Sociological Perspective by Means of Detailed Case Studies

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The primary goal of this course is to introduce you to the sociological perspective, to have you – once the term is complete – thinking and reasoning like a sociologist. However, because sociologists tend to use a rather different logic of investigation and explanation, the achievement of this objective is more difficult than it may first appear. We shall approach the study of the sociological perspective by means of detailed case studies, intended to provide examples of and to illustrate the application of the perspective. We will begin with the sociology of deviance (this sub-field is especially appropriate for it is here that the uniqueness of the sociological perspective is most readily apparent). Providing the grist for this particular mill will be Merton’s theory of social structure and anomie. But much of our time will be spent with Erikson's study of seventeenth century Puritan society in New England. From here we shall proceed to a brief examination of the classical sociologists – Durkheim and Weber – concentrating primarily on their theories of religion and its relation to social organization. A further outcome of these examinations will be your acquaintance with some of the tools of sociological investigation – concepts such as class, community, and culture - that are utilized in the application of the sociological perspective. Having become acquainted with the sociological perspective, the next task will be to apply it. By using the theories of Marx (the third of the Classical sociologists) and Mills, we shall utilize the concept of surplus value in an attempt to comprehend the changing structure of North American society. Of particular concern here will be the organization of property and its relation to the class structure. Finally, by using Riesman’s theory, we shall attempt to relate these historical changes in class structure to their corresponding types of character structure. Given that the point of sociology is to provide a more profound...
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