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Sociological Imagination

the quality of mind that enables a person to see the connection between individual experiences/problems and social structures/context (rather than individual causes)


Emile Durkheim

Suicide rates are directly relation to the level of an individual’s social solidarity (too high or too low = suicide) which includes shared values and beliefs.


Social Solidarity

-The degree to which group members share beliefs and values
-the intensity and frequency of their interaction


Order theories

Supports status quo


Change theories

social change/social revolution



Society shapes us



we make society


Main sociological Paradigms

1. Structural Functionalism (order, macro)
2. Conflict Theory (change, macro)
3. Symbolic Interactionism (change, micro)
4. Feminist Theory (change, macro & micro)


Structural Functionalism

Human Behaviour is governed by relatively stable social structures.
-Social structures maintain/undermine social stability, the functionality of these parts are what make society stable
-Social structures are based mainly on shared values or preferences
-Social inequality is functional
-reestablishing equilibrium can best solve social problems
-criticized for reinforcing status quo and not considering equality


Conflict Theory

Relationship between classes - Karl Marx – working class needs to develop class consciousness (shared interests differ from upper class) (can be viewed as a holistic unit)
-Major patterns of inequality in society produce social stability in some circumstances and social change in others.
-Members of privileged groups struggle to maintain power and subordinate groups struggle to increase theirs.
-Our material conditions of life shape how we think and ideas that we hold


Symbolic Interactionism

Based on interpersonal communication, where interactions create society
-An adequate explanation of social behaviour requires understanding the subjective meanings people attach to their social circumstances.
-Criticism: too much emphasis on micro – not enough emphasis on how larger social institutions shape society



Our individual understanding of the world around us - our own perception.


Feminist Theory

Based on gender relations and gender inequality.
-Patriarchy is as important as class inequality
-existing patterns of gender inequality can and should be changed for the benefit of all members of society
-male domination and female subordination are determined by structures of power and social convention.
-Criticism: Patronizing, gender based equality, perspectives that rely on the concept of patriarchy fail to recognize that not all men dominate all women


Tracy Chapman’s Revolution video:

Conflict theory - Welfare, unemployment lines etc – talking about the poorer, working class and rising up to revolt
Marx predicts that the working class will rise up to get their share – capitalists benefit from lots of unemployment because it keeps the labour costs low


My country tis of thee video

Structural functionalism –everyone working together to create a nation of freedom – the song creates social consensus, national pride and a sense of social solidarity
Reinforces social order and maintain equal equilibrium


James Blunt video

Symbolic Interactionism – seeing death and birth etc – about emotion, interaction and communication
Ex: telling lies – study both the liar and the listener and how symbols can change the way the lie is interpreted and received
Subjectivity: the way we see the world
Cry on my shoulder = non-verbal gesture
How peoples understanding of friendship and how friendship is defined through symbolic interactions


Mad World – Gary Jules

Symbolic Interactionism – non verbal gestures, physical posture, expressions (inc. blank expressions), emotions (how we both convey and construct emotion)
“look right through you” – the feeling of not being acknowledged, or by not paying attention to another


If I were a boy

Feminist theory – discussion of gender roles: what is appropriate for males and females
Double standard – role reversal and different perspectives – suggests that men are more carefree and women cant be like that, double standard regarding appropriate sexual behaviour, females are socialized to put others first



The traditional system of political and economic inequality between men and women.