Chapter 2 (L. Xu)

Estimated Reading Time 00:04:43

Notes by Lance Xu

Chapter 2: Material Settings

Functionalism

-Demography: study of human populations – their growth and decline through births, deaths and immigration

-Thomas Malthus – Earth’s population may exceed carrying capacity one day, food increases linearly, population increases exponentially

-‘Checks’ could keep population growth in line with food supply, positive checks increase death rate (war, famine, pestilence and disease), preventive checks limit number of live births (abortion, infanticide, contraceptives, etc)

-need to use preventive checks to avoid positive checks

 

Critical theory

-People take actions that benefit themselves the most and support theories that justify their actions

-problems in poor countries not as a result of overpopulation but rather from an unfair and harmful distribution of the world’s resources

-historically famine not a significant positive check

-poverty often causes problems similar to those posed by overpopulation and also contribute to overpopulation

-zero population growth -> deaths = births, global strategy of survival

Urban Life

Functionalism

-social problems in city result of growth and specialization (more wealth = more robbery)

-characteristics of the city (size, variety, etc) that promote social disorganization, weak social controls and consequent deviance and distress

-rural life – members shared same experiences and developed similar values, norms and identity

-urban life – people interdependent on others for prosperity and survival

Critical Theory

-whose interests are served by the dominant groups in society and their ideology

-urban problems such as homelessness and poverty is caused by capitalism, power groups disinterested in helping lower class

Symbolic Interactionism

-how meanings and thought patterns affect environmental problems, and how they influence people’s perception of these problems

-environmental geography: study of the interactions between humans and their surrounding natural world, focusing on the human impact on the environment and vice versa

-what kind of claims make the greatest impact, and how they become a problem in the public’s eye

-also study how environmental polluters manipulate symbols to protect themselves from criticism (greenwashing – repackaging products as environmentally friendly)

Feminist Theory

questions prevailing capitalist celebration of increasing growth, unlimited resources and unregulated commerce

-ecofeminists link exploitation of marginalized groups (women) with exploitation of environment

Limits to growth

-World3 model; simulation of the next 100 years, showed that earth’s resources would be depleted or too expensive to buy

-possible to change this by reaching an equilibrium, using cutbacks in spending, buying and consuming, impossible to achieve at North American standards of living

Why demography?

-large population puts more pressure on natural environment, more likely to innovate or break into smaller populations, and large populations need the systematic production of food

-industrial, post agricultural societies don’t need large populations

-large populations dense and crowded, usually live in cities

-population growth resulted in urbanization

-large populations divide labour, resulting in different social roles for people with different skills and aptitudes

-composition of a population makes a difference, young predominantly male population = more disorder/deviance, evenly split population typical of a settled family community = less deviance

-age also a factor, old = high spending on medical care, young = high spending on education

Human capital: skill set, usually including educational attainment or job related experiences that enhances a worker’s value on the job; the result of forgone income and a long term investment in personal improvement

-healthy, long lived society likely to contain higher level of human capital and therefore higher productivity and increased prosperity

-population turnover both negative (undermines traditional culture and existing social networks) and positive (reinvigorates culture and introduces new social elements)

-Sudden rejuvenation of the population (baby boom) or dramatic aging (less childbearing) have huge effects on culture, politics and social institutions

 

Population Trends Reveal a Society’s History

Population composition: makeup or mix of different social types in a population (gender, age, etc)

Population pyramid: graphic depiction of the age-sex composition of a population

Cohort: set of people with common origin or starting point (birth cohort = same year of birth)

-can learn about societies and their histories by analyzing population composition, war = drop in men, baby boom = increase in children

-unequal male/female ratio result of gendercide

World Population

-1750-present world population increased dramatically

-growth starting to decline, lower fertility in developed countries

-proportion of people living in less developed countries > 80%

Risk society (Ulrich Beck)

-advancing technology posing serious risks to environment (ex BP oil spill, Chernobyl nuclear meltdown)

-people must assume both individual and social responsibilities for their actions

The Natural Environment

-people much more aware of natural environment than a generation ago, due to environmental movements

-humans rely on natural environment for their basic needs as well as luxuries

-water becoming valuable resource, demand for water growing, not evenly distributed

Location

Human geography: systematic study of the location of human enterprises and characteristics (health, education, commerce and trade)

-historically people have lived close to sources of water, these people tend to have more interaction with different types of people, resulting in a more diverse culture

-different landscapes, environments and climates lead to different challenges, lifestyles and resources

Buildings and Cityscapes

-rise of cities coincide with rise of markets and states, could not come into being without systematic farming and agriculture

-constantly come into conflict with surrounding smaller rural communities

Urbanization

-more people live in cities than ever before, greatest urbanization in developing countries

-megacity: a geographic locale with a large concentrated population, sometimes defined as exceeding 5 million people

Bedroom suburb: residential area near a large city that provides housing and services for people who commute each day into the downtown urban area

Built Environments

-built environment puts huge pressure on the natural environment, North America use disproportionate share of the world’s energy and mineral resources due to high standard of living

Chapter 1 (L. Xu)

Estimated Reading Time 00:05:22

Notes by Lance Xu

SOC103 Chapter 1

Sociology: systematic study of behaviour or the study of society

Society: Largest scale human group whose members interact with one another, share a common geographic territory and share common institutions

-move social theorizing away from moral philosophy (ideas of blame, guilt, sin and wrongdoing)

-common sense not enough, sociologists use research and studies

-people rarely get what they deserve, status/money inherited, high class stay where they are and so do lower class

Macrosociology: study of social institutions and large social group

Microsociology: study of processes and patterns of personal interaction that take place within groups

Sociological imagination: approach to sociology that situates the personal experiences of individuals within the societal context in which these experience occur

Social institution: on kind of social structure, people use institutions to achieve their goals

Social role: expected pattern of interaction with others

Functional Theory

-views society as set of interconnected parts that work together to preserve the stability and efficiency of the whole

Robert Merton- social institutions perform both manifest (easily recognized) and latent (hidden) functions

-social problems = failure of institutions to fulfill their roles during periods of rapid change

Emil Durkheim – Anomie (strain) condition during times of rapid change, when social norms are weak or in conflict with oneanother

-best way to deal with social problems is to strengthen norms and slow pace of change

Critical Theory (Karl Marx)

-Focus on inequalities and unequal distribution of resources/power in society

-view society a collection of varied groups that struggle with one another to dominate society and its institutions

-reject functional theory; criticize their limited attention to power struggles

Bourgeoisie: elite owners of production (upper class)

Proletariat: working class

-solution to social problems = abolishing social classes, private ownership of means of production and economic inequality

 

Symbolic Interactionism

-Focuses on small group interactions, how behaviours are defined or framed and how people learn to engage in everyday activities.

-Labelling theory – any social problem is viewed as such simply because an influential group of people defines it so (e.g. marijuana vs cigarettes or alcohol)

-Interested in consequences of people being labelled as deviants or criminals (stigma)

Feminist Theories

-focus on gendering and gendered inequality (sometimes considered branch of critical theory)

-women forced to act out role that dominant (male) group have defined

-feminist movement – mid 19th to early 20th century

-different feminist theories have same goal (equality between sexes) but differ in ways to achieve goal

-interested in gendering of experiences, victimization of women and intersectionality (interaction of gender with other victimizing social characteristics like class and race)

Postmodern Theories

-Interested in unmasking ideologies that protect the dominant social order

-modernism holds view that science is key to improving social life

-postmodernists deny this approach, argue that knowledge is situation specific, deny universal knowledge and focus on local or particular insights

-postmodernists are fascinated by mass media and cultural production, as they frame and transmit conventional ideas about normality, gender class and science

-Emile Durkheim – research on suicide rates and causes, concludes that suicide is inversely correlated with an individual’s degree of integration into society (less integrated = more suicide prone)

Functions of Deviance and Conformity

-all societies allow a margin of tolerable or invisible deviance to go unpunished

-psychologists focus on individuals, sociologists look at societal causes of crime and deviance

-social control theory: normal people have deviant impulses, but have “stake in conformity” and are afraid of punishment

-rational choice theory: people are competing for desired social and economic resources, and are motivated to maximize their own welfare even if they have to break some rules

-rise of corporate crime in recent years as a result of failure of government regulation, lack of corporate self regulation and lack of public awareness

-crime and deviance are normal, found in all societies at all time periods, and serve important social functions

Functions of Conflict

-conflict increases social cohesion, cooperation and unity among people who share the same point of view

-people mutually interdependent, conflict unavoidable

Critical Theory

-Believe conflict focuses attention on social problems and brings people together to solve them (LGBT, women’s movement, trade unionism, etc)

-Dominant ideology justifies upper class’s power and authority, society does not rebel against class inequality because they are programmed to believe in values promoted by dominant ideology

Conflicts over Power and Authority

-power: the ability to get your own way or to force another person to do what you want

-authority: power that is exercised in a legitimate way, by people we deem to have the right to exercise it

-modernization is associated with rational authority rather than traditional

Modern Critical Theories

Marx – conflict arose from hierarchical relations of dominance and subordination (capitalists control means of production, workers form resistance groups i.e. unions)

Weber – conflict arises from horizontal relations of difference and mistrust, groups compete to seize and protect their resources

-conflict arises between groups with differing or opposing goals

-media blame young, minorities or poor however conflict exists among people of all types and ages

 

Stigma (Goffman)

-people conform the society’s norm to avoid stigmatization (ridicule, condemnation)

-in social interactions people try to present themselves as normal, and follow scripts for given situations

-passing: the act of hiding discreditable facts of one’s identity, to appear as normal as possible (difficult with things such as race or physical disability)

-covering: act of deflecting attention away from the stigma (sunglasses for blind man)

Key Ideas of Symbolic Interactionism

Social structures: enduring, predictable pattern of social relations among people in society, they control us so that we act in a certain way in a given situation despite personal differences and they change us so we behave differently in different situations despite our more or less fixed personalities, and they produce social change

1)     humans act toward things on a basis of the meanings that things have for them

2)     these meanins arise out of social interaction

3)     social interaction results from a fitting together of individual lines of action

Social constructionism

-any idea is an invention of a particular culture or society, some ideas considered true and compelling, others are not

-Herbert Mead – shared meanings make social interaction and cooperation possible

-Erving Goffman – society is a theatre where people compose and perform social scripts together, people hide and protect their true identities

-humans react not toe the physical objects or events but to the socially constructed meanings (rose = beautiful, cabbage = ugly)

Lecture 4 (C. Morais)

Estimated Reading Time 00:04:42

Notes by Camilla Morais

Lecture 4 – Culture and Acculturation

Culture

  • Traditionally, “culture” was equated with “civility”
  • Comes from the latin verb colere – to til the soil (i.e. work the land, or improve ad refine the land in order to grow crops)
  • It is the sum total of all products of the human mind
  • Cultural products can be:
    • concrete or abstract
    • individual or collective
    • material or non-material (i.e. ideas)

The controlling effects of culture

  • Even when we have “free choice”, our choice is socially and culturally structured
  • Culture controls and structures and choices, perceptions and opinions
  • Culture is a choice guidance system
  • Defines good and bad, basic common sense (true vs. false, normal vs. abnormal etc.)
    • Varies from one culture to another, not fixed, not inevitable
    • Human beings are structures in certain directions and there is variation between one social structure to another

Political Connections

  • Culture by controlling us can put power in the hands of those who want to control us
  • Dominant ideology – way of thinking that prevails in society: rises when culture is influenced by the stay
  • Our society is a market ideology – everything is for sale, priced according to its value
  • By influencing morality, if influences our behaviour
  • The maker appropriately sorts people into positions of wealth and power and some into poverty and weakness on the other end: Dominant Ideology of our society
  • There is a link between the economic marketplace and the social marketplace 

Cultures vary in what they teach us

  • Often there is conflict between those brought up in different cultures due to different ideas – cultural confusion
  • It is often hard to hold culturally relative values – we tend to be ethnocentric
  • We tend to believe that the way we view the world is the right way
  • You cannot reasonably impose those kinds of standards on other cultures
  • 20th & 21st Century been the main motif
  • Moral evolution versus cultural relativism
  • Nations who were most economically developed had higher cultures and moral standards than those they were colonizing
  • Therefore the colonizers had to go and “correct” this
  • Today we are at a place of confusion in regards to cultural/moral relativism
    • i.e. Western people have difficulty viewing the way dressing of Muslim way in a culturally or moral way
    • Current debate in the “right” way to think of this

Cultural change can be painful

  • People who, in the process of acculturation, relinquish the home culture and reject the host culture are known as marginal
  • i.e. hard to accept new views about women, gays, youth
  • Marginals – reject host culture and relinquish home culture – unclear on how you should be thinking about things** View slide
  • Identity crisis may result

Culture never stands still

  • always changing within music clothing speech beauty etc.
  • New cultural practices and ideas diffuse through the population
    • took off in agricultural sociology
    • Curve associated with this is called the “S-curve”
    • Contagion

Innovators are always in the minority

  • In the cultural diffusion process 2.5% will be “innovators” and 16% will be laggards
  • People who are innovators or opinion leaders – a lot of contact and information – influence on the community – people are inclined to follow them
  • We don’t know as much as we need to about how and why people innovate and adopt new cultural patterns

Cultural Products Include:

  • Paintings, Books, Music, They are all modes of discourse
    • Habitual ways of speaking about and understanding a topic
    • Every cultural “text” consists of key ideas, symbols and concepts
    • Everything we read, see, hear can be conceived as a text – something we read and interpret
    • Everything we use is culturally used and culturally interpreted – meaning behind wearing black to a gig
    • Any work of art expresses at least three things: genre, particular period, particular artist
    • Also, class position

Art and Cultural Capital

  • People with more cultural capital get more education, get richer, marry “up”

Culture is a “Perceptual Filter”

  • Cultures teach us how to look at things
  • Art as a Cultural Product – distinguishes people by “taste”
  • According to Veblen, Cultural tastes change because the upper class repeatedly invents new elements to distinguish it from the middle class
  • The lower class cannot keep up and the middle class is always trying
  • In order to maintain distinction – “habitus” as described in Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital
  • Cultural literacy is basic; Cultural capital gives people an advantage
  • Cultural capital increase (apparent) social status
  • Cultural literacy improves knowledge base and interaction skills
    • Basic requirement
    • i.e. who is Hamlet

The Canadian Way

  • Canadians are more secular, more socially progressive, more egalitarian
  • Canadians are more realist modest and secular
  • Americans are much more likely to believe that people get rewarded for their efforts

The Cultural Role of Jokes and Humor

  • Socially accepted means of rule breaking

Cultural Globalizations vs. Nationalism

  • Are local cultures going to survive?
  • System changing cultural processes:
  • Certain social and cultural institutions are fundamentally world-chning: i.e. change the way cultures operate
    • i.e rule of law

Tutorial

Starting Points Chapter 3:

Social Scripts are lines and behaviours we are supposed to follow to fulfill roles as seamlessly as possible pg. 66

Becker’s perspective on deviance largely talks about labeling theory and that once people are labeled deviant they tend to set themselves apart, develop their own language identity etc. However they are learned behaviours – Normal people learning deviant behaviours – pg. 67-68

Functionalism:

RS

  1. Reflexive sociology, gathering data statistically pg17-18
  2. Pg 49 / Pg30 – Become more apparent, more fragmentary on the et as people surf from site to site and image to image Focus on fragmentary quality
  3. p.33  — linked to neo liberalism – rise in religion when there is a lot of instability

Lecture 3 (C. Morais)

Estimated Reading Time 00:08:00

Notes by Camilla Morais

Soc 103 – Lecture 3

Roles, Networks, and Organizations

Dramaturgical Approach

  • Thinking of social life as a theatrical production
  • Social Scripts: Particular ways in which we are expected to act and expect others to act in particular social settings
  • Every social situation has its own set of expectations
  • Don’t give us the details

Scripts, Roles, and Identities

  • Roles: sets of actions expected of us
  • Scripts: lines or behaviours we are supposed to follow
  • Identities: things that our going on inside our head
    • People have different ways of organizing their identities
    • You can’t really guess what one’s identity is because its so personal
    • People’s identities are a result of the roles they play (not necessarily true at all times)
    • Every approach is metaphorical
  • We don’t have scripts that cover every eventuality – i.e. if while on a date someone spills out their life scars on you
  • Problem: Dramaturgical Approach only explains general situations
  • We know that there are scripts because there are things that happen that aren’t supposed to do and people don’t know what to do (when you hit an unscripted event and its unpleasant)

The Link Between Roles and Identities

  • How to roles become identities (it does not happen from the inside out)
  • One approach: Labeling Theory
  • We learn whether we are socially, sexually attractive, intelligent, stupid etc. by how others react towards you (looking glass self)
  • We infer from what they say, what they do how we should evaluate ourselves

Labeling is a Two-Sided Sword

  • When we get many negative labels we can become incapacitated
  • It can diminish us, or empower
  • At the extreme it can have long term effects on people’s behaviour
  • Primary Deviance: Any kind of behaviour that breaks any rule
  • Secondary Deviance: Behaviour that responds to sanctions that one gets for primary deviance (may include a career in rule-breaking)
  • If someone is labeled in a negative way, this can affect their self concept and can change their group affiliation

How We Position Ourselves in Roles: Embracement Versus Distance

  • Role Embracement: A person willingly accepts both the social role and the identity associated with it (After the age one is obliged to be a student, he continues to pursue that)
  • Role Distance: Sometimes a person takes on the role but signals separation from the values associated with that role (i.e. child distances himself from parents in front of friends)

Roles Become Identities Through Internalization

  • Identities are based on the social roles we place
  • We internalize the role we play o they become central parts of our identity

Learning Roles is a Lifelong Effort

  • One leaves a role and becomes something else (i.e. Student à Full Time Worker à Wife à Mother etc.)
  • Role-taking is a dynamic process
  • We leave and enter roles throughout life
  • Some departures are hard: e.g., the military widow, the closet gay guy
  • Military wives lead very little roles

Role-Making Versus Role-Taking

  • All of us in our lives, in our interactions with one another take scripts but also invent stuff
  • People agree to invent new social roles together
  • i.e. to break rules of dress or behaviour together
    • Subcultures
    • However this agreement does not bind the rest of society
    • To survive, a social script must become widely known and accepted in the population
    • Subcultures are places where people can create new roles that exist outside the mainstream

The Influence of Peers in Taking and Making New Identities

  • Different kind of people influence us to different degrees throughout our lives
  • The strongest influences on an adolescent’s self-concept are peers

Problems in Playing Roles:

(1) Role Conflict

  • Role conflict occur when a person has to satisfy the demands of two or more incompatible or contradictory roles
    • Playing one role necessarily undermines or prevents the other
    • i.e. being a good friend versus being a good student

(2) Role Strain

  • Occurs when two behaviours associated with the same role are incompatible
  • i.e. being a successful student without appearing to be nerdy, uncool, or overcommitted

Dealing With Role Conflict

  • 1. Prioritize Social Roles (placing priority on some roles and less on others)
  • 2. Adopt Master Role (taking one role and making it supreme)
  • 3. Compartmentalization (keeping social groups separate to avoid humiliation)

Secrecy

  • Another way of dealing with conflict
  • George Simmer was the first sociologist to study secrecy
  • Our “first world” is the recognized world of socially acceptable activities
  • Our “second world” includes usually hidden deviant activities others cannot see most of he time (i.e. sexual affairs)

Primary and Secondary Groups: Where We Play Many of Our Roles

  • Primary Groups are characterized by small size and emotional intimacy between members
    • i.e. family
    • Secondary Groups are medium-to-large in size and may not always command our primary social allegiance

Consider Teams Bands and Gangs

  • Even though they have different social purposes and different kind of membership, the differences don’t matter sociologically given the similarities
  • They all enforce rules that are created and known by its members
    • The all offer energy, excitement, loyalty, community, pleasure, fun, creativity, innovation – which is why people voluntarily join and stay

The “Glue”: Peer Pressure

  • People what to win (and keep) the esteem of their friends
  • Social acceptance

The Value of Organization and Leadership

  • Any team/band/community etc. has some organization
  • i.e. division of labour, roles, expectations etc.
  • Every group has external problems and internal conflicts/differences that occur inevitably when you have a number of people together
  • Leadership is valuable
  • Splitting roles into manageable parts (the right roles)
  • Rewarding good performance

Social Networks

  • Not groups
  • Groups
  • A network is a group of people who are directly or indirectly connected to one another
  • Direct Connections: links f kinship, friendship and acquaintance among all 20 people
    • Within this set of 20 people there can be 190 different paired connections
    • Mathematically expressed as [20(19)]/2 =190]
    • Even in a small number of people there can be a large number of links
    • The complexity grows very rapidly with the size of the network

The Value of Weak Ties

  • Getting a job by having acquaintances
  • Job information moves through weakly tied networks
  • Weakly tied networks have a huge outreach
  • Information moving through weakly tied people has a vast outreach

Strong Ties Versus Weak Ties

  • Strong ties have the merit of emotional intensity
  • Needed when important favours are needed

Weak Ties Over-Estimated?

  • According to recent research weak ties and strong ties are nearly equal in providing career advice
  • In other respects, strong ties are superior

How Closely Are We All Connected to One Another?

  • Stanley Milgram (1967) Small Worlds Study
  • In his study the average link was 5.5-6 (degree of separation)
  • “Six degrees phenomenon”
  • Different people have different numbers of links
  • Density of links
  • Diverse
  • Weakly tied networks
  • Dense networks (hearing the same thing over and over again / trapped in a cycle)
  • Higher social status = more information
    • Information is a resource

Stars, Brokers, and Small Worlds

  • People are indirectly tied to everyone else at a few removes (“six degrees of separation”)
  • Clique=self-aware clumps within networks
  • Typically friends, have a leader, tend to circulate the same information over and over again
  • There are cliques in every  organization

Formal Organizations (Rule-Based Communities) and Bureaucracies

  • Organization: a group of people who are coordinated by communication and leadership to achieve a common goal i.e. a basketball team
  • Formal Organization: Same are the above plus written rules i.e. a government
  • Bureaucracies are the most powerful social units
    • enforcing written rules
    • you can think about it as networks
    • i.e. a set of people who have links to one another
    • A formal organization has a hierarchy of command but you cannot say who is the most powerful in network, no power-structure
  • Formal organizations tend to be powerful and long lasting
  • The Roman Catholic Church (2000 years old)
  • Accumulate resources, create alliances, exercise power
  • In order to preserve the organization – the main priority is survival

Weber’s Ideal-Type bureaucracy: The Most-Developed Formal Organization

  • Max Weber identified seven essential characteristics of bureaucracyHiring and promotion based on technical merit
    • Division of Labour
    • Hierarchy of Positions
    • A formal system of rules
    • A reliance on written documents
    • A separation of the person from the office
      • Everybody in the organization relates to the office not the officeholder
  • The protection of careers
  • His theory of bureaucracy made specific reference to many features of organization but not to be satisfied
  • It’s designed to survive and be predictable

Formal Organizations Are Completely Scripted Social Forms

  • Serve to promote efficiency
  • Very predictable, persistent
  • Formal Organizations = Formality

Problems With Bureaucratic Organization

  • Sheer size of bureaucracies introduces irrationalities
  • No one knows all the rules
  • Rule by offices tends to undermine personal responsibility
    • people don’t take moral responsibility for their decisions
    • Become largely immoral mechanisms
    • The danger is it works well – sometimes, too well
    • Bureaucracy is the most powerful force for enslavement known to humanity
    • But also the most powerful force for good known to humanity: creates job, economic development etc.
    • Total Institutions as Ultimate Bureaucracies
      • based on principles of efficiency and procedural rigidity
      • Negate the value of democratic participation
      • Objectify human beings
      • Teach inmates to get around d the rules
      • Make inmates more able to survive inside the institution rather than outside it

Erving Goffman’ Asylums

  • How do organizations control us and change our identities?
  • Examined mental institutions from the perspective of the patient
  • Total Institutions (TI) exert total control over their inmates
    • Include mental hospitals, prisons, barracks, residential schools, covenants, etc.
    • All interested in changing who you are

Lecture 2 (C. Morais)

Estimated Reading Time 00:09:27

Notes by Camilla Morais

SOC 103 – Lecture 2: Cities, Populations and Environments

  • Demography: flow of people in societies, places etc. – Births, Deaths, Migration

3 important generalizations about Social Units

  • Big social units work differently than small units
  • All social units that are changing very rapidly tend to function and have different problems than slow changing social units i.e. a classroom in which there is no change in the students who are there in the entire year vs. a classroom with new students who come in and leave throughout
    • You will find a much different social unit—affect all kinds of things in social life that make our life more productive because you cant do those things when there is rapid change i.e. form relationships
  • Heterogeneous social units are different than homogeneous
    • I.e. One classroom where everyone has the same background vs. one with people of several backgrounds histories and ethnicities etc.
    • You will see the difficulty in creating activities etc.
  • The same is true for all social units

Life Today on Planet Earth

  • The science of demography theorizes how the composition of the population affects how society works
    • Populating Size
    • Population Change (via births deaths migrations)
    • Population Composition
    • How population change affects size and composition
  • 6% of all people who have ever lived are still alive today

Population Growth is an Issue in many societies

  • Overpopulation
    • What size is too big for the world?
    • Nobody has really answered
    • To demographers this is a stupid question
  • Demographers don’t think population size works in that way
  • Among environmentalists, there is a belief on the population that can live in the natural environment (carrying capacity)
  • Very hard to put a number on this question
  • There is a general sense that there could possibly come a time that there could be too many people for the natural capacity
  • People who don’t like the notion of overpopulation often say that population has grown but as you increase the number of people you increase the number of geniuses
    • I.e. new technologies and new ways of producing food and health

Rapid population growth is also an issue in many societies

  • Population growth vs. population size
  • The real problem is the rate at which we become bit
  • If you become big very rapidly (as a society/institution) you have a hard time adjusting your society/institution to suit your population.
  • Populations with the highest growth rate also tend to be populations that are the poorest and most advantaged
  • In underdeveloped societies there are shortages of certain resources and there is real population pressure
  • Population pressure also affects human life in various ways, including crowding

Other important population issues in various societies today

  • Big concern in much of the western world (esp. in Canada) – Aging population
    • Non-retirement of older workers
    • The excess of unemployed young men
  • The selection and assimilation of immigrants
  • The shortage of marriage partners
  • Young women turn out better than women in these sorts of issues (i.e. shortage of jobs) – young men can turn violent
  • If you rely on immigrants to keep society alive – which immigrants, how do you assimilate etc.?
  • This poses a huge problem, in Canada we haven’t figured it out, how to select the correct people in order to flourish

Thomas Malthus 1766-1834: The first population theorist

  • His father was a utopian socialist
  • He was very interested in social change, redistribution, in order to solve poverty
    • To him the solution was to re-distribute the wealth
  • Malthus’ agenda was not primarily to talked bout population issues, but it was what he was remembered for
  • He wanted to show his father that you cannot solve the problem of poverty through re-distribution—hate letter to his father
  • Malthus was ingenious in collecting together the small amount of material in his time to draw conclusions from pretty weak data and to make such rigorous assumption
  • To him, human beings having sex in a natural way, multiplies the world’s population exponentially
  • Food can only grow linearly
  • Any geometric series will string and arithmetic series no matter the rate of growth

Positive and Preventive Checks

  • According to Malthus, positive checks on population included disease, famine and war
  • Preventive checks included delayed marriage and abstinence
    • He was a religious minister therefore did not believe in abortion and contraceptives
    • So from his standpoint, the only way to control population is to control marriage
    • You couldn’t control marriage without controlling access to income

Malthus didn’t know that population growth slows with industrialization

  • The age in which you get married is not a very good predictor of how many children you will have
  • In industrial societies, people devise ways of having babies despite food issues in society
  • Therefore Malthus is proved wrong
  • Industrialization and more prosperity
  • Voluntary Birth Control
  • Biggest element is motivation

Birth rates and Death rates Decline

  • According to the demographic transition theory, a decline in the birth rate follows a decline in the death rate
  • This happened in Europe then through out the world
    • Death rate started to fall in Europe – improvement in medication large scale efforts to control infections and epidemic
    • About a generation or so later, very rapid decline in birth rate
    • Various explanations for this
  • Once death rates fall you know you don’t need to have 6 children so that 2 survive, you don’t have to create 6 children anymore – then go about ensuring that they create only 2
  • In modern societies people are less motivated to have lots of children because they are a net loss
  • Changing patterns of lifestyle in modern societies

World Population Since 1750

  • Back in 1750, there were only 800 million people, today 7 billion—explosion of people, especially in developing countries, and is predicted to keep growing

A major shift in world population

  • Population has en enormous effect on power relations – take for instance China and Brazil: market that is willing to work for so little and buy anything that’s in front of them
  • Interesting questions: What is the link between population size and power?

Population change affects population composition

  • Birth, deaths and migration affect proportions of people in different locations – flows of people through the institutions
  • We can already see effects of multicultural society, of aging population, the way University’s work, how businesses work
  • In order to understand the social problems society is facing we must understand these things

Population pyramids tell the tale

  • Nigeria: Rapid Growth
  • U.S. Slow Growth
  • Germany: Negative Growth
  • Most of the word’s population growth will occur in the developing nations

What determines the shape of a population structure?

  • Risks of death, rates of birth

Canada’s population structure: not a pyramid or a rectangle

  • Sometimes referred to s a diamond
  • Due to the baby boom in the middle of the distribution
  • Temporary

Ulrich Beck The Risk Society: Toward a New Modernity (1986)

  • Beck labeled society a ‘risk society’
  • In tis period of advanced modernity, society is dominated by man –made risks

The Natural Environment

  • Everything that lives will struggle to survive at the cost of another
  • We’re competing to survive

Where do “natural disasters” occur?

  • Most harmful disasters tend to occur on the southern hemisphere
  • Thus, the poorest people in the least developed countries are doubly disadvantaged

What Causes the Rise in Carbon Emissions?

  • As human beings have grown in numbers, inevitably there has been a growth in carbon emissions – direct relationship

Classic Study: The Limits to Growth (1972)

  • Donella H. Meadows and Dennis L. Meadows, et al
  • Created the World3 Model a computer simulation to track complex human systems change over time
  • Five Major Trends
    • Rapid Population Growth
    • Deteriorating Environment
    • Depletion of non-renewable resources
    • Accelerating industrialization
    • Spreading malnutrition
  • Following Malthus, this model assumed that most of these variable including population increased exponentially
  • Only the ability of technology to increase available resources grew linearly or arithmetically
  • 1972 conclusion of this simulations
    • We’re screwed
    • Humanity will reach the “limit to growth” on this planet some time in the next 100 years if it continues to grow at the current rate of growth (i.e. when the study was conducted 1972)
    • The argument is that we are at the limit of growth

2004 Conclusions of this simulation

  • Concluded that they were right the first time and now it’s too late fro sustainable development
  • Called for harm reduction initiatives

These demographic and ecological pressures vary geographically

  • I.e. people who live in mountains are less informed than those living in seashores
  • The build environment: a universalizing invention
  • City life is very similar from one city to another but very different from cities to not cities
  • Cities are inventions, they don’t happen naturally – the idea of bringing people together in close contact is a bizarre idea
  • In cities you can have resources, artifacts, opportunities
  • Certain kinds of institutions you will only find in cities
    • Opera Houses
    • Big Universities
    • Specialized Hospitals
  • Because of specialized scaled, you can have certain opportunities that you cannot have elsewhere
  • Cities are build environments
  • You can’t have cities until you have in the countryside the ability to grow a surplus of food

The historic growth of cities

  • They are an alternative to feudal agricultural relationships
  • People in the feudal times, majority of the people lived on the people, did not own the land and worked for a feudal lord – not quite enslaved but very restrictive relationship to the person who owned the land
  • If you could escape from the feudal lord and live in the city for a year, you were free
  • Cities meant that nobody could tell you what to do
  • As commerce started to develop, more and more people fled to cities because cities meant freedom
  • This posed a very interesting contrast with rural life
  • Rural life: unchanging, very oppressive, landlord tells you what to do
  • Cities: Populations growing rapidly, nobody controls anybody, people bring different histories, economies of scale allowed for facilities you could not have anywhere else

City and City Life

  • As human population became very large after 1750, it also became increasingly urban
  • With the growth of industrialization you tend to have the growth of industrial cities
  • Division of labour, specialization, more wealth production, more social inequality
  • Huge problems: housing problem, sanitation, violence

Mechanical versus organic solidarity

  • There are no more different social structures than a large city and small village
  • Rural life is built on a different set of principles than cities
  • Durkheim’s concept of “mechanical solidarity” applies only to small homogeneous communities
  • Rural communities are small, cities are large, rural communities unchanging, cities have a large population turnover and growth, everything is changing there
  • In small communities people are simply glued together by similarity
  • In cities people must be glued together by different set of forces which builds on their differences not similarities: ORGANIC SOLIDARITY

Rural life versus urban life

  • Cities are particularly at war with the natural environment
  • The city’s build environment conflicts with the natural environment in many harmful ways

Cities as rich neighbours

  • Cities tend to be rich and non-cities tend to not be rich
  • Country people tend to look at city people as immoral
  • Urbanization is growing worldwide

Concentric Ring theory

  • Cities tend to grow outwards (Burgess)
  • Stretches out to Chicago (The Chicago School)
  • Model doesn’t hold as well for Canadian or European Cities

Lecture 1 (C. Morais)

Estimated Reading Time 00:02:21

Notes by Camilla Morais

SOC103 – Lecture 1 – January 8

  • Social Institution is a shared pattern of behaviour based on relatively stable values
  • Sets clear expectations
  • Have a great deal of meaning and attachment for people
  • No institutions exist without social interaction
  • Any institution is a set of interactional patterns that must be performed
  • Most of social life is extremely predictable and extremely stable
  • We are controlled by behaviours we create
  • According to sociologists, you can put many different people in the same situation and they will act the same way

Different Structures are Based on Different Principles of Organization

  • The are similar in being an institution but function in different ways
    • i.e. family from the government from the church
  • Orientation of the institution – Family: Inward “How to maintain out relationship” School: Not worried about relationship
  • Market-Oriented Social Organization – more likely to “get the job done”
    • Markets very different from other social organization—morally indifferent, no interest in whether you’re selling good stuff or bad stuff
    • Morally Neutral
    • Very different from a family
  • Max Weber – Disenchantment of the world – In pre-industrial societies people have non-scientific notions about life, the world ws an incomprehensible set of events. What we associate in modernity is an increase in control over nature and social life.

Sociology’s Emergence

  • About 200 years ago, early 19th Century, a response to new social problems
  • Three founders of Sociology – Marx Durkheim and Weber
  • Sociologists – Noting and explaining differences
  • What is the ultimate possibility of human life?
  • Looking for social causes in seemingly unique or random circumstances
  • 1943 – Accident-proneness: a large # of people have no significant accidents an those who don’t have any
  • This is socially structured not psychologically
  • It is not a personality trait

1. Functionalism

Durkheim and Suicide (1897)

  • People say he was the one who helped establish sociology as a field of scientific research
  • Classic study of suicide
  • Drawing suicide and psychology
  • Develops theory that there are 4 different types of suicide
  • In order for humans to function effectively need order and attachment – those who kill themselves are those living outside the optimal amount of order and attachment (either too much or too little)
  • Married people have lower suicide than divorce because marriage provides order and attachment
  • Macro sociological work
  • Conformity –

2. Conflict (or critical) theory:

  • Marx and Weber
  • Marx & Engels – Communist Manifesto
  • Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat
  • Capitalist society is a war between have’s and have not’s
  • Results in class conflict
  • Weber – locked in a lifelong debate with Marx (never met, later generation)
  • Believed inequalities could be resulted from any other aspect (not just ncome inequality)
  • Authority – Legitimate power
    • o Power exercised in a justifiable way

3. Symbolic Interactionism

  • How do people make sense to each other?
  • How do you accomplish a relationship?
  • About how we accomplish interaction symbolically