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Principles of Sociology, Dissertation – Discussion Example

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Dissertation - Discussion
  1. What are several personal benefits of learning to use the sociological perspective?

Sociological perspectives dating back to the nineteenth century forged a new path in the ways in which the study of human cultures and society, in all times and places, and in all their myriad forms. The primary benefit of focusing on social formations rather than mere psychological content is that interpretation of the “the universal” looks beyond individual identities and analyzes how society is built through active social struggle. Results to sociological inquiries often challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about controversial topics like race, science, religion, gender, sexuality, and media politics; and their social construction upon, within, and through individual experience.

  1. Explain the focus of the structural-functional approach.

Inter-War in locus, the Structural Functional Approach to Anthropological and Sociological theory was based in Modernist concepts of ‘whole’ systems, by which interconnected social institutions work in unison toward maintenance of a social structure. Vested in ‘social facts’ Functionalism as understood by European thinkers immediately precedent to this period like early French Sociologist Emilé Durkheim, the Positivist strains within this theoretical school reflect the Civil Legal tradition, and its proscriptive statutory codification of post Revolution France. The School also had later impact with the work of Talcott Parsons, and served as the primary assumption in Sociology throughout the twentieth century.

  1. Explain the focus of the social-conflict approach.

The Social-Conflict Approach emerged in the 1960s in response to Neo-Marxist thought, and the surrounding events of the Vietnam War, the Anti-War Movement, Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Movement, and subsequent Gay and Lesbian Movement. Based upon the concept of hegemonic evolution by way of activist agendas, the Social Conflict theorists spearheaded the political format for ‘doing politics’ through public intellectual activities. The approach is often applied to situations of violence or toward interpretation of past incidences of tensions between groups, and looks to the ‘process’ of conflict and its resolution as the primary resource to substantiation of democratic institutions.

  1. Explain the focus of the symbolic-interaction approach.

The breadth of Symbolic Interactionism within Sociological theory can be seen in the development of new ethnographic methods for tackling less ‘rationalized’ aspects of knowledge production within cultural and social life. For instance, early ‘processual interpretation’ by Ethnographer, Victor Turner which included Van Gennep’s Rites de Passage model in participant observation of ‘others’. Turner’s legacy of ‘process’ in temporal and spatial relations later informed performance theory methods, and especially Clifford Gertz’ mobilization of Hermeneutics discourse analysis methodologies for interface of semiotic meaning between patterns of thought and belief throughout the narrative. How people live what they say, and vice versa.

  1. How do material and nonmaterial culture differ?

Sociologists are interested in both material and nonmaterial cultural studies. The distinction between the two is inferred in analysis of relationships rather than objects or structural processes linked to the market (i.e. work). Interestingly, Ethnographers might reconcile the two (i.e. ritual exchange). Convergence is found in the work of Neo-Marxists whom look to historical materialism for recuperation of nonmaterial cultural forms. Sociologists are often dependent upon material properties and experiences to gauge and even build theoretical legitimacy into their studies toward interpretation of the ‘real.’ In short, the tension between the two is at the crux of Sociology as ‘Science.’

  1. What is the difference between folkways and mores? Give an example of each.

Anecdotal evidence for distinguishing between ‘folkways’ and mores, is most explicit within the work of self-defined ‘Folk’ artists; whom base their cultural craftwork in ‘outside’ of Society praxis, and to the exclusion (and oft without knowledge of) official institutional authority, and especially ‘conventions.’ Mores on the other hand are socially acceptable practices or sets of practices that offer implied rules to live by in a particular society at a given moment. While all folkways have mores implied within social praxis, mores do not always contain – at least recognizable – iterative or acknowledged ‘folk’ knowledge as basis for decision making models and normative rules.

  1. What are ethnocentrism and cultural relativism?

Although Sociologists have always been at work denouncing ‘ethnocentrism’ and touting ‘cultural relativism’ as primary ontological foundation to ‘objectivity of the discipline as a ‘Social Science,’ contentious discussion on the two topics coincides with the ‘co-optation’ of Sociology by minorities and women. As the field evolved expansion to incorporation of actors once outside the historical tradition of conducting ethnographic research beyond ‘subject’ into ‘scientist,’ it instigated controversial and reflexive knowledge towards sometimes radical shifts in theoretical discourse and application. No longer the exclusive provenance of ‘white men’ the discipline incorporates various perspectives from society in aspiration of full objectivity.

  1. What, according to George Herbert Mead, is the meaning of the “self”?

One of the earliest Social Psychologists to work toward a Sociological method, George Herbert Mead’s turn of the twentieth century ‘Self’ is recognized through prioritization of social influences on individuals as a means to building the internal logic of ‘identity.’ Specifically interested in how ‘selves’ come into being, Mead’s theories on the self in society initiated the discussion on the development of group social identities, and was followed by thinkers such as Goffman whom focused on the negotiation of the ‘Self’ as a performative identity instantiated by role playing.

  1. Cite several ways in which the family is central to the process of socialization.

As key topic within Sociological query, the Family is considered the core root of social psychological developments of individuals, and the natural model for interpretation of a panoply of universally accepted  social institutions. Not only the primary mover in construction of individual identities and social habits, the family is addressed by sociologists as the basic economic unit, and its centrality within legal and political social institutions – from natural law as civil law, and social services.

  1. Explain Erik Erikson’s claim that socialization is a life-long process.

Unlike early Sociologists, Erik Erikson argues that socialization is a life-long process built through continuous redefinition of the self in society. Prior theories often interpreted individuals as ‘complete’ which resembled stasis in socialization, yet Erikson deems this idea too simple. Countering earlier schools and their attachment to structural functionalism his thought accounts for monumental shifts in economic, intellectual and technological advancements. Even at the level of minutia of interpersonal relations, Erikson’s theory allows for us to expand our idea about society toward a new version of history that may or may not repeat itself.

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