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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A prodcutive study session on Skype today & notes (summary)

Hey dudes & dudettes:
I want to thank Nor & Laura for meeting me on Skype today, a really productive study session. Thank you, for those of you that also wish to join us please send me a PM at Yansa or leave a comment.

Here's some notes from our session (SG Chapter 3.2 & 3.3) Tomorrow we will discuss 3.1, 3.4 & 4.1

3.2 Postivism: In order to understand positivism. You must know the opposite of positive, which is normative (we'll talk about this later). This concept is associated with Comte. Let's put everything in historical concept. He wasn't too far removed from Frances Bacon creating the scientific method, the French Revolution, heck even the Renaisssance (OK, give or take a few years). Prior to Comte, it was all about the philosophers.

The difference between philosophers & Comte's goals.
Comte wanted to apply scientific methods to how society worked. He wanted to create quantitative data attached to society's actions. A good example is his suicide research findings (read your BOOK). Philosophers on the other hand made normative statements, meaning they discussed and wrote what the ideal society would be. So he wanted Sociology to be accepted like the natural sciences (math, chemistry, physics, etc), then again of course he did, he coined the term :) thus the scientific application of society.

Causality & Determinism:
Causality, Comte assumed that correlation = causation. Although today, we know this not to be true. Which leads us to determinism. Because of his causality ideology he believed that the societal environment or the organization of societies in which people live cause them to think and act in the way they do, irrespective of their free will. (See figure 3.2 in the SG). Religiously speaking this is similar to the Predestination theory that the Presbyterians share, in that whether we become saved or not, it is predestined who will be saved and who will not, which contradicts with free will that they teach. Oh well.

Methodology: Once you have a theory, the questions will be bent more towards getting a quantitative answers.

How Comte & the philosophers were similar:
Despite the fact Comte wanted to make sociology a positive science (positivism), he also shared a normative view as the philosophers did. But Comte believed that he was different from the philosophers because he applied scientific methods to his observations of society. Comte in the end believed that human behavior can be predicted based on his sociological science and through his science he can create a better society.

3.3 Interpretivism: Associated with Weber.aka Interpretative sociology, MEANING is the key word here. What MEANING does the action a person perform mean to that person.
The 3 key differences between POSITIVISM:
#1. Scientific Sociology (Positivism) focuses on action whereas interpretative sociology focuses on the meaning people attach to their actions.

#2. Scientific sociology sees reality as "Out there". Whereas interpretativism sees people creating their own reality in the course of their everyday lives.

#3. Positivism focuses on quantitative data whereas Interpretivism focuses on the qualitative data.

VERSTEHEN - We can't talk about interpretivism w/o talking about VERSTEHEN, which in the German language means "understanding". It's a sociological way of saying "Putting yourself in the other person's shoes."

Methods, We'll discuss later. (Read Chapter 2 of your SG & the required text).

Be careful of RELATIVISM, where one theory or study is seen as just as good as any other.

Hope this was helpful, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.

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