ISBN pp. October It does so through a series of ethnographic encounters, from kings to condoms, which expose the ways in which biomedical understanding of the virus have been rejected by — and incorporated into — local understandings of health, illness, sex and death. The policy implications are clear: African worldviews must be taken seriously if AIDS interventions in Africa are to become successful.
ISBN: , c. War and the Crisis of Youth in Sierra Leone by Krijn Peters The armed conflict in Sierra Leone and the extreme violence of the main rebel faction — the Revolutionary United Front RUF — have challenged scholars and members of the international community to come up with explanations. Up to this point though, conclusions about the nature of the war and the RUF are mainly drawn from accounts of civilian victims or based on interpretations and rationalisations offered by commentators who had access to only one side of the war.
The present study addresses this currently incomplete understanding of the conflict by focusing on the direct experiences and interpretations of protagonists, paying special attention to the hitherto neglected, and often under-age, cadres of the RUF. Rather, it points to a rural crisis expressed in terms of unresolved tensions between landowners and marginalised rural youth — an unaddressed crisis of youth that currently manifests itself in many African countries — further reinforced and triggered by a collapsing patrimonial state.
Krijn Peters , a rural development sociologist by background, is a lecturer in the Department of Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University, Wales. January Obafemi Awolowo and the Making of Remo: the local politics of a Nigerian nationalist Insa Nolte This book examines the evolution of a distinctive Yoruba community, Remo, and the central role played in this process by the Remo-born Nationalist politician and Yoruba leader Obafemi Awolowo — Based on a subtle analysis of local-level politics, this book argues that participatory structures play an important role both in Yoruba politics and in the African postcolonial state.
This admirable and richly textured book should be widely read not only by those interested in Yoruba history and modern Nigeria but by all those who seek a mature understanding of the intricate connections between local and national politics. Nolte provides powerful insights on the towering stature of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the preeminent politician of the era, along with the social dimensions of power, the richness of political networks, institutional conflicts, the construction of mythologies of power and popular loyalty, and many more crucial topics, all ably analyzed with clarity and precision.
Read the review here PDF. Reproduced by permission of the Nigerian Tribune. To read an interview with the author about why she wrote the book published in the Nigerian Tribune, see a PDF of the interview here. June Beyond the State in Rural Uganda Ben Jones In this innovative study, Ben Jones argues that scholars too often assume that the state is the most important force behind change in local political communities in Africa. Studies look to the state, and to the impact of government reforms, as ways of understanding processes of development and change. He offers a new anthropological perspective on how to think about processes of social and political change in poorer parts of the world.
For more information, and to read his articles, click here. Or read his remarks on the relationship between the development project and the media here. ISBN , pp. The Politics of Religious Change on the Upper Guinea Coast: iconoclasm done and undone Ramon Sarro Based on research spanning over twelve years, this is an in-depth analysis of an iconoclastic religious movement initiated by a Muslim preacher among coastal Baga farmers in the French colonial period.
With an ethnographic approach that listens as carefully to those who suffered iconoclastic violence as to those who wanted to 'get rid of custom', Sarro discusses the extent to which iconoclasm produces a rupture of religious knowledge and identity, and analyses its relevance in the making of modern nations and citizens. The book will appeal to readers with an interest in the anthropology of religion, iconoclasm, the history and anthropology of West Africa, or the politics of heritage.
Ramon Sarro brings us a page-turner on the social history of one of the least well known states in West Africa Masquerades of Modernity: power and secrecy in Casamance, Senegal Ferdinand de Jong The Jola and Mandinko people of the Casamance region in Senegal have always used their rituals and performances to incorporate the impact of Islam, colonialism, capitalism, and contemporary politics.
Their performances of secrecy have accommodated these modern powers and continue to do so today. The performers incorporate the modern and redefine modernity through secretive practices. Their traditions are not modern inventions, but traditional ways of dealing with modernity. How do those on the margins of modernity face the challenges of globalization? This book demonstrates that secrecy is one of the means by which a society on the fringe of modernity produces itself as locality. Focusing on initiation rituals, masked performances and modern art, this study shows that rituals and performances long deemed obsolete, serve the insertion of their performers in the world at their own terms.
The book will interest anthropologists, historians, political scientists and all those studying how globalisation affects peripheral societies. It shows that secrecy, performed as a weapon of the weak, empowers their performers. Secrecy serves to mark boundaries and define the local in the global.
Weaving together different domains and social spaces in which politics, gender, kinship, identity, economy and religion s meet, Ferdinand de Jong has written a rich, stimulating and nuanced text that provides a kaleidoscopic view. It focuses on the charismatic priests and priestesses who are possessed by a pantheon of deities, the communities of devotees, and the artists who make artifacts for their shrines.
The visual arts are part of a wider configuration of practices that include song, dance, possession and healing. These practices provide the means for exploring the relationships of the visual to both the verbal and performance arts that feature at these shrines. The analysis in this book raises fundamental questions about how the art of Benin, and non-Western art histories more generally, are understood.
The book throws critical light on the taken-for-granted assumptions which underpin current interpretations and presents an original and revisionist account of Benin art history. Philosophizing in Mombasa: knowledge, Islam and intellectual practice at the Swahili coast Kai Kresse Philosophising in Mombasa provides an approach to the anthropological study of philosophical discourses in the Swahili context of Mombasa, Kenya. In this historically established Muslim environment, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, philosophy is investigated as social discourse and intellectual practice, situated in everyday life.
This is done from the perspective of an 'anthropology of philosophy'. Herskovits Award. The Man-Leopard Murders: history and society in colonial Nigeria David Pratten This book is an account of murder and politics in Africa, and an historical ethnography of southern Annang communities during the colonial period. Its narrative leads to events between and when the imperial gaze of police, press and politicians was focused on a series of mysterious deaths in south-eastern Nigeria attributed to the 'man-leopard society'.
These murder mysteries, reported as the 'biggest, strangest murder hunt in the world', were not just forensic but also related to the broad historical impact of commercial, Christian and colonial aid relations on Annang society. Islam and the Prayer Economy: history and authority in a Malian town Benjamin Soares At a time when so-called fundamentalism has become the privileged analytical frame for understanding Muslim societies past and present, this study offers an alternative perspective on Islam.
Soares provides a richly detailed discussion of Sufism, Islamic reform, and other contemporary ways of being Muslim in Mali and offers an original analytical perspective for understanding changes in the practice of Islam more generally. Soares is at the University of Florida, Gainesville. ISBN: , paperback. Medicine Murders in Colonial Lesotho: the anatomy of a moral crisis Colin Murray and Peter Sanders Medicine murder involved the cutting of body parts from victims, usually while they were still alive, to be used for the preparation of medicines intended to enhance the power of the perpetrators.
It gave rise to a dramatic crisis of late colonial rule. Was this increase a real one? If so, why did it happen? How far does if explain the crisis? What other factors contributed? This book is destined to be one of the classics of African historical and anthropological studies. The Islamic uprising of the s, which established a class of Islamic clerics in positions of authority in the Senegal river valley, had long-term consequences for the social relations between clerics and caste groups.
The book examines how at different historical junctures attempts were made to negotiate the equalitarian claims of a universalist faith with the expression of social differentiation lying at the heart of caste inequality. While the existing literature focuses on those who established Islam within the region, this present work provides insights into how marginalised artisans, poets and musicians understood themselves and how they responded to a faith which had become the cornerstone of social prestige and status. It analyses the knowledge practices of clerics and cultural distinction.
This involves a synthesis of historical sources and ethnography and provides an innovative approach to the study of religious identity and specialist practitioners. Theatres of Struggle and the End of Apartheid Belinda Bozzoli This is a compelling study of the origins and trajectory of a legendary black uprising against apartheid - the Alexandra Rebellion of It examines how the residents of Alexandra - a poverty-stricken, segregated township in Johannesburg - manipulated and overturned the meanings of space, time and power in their sequestered world; how they used political theatre to convey, stage and dramatise their struggle; and how young and old residents generated differing ideologies and tactics, giving rise to a distinct form of generational politics.
Theatres of Struggle asks the reader to enter into the world of the rebels, and to overcome the moral complexity and social duress they experienced as they invented new social forms and violently attacked old ones. Population and Progress in a Yoruba Town Elisha Renne This study of local perceptions of population and development in a rural south-western Nigerian town questions some of the underlying assumptions of the demographic theory of fertility transition. As this study demonstrates, neither fertility change nor development follows a universal trajectory.
Whether lower fertility or Western models of development are viewed as possible or advantageous reflects cultural ideas about proper social relations as well as political economic conditions, which hinder or facilitate these changes. Elisha P. The book offers unparalleled detail and insight into the contributions of mission schooling to the processes of postcolonial identity formation in Africa.
This is an outstanding ethnography of an African school. Professor Alan Paterson of Strathclyde University was consultant to this project. Morley, Department of Psychology, University of Warwick. With Prof. Domberger, University of Sydney.
The Law Society - Preparation of a scheme of training in advocacy for solicitors in the light of the Green Papers, Spring Macfarlanes in-house training, ethics, management and competence of lawyers - Consultancy in commercial litigation practice with Coward Chance, Where Science Meets Law. Sherr, A. Goriely and F. C, Paterson, A. Webley, L. Moorhead, R. November , Sherr, A. H, Goriely, T. Lawyers - The Quality Agenda. HMSO, London Freedom of Protest, Public Order and the Law. Basil Blackwell, Oxford, Citizens Advisory Bureaux, , Sherr, A. Cane and J. Conaghan Eds. The New Oxford Companion to Law.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. Evaluation of welfare rights advice in primary care: the general practice perspective, Sherr, A. Rider, Ed. Hart Publications, Oxford H , with Sherr, L. Serpolloni, G. Discrimination and HIV. Sherr L. Orchard S. Moorhead, R L Paterson, A.
Chapter in Bishop, M. P ed Wiley Assessing the Outcomes of Personal Injury Cases. Racial Incitement Law in the United Kingdom. Praeger, U. Domberger and Sherr Revisited. Aspectos Legales de la Muerte. Chapter in Sherr, L. Legal Aid and Quality: Who Decides? Professional Legal Education.
The Modern Law Review, June It also creates significant social costs for the medical system. Pollan argues that obesity is in part a product of the increasingly sedentary and stressful lifestyle of modern, capitalist society, but more importantly it is a product of the industrialization of the food chain, which since the s has produced increasingly cheap and abundant food with significantly more calories due to processing.
Additives like corn syrup, which are much cheaper to produce than natural sugars, led to the trend of super-sized fast foods and soft drinks in the s. As Pollan argues, trying to find a processed food in the supermarket without a cheap, calorie-rich, corn-based additive is a challenge. By looking at individuals and societies and how they interact through this lens, sociologists are able to examine what influences behaviour, attitudes, and culture.
By applying systematic and scientific methods to this process, they try to do so without letting their own biases and pre-conceived ideas influence their conclusions.
All sociologists are interested in the experiences of individuals and how those experiences are shaped by interactions with social groups and society as a whole. To a sociologist, the personal decisions an individual makes do not exist in a vacuum. Cultural patterns and social forces put pressure on people to select one choice over another.
Sociologists try to identify these general patterns by examining the behaviour of large groups of people living in the same society and experiencing the same societal pressures. Understanding the relationship between the individual and society is one of the most difficult sociological problems, however. Partly this is because of the reified way these two terms are used in everyday speech.
This conventional distinction between society and the individual is a product of reification in so far as both society and the individual appear as independent objects. As we will see in the chapters to come, society and the individual are neither objects, nor are they independent of one another. The problem for sociologists is that these concepts of the individual and society and the relationship between them are thought of in terms established by a very common moral framework in modern democratic societies, namely that of individual responsibility and individual choice.
Talking about society is akin to being morally soft or lenient. Sociology, as a social science, remains neutral on these type of moral questions. The conceptualization of the individual and society is much more complex. The sociological problem is to be able to see the individual as a thoroughly social being and yet as a being who has agency and free choice. Individuals are beings who do take on individual responsibilities in their everyday social roles and risk social consequences when they fail to live up to them. The manner in which they take on responsibilities and sometimes the compulsion to do so are socially defined however.
Yet at the same time a society is nothing but the ongoing social relationships and activities of specific individuals. They all expressed desires to be able to deal with their drug addiction issues, return to their families, and assume their responsibilities when their sentences were complete.
They wanted to have their own places with nice things in them. However, according to the CBC report, 80 percent of the prison population in the Saskatchewan Correctional Centre were aboriginal and 20 percent of those were gang members. This is consistent with national statistics on aboriginal incarceration which showed that in —, the aboriginal incarceration rate was 10 times higher than for the non-aboriginal population. While aboriginal people account for about 4 percent of the Canadian population, in they made up Aboriginal overrepresentation in prisons has continued to grow substantially Office of the Correctional Investigator The outcomes of aboriginal incarceration are also bleak.
The federal Office of the Correctional Investigator summarized the situation as follows. Aboriginal inmates are:. This is clearly a case in which the situation of the incarcerated inmates interviewed on the CBC program has been structured by historical social patterns and power relationships that confront aboriginal people in Canada generally. How do we understand it at the individual level however, at the level of personal decision making and individual responsibilities? One young inmate described how, at the age of 13, he began to hang around with his cousins who were part of a gang.
He was expelled from school for recruiting gang members. The only job he ever had was selling drugs. The circumstances in which he and the other inmates had entered the gang life and the difficulties getting out of it they knew awaited them when they left prison reflect a set of decision-making parameters fundamentally different than those facing most non-aboriginal people in Canada.
A key basis of the sociological perspective is the concept that the individual and society are inseparable. It is impossible to study one without the other. German sociologist Norbert Elias called the process of simultaneously analyzing the behaviour of individuals and the society that shapes that behaviour figuration. He described it through a metaphor of dancing. There can be no dance without the dancers, but there can be no dancers without the dance.
Without a dance, there is just a group of people moving around a floor. Similarly, there is no society without the individuals that make it up, and there are also no individuals who are not affected by the society in which they live Elias Since ancient times, people have been fascinated by the relationship between individuals and the societies to which they belong.
The ancient Greeks might be said to have provided the foundations of sociology through the distinction they drew between physis nature and nomos law or custom. If human social life was the product of an invariable human or biological nature, all cultures would be the same.
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The concerns of the later Greek philosophers Socrates — BCE , Plato — BCE , and Aristotle — BCE with the ideal form of human community the polis or city-state can be derived from the ethical dilemmas of this difference between human nature and human norms. In the 13th century, Ma Tuan-Lin, a Chinese historian, first recognized social dynamics as an underlying component of historical development in his seminal encyclopedia, General Study of Literary Remains. The study charted the historical development of Chinese state administration from antiquity in a manner akin to contemporary institutional analyses.
Key to his analysis was the distinction between the sedentary life of cities and the nomadic life of pastoral peoples like the Bedouin and Berbers. The sedentaries of the city entered into a different cycle in which esprit de corp is subsumed to institutional power and political factions and the need to be focused on subsistence is replaced by a trend toward increasing luxury, ease and refinements of taste.
Not only was the framework for sociological knowledge established in these events, but also the initial motivation for creating a science of society. Early sociologists like Comte and Marx sought to formulate a rational, evidence-based response to the experience of massive social dislocation and unprecedented social problems brought about by the transition from the European feudal era to capitalism. The development of modern science provided the model of knowledge needed for sociology to move beyond earlier moral, philosophical, and religious types of reflection on the human condition.
Rationalism sought the laws that governed the truth of reason and ideas, and in the hands of early scientists like Galileo and Newton, found its highest form of expression in the logical formulations of mathematics. Empiricism sought to discover the laws of the operation of the world through the careful, methodical, and detailed observation of the world.
The new scientific worldview therefore combined the clear and logically coherent conceptual formulation of propositions from rationalism with an empirical method of inquiry based on observation through the senses. Sociology adopted these core principles to emphasize that claims about society had to be clearly formulated and based on evidence-based procedures. The rigid hierarchy of medieval society was not a God-given eternal order, but a human order that could be challenged and improved upon through human intervention.
Society came to be seen as both historical and the product of human endeavours. Age of Enlightenment philosophers like Locke, Voltaire, Montaigne, and Rousseau developed general principles that could be used to explain social life. Their emphasis shifted from the histories and exploits of the aristocracy to the life of ordinary people. Significantly for modern sociology they proposed that the use of reason could be applied to address social ills and to emancipate humanity from servitude.
Wollstonecraft for example argued that simply allowing women to have a proper education would enable them to contribute to the improvement of society, especially through their influence on children. The Industrial Revolution in a strict sense refers to the development of industrial methods of production, the introduction of industrial machinery, and the organization of labour in new manufacturing systems. These economic changes emblemize the massive transformation of human life brought about by the creation of wage labour, capitalist competition, increased mobility, urbanization, individualism, and all the social problems they wrought: poverty, exploitation, dangerous working conditions, crime, filth, disease, and the loss of family and other traditional support networks, etc.
It was a time of great social and political upheaval with the rise of empires that exposed many people—for the first time—to societies and cultures other than their own. Millions of people were moving into cities and many people were turning away from their traditional religious beliefs. Wars, strikes, revolts, and revolutionary actions were reactions to underlying social tensions that had never existed before and called for critical examination. It did not emerge as a unified science, however, as its founders brought distinctly different perspectives to its early formulations.
In , the term was reinvented by Auguste Comte — He became a secretary of the utopian socialist philosopher Claude Henri de Rouvroy Comte de Saint-Simon — until they had a falling out in after St. Nevertheless, they both thought that society could be studied using the same scientific methods utilized in the natural sciences. Comte proposed a renewed, organic spiritual order in which the authority of science would be the means to reconcile the people in each social strata with their place in the order.
Comte named the scientific study of social patterns positivism. He described his philosophy in a well-attended and popular series of lectures, which he published as The Course in Positive Philosophy — and A General View of Positivism His main sociological theory was the law of three stages , which held that all human societies and all forms of human knowledge evolve through three distinct stages from primitive to advanced: the theological, the metaphysical, and the positive.
The key variable in defining these stages was the way a people understand the concept of causation or think about their place in the world. In the theological stage, humans explain causes in terms of the will of anthropocentric gods the gods cause things to happen. This was the basis of his critique of the Enlightenment philosophers whose ideas about natural rights and freedoms had led to the French Revolution but also to the chaos of its aftermath. This lead to irreconcilable conflict and moral anarchy.
Finally, in the positive stage, humans explain causes in terms of scientific procedures and laws i. Comte believed that this would be the final stage of human social evolution because science would reconcile the division between political factions of order and progress by eliminating the basis for moral and intellectual anarchy. The application of positive philosophy would lead to the unification of society and of the sciences Comte More specifically, for Comte, positivism:. Karl Marx — was a German philosopher and economist. In he and Friedrich Engels — co-authored the Communist Manifesto.
This book is one of the most influential political manuscripts in history. Whereas Comte viewed the goal of sociology as recreating a unified, post-feudal spiritual order that would help to institutionalize a new era of political and social stability, Marx developed a critical analysis of capitalism that saw the material or economic basis of inequality and power relations as the cause of social instability and conflict.
In this way the goal of sociology would not simply be to scientifically analyze or objectively describe society, but to use a rigorous scientific analysis as a basis to change it. This framework became the foundation of contemporary critical sociology. This type of understanding could only ever lead to a partial analysis of social life according to Marx. Instead he believed that societies grew and changed as a result of the struggles of different social classes over control of the means of production. Marx argues therefore that the consciousness or ideas people have about the world develop from changes in this material, economic basis.
As such, the ideas of people in hunter-gatherer societies will be different than the ideas of people in feudal societies, which in turn will be different from the ideas of people in capitalist societies. The source of historical change and transition between different historical types of society was class struggle. At the time Marx was developing his theories, the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism had led to a massive increase in the wealth of society but also massive disparities in wealth and power between the owners of the factories the bourgeoisie and workers the proletariat.
Capitalism was still a relatively new economic system, an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of goods and the means to produce them. It was also a system that was inherently unstable and prone to crisis, yet increasingly global in its reach. There is a continuous need to expand markets for goods and to reduce the costs of production in order to create ever cheaper and more competitive products. This leads to a downward pressure on wages, the introduction of labour-saving technologies that increase unemployment, the failure of non-competitive businesses, periodic economic crises and recessions, and the global expansion of capitalism as businesses seek markets to exploit and cheaper sources of labour.
The injustice of the system was palpable. Although Marx did not call his analysis sociology, his sociological innovation was to provide a social analysis of the economic system. As such, his analysis of modern society was not static or simply descriptive. He was able to put his finger on the underlying dynamism and continuous change that characterized capitalist society. In a famous passage from The Communist Manifesto , he and Engels described the restless and destructive penchant for change inherent in the capitalist mode of production:. The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.
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Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty, and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.
All that is solid melts into air, all which is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind Marx and Engels He felt rather that a critical social theory must engage in clarifying and supporting the issues of social justice that were inherent within the existing struggles and wishes of the age.
In his own work, he endeavoured to show how the variety of specific work actions, strikes, and revolts by workers in different occupations for better pay, safer working conditions, shorter hours, the right to unionize, etc. Through this popular translation she introduced the concept of sociology as a methodologically rigorous discipline to an English-speaking audience.
From the age of 12, she suffered from severe hearing loss and was obliged to use a large ear trumpet to converse. She impressed a wide audience with a series of articles on political economy in In she left England to engage in two years of study of the new republic of the United States and its emerging institutions: prisons, insane asylums, factories, farms, Southern plantations, universities, hospitals, and churches. On the basis of extensive research, interviews and observations, she published Society in America and worked with abolitionists on the social reform of slavery Zeitlin She also worked for social reform in the situation of women: the right to vote, have an education, pursue an occupation, and enjoy the same legal rights as men.
Together with Florence Nightingale, she worked on the development of public health care, which led to early formulations of the welfare system in Britain McDonald Particularly innovative was her early work on sociological methodology, How to Observe Manners and Morals In this volume she developed the ground work for a systematic social-scientific approach to studying human behaviour. Yet at the same time she saw the goal of sociology to be the fair but critical assessment of the moral status of a culture.
A large part of her research in the United States analyzed the situations of contradiction between stated public morality and actual moral practices. For example, she was fascinated with the way that the formal democratic right to free speech enabled slavery abolitionists to hold public meetings, but when the meetings were violently attacked by mobs, the abolitionists and not the mobs were accused of inciting the violence Zeitlin He was born to a Jewish family in the Lorraine province of France one of the two provinces along with Alsace that were lost to the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War of — Durkheim attributed this strange experience of anti-Semitism and scapegoating to the lack of moral purpose in modern society.
In this respect, Durkheim represented the sociologist as a kind of medical doctor, studying social pathologies of the moral order and proposing social remedies and cures. He saw healthy societies as stable, while pathological societies experienced a breakdown in social norms between individuals and society. His father was the eighth in a line of father-son rabbis.
He abandoned the idea of a religious or rabbinical career, however, and became very secular in his outlook.
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His sociological analysis of religion in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life was an example of this. Religion performs the key function of providing social solidarity in a society. This type of analysis became the basis of the functionalist perspective in sociology. He explained the existence and persistence of religion on the basis of the necessary function it performed in unifying society. Durkheim was also a key figure in the development of positivist sociology. However, in Rules of the Sociological Method he defined sociology as the study of objective social facts.
Social facts are those things like law, custom, morality, religious beliefs and practices, language, systems of money, credit and debt, business or professional practices, etc. Social facts:. For Durkheim, social facts were like the facts of the natural sciences. They could be studied without reference to the subjective experience of individuals. Individuals experience them as obligations, duties, and restraints on their behaviour, operating independently of their will.
They are hardly noticeable when individuals consent to them but provoke reaction when individuals resist. In this way, Durkheim was very influential in defining the subject matter of the new discipline of sociology. For Durkheim, sociology was not about just any phenomena to do with the life of human beings but only those phenomena which pertained exclusively to a social level of analysis.
It was not about the biological or psychological dynamics of human life, for example, but about the social facts through which the lives of individuals were constrained. Moreover, the dimension of human experience described by social facts had to be explained in its own terms. It could not be explained by biological drives or psychological characteristics of individuals.
It was a dimension of reality sui generis of its own kind, unique in its characteristics. It could not be explained by, or reduced to, its individual components without missing its most important features. In Suicide: A Study in Sociology , Durkheim attempted to demonstrate the effectiveness of his rules of social research by examining suicide statistics in different police districts. Suicide is perhaps the most personal and most individual of all acts. Its motives would seem to be absolutely unique to the individual and to individual psychopathology.
However, what Durkheim observed was that statistical rates of suicide remained fairly constant year by year and region by region. There was no correlation between rates of suicide and rates of psychopathology. Suicide rates did vary, however, according to the social context of the suicides: namely the religious affiliation of suicides. Protestants had higher rates of suicide than Catholics, whereas Catholics had higher rates of suicide than Jews. The religious groups had differing levels of anomie, or normlessness, which Durkheim associated with high rates of suicide.
Prominent sociologist Max Weber — established a sociology department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in Weber wrote on many topics related to sociology including political change in Russia, the condition of German farm workers, and the history of world religions.
He was also a prominent public figure, playing an important role in the German peace delegation in Versailles and in drafting the ill-fated German Weimar constitution following the defeat of Germany in World War I. He noted that in modern industrial societies, business leaders and owners of capital, the higher grades of skilled labour, and the most technically and commercially trained personnel were overwhelmingly Protestant.
He also noted the uneven development of capitalism in Europe, and in particular how capitalism developed first in those areas dominated by Protestant sects. As opposed to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church in which poverty was a virtue and labour simply a means for maintaining the individual and community, the Protestant sects began to see hard, continuous labour as a spiritual end in itself. Hard labour was firstly an ascetic technique of worldly renunciation and a defence against temptations and distractions: the unclean life, sexual temptations, and religious doubts.
Weber argued that the ethic , or way of life, that developed around these beliefs was a key factor in creating the conditions for both the accumulation of capital, as the goal of economic activity, and for the creation of an industrious and disciplined labour force. It is an element of cultural belief that leads to social change rather than the concrete organization and class struggles of the economic structure. Why did the Western world modernize and develop modern science, industry, and democracy when, for centuries, the Orient, the Indian subcontinent, and the Middle East were technically, scientifically, and culturally more advanced than the West?
As the impediments toward rationalization were removed, organizations and institutions were restructured on the principle of maximum efficiency and specialization, while older, traditional inefficient types of organization were gradually eliminated. The irony of the Protestant ethic as one stage in this process was that the rationalization of capitalist business practices and organization of labour eventually dispensed with the religious goals of the ethic. Weber also made a major contribution to the methodology of sociological research.
Along with the philosophers Wilhelm Dilthey — and Heinrich Rickert — , Weber believed that it was difficult if not impossible to apply natural science methods to accurately predict the behaviour of groups as positivist sociology hoped to do. They argued that the influence of culture on human behaviour had to be taken into account. What was distinct about human behaviour was that it is essentially meaningful. Human behaviour could not be understood independently of the meanings that individuals attributed to it. This insight into the meaningful nature of human behaviour even applied to the sociologists themselves, who, they believed, should be aware of how their own cultural biases could influence their research.
To deal with this problem, Weber and Dilthey introduced the concept of Verstehen , a German word that means to understand in a deep way. Rather than defining sociology as the study of the unique dimension of external social facts, sociology was concerned with social action : actions to which individuals attach subjective meanings.
The actions of the young skateboarders can be explained because they hold the experienced boarders in esteem and attempt to emulate their skills even if it means scraping their bodies on hard concrete from time to time. Weber and other like-minded sociologists founded interpretive sociology whereby social researchers strive to find systematic means to interpret and describe the subjective meanings behind social processes, cultural norms, and societal values. This approach led to research methods like ethnography, participant observation, and phenomenological analysis whose aim was not to generalize or predict as in positivistic social science , but to systematically gain an in-depth understanding of social worlds.
The natural sciences may be precise, but from the interpretive sociology point of view their methods confine them to study only the external characteristics of things. Georg Simmel — was one of the founding fathers of sociology, although his place in the discipline is not always recognized. In part, this oversight may be explained by the fact that Simmel was a Jewish scholar in Germany at the turn of 20th century, and until was unable to attain a proper position as a professor due to anti-Semitism.
Despite the brilliance of his sociological insights, the quantity of his publications, and the popularity of his public lectures as Privatdozent at the University of Berlin, his lack of a regular academic position prevented him from having the kind of student following that would create a legacy around his ideas. It might also be explained by some of the unconventional and varied topics that he wrote on: the structure of flirting, the sociology of adventure, the importance of secrecy, the patterns of fashion, the social significance of money, etc.
He was generally seen at the time as not having a systematic or integrated theory of society. However, his insights into how social forms emerge at the micro-level of interaction and how they relate to macro-level phenomena remain valuable in contemporary sociology. This is a basic insight of micro-sociology. However useful it is to talk about macro-level phenomena like capitalism, the moral order, or rationalization, in the end what these phenomena refer to is a multitude of ongoing, unfinished processes of interaction between specific individuals.
Nevertheless, the phenomena of social life do have recognizable forms, and the forms do guide the behaviour of individuals in a regularized way. A bureaucracy is a form of social interaction that persists from day to day. One does not come into work one morning to discover that the rules, job descriptions, paperwork, and hierarchical order of the bureaucracy have disappeared.
How did they emerge in the first place? What happens when they get fixed and permanent? What he means is that whenever people gather, something happens that would not have happened if the individuals had remained alone. People attune themselves to one another in a way that is very similar to musicians tuning their instruments to one another.
A pattern or form of interaction emerges that begins to guide or coordinate the behaviour of the individuals. An example Simmel uses is of a cocktail party where a subtle set of instructions begins to emerge which defines what can and cannot be said. The person would be thought of as being crass or inappropriate. Similarly in the pleasant pastime of flirtation, if one of the parties began to press the other to consummate the flirtation by having sex, the flirtation would be over.
Flirtation is a form of interaction in which the answer to the question of having sex—yes or no—is perpetually suspended. In both examples, Simmel argued that the social interaction had taken on a specific form. If the cocktail party conversation suddenly turns to a business proposition or an overly personal confession, it is no longer playful. The underlying form of the interaction has been violated, even if the participants were not consciously aware that they had adopted a particular form of interaction.
Simmel proposed that sociology would be the study of the social forms that recur in different contexts and with different social contents. The same play form governs the interaction in two different contexts with two different contents of interaction: one is the free-ranging content of polite conversation; the other is sexual desire. Among other common forms that Simmel studied were superiority and subordination, cooperation, competition, division of labour, and money transactions. These forms can be applied in a variety of different contexts to give social form to a variety of different contents or specific drives: erotic, spiritual, acquisitive, defensive, playful, etc.
His analysis of the creation of new social forms was particularly tuned in to capturing the fragmentary everyday experience of modern social life that was bound up with the unprecedented nature and scale of the modern city. In his lifetime, the city of Berlin where he lived and taught for most of his career had become a major European metropolis of 4 million people by , after the unification of Germany in the s. However, his work was not confined to micro-level interactions. As the quantity of objective culture increases and becomes more complex, it becomes progressively more alienating, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.
It takes on a life of its own and the individual can no longer see him- or herself reflected in it. Music, for example, can be enriching, but going to an orchestral performance of contemporary music can often be baffling, as if you need an advanced music degree just to be able to understand that what you are hearing is music.
One of the most notable changes has been the increasing number of mothers who work outside the home. Earlier in Canadian society, most family households consisted of one parent working outside the home and the other being the primary child care provider. Because of traditional gender roles and family structures, this was typically a working father and a stay-at-home mom. Research shows that in only 24 percent of all women worked outside the home Li In , Sociologists interested in this topic might approach its study from a variety of angles.
How is a child socialized differently when raised largely by a child care provider rather than a parent? Do early experiences in a school-like child care setting lead to improved academic performance later in life? How does a child with two working parents perceive gender roles compared to a child raised with a stay-at-home parent? Another sociologist might be interested in the increase in working mothers from an economic perspective. Why do so many households today have dual incomes? Has this changed the income of families substantially? What impact does the larger economy play in the economic conditions of an individual household?
Do people view money—savings, spending, debt—differently than they have in the past? Has the increase in working mothers shifted traditional family responsibilities onto schools, such as providing lunch and even breakfast for students? How does the creation of after-school care programs shift resources away from traditional school programs?
What would the effect be of providing a universal, subsidized child care program on the ability of women to pursue uninterrupted careers?