Sociological Concepts, Structural Perspectives, Power, Politics and People   no comments

Posted at 1:57 am in Politics,Sociology

Currently reading: A New Introduction to Sociology – Mike O’Donnell

Brief overview of what has been read:

Currently I have been looking at the fundamentals of sociology, which includes the core principles and basic sociological concepts. Furthermore I have been reading about the founders of sociology: Marx, Durkheim and Weber, and how their views have influenced sociological theory and sociological structural prospective.
The book introduces also Functionalism, Marxism and social action theory, explaining their core differences.
This introduction is covered in good detail in Chapter 1.

Also directing my reading towards the political aspect of sociology, I have been reading about Power, Politics and People. The book explains the core principles of Weber and Marx’s power views. Also looking at the systems of government, such as Democracy, Oligarchy and Dictatorships have been discussed. A really relevant section is the voting models which where explained, including the party identification and social class model, the rational-choice model and the radical model. All arguing a different reason for why trends occur in voting behaviour.

This topic on political sociology can be read in chapter 14.

Knowledge gained and relevance to issue:

To begin with let’s look at the basic sociological concepts, these include self, which as Kuhn suggests is “the core of the personality system”. This can be genetically or socialisation. However sociologists take a minimal view on instinctive behaviour, suggesting that it is shaped by social behaviour instead.

Another concept is socialisation, which is the process of shaping human behaviour through experience in social situations. Cooley suggests that there are type types of socialism, primary and secondary, small groups involving face-to-face relationships and allow the individual to express themselves as a whole, or larger more impersonal groups, formally organised, and for a specific purpose.

Furthermore the concepts of Culture, Values, Norms, Status and Roles are discussed. These all form the basis of the concepts behind sociology.
Looking at the issue that is being addressed (in short, how the use of the web is changing the way society can communicate with the government), these concepts plan a large part on the interaction between both parties. Taking socialisation for instance, which is being defined as either primary or secondary, but the introduction of these new communication methods gives opportunities for the individual to express themselves.

The next thing that needs to be discussed is the founder’s perspective on Society. Marx, Durkheim and Weber all take a different view on sociological theory. Durkheim’s Functionalistic view is based on the prospective that social institutions (i.e. schools, governments) exist to meet basic human needs. Society operates comparative to a biological organism, where the institutions interact with each other for the benefit of society, and power is practically necessary. Marxism however is based on the view that class conflict is the fundamental social force. In a capitalist society, the main social classes are the capitalist class and the working class. These can be seen as the powerful and weakest classes (bourgeoisie or proletariat). Power is also based on class, which is down to wealth and property. Finally Weber’s work, referred to as Social Action Theory tries to integrate the structural prospective and also the interpretive perspective. This takes the view that society is constructed through social interaction, not class. And that power is needed, but tends to agree that power is based on class.

These theories can be discussed in regards to the issue trying to be addressed, especially looking at the relationship between the individual and society, and also what causes social change.

Looking at Politics, Power and Authority, Weber and Marx suggest two views, power is the ability to get ones way (even if it is based on bluff) and power lies in the relations of a group, respectively. These theories can be well discussed regarding the issue of web communications. For instance, if power is the ability to get ones way, they would online forum bulling / spamming show that they user has power; furthermore, just because of a hierarchical structure in a forum, do the higher rated uses have more power, hence more ‘political’ voice?

Looking at the different voting models is also an important aspect that needs to be discussed. If taking the party identification and social class model into consideration, which suggests that historically, and even in contemporary Britain the main factor to explain voting behaviour is class, how does this affect the Web model that is being seen? On the contrary to this, the rational-choice model suggests that voting is mainly the basis of self-interest in relation to the issues being presented. Extrapolating this to the Web, does this suggest that people are only interested in politics that affect them, either their local government or council? Finally the radical model argues that sectoral cleavages (private and public sector) explains trends in voting behaviour, this may in turn distract people from class

These so far are the basic concepts that I have studied in the field of sociology, which is also touching upon political sociology. Further reading now is required into political communications, and concepts being it.

Written by rt506 on February 26th, 2010

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