SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION AND INVESTIGATION
FIRST YEAR CORE COURSE (2001-2002)
CONVENOR: STEVE FULLER
LECTURERS: STEVE FULLER, PETER RATCLIFFE, CHARLES TURNER
CLASS LEADERS: GILL BENDELOW, DANIEL CHERNILLO, KYRIAKI GOUDELI, GERASIMOS HARITOPOULOS, PETER RATCLIFFE, CHARLES TURNER, ROLANDO VAZQUEZ
LECTURE TUESDAY 3.00- 4.00 in Humanities 052
CLASSES ONE SESSION PER WEEK (1.5 HOURS)
This course has been devised as a common foundation for all students on Single and Joint Honours courses. The basic aim is to show that thinking about society and investigating it are not separate activities but part of one integrated enterprise. Specially, we aim to convey that:-
Equally, there are the more ‘micro’ concerns of how we interact with our subjects, entailing issues of confidentiality, intrusion and interference with human lives in general. In between these two we must be acutely aware that our mode of thinking and researching serves to set a social agenda; it brings issues into prominence, popularises new words and ways of looking at the world, releases new techniques which can be used indiscriminately, and generally makes many aspects of life problematic which people has previously taken for granted. None of this can be ethically neutral, so we can never be morally indifferent.
TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT.
You will find a week by week breakdown of topics for Terms 1 and 2 later in this document.
The seminar classes are as follows:
Once you are in a particular class, weekly attendance is obligatory (except for reasons of illness or serious personal difficulties). Every effort should be made to stay in the class you have chosen unless you have a really good reason for asking the Convenor for a move.
d) Teaching on this course is integrated with the Professional Skills Programme (PSP). Both non-assessed and assessed essays will require a demonstration that particular Professional Skills have been satisfactorily mastered. Seminar leaders are responsible for integrating the PSP into their weekly classes. A valuable supplementary website for these skills may be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/sspsw/soci106/index.htm
Essay 1: End of week 8 of term 1 (to be returned by class leaders before the Xmas break): 23 November 2001.
Essay 2: End of week 8 of term 2 (to be returned by class leaders before the Easter break): 1 March 2002
Although these essays are non-assessed, you are required to do them. You will not be receiving either feedback or marks on your assessed work.
f) In Term 3, your class leaders will devote one seminar class to reviewing the course material, including the sorts of issues that are likely to be raised in the examination. Each seminar class will have its own review session, the exact date of which will be determined by the class leader before the end of term 2.
This course is 50% assessed and 50% examined. Assessed work is made up of 2 essays of 2,000 words each. Both essays must display an awareness of the interconnection between ‘theories’ and ‘methods’, and will be marked down if they fail to do so. Marks will also be deducted if the PSP component is not incorporated.
This will be of a more theoretical orientation, but answers must be written in such a way as to indicate what type(s) of data warrants the assertions made and what form of investigation is associated with the approach(es) under discussion.
PSP Component - Consult ‘Writing Essays’, p.33-60.
At the front of your essay, please make sure you attach the following:-
1 A list of tasks which the topic chosen involves (see examples, Section 2, pp 37-40).
2 A plan of the essay (read and practice Section 4: model your plan as shown on p.52).
The introduction and conclusion of the essay itself should follow the guidelines given in Section 5, p.53-57.
This will be more methodological in orientation and will require you to evaluate a piece of published research or examine a technique (such as questionnaire design, participant observation, structured interviewing, content analysis, etc.).
PSP Component : Consult ‘Word Processing and Writing’, p.98-116
The essay itself must be:
1 Word processed, paginated, well presented and spell checked; giving a word count.
2 Quotations should be presented as specified (p.103-106) and Harvard style used.
3 The essay must conclude with a bibliography, with items presented in the format described on pages 109-111.
The dates for submission are:
Essay 1 - End of 4th week of Term 2 (Friday 1 February 2002)
Essay 2 - End of 1st week of Term 3 (Friday 26 April 2002)
You will receive the assessed essay topics in the seminars. Essay 1 topics will be distributed in Term 1, week 9. Essay 2 topics will be distributed in Term 2, week 15.
TEACHING TEXTS AND MATERIALS
Randall Collins, Four Sociological Traditions, Oxford University Press, 1994.
2. In addition, several copies of these books are available in the bookshop. They are all well-informed introductions to different aspects of the course.
3. Seminar leaders will encourage you to consult a wider range of literature that is appropriate to the lecture topics. These texts are generally available in the Student Reserve Collection in the Library, as well as the bookshop. Indeed, the search for supplementary reading should form a significant part of your educational experience. Your seminar leaders can help you evaluate the quality and relevance of such material. For example, many books and articles have been written on the leading sociological theorists, and you may find some of these more interesting or illuminating than what we have assigned here.
4. You are also encouraged to use the web to research and survey sociological theory, methods, and topics. Perhaps the most comprehensive website has been constructed at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut (USA): http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/index.html. However, it is your responsibility to check the validity of the information posted there and at any other website. Simply claiming that you found something on the web is not by itself sufficient grounds for citing it in an essay or exam. In any case, if you make reference to a website in your work, you must always cite the URL, so that the instructor can check your source, if he or she needs to.
5. Finally, you are encouraged to purchase a comprehensive dictionary of sociological terms to help you with difficulties in reading. Collins, Oxford and Penguin publish inexpensive and reliable books of this kind.
LECTURE AND SEMINAR TOPICS (SF = Steve Fuller; CT = Charles Turner; PR = Peter Ratcliffe)
The Overall Structure: Week 1 of the first term is for organizational matters, and week 10 of the second term is a reading week. Fuller, Turner, and Ratcliffe will each do six consecutive lectures in the intervening 18 weeks. Fuller will present an overview of the main research traditions in sociology. Turner will consider in depth some of the topics covered by these traditions. Ratcliffe will survey the methods that sociologists use to do research in these traditions. Below you will find a list of the topics covered in each of the lectures, along with required readings and seminar questions.
Week 2, October 9th (SF)
Sociology as a product of its own society. The historic preconditions for the social sciences.
Required Reading, Collins, Prologue
A common 'A' level approach to teaching the foundations of sociology is in terms of the discipline's three seminal theorists -- Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. However, in this course, we are interested in presenting sociology as a set of research traditions that not only reach back into the 19th century -- when Marx, Durkheim and Weber lived -- but continue to have relevance today. Collins begins this task in the Prologue by doing a 'sociology of knowledge' analysis of sociology. In other words, how did sociology become institutionalized as a form of knowledge in the first place?
As you will see, this question can be answered in a variety of ways, depending on whether one is talking about France, Germany or the USA. Here one needs to look at how the social sciences became university subjects. The UK has a relatively weak tradition in sociology, in large part because economics became the principal social science in British universities in the late 19th century. Collins highlights the significance of other competing fields such as history, anthropology and psychology for occupying the position of sociology in universities in different countries over the past 150 years.
The challenge for any academic discipline -- especially a social science -- is to demonstrate that its form of knowledge is not simply tied to the context of its origins but has relevance and validity beyond it. Collins' traditions-based approach to sociology is designed to do that by showing how ideas originating the 19th century can provide the basis for thought and research in the 21st century.
Week 3, October 16th (SF)
The Conflict tradition.
Required Reading, Collins, chapter 1
As it turns out, two of three founders of sociology -- Marx and Weber -- belong to the conflict tradition. It is also Collins' preferred tradition. However, Collins points out that although the conflict tradition is very ancient and distinguished, it has never been very popular. This is because it portrays even the most obviously harmonious social formations as temporarily suppressed disagreements. The conflict tradition thus stresses matters of power inequalities, status hierarchies and class divisions as the stuff out of which societies are built. It is easy to imagine here that "social structure" is simply a sophisticated way of keeping groups of people away from each other so as to prevent a "war of all against all." Any appearance of consensus and community is explained as "ideology," a way of diverting people's attention from their underlying conflicts.
Marx and Weber largely agree on this picture, but their attitudes toward it were rather different. Broadly speaking, Marx believed that once people understood the underlying sources of conflict in modern society -- class divisions bred by capitalism -- they would organize themselves so as to put an end to the conflict; hence, the communist society. Weber believed that conflict could never be ended with a revolutionary gesture, and indeed held that certain suppressed -- or as Freud would say, "sublimated" -- forms of conflict could actually be quite beneficial, as in the case of religious beliefs that translated people's political aspirations into other aspects of their lives.
Collins emphasizes two general areas in which the conflict tradition has been influential in empirical sociological research in the 20th century: the study of organizational dynamics and comparative historical sociology. In both cases, change is portrayed as the resolution of competing forces from different sectors of the social formation in question.
Week 4, October 23rd (SF)
The Rational/Utilitarian tradition
Required Reading, Collins, chapter 2
The rational/utilitarian tradition in sociology is the one with the strongest roots in British intellectual history. However, these British roots are not to be found in sociology itself, but rather in philosophy and economics. From these roots came the ideas of empiricism, liberalism, capitalism, and utilitarianism. The rational/utilitarian tradition entered sociology in the US in the 1930s through what is now known as "exchange theory." The difference between this tradition and the conflict tradition is striking. First, the idea of "interests" is conceptualized rather differently. In the conflict tradition, interests attach to groups, such as classes, where in the rational/utilitarian tradition they attach to individuals. Moreover, conflict is not an inevitable feature of social life according to the rational/utilitarian tradition. Rather, it is the result of individual miscalculations of self-interest that add up unintentionally to a collectively undesirable result.
The image of society projected by the rational/utilitarian tradition is relatively sanguine. Basically, if people have a realistic sense of their own capacities and those of others, they will be able to make exchanges that will enable everyone to flourish. Put crudely, the ideal society is one big market. The difficult question for this tradition is how to get people to see their own situation in these terms, since people often seem to distrust each other, don't pull their own weight, and otherwise don't wish to be cooperative. In other words how do you translate an individual's imperative to pursue "maximum pleasure with minimum pain" to the utilitarian's motto of "the greatest good for the greatest number"?
Collins interprets this question as a call for social policy, which is where the rational/utilitarian tradition has had its strongest influence. Here Collins surveys the various incentive schemes that sociologists have suggested to get people to do socially beneficial things that they might not otherwise do. In addition, he shows how researchers in the rational/utilitarian tradition can find evidence for their general view of social life in such unlikely places as family dynamics.
Week 5, October 30th (SF)
The Durkheimian tradition
Required Reading, Collins, chapter 3
Collins observes that Emile Durkheim is probably the single person most responsible for the establishment of sociology as an academic discipline. A key move he made -- which Marx and Weber did not -- was to claim that sociology has a distinct subject matter governed by its own laws, which could be studied by its own methods. In other words, Durkheim deliberately distinguished sociology from competing disciplines such as economics, psychology and biology. However, as Collins points out, Durkheim did not distinguish sociology from anthropology, and indeed this blurring remains in France to the present day. For example, today's leading French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu, did his original field work in Algeria.
One important theoretical consequence of this blurring is that Durkheimians have strove to provide an account of social life that can incorporate both modern and non-modern (or pre-modern) societies. This explains the great emphasis that this tradition places on "rituals" as the building blocks of social life. As Collins notes, perhaps the most important recent researcher in this vein has been Erving Goffman, who explored the social conditions under which various forms of individuality and identity can be expressed, especially in the context of "total institutions," that is, places like prisons and hospitals, which are supposedly design to keep tight control over people's actions.
However, because Durkheim was so keen to stress the "sui generis" character of sociology, he was forced to imagine societies as rather more stable, harmonious and self-contained than they really are. (Here it is worth recalling that Durkheim's promotion of sociology was closely tied to his efforts at "moral education," which aimed to bolster French national identity.) Collins shows that Durkheim did try to move away from earlier views of society as an organism, but nevertheless that view continued to haunt his followers, especially in the US, as "functionalism," the first internationally prominent school of academic sociology. Collins also shows how Talcott Parsons, the leading functionalist theorist, managed to bring Weber's ideas about the conflict-sublimating role of religion under the Durkheimian fold.
Week 6, November 6th (SF)
The Microinteractionist tradition
Required Reading, Collins, chapter 4
The microinteractionist tradition is the one most squarely based in the US and in the 20th century. Although the various schools discussed in this chapter -- symbolic interactionism, phenomenology and ethnomethodology -- make rather different assumptions about the nature of social life, they share a methodological focus on "qualitative" work, involving the observation of people interacting in their native habitats. Much of this work was originally modeled on journalistic practice at home and ethnographic practice in exotic places. ("Participant observation" is often used in this context.) The general tenor of this tradition has been that society is simply whatever results from the interactions of its members. "Social structure" is not imposed on individuals, but are rather constructed by them. Indeed, even the very identities of the individuals may be constructed in social interaction.
The microinteractionist tradition shares with the Durkheimian tradition a focus on the more mundane, "ritualistic" features of everyday life. However, unlike Durkheimian, the microinteractionist tends to be more open-minded about what is possible in a given social situation. This viewpoint is perhaps taken to its extreme by ethnomethodologists, who have shown that it does not take much to upset ordinary routines. The conclusion that researchers in this tradition often reach is that seemingly "hard" social categories such as race, class and even gender are "context-dependent." Whether one "passes" as black or white, say, will depend on the particular people and situation involved. However, much of this "work of world-making" is often erased in the official accounts that people provide of their actions after the fact. In that case, social reality is controlled by those who write up these official accounts.
Week 7, November 13th (SF)
Do these four traditions add up to one science of society?
Required Reading, Collins, Epilogue
Collins presents four historically well-defined traditions of sociological thought and research. But what is the most productive way of thinking about the relationship between these traditions. Do they offer competing explanations for social life, only one or some of which can be correct? Are they styles of thinking that can be incorporated to varying degrees in any piece of sociological work? Are all four traditions necessary parts of some yet to be integrated science of society? We shall review the options here, with an eye to this course's later focus on specific research topics and methods.
Weeks 8 to 13: Biography, Society, History (CT)
If there is an agreed upon definition of sociology it is the study of the relationship between the individual and society – the ways in which individuals may be said to be members of/integrated into society, and those in which individuals stand opposed to society. Empirical sociological investigation and research always entails assumptions about the degree of autonomy or freedom enjoyed by individuals, the specific means by which individuals are connected with or integrated into society, and ultimately about what ‘society’ is.
Because we cannot avoid the fact that we live in an increasingly ‘individualistic’ epoch, this block of lectures addresses attempts by sociologists to specify the ways in which individual biography is connected with history and society. What we call ‘the individual’ is the product both of external influences and of the individual’s own efforts to secure an identity for him or herself. Because of this we will be paying closer attention than last term to what sociologists like to call the ‘cultural’ dimension of social life. By ‘culture’ we mean that complex of beliefs, attitudes, values – possibly religious but not necessarily so – which provide individuals with a sense of orientation in the world as well as an objective ‘position’ or objective set of ‘roles’ to fill. If individuals are role players or have a clear position in a social structure, as Runciman suggests, they also have individual biographies, respond to the influence of images, and hold certain beliefs. That is, they become competent, or less competent, members of ‘society’, but do so by combining different types of involvement in different kinds of collectivity and different kinds of relationship.
Week 8 November 20th (CT)– Durkheim on religious organisation and suicide
There are few more provocative illustrations of the potential range of application of sociology than Durkheim’s study of suicide. Here Durkheim insists that suicide, which appears to be the most personal, individual act, can nevertheless be studied for its social causes. Suicide rates are shown to vary between different social groups - particularly religious confessions - and countries, and to vary over time. In other words, in Wright Mills’ terms, suicide, like any other social phenomenon, exists at the intersection of individual biography, society, and history. Durkheim was not so much interested in the content of religious belief as the function or role of religion in society and its contribution to the maintenance or undermining of social order.
E. Durkheim, Suicide, London: Routledge, chapters 2, 3
R. Aron, Main Currents of Sociological Thought Vol.2, Penguin, 1962, pp.33-50
C.G.A. Bryant, Positivism in Social Theory and Research, Macmillan, 1985
I. Craib, Classical Social Theory, Oxford University Press, 1997, ch.3.
J. D. Douglas, The Social Meanings of Suicide, Princeton, 1967 (critique of Durkheim)
E. Durkheim, Selected Writings, Cambridge University Press, 1972
A. Giddens, Durkheim, Harvester, 1978
---- (ed), The Sociology of Suicide, London: Cass, 1971.
P. Halfpenny, Positivism and Sociology: Explaining Social Life, Aldershot, 1992
S. Lukes, Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work, Penguin, 1973, chs. 9, 10
T. Parsons, The Structure of Social Action, New York: Free Press, 1937, pp.301-307, 324-338.
G. Poggi, Durkheim, Oxford University Press, 2000, chs. 2, 5.
W. Pope, Durkheim’s Suicide: A Classic Analysed, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1976.
Beckford, J., Religion and Industrial Society,
Week 9, November 27th – individual, society and history: Weber and the study of religion
Weber’s study of the relationship between Protestantism and capitalism has given rise to more sustained controversy than Durkheim's Suicide. It too offers a particular account of the relationship between the individual, society and history, and also has much to say about the difference between religious confessions. But Weber was rather sceptical towards Durkheim’s belief that sociology could be a science, believing instead that sociology should be concerned with what he called ‘meaningful social action’. Hence he pays more attention than Durkheim to the ‘subjective’ side of social life, and more attention to the influence on individuals of the content of ideas and beliefs. But at the same time he makes a sweeping claim about the influence of certain religious ideas on the emergence of modern capitalism in the West. This makes The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism an important example of the use of ‘comparative methods’ in sociology.
Weber, M, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, London: Allen and Unwin [1904-5] 1930, chapters 1, 5
----, ‘Asceticism and Mysticism’, in Economy and Society, Berkeley: University of California Press 1978
Aron, R., Main Currents of Sociological Thought
Bendix, R., Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait, London: Methuen, 1966
Kasler, D., Max Weber: An Introduction to His Life and Work, Cambridge: Polity, 1988
Marshall, G., In Search of the Spirit of Capitalism, Aldershot: Gregg Revivals, 1993
Parsons, T., The Structure of Social Action, New York: Free Press, 1937, 516-538
Poggi, G., Calvinism and the Capitalist Spirit, London: Macmillan, 1983
Tawney, R.H. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism
H. Lehmann, and G. Roth, Weber’s Protestant Ethic: Origins, Evidence, Contexts, Cambridge University Press, 1993
A. MacIntyre, ‘A Mistake about Causality in Social Science’ in Laslett, P., and Runciman, W.G., Philosophy, Politics and Society, Cambridge University Press, 1967
B. S. Turner Max Weber: From History to Modernity, London: Routledge, 1992.
1. What does Weber mean by the term ‘elective affinity’?
2. What do you understand by the term asceticism?
3. Are ideas more important or less important than economic or political interests in shaping our lives?
Week 10, December 4th – individual, society and history: the changing experience of work.
During the 1960s and 1970s there emerged an approach to the study of society which came to be known as ‘cultural materialism’. This can be seen as a halfway house between the ‘objective’ study of society and history which grew out of Durkheim and, to an extent, Marx, and the more ‘idealist’ sense of ‘culture’ to be found in the work of Max Weber, where the emphasis is often on ideas and beliefs ‘for their own sake’. One of the most fruitful sites for the exploration of this new approach was the study of social class, and especially the experience of work and its relationship to leisure and the family. For writers working in this tradition, the task of the sociologist is not merely to give an account of the division of labour, or inequalities between social groups, or the relationship between work and leisure – though these are important - but to gain access to the texture of lives lived under given social and historical conditions.
P. Willis, Learning to Labour, Farnborough: Saxon House, 1977
Chapters 4, 8
Hochschild, A., The Time Bind, New York: Metropolitan Books, 1997 chapters .4, 14, 15
Arlie Hochschild, The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home, Piatkus, 1990
K. Hunnicutt, Work Without End, 1988
K. Marx, ‘Estranged Labour’, in R. Tucker (ed), The Marx-Engels Reader, pp.70-81
R. Pahl, (ed) On Work, Blackwell, 1988,
----, After Success: Fin-de Siecle Anxiety and Identity, Cambridge:Polity, 1995
Studs Terkel, Working, Pantheon Books, 1974
Wilhelm Reich, ‘Biosocial Function of Work’, in The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Harmondsworth: Penguin,  1969
Sennett, R., The Corrosion of Character, London, New York: Norton, 1998
---- and Cobb, J., The Hidden Injuries of Class
E.P. Thompson, ‘Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism’, in Customs in Common Penguin, 1994,
G. Wallraff, Lowest of the Low, London: Methuen, 1988.
M. Weber ‘Industrial Psychology’, in W.G. Runciman (ed) Weber: Selections in Translation, Cambridge University Press, 1977
1. What according to Hochschild are the main changes taking place today in the relationship between work and family life?
2. What does Willis mean by a ‘separation between self and work’ among ‘the lads’?
END OF TERM
Week 11, January 8th - Making the Familiar Strange: Erving Goffman and Everyday Life
A peculiar feature of sociology, but one that was often forgotten by its founding figures, is that those studying society are themselves social actors. This means that they often have to 'step back' from their own involvements and forms of membership in order to be able to study social life at all. And when they do, they often study large collectivities such as classes or nations, and large scale processes of change. But this 'macro' approach is not the only way to go. This week we look at the work of Erving Goffman, which alerts us to the fact that everyday life too may become a worthy topic of inquiry. Goffman's work is distinctive for the way in which it makes what most of us 'take for granted' appear unfamiliar. But it is not without systematic intent, and Goffman provides us with an entire terminology for describing what we think we already know. His work raises basic questions about the relationship between freedom and constraint in social life.
Goffman, E., The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1956, chapters 1, 2
Goffman, Interaction Ritual, Penguin 1972
---- Relations in Public, Penguin 1972
Charles Lemert and Ann Branerman (eds), The Goffman Reader, Oxford: Blackwell, 1997
Greg Smith (ed) Goffman and Social Organisation, London: Routldege, 1999
Jason Ditton (ed) The View from Goffman, London: Macmillan 1980
Tom Burns, Erving Goffman, London: Routledge 1992
Week 12, January 15th - Making the Familiar Strange - Ritual, Drama, and Collective Effervescence.
Goffman's work alerts us to the ways in which the apparently ordinary features of our everyday life can be made into objects of sociological study. But there are other, more formal types of behaviour which can also be examined for their sociological significance. One example is public rituals - coronations, state funerals, remembrance day parades, carnivals - in which a collectivity, is either 'brought together' or divided against itself. Such rituals and ceremonies place individuals in a different relationship to one another from those that they experience in everyday life. In the 20th century totalitarian regimes provided the most obvious examples of the political manipulation of ritual and its potential for what Durkheim called 'collective effervescence', but democracies too have a need for them. Sociologists disagree on how to describe and explain such phenomena.
Film Clip: Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will , 1936
Shils, E., and Young, M., 'The Meaning of the Coronation', in E. Shils,
Turner, V. The Ritual Process
Durkheim, E., The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, Book III, chapter 5
Cannetti, E., Crowds and Power, Penguin 1974
Stern, J.P., Hitler: The Ruler and the People, Hassocks: Harvester 1975
Lukes, S., Essays in Social Theory
Connerton, P., How Societies Remember, ch.2
Lukes, S., Emile Durkheim: His Life and Work
Thompson, E.P., 'Rough Music' in Customs in Common, Penguin 1991
Wedeen, Lisa, 'Acting "As If": Symbolic Politics and Social Control in Syria', Comparative Studies in Society and History 1998, 40, 3, July, 503-523.
Laqueur, T., 'Crowds, carnival and the state in English executions', 1604-1868. [SRC collection]
Walter. A (ed) The Mourning for Diana, Oxford: Berg, 1999
Hall, S., (ed) Resistance through Rituals, Open University Press 1976
Week 13, January 22nd - Making the Strange Familiar - the normal and the pathological, the regular and the deviant
If sociologists attempt to understand and explain society by making the familiar and the obvious into something worth studying, they also do so by attending to that which is, or is considered to be, at odds with generally accepted norms, values and practices. Much of the work in this area goes under the heading of 'deviance', but it also includes the study of new religious movements. These however are merely extreme versions of a more mundane phenomenon, in which certain groups or communities define themselves by distinguishing themselves from others, establishing a relationship between those who belong and those who do not.
Becker, Howard S., Outsiders: studies in the sociology of deviance. - New York: Free Press, 1963.
Beckford, J.A., Cult Controversies, London: Tavistock, 1985
Festinger, L., When Prophecy Fails
Elias, Norbert and Scotson, John L., The Established and the Outsiders, London: Sage, 1994
Goffman, Erving, Stigma, Penguin, 1967
Downes, D.,Understanding deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995.
Hebdidge, D., Subcultures,
Young, Jock, The Exclusive Society, London: Sage 1999
Week 14, January 29th - The Formation of Social Facts: Official Statistics on ‘race’ and ethnicity. (PR)
Emile Durkheim stressed the importance of ‘social facts’ in gaining an understanding of the social world (as is illustrated in his classic work Suicide). But what are ‘social facts’, and what are the problems associated with their conceptualisation and usage?
This raises a series of broader questions about the data sociologists use. Why do they need to collect primary data? Might some of these data already be available in one form or another? What statistical material, for example, is available to the sociologist? What are the problems in using it? Why has data been collected on some issues and not others?
Stemming from these questions is a series of important concerns. Some have to do with ‘values’, which generate an explicit (or often implicit) ‘agenda’ influencing what data is collected, what form it takes and what is then done with it. There are then a series of methodological questions, relating to the type of ‘knowledge’ generated by such material.
The key points are illustrated by the manner in which two key concepts, ‘race’ and ethnicity, are ‘measured’ in official statistics.
May, T. (2001) Social Research. Buckingham: Open University Press (3rd edition), chapter 4.
* Bulmer, M. (1984) "Why don't sociologists make more use of official statistics?", in M.Bulmer (ed.) Sociological Research Methods. Basingstoke: Macmillan: 131-152.
Gilbert, N. (2001) "Research, Theory and Method" in N. Gilbert (ed.) Researching Social Life (second edition). London: Sage: 14-27.
Durkheim, E. (1952) Suicide: A Study in Sociology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Gordon, P. (1996) 'The Racialization of Statistics' in R.Skellington, 'Race' in Britain Today. Sage/Open University Press.
Hammersley, M.(ed.) (1993) Social Research. London: Sage : chapters 11 and 13.
* Hindess, B. (1973) The Use of Official Statistics in Sociology. Basingstoke: Macmillan: 14-27.
Oakley, A. & R.Oakley (1979) 'Sexism in Official Statistics', in Irvine, J. et al. Demystifying Social Statistics. London: Pluto: 172-189.
West, J. (1996) "Figuring out Working Women", in R. Levitas and W.Guy (eds.) Interpreting Official Statistics. London: Routledge: 121-42.
* Nichols, T. (1996) "Social Class: Official, Sociological and Marxist", in R. Levitas and W. Guy (eds.) Interpreting Official Statistics. London: Routledge: 66-89.
Bulmer, M. (1986) "Race and Ethnicity", in R.G.Burgess (ed.) Key Variables in Social Investigation. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
* Sillitoe, K. (1978) "Ethnic Origin: the search for a question", Population Trends. 13: 25-30.
Ratcliffe, P. (ed.) (1996) Social Geography and Ethnicity in Britain, Ethnicity in the 1991 Census - Volume 3. London: HMSO. (esp. chapter 1)
Government Statistical Service (1996) Harmonised Concepts and Questions for Government Social Surveys. London: Office for National Statistics.
Rainford, L. (1997) 2001 Census testing programme: report on the ethnic group and religion question test carried out in March 1997. London: Office for National Statistics (Social Survey Division).
Week 15, February 5th, Survey Research 1: a neutral arbitrator? (PR)
The survey research paradigm could be argued to represent the scientific method par excellence. But does it generate ‘objective’ tests of (substantive) theoretical propositions? What are the limits to its usefulness as a means of sociological enquiry? C. Wright Mills famously criticised this mode of research as constituting ‘abstracted empircism’.
This lecture takes a detailed look at the survey model; its internal logic, its claims to scientific status, and its value-ladenness. It involves an assessment of hypothesis formulation, links between concepts and indicators, the designation of the appropriate population, (elementary) sampling theory (including the basic principles of inference), and the organisation of fieldwork.
In terms of fieldwork, we take a preliminary look at the two principal means of data collection: interviewing and mail questionnaires.
May, T. (2001) Social Research. Buckingham: Open University Press. (chapters 5/6)
* C.Wright Mills (1975) The Sociological Imagination. Harmondsworth: Penguin(chapter 3)
* Bulmer, M. (1984) ‘Facts, Concepts, Theories and Problems’, in M.Bulmer (ed.) Sociological Research Methods. Basingstoke: Macmillan: 37-50.
* Marsh, C. (1984) ‘Problems with Surveys: Method or Epistemology’ in M.Bulmer (ibid.): 82-102.
Moser, C. and Kalton, G. (1971) Survey Methods in Social Investigation. London: Heinemann.
Hoinville, G. et al. (1978) Survey Research Practice. London: Heinemann.
* Arber, S. (2001) ‘Designing Samples’ in N.Gilbert (ed.) Researching Social Life (second edition). London: Sage: 58-82
(PLUS the Laura Rainford article from Week 14)
Week 16, February 12th - Survey Research 2: generating sociological data on social class, ‘race’/ethnicity and gender. (PR)
The previous lecture suggested that there are two principal ways of generating survey data: face-to-face interviews and mail questionnaires. But, how do we, as researchers, decide which method to use? Positivists and non-positivists hold different views as to the ‘knowledge’ about the social world generated by these means. It is important to understand the nature of these debates.
We then look at how theoretical paradigms influence the ways in which issues of social class, ‘race’/ethnicity and gender are explored. Here, the question of ‘values’ comes to the fore once again, and there are complex choices being made in relation to sampling design and data collection strategies.
In terms of Marxian approaches to ‘social class’, there are difficult questions of measurement. In research driven by a commitment to Weberian approaches (such as that undertaken by Rex and Moore and Rex and Tomlinson) ‘class’ takes on a very different guise, no longer being confined to relations of production. How are issues of gender dealt with in these studies?
We also look at research driven principally by concerns of social policy but also engaging with more explicitly sociological concerns.
May, T. (2001) Social Research. Buckingham: Open University Press. (chapters 5/6)
Cicourel, A. (1964) Method and Measurement in Sociology. Glencoe: Free Press. (chapter iv).
Moser, C. and Kalton, G. (1971) Survey Methods in Social Investigation, London: Heinemann. (chapter 13).
* Hoinville, G. et al. (1978) Survey Research Practice, London: Heinemann. (chapter 3)
* A. N. Oppenheim (1992) Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement. London: Pinter (chapter 7)
Harvey, L. (1990) Critical Social Research. London: Unwin Hyman.
* Rex, J. and Moore, R. (1967) Race, Community and Conflict: a study of Sparkbrook. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 272-94.
Rex, J. and Tomlinson, S. (1979) Colonial Immigrants in a British City: a class analysis. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
* Ratcliffe, P. (1996) ‘Race’ and Housing in Bradford: addressing the needs of the South Asian, African and Caribbean communities. Bradford: Bradford Housing Forum. (Appendix 1: 140-7).
* Wellings, K. et al. (1994) Sexual Behaviour in Britain: the national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles. Harmondsworth: Penguin: 1-34.
Week 17, February 19th - Field Studies: an alternative research paradigm. (PR)
Some sociologists reject the survey paradigm on the grounds that quantitative data, which are its major end-product, tell us little about the intimate texture of social life. The lecture will argue that this outright rejection of surveys is misguided; that researchers should adopt the approach most appropriate to the (substantive) theoretical questions raised by their ‘research problem’, and also that surveys and field studies should be seen as potentially complementary (rather that competing) models (a point to be underlined, but also problematised, in the final lecture in week 19). In reality, the best research tends to employ multi-method strategies. Our discussion of the field study will illustrate this point by looking, albeit briefly, at the utility of personal and historical documents.
The lecture will necessarily adopt a comparative perspective. It will address all the key questions facing the field researcher: problems of access, ethics, the nature of her/his research role, data collection, and data analysis and presentation. It will also look briefly at the ‘grounded theory’ approach of Glazer and Strauss.
May, T. (2001) Social Research. Buckingham: Open University Press. (chapters 7 and 8)
Glazer, B.G. and Strauss, A.L. (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory: strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.
* Becker, H.S. ‘Problems of Inference and Proof in Participant Observation’, in W.J. Filstead (ed.) Qualitative Methodology: firsthand involvement with the social world. Chicago: Markham: 189-201.
* Burgess, R.G. (1984) In the Field: an introduction to Field Research. London: George Allen & Unwin (chapters 4, 18 and 22)
Phillips, D. (1971) Knowledge from What?: theories and methods in social research. Chicago: Rand McNally: 124-40.
Fielding, N. (2001) ‘Ethnography’, in N.Gilbert (ed.) Researching Social Life (second edition). London: Sage: 145-163.
Carr, E.H. (1964) What is History? Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Macdonald, K. (2001) ‘Using Documents’, in N.Gilbert (ed.) Researching Social Life (second edition). London: Sage: 194-210.
Week 18, February 26th - Field Studies of Social Class, ‘Race’/Ethnicity and Gender
The issues raised by the previous lecture will be explored by taking a fairly detailed look at some of the more prominent studies of class, ‘race’, ethnicity and gender where the researcher(s) has used the ‘field study’ approach. These studies will include Whyte’s classic study of a Boston ‘street corner gang’, Ken Pryce’s quasi-Weberian research into ‘West Indian’ lifestyles in Bristol, Ann Oakley’s investigation into the experience of childbirth, and Heidi Mirza’s study of young Black women.
Once again a comparative approach will be adopted. How might survey research be conducted into the same substantive issues? How would the results differ?
Harvey, L. (1990) Critical Social Research. London: Unwin Hyman. (chapter 2 ‘Class’, chapter 3 ‘Gender’, chapter 4 ‘Race’)
* Oakley, A. (1990) ‘Interviewing Women: a contradiction in terms?’, in H.Roberts (ed.) Doing Feminist Research. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul: 30-61.
Mirza, H. (1992) Young, Female and Black. London: Routledge.
Bryman, A. (1988) Quality and Quantity in Social Research. London: Unwin Hyman.
* Whyte, W.F. (1955) Street Corner Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 279-358.
* Pryce, K. (1979) Endless Pressure: a study of West Indian lifestyles in Bristol. Harmondsworth: Penguin: 279-97.
Beynon, H. (1973) Working for Ford. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Week 19, March 5th - Triangulation/Multiple Strategies and Data Analysis (PR)
Although the dominant theme of the foregoing discussion of methods has been a combination of comparison and complementarity, there are problems yet to be faced. If research methodology is value laden too, what does this imply in terms of the prospects for successful ‘triangulation’? Such multiple strategies, with their capacity for mutual correction, regulation and confirmation are discussed.
The final part of the lecture deals with the thorny issue of data analysis. If one has collected a mass of (say) quantitative data, what does one do with them? Obviously there are difficulties in covering such a complex area in less than one lecture. As a result, the presentation will be fairly elementary, but significant pointers will given to the main analytical techniques and procedures.
Bulmer, M. (1984) Sociological Research Methods. Basingstoke: Macmillan. (chapters 5, 6, 8 and 9)
* Bryman, A. (1988) Quality and Quantity in Social Research. London: Unwin Hyman: 127-56 (chapter 5)
Mayntz, R.et al.(1976) Introduction to Empirical Sociology. Harmondsworth: Penguin:145-61.
Erikson, B.H. and Nosanchuk, T.A. (1992) Understanding Data. Buckingham: Open
Rose, D. and Sullivan, O. (1993) Introducing Data Analysis for Social Scientists. Buckingham: Open University Press. (Part 1: 3-31)
Huff, D. (1973) How to Lie with Statistics. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
* Marsh, C. (1988) Exploring Data: an introduction to data analysis for social scientists. Cambridge: Polity: 123-42.
* PLUS extracts from the second level Open University course MDST242 (Statistics in Society)
Week 20, March 12th Reading Week