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Part 1: Classical Theories and Theorists

What is Sociological Theory? Emile Durkheim: Anomie and Social Solidarity Karl Marx: Alienation and Capitalism Max Weber: Rationalization Georg Simmel: The Growing Tragedy of Culture Thorstein Veblen: Increasing Control of Business over Industry George Herbert Mead: Social Behaviorism W. E. B. DuBois (under construction)

Part 2: Contemporary Grand Theories

Structural-Functionalism: Parsons and Merton Conflict Theory: Dahrendorf General Systems Theory: Luhmann Neo-Marxism The Civilizing Process The Juggernaut of Modernity The Colonization of the Lifeworld

Part 3: Contemporary Theories of Everyday Life

Symbolic Interactionism (early development) Dramaturgy and Erving Goffman Ethnomethodology and Conversational Analysis Exchange Theory Rational Choice Theory

Part 4: Contemporary Integrative Theories

Integrated Exchange Theory Structuration Theory Habitus and Field

Part 5: Contemporary Feminist Theories Part 6: Postmodern Grand Theories Part 7: Globalization Theory

Part 1: Classical Theories and Theorists What is Sociological Theory? Credits, references, and bibliography Creating Sociological Theory

Everyone creates theories to help them make sense of what they experience. o Common-sense theories o Tend to be less systematic Sociological theories: specifically and systematically developed o Typically built on the theories and ideas of previous sociologists. o Built on scientific research (desire to share--publish-ongoing dialogue) o Focused on structural relationships (individual in society, human being as social being), rather than "personal experiences." o Personal concerns directed toward understanding social issues. Quiz 1

Defining Sociological Theory "Sociological theory is a set of interrelated ideas that allow for the systematization of knowledge of the social world. This knowledge is then used to explain the social world and make predictions about the future of the social world."(2)

Not all theories necessarily conform to this definition. Knowledge versus prediction Not only sociologists create sociological (social) theory. Test of time and applicability

Origins of Sociology

Enlightenment: Individualism and Rationality o Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire (natural rights, progress) o Anti-Enlightenment: de Bonald, de Maistre--stability and longevity of the "old order" ordained by God. Relevance of the irrational: tradition, religion, emotion. Rise of Science: Empiricism, Prediction- Power and Control (yet anti-scientific currents). Industrial Revolution (visit wikipedia). Rise of the bureaucracy. Political change--revolutions and socialism (pro and con). Religious Change (see also: wikipedia). Reform, religious backgrounds, and morality. Urbanization and the question of Community: emergence of social (urban) problems. Evolutionary theories and the idea of Progress

Basic Questions

The question of "social order." (patterns and predictability) (Domain Assumptions) o What is "society?" An organic whole or the sum of individual parts. o What is the individual--and how does the group affect behavior (belief, attitudes, and values). o What is the relationship between the individual and the group? How is social life possible? The question of "action." (source of motivation) o Rational: self-interest. Maximize rewards and minimize cost. Calculation. o Non-Rational: values, morals, tradition and norms. Meaning. Unconscious desires and/or emotions.

The Sociological Tradition: Sociological Theory

Claude Henri Saint-Simon (see also)1760-1825: positivism and socialism Alexis de Tocqueville 1805-1859: freedom versus equality (individualism). Critique of democracy and centralization. "Democracy in America" (1835)

Auguste Comte 1798-1857 (On the Positivistic Approach to Society). Idealism, evolutionary theory, reform, empiricism, and positivism: discover universal laws of society. Harriet Martineau 1802-1876 (see also and "The Dead Sociologists' Index") Herbert Spencer 1820-1903 (The Nature of Society) (The Scope of Sociology) (Survival of the Fittest)

Two Theoretical Orientations: Grand Theories and Theories of Everyday Life Grand theories (for example: the work of Karl Marx and Max Weber) are attempts to deal with society as a whole--to explain the structure of the system and the processes of change that produce what we call, human history. Theories of everyday life focus on, sometimes mundane, human behavior in an attempt to explain individual action and interaction between individuals; as well as beliefs, attitudes, and values within the context of groups and the broader social system. Towards a More Realistic Sociological Theory

Many contemporary (and not so contemporary) sociologists critique the "classic" sociological theories of old (and often dead) while males. There is a concern with the political factors that influence and the emergence, development, and hegemony of particular theoretical orientations. For example: the politically conservative structural functionalist theory has dominated sociology (as compared to critical or Marxist theory). Who decides what type or style of theory is appropriate or acceptable?

Multicultural Social Theory

A focus on diversity: feminism, queer theory, Afrocentric theory, and Native-American theory. A historical example, W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) (see below). Multicultural social theory rejects universalism, supports the struggle of impoverished and disenfranchised populations. It is also self-critical and appreciates the importance of context: temporal, spatial, and social.

Post-structuralism, post-modernism, and critical theory (chart). ANNOTATED WEBLINKS from the text/instructor's manual (see below) WWW Virtual Library: Sociological Theory: (This virtual library contains links to introductory articles and other resources on sociological theory from classical to postmodern) SocioSite: Sociological Theories and Perspectives: (This site provides many links to resources on every imaginable theoretical perspective in sociology.) A Biographical Sketch of W.E.B. Du Bois: (This is a somewhat lengthy biographical sketch of Du Bois. It provides insight into his life and intellectual work, as well as a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.) See also:DuBois, The Dead Sociologist Index, and the online version of: The Souls of Black Folks, 1903. Read the biographical sketch of W.E.B. Du Bois and answer the following questions. 1. 2. 3. 4. Where and when was Du Bois born? What is the title of Du Bois's doctoral thesis? Why did Du Bois oppose Booker T. Washington? Where did Du Bois die?

Emile Durkheim

Credits, references, and bibliography

Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) (see also, the Dead Sociologist Index):

Part/Whole: functional analysis (also) Integration Solidarity and the sociology of religion (also) The Durkheim page In his own words Biographical Vignette: Emile Durkheim (another)

"Social Facts" (see also) (The Rules of the Sociological Method 2nd edition, 1982, The Free Press, New York; original 1895) 1. 2. Material Social Facts Non-material Social Facts

Mechanical to Organic Solidarity Two Types of Solidarity and the Division of Labor 1. 2. 3. Mechanical Organic An increasing division of labor led to a transformation from mechanical solidarity in primitive societies to organic solidarity in modern societies. A change in dynamic density was the key mechanism in driving the transformation from mechanical to organic solidarity, and a weakening of the Collective Conscience (or conscious collective). Dynamic density refers to both an increase in population growth and density and an increase in interaction (and intensity of interaction)

Anomie Key Concepts: Anomic (and Other Types of) Suicide

1. 2. Law 1. 2. 3.

Theory of Suicide (see also, Durkheim's theory of suicide and "Suicide") Anomie. (see also and this chart by Jim Spickard, or this local copy)

Repressive Restitutive See, review of Roger Cotterrell, Emile Durkheim: Law in a Moral Domain, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, Review: [untitled], by Ken Foster, "The Modern Law Review 2001 Modern Law Review."

The Durkheim Pages: (a glossary of Durkeimian concepts, reviews of recent work on Durkheim, full texts of Durkheim's work in French and English, and critical summaries of Durkheim's work), Alun Jones, 2009.

Karl Marx Credits, references, and bibliography

1818-1883: (see also, "The Dead Sociologists' Index" on Marx, and Sociosite on Marx)


Marx's Grave Marx Archives Marx and Engels Biography: Karl Marx

Dialectics (see also) Materialism (historical materialism) Social Class (local copy)

Human Potential


Animal Needs Species Being (see also) Alienation (see also)

Base and Superstructure (interactive and interdependent: reflexive) o Mode of Production Social relations of productions (property relations) Material forces of production (raw materials, machinery, etc.) Spaces of production (factories) Labor-power (workers) o Superstructure Social system (family, religion, education) Political relations (power) Intellectual forces (ideas)


Means of Production Capitalists Proletariat

Subsistence Wage Labor Theory of Value (local copy) Production and Profit; Commodities (circulation of commodities): Reification Exploitation False Consciousness (see also) Class Consciousness (see also) Praxis


The Communist Manifesto (1848) Revolution.

Karl Marx on Capitalism and Communism "Karl Marx (1818-1883) created a classical grand theory that attempts to explain the historical development of capitalism, its workings, and the course of its transformation to communism. He based his critique of capitalism on a set of assumptions about human potential, which he called species being. All societies that had existed historically and especially capitalist societies had retarded or constrained the exercise of full human potential. Under capitalism, this constraint leads to alienation: i.e., the breakdown of the natural interconnections between people and their own productive activities, the products they produce, the people with whom they work, and the potential they have as human beings. This is especially the case, according to Marx, among the members of the working class. In Marxs theory, capitalism leads to the emergence of two classes: the bourgeoisie (or capitalists), who own the means of production; and the proletariat (or workers), who must sell their labor in order to gain access to the means of production and make a living. Marxs labor theory of value according to which the value of a product is determined by the labor put into producing it dictates that the relationship between the capitalists and the proletariat is one of exploitation. In other words, since proletarians add all of the value to a product by transforming raw material with their labor, and the capitalists reap the profits, the capitalists exploit the proletarians. False consciousness, however, obscures this exploitation from both the capitalists and the workers. In Marxs theory, the workers must attain class consciousness in order to grasp the reality of this ex ploitation. The capitalists, however, are too wrapped up in making profits, and are thus incapable of grasping the reality of exploitation. In order to transform their unbearable conditions, the workers must first attain class consciousness and then engage in praxis, or concrete action. In other words, for Marx, social change is a matter of taking action rather than simply addressing exploitation intellectually. Marx believed that such concrete action on the part of the workers would lead to a revolution that would establish a communist society. While Marx never drafted a detailed blueprint for communism, he did believe that it would create, for the first time in history, a social system capable of nurturing full human potential. Ritzer argues that Marxs theory is perhaps more relevant today than ever." (1) Go to Click on the button that says Where We Stand and read the brief summary of the International Socialists Organizations (ISO) positions. Then answer the following questions. a. How does the ISO define a socialist society? b. How does the ISOs definition of a socialist society compare to Marxs vision of a communist society? c. How does the ISOs discussion of revolution compare to Marxs? d. How does the ISOs platform deal with bureaucracy? How would Max Weber respond?(1)

Max Weber Credits, references, and bibliography

Max Weber (1864-1920)-The Rationalization of Society:

Life and Works Vs. Marx Science (Natural and Social) and Value Freedom Max Weber's Life (introduction to Weber, local copy) (see also, wikipedia) Social Action (local copy) o Behavior versus Action Types of Action 1. Affectual Action 2. Traditional Action 3. Value-Rational Action 4. Means-Ends Rational Action Rationalization (see also, local copy) o The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (some notes) (more) o Types of Rationality (see, "Max Weber's Types of Rationality: Cornerstones for the Analysis of Rationalization Processes in History," Stephen Kalberg, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 85, No. 5 (Mar., 1980), pp. 1145-1179 . Practical Rationality Theoretical Rationality Substantive Rationality Formal Rationality Verstehen (see, "Empirical Science and Max Weber's Verstehen de Soziologie," Peter A. Munch, American Sociological Review, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Feb., 1957), pp. 26-32) Ideal type analysis o Authority (see also, local copy) Traditional Charismatic Rational-Legal The Routinization of Charisma (see also)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Traditional versus Legal Rational Authority

Bureaucracy (Characteristics)(Rationalization--McDonaldization)

Class, Status, and Party (local copy)

Religion: Confucianism, Hinduism, and Capitalism

Max Weber on the Rationalization of Society "Max Webers (1864-1920) classical sociological theory is based on his work on social action. Action theory describes the subjective factors that influence action and serve as the foundation for society. In developing his theory, Weber distinguished between the concepts of behavior and action. Behavior is an automatic response that occurs with little thought, whereas action is the result of a conscious process in which people give meaning to their actions and the world around them. Weber was concerned only with the study of action and believed that the sociologist could understand the meaningful basis of peoples actions through the method of understanding, or verstehen. He distinguished between four ideal-types of action: affectual action, traditional action, value-rational action, and means-end rational action. Max Webers classical theory also includes his formulation of four types of rationality: practical, theoretical, substantive, and formal. It is often argued that Webers focus was on formal rationality and the ways in which it contributed to a historical process rationalization that transformed the Western world. Webers intellectual interest in rationalization led him to study the historical forces that both enabled rationalization in the West and constrained it elsewhere. Foremost among these forces was religion. Weber argued that the Protestant ethic contributed profoundly to the rationalization of the Western world to such an extent, in fact, that it spurred the development of modern capitalism. Weber also studied other religions such as Confucianism and Hinduism and concluded that the ethics of these religions constrained rationalization and the development of capitalism. Weber was also interested in different types of authority, or forms of legitimate domination. He developed a typology of authority structures, which consisted of traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal types of authority. These types of authority are ideal types, or models that scholars can use to compare various specific examples of a phenomenon either across cases or over time. Weber was most interested in the rational-legal type of authority (and its organizational manifestation, the bureaucracy) and how empirical approximations to it contributed to rationalization. While Weber viewed the routinization of charisma as a revolutionary force, he thought that it was no match for the process of rationalization." (1) On Verstehen: "When the objection is raised that rational knowledge of causal sequences may be attained in the world of nature, but that the human world in not susceptible to rational explanation because of its unpredictability and irrationality, Weber counters by turning the tables. Our knowledge of nature must always be, as it were, from the outside. We can only observe external courses of events and record their uniformities. But in regard to human action, we can do more than write protocols of recurrent sequences of events; we can attempt to impute motives by interpreting men's actions and words. With this method, he of course opposes the positivists as well. "Social facts are in the last resort intelligible facts." We can understand (verstehen) human action by penetrating to the subjective meanings that actors attach to their own behavior and to the behavior of others. A sociology of the chicken yard can only account for regularities of behavior--in other words, for a pecking order. A sociology of human groups has the inestimable advantage of access to the subjective aspects of action, to the realm of meaning and motivation. Hence Weber's definition of sociology as "that science which aims at the interpretative understanding (Verstehen) of social behavior in order to gain an explanation of its causes, its course, and it effects." (3) Go to Read the brief passage on Rationalization and Disenchantment and answer the following questions: a. The passage states that modernity has been deserted by the gods. In Webers grand theory, what does this mean? b. How, according to this passage, did the rationalization of religious life affect magic? c. What, according to this passage, was the impact of rationalization in the sphere of law? d. How did rationalization affect music?

Georg Simmel: The Growing Tragedy of Culture Credits, references, and bibliography

Simmel's Life Basic Concepts o Association o Forms and Types Forms (Superiority and Subordination) Types (the poor) o Consciousness Reification Key Concept: Secrecy o Secrecy o Lie Group Size (numbers) o Triad o Dyad The Metropolis o The Stranger o Distance and Space o Distance and Value Conflict Objective and Subjective Culture o Objective Culture o Individual Culture o Tragedy of Culture Division of Labor The Philosophy of Money (also)

"Georg Simmel's sociological theorizing was chiefly concerned with forms of association that serve to link people to one another. He argued that people regularly simplify the world into a limited number of forms of interaction and types of interactants. Humans are able to continually develop new forms and types because they are endowed with a creative consciousness. This creative consciousness allows people to overcome limits imposed by external structures, but it can also impose limits on action when it reifies the social world. Simmel was also interested in the way that group size affects everyday interactions. He believed that the most important group differences are observed between two-person (dyad) and three-person (triad) groups. It is with the addition of a third group member that objective social structures can emerge and control individual behavior. Moreover, Simmel was interested in the issue of social distance. He analyzed the "stranger" as an important social type that is defined by

its combination of closeness and distance. As an alternative to Marx's labor theory of value, Simmel argued that value is a function of an object's distance from a person. Thus, objects that are further away from a person acquire greater value for that person. Finally, Simmel developed a less well known sociological theory of space that revealed the importance of indefinite boundaries and indistinct spaces to group impulsiveness."(1) "Georg Simmel's is best known for his analysis of what he called the tragedy of culture. In order to understand Simmel's idea, one must first grasp his distinction between objective and subjective culture. Objective culture consists of the objects that people produce in the realms of science, philosophy, art, etc. Subjective culture is the capacity of individuals to produce, absorb, and control the elements of objective culture. The tragedy of culture occurs when the growth of objective culture outpaces the growth of subjective culture. An increasing division of labor both drives the growth of objective culture and forces individuals to specialize. The consequence of this growth of objective culture and specialization is that individuals are unable to grasp the totality of objective culture and are unable to control it."(1) Georg Simmel discussed the sociological importance of everyday activities such as keeping secrets and telling lies. Go to (the site seems to be gone--use the Way back machine: This is the home page for " Internet's #1 authority on lying." Click on the button for "articles" (on the left side of the screen) and then click on the article entitled "Lies, lies, and more lies!" by Rana Haddad. (; or local copy) a. Give two reasons, according to this article, that a person might lie to another person.

b. Would Haddad agree with Simmel's argument that lies are an important part of our lives? If so, are lies important to Haddad and Simmel for the same reasons? Next, click on the article "The Decay of Lying" by Mark Twain. Read the first two paragraphs. c. d. What is Twain's complaint? Would Twain agree with Simmel that lies are an important part of our lives?

Thorstein Veblen: Increasing Control of Business over Industry Credits, references, and bibliography

Veblen at the Dead Sociologists Society A. Business B. C. D. Industry Key Concept: Conspicuous Consumption and Conspicuous Leisure (or not) Biographical Vignette: Thorstein Veblen

"Thorstein Veblens general concern throughout his career was the increasing control of business over industry and the negative consequences of this development. According to Veblen, business is concerned mostly with money. In other words, business organizations are concerned primarily with profit, rather than the interest of a larger community, production, or craftsmanship. Industry, on the other hand, is the understanding and productive use of mechanized processes on a large scale. Those people who are most involved in workmanship and production such as the working classes tend to take an industrial orientation to the world. The conflict between the two comes when business restricts production in order to keep prices and profits high. The consequence is that the dominance of business tends to retard the development of industry. Veblen was also concerned with consumption, and this distinguishes him from the other theorists discussed in this chapter. Veblen formulated two concepts, conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure, which are central to his theory of consumption. Conspicuous consumption refers to the consumption of goods that increase peoples status and thereby create invidious distinctions. Conspicuous leisure refers to the non-productive use of time as a means of elevating status and creating invidious distinctions between people."(1) \

George Herbert Mead: Social Behaviorism Credits, references, and bibliography

George Herbert Mead (see also) Biographical Vignette: George Herbert Mead "Mead drew on behaviorist theory to argue that behavior is based on a pattern of stimulus and response, but added that, in the case of human behavior, the mind intervenes between the stimulus and the response to provide for increasingly complex forms of action. In developing his ideas, Mead distinguished between the act and the gesture. The act refers to interactions with objects, whereas gesture refers to interactions with other people (or animals). Gestures are the movements that serve as stimuli to others. Both humans and animals employ gestures; however, it is only humans that employ significant gestures. These are gestures that involve thought before a response. For Mead, the most important kind of gesture is the significant symbol. This is the kind of significant gesture that elicits the same kind of response in others that it is trying to elicit. Language, a vocal gesture, is the most complex and important type of significant symbol for human beings."(1) Basic insight: To understand the individual, we must first understand the group. Key Concept: Definition of the Situation (W. I. Thomas-the way we define social situations shapes both our behavior within these situations and the consequences of our behavior). The Act (people think before they act--the mind intervenes between stimulus and response)


Impulse (external stimulus and need to respond) Perception (search for related stimuli--thinking, deciding, evaluating) Manipulation (physical and mental) Consummation (taking action to satisfy the impulse)

Conversation of Gestures (mindless) Significant Gestures

Significant Symbols and Language

Significant Symbols Mind as a social product (also) Language as Symbolic Interaction. Learn to respond to what others have in mind versus what they do (dog). We hear ourselves as others hear us--reflexivity (and entire community--take others into account)

"In Meads theory, language is especially important to the development of the mind and the self. Mead defines the mind as a sort of conversation that people have with themselves. In turn, the self is a special kind of mental process in which a person is able to take

oneself as an object. The ability to take oneself as an object develops in childhood through two key stages. In the play stage the child learns to play the role of someone else, and in the game stage the child learns to play the role of everyone involved in a game. The latter stage leads to the childs ability to take the position of the generalized other, or to see itself from the perspe ctive of a community. When self-development is complete, the child acquires the ability to distinguish between the I and the me."(1) The Self (also)

I and Me

Self: learning roles-- specific to general Reflexivity (again) Imitation/preparatory Stage: learn symbols, acquire behavior repertoire, awareness of others. Yet no firm linkages, selfcentered view. Basic communication skills. Play Stage: Identify with specific others, ROLE TAKING, start to realize the perspective of others, conforming, gender roles. SIGNIFICANT OTHERS. Game Stage: Multiple roles and tasks, simultaneously, expectations and roles of others, RULES and organization of activity. Generalized Other: society/moral codes, people as multi-faceted: many roles/statuses, one of many who occupy particular places in the social web. C. J. Bittner on Mead and the social self Piaget and cognitive development Contemporary Application: Have We Become Obsessed with the Self?

I (novelty, source of values, realization of self, uniqueness) Me (adoption of the perspective of others)

"These are two phases in the larger process of the self. The I is an immediate and unthinking response that is also the basis of individual personality. The me is the phase of self that sees itself from the perspective of community values and expectations. "(1)

Part 2: Contemporary Grand Theories Structural Functionalism Credits, references, and bibliography Structural Functionalism (Assumptions: Consensus, Integration, Order, and Predictability) 1. 2. 3. 4. Structures (universal and persistent, patterns of inter-relationships Functions (system stability, observed consequences) Societal Functionalism: A variety of S-F that focuses on large scale structures and institutions of society, their interrelationships, and their constraining effects on individuals. (page 65) Functional Theory of Stratification 1. Social Stratification: system of positionsprestige ranking rather than how specific individuals come to occupy 2. Davis and Moore: (see article) 1. Motivates, selection and screening, attract best to most critical jobsinsures applicants and that applicants do what is expected. 2. Less pleasant and requiring most talent/training. 3. System of insuring societal needs are fulfilled. 4. Not (necessarily) conscious creation evolves as a means of system survival. 3. Criticisms: Type of reward necessary, Fails to draw on talents of lower classes, justification of rewards for some jobs, Issue of scarcity, legitimacy of wide gulfs in distribution, patterns suggest that being drawn to certain occupations is not necessarily economically motivated--socialization into medicine. 1. Specifically: Melvin Tumin

Structural Functionalism "Structural functionalism concentrates on the positive and negative functions of social structures. Societal functionalism is a particular type of structural functionalism that aims to explain the role of social structures and institutions in society, the relationship between these structures, and the manner in which these structures constrain the actions of individuals. According to structural functionalists, individuals have little to no control over the ways in which particular structures operate. Indeed, structural functionalists understand individuals in terms of social positions. For example, when the structural functionalists Kingsley Davis and Wilbur Moore discuss social stratification, they do not refer to individuals, but to the positions these individuals occupy. It is not individuals who are ranked, but positions that are ranked according to the degree to which they contribute to the survival of society. High-ranking positions offer high rewards that make them worth an individuals time and effort to occupy. The structural functionalist account of stratification has been criticized on the grounds that there must be other ways to motivate individuals to occupy particular positions and perform certain tasks without such a disparate system of rewards." (1) Talcott Parsonss Structural Functionalism

image credits

History and Biography: Talcott Parsons (local copy) (see also the ASA page on Parsons) Influences and Basic Ideas: Classics, especially Durkheim and Weber (introduced to USA) 1. 2. 3. 4. Action theoryindividuals orienting themselves to situations with certain level of intentionality. Voluntarism: choice is at least potentially free Culture: values, norms, ideas, beliefs, as causally relevant Emergence: higher order systems emerge from lower, but need explanation on their own terms.

Action Theory (local copy of Bolender's page) 1. 2. Micro approach, rooted in Weber. Yet, focused on consciousness 1. Consciousness as social 2. Intentionality 3. Appropriate means 4. Constrained by situation 5. Choose and Judge 6. Rules and norms guide 7. Need to use "Verstehen."

3. Essence of Parsons action theory:

Unit act: actor, end or goal (future state), takes place within a situation that contains conditions (constraintsnot controlled by actor) and means (actors can control), and Norms and Values shape means and ends. no such thing as action except as effort to conform to norms" (The Structure of Social Action, 1937, pages 76-77, in Ritzer, Classical Sociological Theory, p. 463. Voluntarism, yet understanding the act is not (totally) freeconstraints and directions: social structure and culture. Verstehen

4. By late 1940s he is turning away from action theory, and 1951: The Social System:

Giddens on Parsons ( Unit act becomes status-role (position within structure). (link to local original) Personality: needs-dispositions, socio-culturally shaped biological needs, Value and Motivational orientations (internalization). 1. 2. 3. The issue becomes needs-dispositions and orientation of actors to situations. Motivational orientations: analyze social phenomena to see if fits needs disposition. Cognitive, Cathetic, and Evaluative Value Orientations: norms, standards, and criteria for choice. Cognitive, Appreciative, Moral

Four types of action: 1. 2. 3. 4. Intellectual (cognitive interests and standards) Expressive (cathectic and appreciative) Moral (evaluative and moral) Instrumental (goals: cathectic and appreciative, means: cognitive).

Pattern-Variables (local copy of this): five dichotomous choices of action that actors must make in every situationtools for analyzing conscious processes.fundamental problem of orienting oneself to the situation. (Ritzer, Classical Sociological Theory, page 467) 1. 2. 3. 4. AffectivityAffective neutral (emotion dr. patient role) SpecificityDiffuseness (accept dr. opinion on health, but politics) UniversalismParticularism (judge based on universal standards or special (evaluating dr. versus own children) AscriptionAchievement (endowed or learned)


SelfCollectivity (who benefits)

Enter Structural-Functionalism and AGIL (system (any type of system) functionsactually functional imperatives) (local copy)

Adaptation (working with and through the environmentharmony, manipulation, external dangers) Goal Attainment (futuresurvival and growth) Integration (regulate inter-relationship between parts and the relationships between AGIL) Latency/Pattern Maintenance (furnish, maintain, and renew: motivation of individuals and cultural patterns that create motivation. (Latency: success stories, differential rewards, deviance. Pattern maintenance: macro: insuring values and norms (for success) remain visible and accessible, and are internalized

The Action System: 1. 2. 3. 4. Social System (integration) Cultural System (latency/Pattern Maintenance) Personality System (goal-attainment defining goals and mobilizing resources) Behavioral organism (adaptionadjusting to and transforming external world) Social System (integration) Personality System (goal-attainment)

Cultural System (latency/Pattern Maintenance) Behavioral organism (adaption)

Hierarchies and interrelationships: Lower provides upper with energy (conditions); higher levels control the lower (information) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Environment of action: Ultimate reality Cultural System Social System Personality System Behavioral Organism Environment of action: physical-organic.

Problem of Orderwhat prevents chaos? How does it all hang together? Structural-Functionalism address this: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Order and interdependence property of system Systems are self maintainingtendency to equilibrium Stasis or ordered change (system is in one state or the other) Inter-connectedness (one part effects all) Systems have boundaries Allocation and integration necessary for equilibrium Self-maintenanceboundary control and adjusting part-whole relationships, controlling environment, and internal control of change.

Social System: a number of human actors that interact with one another in a situation with a physical or environmental context. (p.73) Relationships mediated by culture. Society is one special type)

StatusRole complex is the basic unit (actor as empty vessel) Structural Focus: Functional Prerequisites (of social system and all action systems) 1. Structured to operate compatibly with other systems. 2. Survival dependent on support from other systems. 3. System must meet actors needs. 4. System must receive adequate participation from actors. 5. System must control disruptive behavior. 6. Conflict, when disruptive, must be controlled. 7. Language is necessary. InternalizationSocialization: ways that norms and values (culture) transferred to actors.

o o

If successful, actors goals and interests are the systems (value orientations and motivational orientations: needs-dispositions) Overall, socialization is life-long and successful: conformity. Yet, there is variance. Not necessarily a problemsocial control operates and reinforces at many levels. Flexibility is ok. Too much control stagnates. System needs to be able to handle variety and to integratestrength, growth, survival.

Society (relatively self-sufficient collectivity, special type of social system)

o o o o

Economy (adaption) Polity (goal definition and attainment) Fiduciary system (schools and family) (Latency/pattern maintenance: transmit culture and insuring internalization) Societal community (law) integration--coordinates actions of other areas, oversees and regulates (laws about minimum educationkeeps people in schools, insures basic skills of work force, etc. Societal community (integration) Polity (goal-attainment)

Fiduciary system (latency/Pattern Maintenance) Economy (adaption)

Cultural System: 1. 2. 3. 4. Binding force Ability to become a part of other systems (socialnorms and values, personality systeminternalized by actor) Social stock of Knowledge. Culture is seen as a patterned, ordered system of symbols that are objects of orientations to actors, internalized aspects of the personality system, and institutionalized patterns in the social system. (p. 77)

Personality System: 1. 2. Controlled by social and cultural systems (internal and external) Personality: needsdisposition (not drivesbiological), but drives shaped by social setting. o Love and affection; approval o Internalized cultural standards o Role expectations

Personality linked to social system: roles, expectations, and self-control. Individual as relatively passive Behavioral System: 1. Source of energythe body, affected by conditioning and learning, yet also shaped by genetics. Talcott Parsonss Action System "Talcott Parsonss version of structural functionalism is perhaps the best known. According to Parsons, four functional imperatives are embedded in all systems of action: adaptation, goal attainment, integration, and latency (also known as pattern maintenance). Adaptation refers to the fact that a system must adjust or cope with its external environment, particularly when this environment is deemed threatening. In order for a system to function effectively, it must first define the goals it hopes to achieve. Parsons called this functional imperative goal attainment. Integration is also important to a system, because it needs to regulate the interrelationship of its component parts. Finally, a system needs to furnish, maintain, and renew motivation for individual participation, including the cultural patterns that create and sustain this motivation. Parsons referred to these functions as latency and pattern maintenance. Parsons further differentiated among four types of action systems: the cultural, the social, the personality, and the behavioral organism. Each of these systems compels actors to perform a specific functional imperative. The behavioral organism takes care of adaptation, the personality performs goal attainment, the social controls integration, and the cultural is responsible for the latency function." (1) Robert Mertons Structural Functionalism

image credits Robert Mertons Middle Range Theory "Robert Merton expanded Parsonss understanding of structural functionalism by explaining not only the functi on of social structures, but also their dysfunctions, nonfunctions, and net balances. Mertons theory of structural functionalism has been called middle range because he moved away from trying to analyze society as a whole toward studying different leve ls of the social world such as organizations and groups. Merton also introduced the concepts of manifest and latent functions referring, respectively, to intended and unintended consequences. According to Merton, functions can also be characterized as displaying unanticipated consequences."(see) A Structural-Functional Model 1. 2. 3. 4. Criticized functional unity (some structures endure and may not be functional) Criticized universal functionalism (some may be a problem). Criticized indispensability. Argued for empirical test, and standardizationsocietal functionalist o Functions: have observable consequences that help system adapt/adjust o Dysfunctionalways a possibility (also non-function) o Net Balance: not simple add/subtractthings are complex. Points to relative significance o Levels of Functional Analysis: system, institution, organization, group. Any standardized and repetitive phenomenon o Manifest Functions o Latent Functions o Unanticipated Consequences o Debunking

Social Structure and Anomie

INTERNET EXERCISE Go to, a website dedicated to the functionalist Ernest Gellner. Read the selection on industrial society from Nations and Nationalism, especially the section on high culture. Then, answer the following questions: a. What were the functions of the apprenticeship system of education? b. What are the functions of a national system of general education? c. Using Parsonss terms pattern maintenance and goal attainment, state the relationship between an industrial economy and a national education system.

Conflict Theory Credits, references, and bibliography

Biography Ralf Dahrendorfs Conflict Theory (Local copy) "While structural functionalists tend to emphasize the orderliness and stability of society, conflict theorists like Ralf Dahrendorf characterize society as being in a state of flux and dissension. According to conflict theorists, coercion holds society together, not norms and value. Dahrendorf focused on the role of authority in society, which he viewed as involving the superordination and subordination of groups occupying particular positions within what he called imperatively coordinated associations. Groups within a given association are defined according to their specific interests. These interest groups have the potential to turn into conflict groups, and their actions can lead to changes in social structures."(1) Value Integration or Dominant Ideology? Critical issue: Authority (and its distribution in society)

Power embedded within the structure of society--status and roles versus person Superordination/subordination based on social expectations Authority as legitimate Imperatively Coordinated Associations o People controlled by hierarchy of positions. o Multiple--people occupy various positions Interests (based on social position not personality) o Latent Interests (unconscious, based on position relative to authority in organization--role expectations internalized by actor) o Manifest Interests (latent interests made conscious.)

Groups, Conflict, and Change (local copy, from Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society,Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1959, pp.241-248)


Quasi Group (a number of people with same positions/role interests) Interest Group ("true group" with similar positions and interests, structure, goals) Conflict Group (Interest groups engaged in conflict) Lumpenproletariat (mass--not effective) When recruitment to quasi groups is structurally determined,...fertile ground for interest groups and, in some cases, conflict groups." (page 90)

Basic--ignores order and stability Somewhat derivative--under-developed Not clearly Marxian More in common with S-F than Marx (systems/positions and roles) Conflict emerges "mysteriously from legitimate systems Tautalogical, macro, and vague. Limited explanatory power (only a part of society); no micro.

Functions of Conflict

Solidify loosely structured group, produce alliances with other groups, motivate isolated individuals, clarifies boundaries, and promotes communication. Maintaining the status quo Also, produces change Intense conflict can produce radical change Violence--sudden, structural change Dynamic relationship: Conflict--status quo and change.

General Systems Theory Credits, references, and bibliography General Systems Theory

Wikipedia on Niklas Luhmann

Systems and Environment FpB7ypFn7zw

from: dAnswers2004/Questions_2004/QuestionsFor_5March.htm (other YouTube videos on or by Luhmann: Systems Theory (3, p. 192): 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Applicability across all sciences (maybe) Multileveled (scalable) Varied realtionships/many components Focus on process Inherently integrative (individual/society) Dynamic perspective

"Niklas Luhmanns system theory combines aspects of Parsonss structural functionalism with cognitive biology and cybernetics. According to Luhmann, a distinction can be drawn between a system and its environment. A system develops relational subsystems to simplify the complexity of an environment. This process of simplification involves making choices that are contingent and entail risk. Luhmann focused on autopoietic systems that are characterized by the fact that (1) they produce the elements from which they are constituted; (2) they are self-organizing in terms of boundaries and internal structures; (3) they are self-referential; and (4) they are closed. In order for a system to deal with the complexity of its ever-changing environment, it engages in a process of differentiation, or an effort to copy the difference between itself and its environment. This in turn engenders an increasing complexity of the system itself. Luhmann distinguished between four types of differentiation: segmentary, stratificatory, centerperiphery, and functional. Functional differentiation is the most complex; it is the form of differentiation that dominates contemporary society. Although functional differentiation provides a system with wider flexibility, it also has the potential to break the system down

if it becomes too complex. Systems use distinct codes, or languages, to set elements that belong to it apart from those that do not."(1) System and Environment:

from: Responds to problems in Parsons' structural-functionalism: 1. 2. Issue of "self-reference" (system's ability to refer to itself--awareness and choice rather than "natural process") Issue of "contingency" (things could be different)

System and environment--boundaries

System is always less complex Complexity of environment is always simplified within the system Simplifying involves selection--choice, possibilities, risk Systems MUST reduce complexity (map story), what is left in, what is left out Systems develop new (sub) systems and inter-relationships between them to deal with environmental complexities and change Only by increasing complexity can complexity be reduced

Autopoietic Systems 1. 2. Produce the basic elements that make up the system. Elements and systems evolve together. Are self organizing: boundaries and internal structures 1. Inside/outside by self-organizing choices, not functional necessities. 2. Other forces (systems) may attempt to limit (illicit drugs example, creationism and education) 3. Internal structures are produced based on central elements and boundaries Are self-referential (price and economy: stock market, laws about creating laws, science and truth) Are closed--only deal with representations of the environment 1. Nonetheless, the environment must be able to penetrate system (stock market) 2. Individuals are typically part of the environment, too (statuses are internal). Music Industry as an autopoietic system

3. 4.


Society and Psychic Systems (as autopoietic systems) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Basic element of society is communication Communication is produced by society Individual relevant in as much as he or she communicates (or is thought to be communicating) "Secrets" part of environment--disturbing. Individual as biological organism and as consciousness are external to society. These systems have developed/exist along side the social system. Meaning (social/psychic system choices--contingencies; what is versus isn't selected). Especially within the social system--meaning communicated versus meaning intended. Social System (communication) creates social structures to deal with "double contingency."(3, p. 201)

Double Contingency: all communication is both intended and received (or interpreted). Communicator selects particular words to convey a particular meaning, recipient interprets and assigns meaning. 9. Social structures pattern our communication and interpretation (status. roles, groups, institutions) 10. "It is because each of us has a different set of norms that communication becomes necessary, and it is because communication has the problem of double contingency that we develop sets of norms. This shows how society as an autpoietic system works: the structure (roles, institutions and traditional norms) of society creates the elements (communication) of society and those elements create the structure, so that, as in all autopoietic systems, the system constitutes its own elements."(3, p. 201) 11. Social structures lend a bit of predictability, connect earlier communications with later ones--provide a history. They make ongoing communication (and therefore the system that produces communication--society) possible--they regulate evolution. 8. Differentiation

System's way of dealing with complexity of and changes in the environment "Copy within a system the difference between it and the environment."(p. 95) Produces internal environments--different for each subsystem, and external environment--same for subsystems and system. Increasing complexity within the system--more variation to deal with variation in the environment Evolution--process of selection from variation--more variability--greater selectivity possible--greater evolutionary potential Four types 1. Segmentary Differentiation: subsystem reproduction 2. Stratificatory Differentiation: hierarchy of status Within subsystems and across system Inequality as essential feature Higher ranks--more resources and influential communication (lower ranks of concern only as threat) Oligarchy--distancing of lower/upper ranks (even though they depend on each other) Lower ranks must resort to conflict to have effect 3. Center-Periphery Differentiation link between segmentary and stratificatory systems (headquarters--periphery) 4. Functional Differentiation Most complex Dominates modern society Each function within a system ascribrd to different subsystem Flexibility, yet need for integration System embededness--one part fails; brings down system Price paid for adaptability


Language function--used to set boundaries--distinguish parts of system from environment. Limits kind of communication Specific to systems--no cross system codes, nor translation Giving meaning to events in the environment (economic system views of science--what makes or costs money)


System Law

Function Manage Norm Expectations Make Collective Decisions Possible Production of Knowledge

Efficacy Regulation of Conflicts Practical Application

Code Legal / Illegal

Program Laws, regulation, constitution Goals of Political Parties/Ideologies

Medium Jurisdiction


Government / Opposition



Supply of Knowledge

True / False

Theories, methods



Reduction of Scarcity

Satisfaction of needs

Payment / Non-payment



(source: H-Georg Muller, 29, cited by,

Neo-Marxian Theory Credits, references, and bibliography Critical Theory and the Emergence of the Culture Industry

(from: The Frankfurt School (1923, Institute for Social Research) 1. Superstructure focus 1. Marx and economics as infrastructural base 2. 1930s, 1940s, and post WWII: Culture 3. Dominant Ideology, Hegemony 4. Culture, as the product of society, and those in control of its production, came to be seen as relatively independent from traditional capitalists

Culture industry: increasing domination of society (local copy)

from: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Mass culture (radio, magazines, newspapers, movies--now TV and internet) New "opiates" for the masses Deflect critical thought--anesthetizes More important than work (40 hours versus 24/7) More insidious--creeps into consciousness At work, domination tends to be clear. Impact of technology (assembly line) is obvious. Cultural control is "invisible." People tend to desire more mass culture--we seek out our own domination.



Pleasant control Lowest common denominator (B movies, reality TV, soap operas) Continual entertainment--no revolution Time factor, all work and play (with a bit of sleep); no time for critical thought "Who wants to be a millionaire?" (we desire to be like those who oppress us) Consumerism (and mass consumption) Henry Ford: adequate wage and shorter hours--time and money to spend Advertising: drives consumption--more and more time spent shopping. Working harder and longer--more money to use for consumption. Mounting debt--more work. Less time for revolution Today: dominated by consumption. 24/7/365 Vacations as shopping experiences Insidious advertising tailored to consumer interests ("Minority Report") Complete anesthesia? Shopping malls more important than factories: temples of mass culture The Hollywood Blockbuster (after blockbuster, after blockbuster).

Herbert Marcuse One-dimensional society 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Loss of dialectic between people and social structure. Loss of capacity to think critically. We become wrapped up in consumption rather than "becoming." Technology (at work and at play) comes to control us. Technocratic thinking: efficiency, ends--means (rationalization). 1. Nazis 2. Assembly-line work (no ability to think about what we do or the consequences of our production--and actually come to think of the machine as doing the production; we become appendages). Loss of reason: ability to assess choices based on human values. Capitalism as rational, but not reasonable 1. Irrationality of rationality 1. Culture as control rather than human expression 2. Abundance, yet poverty


Overall pessimism, though Marcuse had a vision of people taking control of the technology that serves to control and creating a more human society. Yet, "people have come to love their cages and are eager to fill them with more of the goodies being churned out by the capitalist system." (2, p. 111)

Knowledge Industry (2, p. 110)

Like the culture industry Education

Focused on own interests--expanding influence over society Create the technology and expand technocratic thinking Controlled by technocrats (bureaucrats) Dominated by business, professional schools, and technique, rather than liberal arts Rather than encouraging liberating thought, universities become "student factories: "Processing as many students as possible in the most efficient way. Universities come to turn out students in much the same way that factories turn out automobiles or sausages." (2, p. 110)

From Web 1.0 to Web 2.0: More or less control? More or less intrusion? Neo-Marxian Spatial Analysis: The reproduction of class relationships 1. Henri Lefebvre on Space (1974/1984. The Production of Space . Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. 1991. Blackwell Publishing. 2004.) (see this analysis: from "Not Bored." Number 30, February 1999). o spatial practice: actions that produce and reproduce space. o representations of space: space as conceived of by elites ("urban removal"). o representational spaces: ideas and representation that stem from lived experiences . o absolute spaces: natural spaces (green belt, confluence park). o abstract space: space produced through theories and ideas of elite (devoid of nature and oppressive). o differential space: space that represents interests of all: freedom and nature. Occupy Movement David Harvey on Space: The Political Economy of Space. (2005) in Low, S. and Smith, N. (eds), The Politics of Public Space, Routledge, New York). (local copy) o "Communist Manifesto" and capitalist expansion; outsourcing, urban rural divide. o "Spaces of hope" and utopian struggle. Jaret, Charles. "Recent Neo-Marxist Urban Analysis." Annual Review of Sociology. Vol. 9, (1983), pp. 499525.



From Fordism to Post-Fordism 1. Fordism: assembly-line and mass production o This model was adopted by many other industries o By 1970s--need for change Fordism characterized by: o Mass production of homogeneous products ("Any color you want as long as it is black") o Inflexible technologies (problems: adapting to change, new models) o Standardized work routines o Increasing productivity: more goods at lower costs deskilling Issue of quality o Uniform, mass workers --bureaucratized unions: Big labor versus Big Corporations Strikes--uniform high wages, but no reward for good work o Homogeneity in production meant homogeneity in consumption--little differentiation Post-Fordism (past few decades): o Production of wide range of specialized items: high in style and quality o Production systems--flexible. Short runs and quick changes. o Flexible workers o High levels of production (still a must), yet trained and skilled workers a necessity--more demanding work, and better pay. o Dramatic decline in unions o Heterogeneity of production--heterogeneity of consumption: Sneakerization Not clear exactly when all this came about, or how far the change has gone. o Short-run assembly line is still assembly line o Jobs outside of factories have come to be more like factories: McDonaldism (or McDonaldization) o So, "fordism" remains




The Modern World-System (another interesting account) 1. 2. Core Periphery



The Civilizing Process Credits, references, and bibliography

Norbert Elias The Civilizing Process: behaviors once allowed become, over time, unacceptable.

What was once acceptable (or not taken into account) becomes noticed and problematic (embarrassing). Until people began commenting on such behaviors--there wasn't anything"rude" or embarrassing. Belching, Nose Picking, and Passing Gas The "frontier of shame" defines civility

Explaining the Changes: Lengthening Dependency Chains 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Kings and their courts: Dependency o Short dependency chains--free to do as you want (warriors). o Long chains: become sensitive to needs and expectations of others (nobles). Life grows less dangerous and more predictable, but also less exciting--boredom, repression, and restlessness Case Study: Fox Hunting--becomes increasingly rationalized ("sportization") and less exciting. o Banned in Great Britain, 2005 o As violence is taken out of sport, it manifests itself in other areas. Figurations o Interweavings of people--interrelationships (not external structures) o Process Sociology. Centrality of power--figurations constantly developing, largely unseen and unplanned o Dependency chains are one example o Individuals are open to and interrelated with others.

See: Christopher Lasch. Review: Historical Sociology and the Myth of Maturity: Norbert Elias's "Very Simple Formula". Theory and Society, Vol. 14, No. 5 (Sep., 1985), pp. 705-720. Norbert Elias (1897-1990) "studied the long-term historical development of the civilizing process. In the civilizing process, a number of behaviors that were formerly allowed became prohibited in European society from the 13 th to the 19th centuries. People became much more self-conscious about appropriate behavior over this period. Elias argued that people became more and more connected to and dependent upon one another as modern social structure developed. He referred to this as the lengthening of dependency chains. As a result, people became more sensitive to others. Elias tried to map the social relationships that created sensitivity into figurations or interweaving networks of people. The concept of figuration can be seen as an effort to overcome the macro-micro distinction in sociology in which cultural phenomena are reified into norms. Elias argued that sociologists needed to deal with human relationships rather than abstractions." (1) Exercise

Norbert Elias observed a long-term trend of increasingly civilized everyday behaviors. His research method was to look at writing on manners, which he found in etiquette books, to find out what common behaviors were and when they began to be considered offensive. Today, the Internet is a new social realm where manners are still developing. Go to the Netiquette website: First, take the netiquette quiz to gauge your own understanding of netiquette. Then, look at the core rules of netiquette and answer the following questions. a. b. c. What are some common everyday behavioral problems for Internet users? Are some of these behavioral problems peculiar to the Internet? Why? To what does the guide to etiquette appeal when recommending changes in behavior?

d. Based on what you know about the role of self-constraint in the civilizing process, do you think that netiquette will improve over time?

The Juggernaut of Modernity and the Risk Society Credits, references, and bibliography Analyzing Modernity: The Juggernaut of Modernity and the Risk Society

Anthony Giddens The Juggernaut

We live (continue to live) in a modern world Modernity is a force pushing into the future--overwhelming all in its path. People steer it, but ineffectively and always at risk of losing control There are great rewards--the products of modernity--yet, they can turn in upon themselves and us (technological fix).

Space and Time

Ability to control is affected by time and space relationships: Distanciation Relationships, controls, and perspectives--expanding through space and time: no longer face-to-face and immediate-global realities Past, present, and future--consequences of what we do today (or did yesterday) for tomorrow? As we become more distant from each other and the products of modern society, we increasingly rely on trust: o In the systems. o In the "experts" o Yet, have little direct contact with either And, redefine ourselves and our relationships with things and others.


Constantly examining and reexamining behavior and technology, and our thinking about them. Not content to leave things to the experts Produces sense of uneasiness Produces sense of openness and uncertainty: examining our previous examinations

Risk Society (Ulrich Beck)

Insecurity and Risks (see wikipedia, too). Future orientation. What unifies society is the shared interest in avoiding risks and their consequences Distanciation Stratified Risk (class-based and core/periphery) o Rich nations and upper classes attempt to locate problematic factories, prisons, and the like--far away. o Boomerang effect

Risks and Insecurity 1. 2. 3. Childhood socialization; trust in parents and authority Daily routines: life goes on But, RISK remains. The juggernaut is always threatening: o The people who designed it made mistakes o Operator error o The unintended consequences of our modifications o Reflection redirects and relocates (unforeseen consequences)

"Anthony Giddenss grand theory of modernity uses the image of the juggernaut, a massive force that rides roughshod over everything in its path. Giddens intends to convey by this image a sense that modernity is out of control. Control has been lost in part because modern social systems are spatially dispersed and complex. Modern individuals are reflexive beings, meaning they examine the big and small problems of their world and adjust their actions accordingly. Still, in a complex world we must put many decisions in the hands of experts. As a result, the juggernaut of modernity is a dynamic system, constantly adjusted by reflexive action and constantly creating new problems. The German social theorist Ulrich Beck (1944- ) shares Giddenss interest in this insecurity, and has even gone as far as arguing that we now live in a risk society."(1) Exercise(1) Anthony Giddens thinks that the profile of risk has changed in contemporary times. Go to the BBC website and view, read, or listen to Giddenss lecture on Risk. This lecture, written for a general audience, provides an excellent introduction to how risk operates in the contemporary world. a. b. c. d. What is external risk? How has risk changed throughout the ages? Give an example of a manufactured risk. What does Giddens mean by the end of nature?

The Colonization of the Lifeworld Credits, references, and bibliography

Jrgen Habermas

Lifeworld, System, Colonization


o o

Schutz--world of everyday life. Intersubjectivity Habermas--Interpersonal communication Free and open The rationalization of communication in the lifeworld "Rationalization" as positive in this context--leads to mutual understanding--Consensus The "better" argument wins the day Power and authority do not determine consensus

System Source from within the lifeworld Develops distinctive structure: family, state, education As they develop, they become removed from lifeworld Progressive rationalization: for the system increasingly differentiated, complex, and self-sufficient (reification). This leads to: The colonization of the lifeworld by the the system (it's structures) o Limits the ability of actors to have free and open discussion (access to information, control over speech) o it is only through the separation of the system from the lifeworld that the former can colonize the latter. o Takes the lifeworld to the point of destruction, yet extensive colonization sustains it (in a fragmented and rigidified form). Universities run on market strategies Penetration of all areas of life by law (juridification)

o o o o o

Rationalization of System and Lifeworld: the solution?

Allow system to grow and differentiate itself, but also refine the lifeworld.

A more rational system can enhance rational discourse in the lifeworld The product of individual communication is fed back into the system.

Ideal Speech Situation

One that is free of all distorting influences--especially power Truth arises from consensus. Problem of contemporary society--limited openness: inequality.

"In his magnum opus Theory of Communicative Action (1981) he criticized the one-sided process of modernization led by forces of economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas traced the growing intervention of formal systems in our everyday lives as parallel to development of the welfare state, corporate capitalism and the culture of mass consumption. These reinforcing trends rationalize widening areas of public life, submitting them to a generalizing logic of efficiency and control. As routinized political parties and interest groups substitute for participatory democracy, society is increasingly administered at a level remote from input of citizens. As a result, boundaries between public and private, the individual and society, the system and the lifeworld are deteriorating. Democratic public life only thrives where institutions enable citizens to debate matters of public importance. He describes an ideal type of "ideal speech situation"[1], where actors are equally endowed with the capacities of discourse, recognize each other's basic social equality and speech is undistorted by ideology or misrecognition." (from, wikipedia,, accessed 10/6/08 16:25. "Jrgen Habermas's grand theory of modernity is concerned with the progress of rationalization and the possibility of achieving a substantively rational society. Habermas was trained by members of the Frankfurt School, but his theory departs from their critique of the culture industry. Habermas thought that the sphere of everyday action, in which free and open communication can take place (the lifeworld), was being colonized by the progressively rationalized structures of the system. These structures include the family, the legal system, the state, and the economy. As they grow increasingly differentiated, complex, and self-sufficient, the structures of the system increasingly constrain free and open communication. As a result, people have fewer opportunities to make substantively rational decisions based on the force of argument."(1)