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Sociological Theory
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Say Something
• Read the information on the slide…whether it’s a
picture or written word
• Say Something about what you just read
Make a prediction
Ask a question
Clarify your thinking
Make a connection
Summarize the information so far
• Someone will respond to what you said
• That someone will then repeat the process
The Enlightenment (18th c.)
• “Age of Reason”
• Emergence of the ideal of political liberty
– Societies that were more democratic began to
replace monarchies
• Political revolutions
– French and American revolutions (1789 & 1776)
• Rise of science and rational thought
– Ascendance of science, diminishing importance of
“the church”
Industrial Revolution (19th c.)
• Shift from agrarian to industrial
• Urbanization—“push and pull” economy
• Extremes of wealth and poverty
Changes Brought by the
Industrial Revolution
• Inventions change the way we live and work, e.g.
steam engine in 1763.
• Transportation and communication systems are greatly
enhanced, e.g. trains, telegraph.
• Cities begin to dominate the western world.
• Creates a new social order with the rise of an
influential middle class.
• Poor working conditions for lower classes eventually
lead to new social and political movements.
• Desire for markets and resources entice Europeans to
take over foreign lands (imperialism).
Origins of Sociology
• Sociology as a discipline is the product of two
dramatic social changes:
1. The Enlightenment
2. The Industrial Revolution
Emile Durkheim
Karl Marx
Max Weber
the social forces
that produce
social order and
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
• Key Concepts
– Social Facts (They exist!)
• outside the individual, observable
– Division of Labor
• Mechanical Solidarity vs. Organic Solidarity
– Mechanical = more traditional, shared values, no division of labor
– Organic = more modern, high division of labor, more integrated
society, vast differences of opinion
– Anomie
• Normlessness = condition of society in which people become
detached from the norms that usually guide behavior
how the
system of
affects society
and its people
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
• Key Concepts
– Historical Materialism
• The development of societies is shaped by the ways humans
produce life’s necessities
– Class Struggle
• By its nature, capitalist society is contentious; conflict
between workers (proletariat) and owners/capitalists
– Surplus Value
• The difference between what someone makes off your labor
and what they pay you
– False Consciousness
• Workers’ acceptance and defense of the capitalist system
• Effects of
rationality on
modern Society
• Response to
Not simply
economics that
produce reality, you
need culture too
Max Weber (1864-1920)
• Key Concepts
– Rationalization
• Oriented toward science, calculated, measured,
• Rational vs. non-rational—capitalism is highly rational
• All this rationality eliminates the human component
– Bureaucracy
• Modern society is oppressive, increasingly bureaucratic
because increasingly rational
Three Theoretical Paradigms
• Structural Functionalism
– Society is viewed as composed of various parts, each
with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to
society’s equilibrium
• Conflict Theory
– Society is viewed as composed of groups that are
competing for resources
• Symbolic Interactionism
– Society is viewed as composed of symbols that people
use to establish meaning, develop their views of the
world, and communicate with one another
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