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30 Cards in this Set

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What does Weber say an adequate sociological explanation involves?

1. The level of cause - explaining the objective structural factor explaining people's behaviour.

2. The level of meaning - understanding the subjective meanings attached to individuals actions.

For example, Calvinists

The types of actions proposed by Weber?

1. Instrumentally rational actions: Is where the actor calculates the most efficient means of achieving a goal.

2. Value rational action: involves action towards a goal that the actor regards as desirable for its own sake. For example, worshipping god to get to heaven.

3. Traditional Action: Involves routine, habitual or customary actions. do it because we have always done it like.

4. Affectual action: Actions that express emotion. Important in religous and political movements.

Evaluation of Weber

Useful approach that uses both the structural factors and understanding of the actors meanings.

- Weber's typology of action is difficult to apply as an action can fall into more than one category. For example, the trobriand tribe gave a gift to the neighbouring village called Kula which seen as traditional but also instrumental.

- He advocates an empathic understanding of the actors subjective meaning but is this possible since we can never know for sure if we understood the actors meanings.

How does Schutz evaluate Weber?

Weber's views of action is too individualistic and cannot explain the shared nature of meanings.

For example, during an auction one raises there arm to bid, but weber doesn't explain how everyone else present also comes to give the gesture the same meaning.

What does G.H Mead argue regarding Symbols versus instincts?

Before we respond to the stimulus, we interpret its meaning and then choose an appropriate response.

That we do not have an automatic instinct response towards actions like animals, for example, a dog snarls and the second dog present would instinctively become in a defensive position. Fist example - fighting or joking?

What does G.H Mead argue regarding taking the role of the other?

We interpret the meaning of others by taking the role of others where we put ourselves in the role of the other person and see ourselves as they see us. we learn this through imitative play such as taking the role of parents or teachers.

To function as society, we need to ability to see ourselves as others see us to become conscious of the ways of acting that is required of us.

the 3 key principles of Herbert Blumer?

1. Our actions are based on the meanings we give to situations, events, people etc.

2. These meanings arise from the interaction process which are not fixed but negotiable.

3. The meanings we give to situations are the results of the interpretive procedures we use. e.g. taking the role of others.

How does Blumer's view contrast the structural theorist views?

As they see the individuals as puppets, passively responding to the system needs. However, Blumer argues that although our action is partly predictable because we have internalised the expectations of others, it is not completely fixed but negotiable and choice on how to perform our roles.

What are the three interactionist concepts underpin the labelling theory?

1. A definition of a situation; a definition is a label of something.

2. The looking glass self; Charles Cooley

3. Career; a career is the stages through which an individual progresses in their occupation, each with its own status, job title and problems

What did Thomas Argue?

That if people define a situation as real, then there would be real consequences, if we believe something is true, it will affect how we act and therefore the consequences.

For example, if a teacher labels a boy troublesome, the teacher will likely act differently towards him and therefore punishing him more harshly.

Concept underpinning labelling theory!

1. A definition of a situation; a definition is a label of something.

What did Cooley Argue?

self concept arises out of our ability to take the role of others and by doing so we see how others see ourselves which creates a self fulfilling process - we become what we think others see us as.

Concept underpinning labelling theory!

2. The looking glass self; Charles Cooley

What did Becker and Lemert Argue?

Extend the concepts of career to apply it to groups. Individuals have a career path which runs through different stages e.g. pre patient, in patient, discharge.

What does interactionists theory emphasise?

Generally regarded as a volunteristic theory that emphasises free will and choice in how we act.

However accused as being a theory of determinism - of seeing ations and behaviour of people being shaped by the way others label them.

What does Goffman Argue?

Describes how we actively construct our self by manipulating other people's impression of us.

Goffman argument about impression management?

Impression management:

We study our audience to see how they respond, and monitor and adjust our performance to create a convincing image.

two important concepts of presentation of self and impression management. Use language, tones, clothes, gestures, expressions to give an impression off. Analogy; At the theatre there is a front and back stage where we put on an act in the front but are normal in the back. in a classroom and in the common room for example.

Goffman argument about roles?

Differ from functionalism who see roles as tightly scripted and through socialisation the roles we play become our identity and society determines how we play them.

Goffman rejects the view, arguing that there is a gap between ourselves and our roles - we are not really the role we play as the actor of hamlet is not actually hamlet. Roles are loosely scripted by society where we can choose how to play them. For example, strict or easy going teachers.

We dont always believe our roles and are often cynical or calculating in our performance to conceal our true self and motives.

Evaluation of Symbolic Interactionism

Largely avoids the determinism of structural theories as it recognises people construct society.

- Critics argue it is merely a loose collection of descriptive concepts rather than explanatory theories.

- Focuses on face to face interaction and ignores wider structures such as class inequality,

- Fails to explain the origins of labels.

-It cannot explain the consistent patterns of people's behaviour. Functionalists Norms dictating behaviour.

-Not all actions are meaningful like webers category of traditional actions and so interactionism lacks the explanation.

-Goffman's analogy is useful but limited as interactions are often improvised and unrehearsed.

-Ethnomethodologists - fails to explain how actors create meaning

How reynolds evaluate symbolic interactionism

a study of 124 interactionist sociologist asking to identify the most essential concepts, only 2 responded with power or class this showing interactionists lack the concept of structure.

What is Husserls Philosophy?

The world only makes sense because we impose meaning and order on it by constructing mental categories that we use to classify and file information and therefore the world is and can only be the product of our mind.

Alfred Schutz view of typifications?

EG. raising your hand in a class room and at an auction have different meanings.

Meanings vary according to the social context. Typifications stabilise and classify meaningsby ensuring we are all 'speaking the same language' which makes it possible for us to communicate and thus achieve our goals. Without shared typifications, social order would be impossible.

Recipe knowledge

The social world is a shared intersubjective world which can only exist when we share the same meanings.

What does the term recipe knowledge mean?

Members of society have a common sense knowledge and typifications that we use to make sense of our experience. For example, everyone knows red light means to stop and this ensures we drive safely.

Why does the natural world seem real?

Alfred Schutz view

Society appears to us as real, objective thing outisde of us and that for the world to co-operate and achieve goals we must share the same meanings.


How does Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann criticise Schutz?

They reject his view that society is merely inter subjective reality as although society is socially constructed once it has been constructed, it takes on a life of its own and becomes an external reality that reacts back to on us. EG. religion and church.

Ethnomethodology - Garfinkel indexicality and reflexivity.

Nothing has fixed meaning and it is dependent upon the context like Schutz.

Now indexicality is a threat to social order as it can become difficult to co-operate and understand each other. Indexicality suggests we cannot take any meaning for granted as fixed or clear yet this is what we do every day life. What enables us to to behave as if meanings are clear and obvious is reflexivity. this is the common sense knowledge in everyday interactions.

Language is important for reflexivity as when we describe something, we are simultaneously creating it and our description removes uncertainty.

Garfinkel experiment shows what?

experiment to disrupt normal sense of order and challenge their reflexivity by undermining their assumptions about a situation. e.g. parents of students who behaved as lodgers became bewildered, anxious, embarrased or angry.

This concludes that by challenging people's assumptions shows how the orderliness of every day situations is not inevitable but is actually an accomplishment for those involved.

Evaluation of Ethnomethodology

Craib argues its findings are trivial - spent a lot of time uncovering taken for granted rules that turn out to be no surprise to anyone. One study found in a phone conversation, only one person speaks at a time.

Denies the existence of wider society as seeing it as a shared fiction but functionalists argue such norms and wider society are social facts not fiction.

Ignores how wider structures of power and inequality affect the meanings that individuals construct. Marxists argue common sense knowledge is just a ruling class ideology.

Giddens structuration theory?

there is a duality of structure - structure and action where neither can exist without the other.

For example language is a structure with its own grammar rules and this exists independently. However, the structure also depends on the actions as a language would not exist if no one uses it.

Giddens Reproduction of Structures though agency?

Structure has two elements:

rules (norms, laws,) and resources (materials, technology etc.)

Rules and resources can be either reproduced or changed, through human action. e.g. obeying law, reproduces existing structure while inventing technology may change it.

We reproduce the structure more than we change it because:

1. Society's rules contain a stock of knowledge on how to live life and so we create a routine which reproduces the structure.

2. Because we have a deap seated need for for ontological security - the world is really as it appears to be and that it is stable and orderly and predictable which tends to encourage actions that maintain the structure.

Giddens Changes of structure through agency

We also change society through two ways:

1. reflexivity monitor where we constantly reflect our actions and as a result we can directly change to a new course of action. more likely to occur in late or high modern society as tradition no longer dictates actions.

2. Unintended consequences of our actions - Calvinists creating capitalists

Evaluation of Giddens

Gidden implies that actors can change structures by simply willing to do so - Archer argues that he underestimates the capacity of structures to resist change - slaves wanting to abolish slavery,

Craib argues that the structuration theory ain't a theory at all as it doesn't explain what happens in society but describes the kinds of things we would find in society.

Fails to explain ho his theory applies to large scale structures such as the economy and state.