Scientific Revolution

Lecture One
& Two
Sociological Analysis: Theoretical
The Origins of Sociology
The sociological discipline emerged at the end of
the 19th C at the intersection of 3 major revolutions
Scientific Revolution: idea that we can objectively study
Democratic Revolution: idea that ‘the people’ are
responsible for making decisions that shape and change
society (not God)
Industrial Revolution: created significant and lasting
changes in society and people’s daily lives
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Association of Marx with Communism
obscure his contribution to sociology and his
ideas. Communism is a later application of
his ideas.
Marx focused on the economic relations of
society as the source and solution of social
He believed that social scientist’s task is to
analyze and explain conflict, which drives social
Emile Durkheim (1858-1918)
While Marx was concerned with the source of
conflict in society, Durkheim wondered what
tied people to each other and society
Focused on division of labor in society
Durkheim believed that the social scientist’s
task is to analyze and explain solidarity and
the mechanisms through which it is achieved
Max Weber (1864-1920)
Weber believed that the structure of society could be
explained by observing the behavior of people in
society that supports that structure and the
ideas/values that motivate those actions.
Focused on how society became rationally organized
Weber believed that social scientist’s task is to explain
the course and consequences of social action
He was concerned with social actions and the meaning people
attach to their behavior.
Why are the DWEM’s still relevant?
Early sociologists studied the rapid and far-reaching
changes that brought by Industrialization; these
changes are the foundation of the society we live in
Globalization – cultural, social, and economic
Post-Industrial society – economy based on services and
Rationalization – dominance of value-rational
Division of labor and specialization – jobs, education,
Studying the Social World
The major theoretical approaches are important to
compare and contrast because they make different
assumptions about the social world and have
different answers
Sociologists ground their research and analysis in a
theoretical approach to:
Ask the right questions
Guides research methods
Organize empirical observations and conclusions
Some sociologists use ONLY one approach all the
time and some use the perspective that best
addresses the question at hand.
Functionalist approach believes that society
works toward equilibrium and stability
According to functionalism society is a system of
interrelated parts – economy, family, religion,
mass media, etc.
Each of society’s parts function to maintain the
stability of the larger system
Main questions asked by functionalists: How do the
institutions (parts) of society contribute to social
stability and/or instability?
Marxist/Conflict Theory
In contrast to functionalists who focus on order and
stability, the conflict approach focuses on conflict
and social change.
According to the conflict approach, society is based
on conflict between social groups
Patterns of inequality create social stability in some
circumstances and social change in others
Social conditions are the expression of the ongoing power
struggle between groups
The main question asked by the conflict approach
is: Who benefits from a particular pattern or social
arrangement and at whose expense?
Symbolic Interactionism
In contrast to functionalism and conflict theory,
which assumes that people’s group membership
determine their behavior (race, class, etc.), symbolic
interactionism focuses on how people’s ideas/values
shape their behavior
Symbolic Interactionism assumes that social life is
possible because people attach meaning to it.
Main question asked by symbolic interactionsim is
how do individuals communicate and interact to
make social life meaningful?
Putting them into practice…
How do we explain the gender wage
Is education the great equalizer?
High School Diploma:
BA/BS Degree:
men = $32K women = $22K
men = $51K women = $36K
men = $77K women $56K
How do we explain the wage gap?
Use the theory
assigned to your
group to explain the
gender wage gap.
1 and 4= Structural
2 and 5= Conflict
3 and 6 = Symbolic