Thursday, January 7, 2010

1/7/10 Class Notes

January 7, 2010

I. Classical and Contemporary Social Theories

a. Connection - There are connection and differences in both Classical and Contemporary Social Theories. The relationship between the two is that Classical Theorists were used in the construction of Contemporary Social Theory. Contemporary Theory is an outcome although there is a separation while still connected to Classical Theory.
b. Separation – Social change causes theory to change, therefore a new set of concepts must be implemented; Classical theory cannot be abandon entirely.
c. Practice – Times change.
d. Dialog - Old concepts are challenged or evolved such as Feminist theory.

II. Robert Merton

a. Neo-functionalist (Talcott Parsons, and American Sociologist) – Structural Functionalism (Parsons determined that each individual has expectations of the other's action and reaction to his own behavior, and that these expectations would (if successful) be "derived" from the accepted norms and values of the society they inhabit. As Parsons himself emphasized, however, in a general context there would never exist any perfect "fit" between behaviors and norms, so such a relation is never complete or "perfect." Social norms were always problematic for Parsons, who never claimed (as has often been alleged) that social norms were generally accepted and agreed upon, should this prevent some kind of universal law. Whether social norms were accepted or not was for Parsons simply a historical question. As behaviors are repeated in more interactions, and these expectations are entrenched or institutionalized, a role is created. Parsons defines a "role" as the normatively-regulated participation "of a person in a concrete process of social interaction with specific, concrete role-partners. Although any individual, theoretically, can fulfill any role, she is expected to conform to the norms governing the nature of the role she fulfils.
b. Macro-Oriented approach is too abstract - Merton has a problem with this because it becomes less scientific. Too broad is a problem because the imperial cannot be tested – less scientific – micro is also not the way to go. Meso-approach (middle range approach). Allows in between the micro and the macro.
c. Function - Social function causes dysfunction. Example: The current banking system – Then we Merton ask, “Functional for whom?” Functional for a male dominated society.
d. Manifest and Latent functions – Manifest is intended while latent is unintended (Parson focused on Manifest (intended). Example: The rain dance – in which individuals dance in order to make rain (manifest) while group solidarity is formed (latent).