiritless condition. It is the opium of the people. To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness.” - Marx and Engels, 1975:38
- It should be noted for Marx that what he saw as the eventual stripping away of religion, which would then allow individuals to see truly what was happening to them in terms of exploitation and alienation, was not how it was interpreted in terms of the aggressive dismantling of religion. He never actually advocated for that.
- Why did Marx see religion as a suppressor to social change. Now, if you think about the way that he was defining religion and its function, labelling it as this opium of the people, you could see how he was positioning religion. He was seeing that some of the central values, some of the central tenets of religion– and here you can very much place this towards religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. You can see that he was saying the very idea that you can make a virtue out of suffering, that you can make a justification for social order through religion, also the idea of an eternal type of bliss makes the suffering of this life seem OK in a way. Rather than concentrating on this life, many people that would identify with religion would be concentrating on the next life. And it’s for reasons such as this that Marx saw religion as that type of opiate, something that was going to dull us rather than motivate us for the types of social changes that he was speaking about.
- Max Weber
- Approached religion from a substantive POV, i.e. defining it from below, i.e. defining religion from the perspective of those who were religious.
- He contradicted Marx’s work. Where Marx said religion stopped social change, Weber argued that religion created social change
- What was the cause of capitalism? Capitalism began in a place that was dominated by a particular form of Protestantism, Calvinism.
- In Calvinism, there was a strong idea of predestination. This creates a form of anxiety about how do you become “the chosen one”.
- This in turn leads to the idea of a “vocation”. How well individuals were doing in their particular work could be a signifier what they were predestined for an afterlife.
Topic 10: The Future of Religion
- Modernity, or the time period within which we are living in, pluralises. They are no altogether without conflict
- What happens to the society and individual in the face of this:
- When individuals are able to pick and choose, how do they follow their faith. For e.g. I am Catholic but I believe in birth control
- Religions are aware of the fact that they are no longer a monopoly, and individuals are picking and choosing, and there is a voluntary aspect to it. Thus they become much more open
- We need to also pay attention to new and emerging forms of religiosity and spirituality that are occuring around us.
- Zygmunt Bauman has done work on what kind of religions that would thrive in contemporary Western Society
- Two forms of religions that would thrive are: consumer religions and forms of fundamentalism
- Consumer religions are like religion a la carte.For example what could be called hyper-real religion, i.e. the use of popular culture as a source of inspitation for your religiosity.
- Hyper-real Religion is a term coined by Adam Possamai. Examples include things like Jediism and Matrixism
- It hasn’t played out as we thought it would
- Instead of the complete eradication of religion, we have seen things like pluralisation and certain religions doing really well.
- Religion has moved from the private sphere to the public sphere
- The idea of Post-secularisation has been put forward by Habermas
- Habermas put forward that if we are going to have a truly democratic society, then we need to recognise that religion hasn’t gone away, that we live in really religiously diverse societies.
Module 4: From the Concrete to the Elastic
Topic 1: From the Concrete to the Elastic
- Durkheim: One of his main concerns was what is going to maintain social order in the face of all that social change.
- He looked at what held society together in traditional society, and what held society together through all the rapid changes
- Concept of “Mechanical Solidarity”: simply this idea of society is held together through sameness (non-diversity). The collective is quite strong because there’s the shared values and norms.
- But within modernity, there is “Organic Solidarity”: What holds us together is our interdependence on each other.
- Threats to social order
- Rise of the individual over the collective, what Durkheim called “The Cult of the Individual”
- We can see it today, with all the naricissm that we can witness around us. Naricissism used to be considered a personality disorder, but it has been taken out of the DSM.
- But Durkheim also talked about investing in individuals, because in a sense as representations of their society, they are sacred.
- But they must be based in a morality
- Roles don’t hold us as much as earlier. They still hold us to an extent (e.g. gender etc) but not as much
Topic 2: Changes in the Meaning of Risk Overtime
- Risk is one of the main characteristics of contemporary Western society
- The concept of risk has changed dramatically
- In pre-modernity, risk was seen as external, it is because of fate, God’s will etc. They could do very little and had no responsibility in the face of it.
- With the onset of modernity, with a different approach to knowledge, which was much more scientific and rational approach that was meant to be for the social betterment of all, we started to understand that not all risk was external. Risk arose as unintended consequences of human intervention in the natural world and the things that we were doing.
- The types of risk we are surrounded with today: Chernobyl(invisible), Katrina (human intervention). They have become invisible, and are not bound by borders, time or place.
Topic 3: Different Ways of Understanding Risk
- Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, Psychology, Engineering etc that look and try and understand risk and how it impacts on us as individuals, and as a society as a collective.
- Technoscientific approach:
- Preexisting in nature
- What is our cognitive response to it
- Why are we so scared of it
- Sociocultural approach
- Risk = Social Construction
- There is the idea that we can construct certain risks in the process of interacting with each other
- Cultural Symbolic Approach
- Mary Douglas has done some work on purity and danger. Her work deals primarily with the body and how we associate risks with the body, and how that can create and reinforce boundaries within a society.
- Governmentality Approach
- Used by scholars of criminology and sociology
- here, we’re paying attention to how risks, and the construction of risks, and the way that they’re being presented to society are sending out messages that are going to govern us, and govern our body. Make us surveil ourselves.
- Risk Society Approach
- Risks are based in reality to a degree, but also emphasise the social construction element
- Common elements to all approaches:
- They all recognise that risk has become one of the central elements of contemporary society, that organises our society. At the same time, it can be used as a sense of surveillance over our society.
- Risk has become on the central issues of contemporary Western society
Topic 4: Risk and the Impact on the Individual
- Anthony Gidden’s work
- Concept of ‘Insecurity’: Can imagine a continuum between an ‘Ontologically Insecure Individual’ and ‘Ontologically Secure Individual’
- Ontologically Insecure: Sombody who is obsessed and exaggerates the risks that we are faced with
- Ontologically Secure: An individual who feels much more bracketed from the kinds of risks we have talked about. They have created these adaptive reactions in face of this risk
- Concept of trust
- Ulrich Beck
- Individualisation: disembedding - we have been taken out of the roles that used to guide us. dienchantment - we are not fully trusting of our expert systems around us. rembedding - we have been rembedding into our economic forces
Topic 5: Different Views of Contemporary Society
- Reflexive Modernism
- Comes from the work of Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck
- Idea of reflexivity: all the information that surrounds us. We are being sent messages, and we are in the constant process of negotiation. We cannot master it.
- Liquid Modernity
- Sigmund Bauman states that we re in a period that could be considied “liquid” - things are more fluid, whether it is class, roles etc - “‘Liquid Modern’ is a society in which the conditions under which its members act change faster that it takes the ways of acting to consolidate into habits and routines…liquid modern society cannot keep its shape or stay on course for long”
- More Risk = More Choice = More Responsibility
Topic 6: Risk Society Thesis Applies to Religion
- Can religion provide comfort to bracket out this uncertainity and insecurity
- Sigmund Bauman talked about the two kinds of religion that would thrive in contemporary society: Consumer Religions and Forms of Fundamentalisms
- Which form of religion is going to provide the best form ‘ontological security’
- Media presents fundamentalism in a negative way: often presented through violent extermism, but that’s not we mean always. It doesn’t always have to be equated with violence, and in a sort of negative way.
- Fundamentalism does provide this security
Topic 7: Risk Society Thesis Applies to Health
- We are bombarded with all this information about health risks
- There are also opposing pieces of information: for e.g. debates around cellphone radiation, breast feeding, immunisation
- We have the freedom to choose, but at the same time these freedoms equate to more responsibility
- How risk and health interrelated:
- Research into childbirth
- High rates of intervention in child birth
- Is this medicalisation, or is this by choice?
- In interviews, a lot of women were fearful
- Actual risks are actually quite low compared to 17th century (when 1 in 100 women would pass away). Today in Australia it is 13 in 100000
- So why do women fear it?
Topic 8: The Risk Society Finalised
- Individualisation and the work of Beck
- Disembedding that has happened is important and it is an extremely positive thing to be freed from the traditional society
- But we still have parameters that guide our behavior.
- Disenchantment: with our expert systems, because we get all these contradictory messages from these so called experts
- Reembedding into economic forces
- Summary of Risk Society
- There is an omnipresence of risk
- There is also this contestation of what is a risk, and there is competing information
- There is a changing nature of risk: they are democratic, we cannot confine them to a particular time and place
- There is an inversion of trust and risk, whereby at the same time that we are distrustful of our expert systems, we need them to make sure they are doing the right thing
- Changing nature of risk
- We now live in a time period that is uninsurable, because of the kind of manufactured risks that we are create
- The pathway forward is to get involved, tap into this democratisation of information
Topic 9: How Do These Changes Impact on Sociology
- Theorists argue about whether we can use traditional sociological concepts like class, gender, ethnicity anymore in a rapidly changing world.
- Sociologists like Beck say that we can’t. He actually labels these categories, zombie categories
- Individualisation leads to these concepts move into the background, but does that mean that they are no longer relevant, perhaps we need to reconstruct them
- The family
- movie: The Kids are Alright
- fluidity in the concept of family and family structures: same sex couples, people remarrying, single households
- This is where the idea of zombie categories is at its most contentious:
- “Society can no longer look in the mirror and see social classes. The mirror has been smashed and all we have left are the individualised fragments.” - Beck and Williams 2004
- Many people see this as problematic
- Class seems to be holding us pretty stronger, compared to gender, ethnicity etc.
Topic 10: The Self and Society
- When we think about relationships, we often don’t think about the social structure we are living within. It is purely emotional, individualistic.
- Sigmund Bauman: “Good lighting is the true blindness – one does not see what is all too visible, one does not note what is always there, things are noticed when they disappear or go bust, they must first fall out from the routinely given for the search after their essences to start and the questions about their origin, wherabouts use or value to be asked.”
- The society that we live impacts on our individual biography