A2 Sociology Theories

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Mind Map on A2 Sociology Theories, created by emilyatkins16 on 12/07/2014.

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A2 Sociology Theories
1 Marxism (is a structural and positivist macro theory) - Karl Marx 1818-83
1.1 Society is in a state of conflict between the Bourgeoisie(rich) and the Proletariat(poor) in which the Proletariat are exploited by the economic system Capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system where a small minority own the forces and production, and it is catagorised into two interdependent parts: the Infrastructure and Superstructure. The Infrastructure is the economic system; the way society produces goods and the Superstructure is made up of social institutions such as the family, education system and mass media.
1.1.1 In order for this capitalist system to be overthrown, Marx proposed that there should be a revolution to overthrow the Bourgeoisie so that a communist society can be formed (wherby everyone owns the means of production). Although this idea seems plausible, Marx never explained how this revolution was to come about which has caused much debate amongst critics. Criticisms of traditional Marxism: -it is seen as too simplistic. -Others argue there are more than just two classes and that the working class can be divided into skilled/unskilled. -Class polarisation has not occured, the new middle class has grown and the old industrial working class has shrunk (apart from China and India). -Economic determinism: many disagree that the economy controls all other aspects of society, action theorist emphasise the importance of individuals to bring about change via ideas. -Revolution: only in few countries such as Russia has revolution occured. -Focuses on class and ignores other marginalised groups such as women.
1.1.2 The relations of production between the boss and worker are exploitative, and cause alienation and isolation due to the fact that the Bourgeoisie aim to extract maximum labour at a minimum cost. By doing this, the Proletariat need to work as much possible in order to survive and therefore, because they work so many hours, their life only seems to revolve around working. Evaluation/Strengths: -Capitalism has improved the standard of living on the working class who may be aware of inequality and exploitation, but feel that their standing of living compensates for this as they have been benefited in terms of economic, education, welfare and health care. -Capitalism has grown stronger and influenced many through globalisation. -It acknowledges that society as a whole is not necessarily equal and recognises the power interests of different groups.
1.1.3 Neo-Marxist Gramsci: humanistic Marxism (more Interpretivist thinking). Gramsci introduces the concept of hegemony to explain how the ruling class maintains its position. He sees the ruling class maintaining its dominance over society in two ways: Coercion (force, e.g. police, army, prisons) and Consent (hegemony; ideas and values of the ruling class which are unconsciously internalised into the working class and are used to legitimate Captitalism). The working class can overthrow Capitalism by organising behind intellectuals to lead the masses in radical change. Neo-Marxist Althusser: structuralist Marxism (more positivist thinking). Althusser is critical of humanisitic Marxism, disagrees with the base/superstructure model and is in favour of a more complex one which Craib calls structural determinism. It involves three structures: economic(activities involving producing something in order to satisfy a need), political(comprising all forms of organisation) and ideoloigcal level(the ways that people see themselves and their world). He states that the ruling class legitimate their dominance by the ideological state appartatus (education, media) and the repressive state appartatus (police). Criticisms: -underestimates the role of coercion. -Workers may want to overthrow the system but scared of consequences, e.g. losing jobs. Criticisms:: -too much emphasis is placed on structure rather than action. -Individuals are seen to be powerless puppets. -It is seen as abstract with little empirical evidence. -Humanist Marxists see it as discouraging human political action against the unfair system.
2 Functionalism (is a structural and macro theory)
2.1 It focuses on society as a whole and says that behaviour is shaped by social control; we are kept in line by mechanisms of social control. Consensus enables us to cooperate with each other which provides unity and harmony. Without consensus and a collective conscience, society would become chaotic.
2.2 Evaluation/Strengths- society is not always a smooth running and well integrated system, but it seeks the answer of how social order is possible, even if it is too deterministic and neglects conflict.
2.2.1 Criticisms of functionalism -it's unscientific as they see deviance both functional and dysfunctional for society. -marxists argue society is based on exploitation and divided into classes, stability is simply the result of the dominant class being able to prevent change by using coercion. -marxists see functionalism as a conservative ideology legitimating the status quo with universal funtionalism and indispensability to help justify the existing social order as inevitable and desirable. -wrong (1961)'over socialised and deterministic' view of the individual, socialisation is used to shape people's behaviour so they will meet the systems' needs by performing their prescribed roles. -functionalism reifies society, it treats it as a distant 'thing' over and above individuals. -post-modernists state that funtionalism assumes that society is stable and orderly, but this is not always the case due to the diverse and modern era it's entering that involves instability/fragmentation.
2.2.2 Comte - uses the human body as an example as to how society works, the institutions in society (education, law, family) work together much like the organs in the human body in order to maintain society. Parsons (1951) in order for society to function, there are 3 main functions: producing food, taking care of the young and socialising new generations. Merton (1968) criticises Parsons... 1) functional unity - parsons assumes all parts of society are integrated into a whole, however complex societies have many parts, some of which may only be 'distantly' related to another, some parts may have 'functional automany' from others (rules of netball, structure of banking). 2) parsons assumes everything in society is functionally indispensable e.g. primary socialisation is best performed by the nuclear family - but this is not always the case. 3) parsons assumes that everything performs a positive function for society as a whole, yet some things are functional for some groups, but dysfunctional for others.
3 Feminism (is a conflict theory)
3.1 Sees society as male dominated and it aims to describe, explain and change the position of women in society. A 'first wave' of feminism appeared in the late 19th century with the suffragettes' campaign for women's rights. 1960's saw a 'second wave' emerge on a global scale. There are 3 major events: successful civil rights in America, contraceptive pill 1961 and the work place.
3.1.1 How women are still unequal now: harassment, politics (women only account for a third of journalists that cover political and business coverage), illegal sex trade in the transport of women, unemployment: 2009-12 there was a 20% rise in women, but only 0.32% among men. Branches of feminism: liberal - believe society is unequal in terms of gender equality, but believe it is gradually getting better due to reforms such as the divorce reform act 1969/abortion act 1967. Radical: patriarchy is the most fundamental form of inequality, they propose the complete eradication of patriarchy to free women from oppression. Difference feminism: emerged as a result of concerns that early feminists ignored the different experiences of patriarchal subordination found among black women and others from minority ethnic groups. There are substantial differences in the experiences of women from different social and ethnic backgrounds. Post structuralist: a postmodern view of feminism, not treating all women as if they have the same experience as a 'woman'. Dual systems: the blend of theories (marx-fem) - patriarchy and capitalism are seen as two separate systems, it focuses on two theories that interconnect. Weaknesses: they do not explain the fact that patriarchy has existed in all known societies, radicals argue that it is men, not just capitalism that benefits from women's subordination and enjoy positions of power, high status and pay... it is men who are instruments of oppression. Weaknesses: assumes all women share the same common interests, fails to recognise gradual reformations, does not offer solutions to abolish patriarchy, sees men as the 'enemy', marx-fems argue it is more capitalism that causes oppression and subordination. Strengths: evidence has demonstrated that gender is a social construct through discrimination generated by the socialisation process. -passed laws has created more equality. Weaknesses: merely deals with reducing the effects of subordination, not challenging the causes. Feminist methodologies: the way data is collected is patriarchal - sociology is 'malestream' and reinscribes inequality. Pam Abbot: sociology is concerned with research/theories produced by men, research on men is generalised to the whole, issues that are important to women are overlooked, women are represented in a sexist way in research, sex/gender is rarely seen as separate variables - concludes that sociology is sex blind/sexist. Soft feminist methodology: Jayaratne (liberal): view quantitative positivist methodology as salvageable, argues that large scale survey type research tends to be patriarchal - thus research should be taken and made as gender neutral as possible. Hard feminist methodology: Oakley (radical): rejects the use of quantitative/positivist research, more for micro/interpretivist approaches and advocates a more collaborative approach, conducting more qualitative approaches to research. Postmodernity Began as a legitimate theory in the late 1970s, it is a sudden and fundamental break with modernity and requires a new kind of theory to explain it. Features include fragmentation of social life, incessant choice, uncertainty, truth is relative, globalisation etc. Knowledge - no objective criteria to prove whether something is true, Enlightenment - we have lost the power to change the enlightenment to improve society (power to discover true knowledge and progress to a better society), Culture - media produce an endless stream of images making culture unstable and fragmented; identity becomes destabilised and we can change it. Criticisms: ignores r/c's use of media as ISA, it is wrong to distinguish between reality and media, critics argue thatw e can use knowledge to solve human problems, Baudrillard says we are constantly surrounded by an ecstasy of communication and we are consumers whose desires are created by the media, PM is self defeating. Foucault: science as a route to enlightenment is dead and meta-narrative theories are no longer useful. Lyotard: meta-narratives are simplistic, knowledge is no longer a tool of the authorities, we have choice and freedom. Reality TV: illustrates the interchange between consumer and the media, as well as Disneyl which is an example of simulacra (simulated reality) - it is artificial, yet real and the fine line between reality and fantasy is 'greyer'. Further thoughts: science no longer has the answers, progress is a questionable expertise, postmodern society feeds upon itself recreating the past, entwining it with the present, each cultural identity can co-exist, cultural cohesion comes from sharing the same media, meta-narratives are simply bigger stories. YOU ARE WHO YOU WANT TO BE
4 Action theories (micro level, bottom-up approaches)
4.1 Social action theory (integrated approaches) - Max Weber saw both structural and action as necessary for understanding human behaviour, arguing that an adequate explanation involves two levels: the level of cause (objective structural factors that shape behaviour) and the level of meaning (the subjective meanings that individuals attach to their actions).
4.1.1 He explained the types of action based on the meaning for the actor: 1) instrumentally rational action (actor calculates the most efficient means of achieving a given goal, 2) value-rational action (towards a goal that the actor regards as desirable for its own sake), 3) traditional action (is customary, routine), 4) affectual action (expresses emotion). Structuration theory: Giddens 1986 - talks about the duality of structure/agency e.g. a language needs a set of roles and we need to interpret those rules. We reproduce structure through agency, structure has two elements: rules and resources which can be reproduced or changed through human action. 1) Society's rules provide a 'back drop' - rules and resources and they are interlinked and so our routine behaviour reproduces current structure. 2) We need ontological security - we like to live in a predictable society that is secure and stable. We do not like to instigate change, however when we do make changes we reflexively monitor (think back on our own behaviours), then amend them to better fit with our changing needs, we deliberately choose new actions as we have transformative capacity (ability to do so). Unintended consequences of actions produce changes that were not part of our goal, for example an increase in divorce rates has not only created more single people, but an increase in welfare benefits, higher taxes and less legal aid. Evaluation: Archer states that Giddens underestimates the capacity of structure to resist change, Craib states that the theory lacks originality as much of the ideas have developed from Marx's writings, structuralists suggest that it overstates the capacity for individuals to change structure and agency - suggesting that both integrated approaches agree.
4.2 Symbolic Interactionalism
4.2.1 focuses on how we create the social world through our interactions, placing our own meanings to a situation in accordance to what is happening - human behaviour is the result of consciousness. George Mead: 1) symbols versus instincts - unlike animals whose behaviour is governed by instincts, we respond to the world by giving meanings to the things that are significant to us, we create a world of meanings by attracting symbols to things = an interpretive phase between a stimulus and our response where we interpret its meaning. 2) taking the role of the other - we interpret people's meanings by taking their role e.g. children internalise significant others (parents), while later in life we see ourselves from the generalised other (society). Blumer: indentifies 3 principles of interactionalism: 1) our actions are based on the meanings we give to them 2) these meanings arise from interactions and to some extent are changeable 3) the meanings we give to situations are mainly the result of taking the role of the other. There is room for choice in how we perform our roles. Labelling theory: use 3 interactionalist concepts: 1) definition of situation, Thomas states that if people define a situation as real, it will have real consequences 2) Cooley argues our self-concept arises out of our ability to take the role of the other (looking-glass self) - we see our self mirrored in how they respond to us and become what they see us as 3) Becker and Lemert apply this concept e.g. someone is labelled as 'mental' and therefore this becomes their 'master status'. SFP: labelling> master status> internalisation of labels> deviant career. Goffman's dramaturgical model describes how we actively construct our 'self' by manipulating other people's impression of us: 1) presentation of self and impression management, this includes voice, gestures, props, settings, dress, make-up etc - 2) roles - are loosely scripted by society and alllow us freedom in how we play them, as we do not always believe in the roles we play - from this we act out our roles in which society expects of us. Phenomenology explains the social construction of phenomena and the results of the subjective way of discourse on people's attitudes and behaviour, it describes things as they appear to our senses. Schutz: we share categories and concepts with other members of society which are called typifications - they enable us to organise our experiences into a shared world of meanings, and the meanings come from its social context meaning they can be unclear and unstable. They make order possible by stabiling meanings and making sure we have commonsense knowledge that we can share, he calls this 'recipe knowledge' as we can follow it without thinking too hard. This allows us to cooperate and achieve goals. Evaluation: Berger and Luckmann argue that although life is socially constructed, once constructed, it has a life of its own and becomes an external natural attitude that has an effect on us. Ethnomethodology Examines how people speak and interact with each other through conversations and in relationships within their homes. Garfinkel argues social order is created from the 'bottom-up' and used breaching experiments to disrupt people's experiences of a situation - he sought to expose people's 'taken for granted' assumptions. Indexicality: refers to that meanings are always potentially unclear which is a threat to social order. Reflexivity: is the use of our commonsense knowledge to construct a sense of meaning. It rejects the view that society has any kind of social structure. It is an allusion and only appears to exist becomes members of society create it in their own minds and impose a sense of order by using commonsense and culturally embedded rules and assumptions. Social reality is simply a social construction.
5 Late Modernity
5.1 Characteristics of modern society: capitalism, mass production, scientific thinking, technology and decline of religion. LM is a continuation of modernism.
5.1.1 YOU KNEW WHO YOU WERE: social class, family, overt social control.
5.2 Giddens: reflexivity, in a stage of high modernity and rapid change is having a global effect, disembedding: we no longer need face to face interaction (impersonal), Reflexive: traditions are less important -geographical mobility takes us away from our roots.
5.2.1 Beck agrees with Giddens about a growth of individualism and says we constantly need to reflect on our actions (reflexive modernisation) - therefore, everything is centered around risk.
5.3 Evaluation of LM: not everyone is free to reflect on their actions to reduce risks (poor due to environmental factors, lack of resources), Rustin: capitalism is responsible for many risks due to profit being pursued irrespective of the consequences.
5.3.1 Marxism and LM: enlightenment/scientific knowledge has helped to improve society, some feel we have moved into a PM era due to fragmentation, PM is a continuation of capitalism, Harvey: capitalism is a constant changing system, developing new technologies in the pursuit of profit. Evaluation of Marxism and LM: if marxists accept society has become fragmented, does this not contradict the marxist belief that w/c would unite to overthrow the r/c and capitalist system, can be said that neo-marxists offer explanation for recent changes.

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