Economic Sociology: Emile Durkheim’s Division of Labor in Society

(Emile Durkheim)
In Emile Durkheim’s book, The Division of Labor in Society, he describes the differences between a society where people have similar tasks (mechanical solidarity) and a society where people have different, individual tasks (organic solidarity).

He says that in modern times, society is not gelled together by people’s similarities in tasks and beliefs. Rather, social solidarity is kept together by people’s individualism and specialties because it forces them to rely on one another, as citizens of modern society perform a narrow range of tasks.

Economic Sociology: Marx’s Materialist Conception of History

(Karl Marx)
Karl Marx, as you all should know, was a sociologist who often criticized capitalism for what it will do to society in the future. He was able to “foresee” this because he believed that history would follow a predictable course. This belief was based on his materialist conception of history, or historical materialism, a methodological approach that he used to study society, economy, and history.

Economic Sociology: Max Weber and ‘The Protestant Ethic and Capitalism’

(Max Weber)
Max Weber was raised by parents who held polar ideologies about life. His father, a bureaucrat, enjoyed the pleasures of life. His mother, on the other hand, was a devout Calvinist who lived an ascetic life and constantly pursued salvation. Because of the differences in his parent’s personality, Weber was able to experience the two sides of living, even though it affected him psychologically as the tension of having to choose a side played a great deal of stress on his mind.

In his early college career, he followed in his father’s footsteps by joining a fraternity, where he developed socially by going out and drinking large amounts of beer with his frat brothers. However, as he got older, he became more like his mother. In his late 20s, he developed a compulsion for work and lived ascetically.

It was these first-hand experiences (and extensive research in religious studies) that helped him write his most famous work, The Protestant Ethic and Capitalism (affiliate link) in 1904-1905.

What is Economic Sociology?

(Max Weber)
Economic sociology, which was coined by William Stanley Jevons in the late 1800s, is used by many sociologists to examine how the processes of the economy affect the organisms of society and vice versa.

This field of study is broken up into two periods, classical and contemporary.

FIFA World Cup and Social Stratification

John Oliver, from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, perfectly analyses the FIFA World Cup and how it affects the poor.

On his show a few weeks back, Oliver illustrated how the greedy FIFA capitalists use their power and influence to use the poor while stealing from them.

This 13 minute clip is great for explaining theories of social stratification, especially those from Karl Marx.

Must Know Crime and Society Concept: Differential Association

(Edwin Sutherland)
Social learning theories use the cognitive processes of learning through observation or a direct instruction to explain social occurrences. One example of what learning theories seek to explain is how people adopt criminal behavior.

Edwin Sutherland, who is considered to be one of the most influential criminologists of the twentieth century, explains with his popular theory (Differential Association or Learning Theory) that there are nine principles to how someone learns the attitudes, values, motives, and techniques of criminal behavior:

Feminist Perspective of Crime and Deviance

Feminists, similar to Marxists, view crime and deviance as a structure of power, where, how people are treated is based on what their economic background is or what resources they have. Or, to be more specific to this case, what gender they are.

When analyzing this topic, feminists primarily focus on how female perpetrators are viewed. They'll compare female and male convicts to see if society reacted with a double-standard, or if morality was used to blame a specific gender. They'll also look to see if the motive of a crime was to show power or dominance over another person.

Turns out schools are still segregated in America

It's been 60 years since the Brown v. Board of Education case which led to a unanimous Supreme Court decision that stated “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” However, believe it or not, schools are still segregated in America, as the quality of education varies by socioeconomic status and 'race'.

Conflict Perspective of Crime and Deviance

(Karl Marx)

When it comes to crime, conflict theorists don't examine how and why crimes happen. Rather, they look at how society creates and defines deviants.

Karl Marx, the first conflict theorist, believed that capitalistic societies are split into two classes: the bourgeoisie (rich) and the proletariats (poor). The bourgeoisie are the ones who own the means of production, while the proletariat (the working class) are the ones who manufacture all of the goods. The rich extract capital from the goods that are built and then pay the workers a wage.

Stereotypes and career expectations in minority cultures

So I was cruising around YouTube yesterday and came across this awesome skit from Wong Fu Productions that illustrates racial stereotypes in society. The skit, "Do you love your job? - Job Expectations," follows two high school teens -- one Asian and the other African-American -- as they battle their true selves in an attempt to squeeze into their racial typecast. Obviously, -- SPOILER ALERT -- it didn't work.

Sociology of Crime: Functionalist Perspective

Within the functionalist school of thought, crime is viewed as an activity that serves a positive purpose for society. Emile Durkheim, a functionalist, stated in "On the Normality of Crime" that crime can help to reassess and change laws, increase group solidarity, and set boundaries for what is an acceptable behavior and what is not.

Sociology of Crime: What is crime and deviance?

What is a crime? To many, a crime is a behavior that violates the law. Laws are created to protect people from social harm, but how do we really know what constitutes a social harm?

Take for example same-sex marriage. It is unanimous among many scholars that homosexuality is natural (people are born LGBT). But yet it is considered to be an illegal "behavior" in many countries, and not too long ago it was illegal for same-sex couples to marry in all of North America because many people believed (and some still do) that homosexuality was a mental disorder.

Why do people still think homosexuality is learned?

I was skimming through The Economist the other day and came across this article about gay individuals in China and the day to day obstacles that they have to go through. The article shared the story of one man who struggled to come out to his parents and instead of being true to himself and being him, he underwent gay conversion therapy to try to fix himself for the sake of his relationship with his mom and dad.

And guess what? As a result, he got anxiety issues, insomnia, weight and hair loss, and minus $1,700 from his savings account. But the thing that he went in to "fix" still remains. He is still a gay individual. So this brings me to my question: if homosexuality is a learned behavior, then why doesn't gay conversion therapy work, like ever?

Socialized Self: Merton's self-fulfilling prophecy and Cooley's looking-glass self

(Robert Merton)
Robert Merton was an American sociologist who won the 1994 National Medal of Science for his founding of the sociology of science. He spent most of his career as a professor at Columbia University, where he developed the concepts of the "reference group," and "self-fulfilling prophecy." For the purposes of this post, I will only discuss the latter.

Truth and Reconciliation Story Illustrates Colonization of the Mind

As I was reading through news articles a few days ago for one of my posts, I came across this story about an Aboriginal man who, as a kid, kept aggressively scrubbing his skin while taking baths. His mom caught him one day and asked why he was scrubbing so hard. His answer: "I don't want to be an Indian. I want to be white." I'm sure this narrative has recycled itself thousands of times over, especially when social institutions are constantly ramming in the myth that being white is better than being an ethnic minority.

On top of that, these social institutions want minorities to adopt the white culture and disown their family's culture and traditions. It does this by painting ugly images of minority cultures and spreads this propaganda via education, media, religion etc. This is what colonization of the mind looks like.

Socialized Self: Erving Goffman's 'Dramaturgy'

(Erving Goffman)
Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist who discussed and contributed to symbolic interaction. He was considered to be the twentieth century's most influential American sociologist, and he gained this title with his research on social interaction and the social construction of self, among many others. His most well-known concept is Dramaturgy -- the illustration of human behavior through theatre.

Stories from Truth and Reconciliation hearings to illustrate the violence of residential schools

It is universally known that residential schools are one of the main reasons why First Nations people are going through tough times at the moment. The church-run, Eurocentric schools harmed more than just the 150,000 plus kids who were abducted and forced to attend -- it also harmed their parents and family members. Still, to today, there are residual effects from that dark period, which ended in 1996 when the last residential school closed down in Regina, Saskatchewan.

But even with these facts, there are still so many people who believe that the First Nations inflicted that suffering on themselves and don't deserve to be compensated by the government and apologized to.

So to attempt to illustrate the pain and suffering that the First Nations went through, and are still going through, here are some stories that were shared at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings.

Nick Cannon whiteface is not racist

(Nick Cannon/Instagram)
Earlier this week, comedian and musician Nick Cannon used whiteface to promote his new album, White People Party Music, and while there were many who did not find Cannon's marketing strategy racist, there were still some who did. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to explain why whiteface is not racist or discriminatory, and why it is not comparable to blackface.

Socialized Self: George Herbert Mead's Self, Mind and Society

(George Herbert Mead)
George Herbert Mead was a social philosopher who discussed the connection between the self, the mind, and society. He believed that society has an effect on the self and mind, and the self and the mind have an effect on society. Mead is considered to be the father of symbolic interaction.

Socialized Self: Herbert Blumer's Three Basic Premises

(Herbert Blumer)
Herbert Blumer was a sociologist who discussed social research and symbolic interaction. As a supporter of George Herbert Mead's findings, Blumer was a big believer that individuals create their own social reality through collective and individual action. Through his works on symbolic interaction, Blumer was deemed by many as the leader of this sociological school of thought during his times.

Here is Blumer's Three Basic Premises for human interaction from his book, Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method:

Thoughts on Western Canada High School's team name change

(Western Canada High School's Redmen logo)
10 years ago, I was a senior at one of Calgary's prestigious high schools, Western Canada High. I witnessed the good and the bad, and there is one thing that I can tell you about the school: Western is the whitest school in Calgary.

So for the current students of this school (the ones who are standing up and fighting to preserve the Redman logo and name that is) to say that their brand isn't offensive doesn't mean anything because they themselves have never felt true racial oppression and discrimination, and the stigma of being other (or not white). And if there are students who are non-white involved in this battle (which there probably is), A) they don't care and/or know about the history and legacy of the harm that First Nations have been through, and/or B) they don't have knowledge of institutional racism in Canada.

Institutional racism, not hip-hop, is why many blacks are held back

Are many black Americans living in bad situations because they listen to hip-hop and watch basketball? Or is it because of institutional racism that is holding them back? Well, Bill O'Reilly seems to think it is because of the former.

Reflections on Du Bois' Double Consciousness

W.E.B. Du Bois' concept of double consciousness talks about the sense of two-ness that blacks from his day experienced. The concept goes:

"It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

But in contemporary times, more oppressed groups have been revealed in society, where some people are more than one type of minority. So with this knowledge, shouldn't Du Bois' double consciousness extend to the other feelings of oppression as well?

Must Know Max Weber's Concepts on Social Stratification

(Max Weber)
Max Weber was a German sociologist who was interested in the areas of economics and politics. He attended the University of Heidelberg, but after three terms, he left for military service. Two years later, he returned home and attended the University of Berlin, where he completed his studies (Ph. D) and became a lawyer. He also received a teaching position at this institution upon graduation.

Growing up, Weber was conflicted to find an identity as his father was a bureaucrat who enjoyed the earthly pleasures, and his mother was a Calvinist who lived an ascetic life. Because of having to deal with these dueling ideologies most of his life, Weber was able to fuse both religion and politics into his works.

When it came to stratification, Weber saw it as multidimensional and refused to boil it down to just economics, as he felt that economics, status, and power were all factors for stratification. He said that some people may rank high on one or two of these, but low on the others.

Need to Know Approaches to Sociology

Micro-Macro Integration:

In micro-sociology, the sociologist focuses on the nature of everyday human life and its social interactions. So when they are conducting research at work, the researcher will use interpretive analysis instead of statistics or empirical observation, as the roots of this approach are symbolic interactionism and ethnography.

Examples of what micro-sociologists might look at would be stereotypical roles of women in a workplace or a race issue in a high school.

Reflections on Karl Marx's Concept of Alienation

(Karl Marx)
In the theory of alienation, Karl Marx believed that the working class was losing their sense of self because they had to become robots for capitalists; they are forced to manufacture products for a wage... a wage which is used to buy the very products that they produce at their job. He believed that the jobs were not for self-gratification or need, but rather for money and for employers, and thus creates an environment which is unnatural.

Reflections on W.E.B Du Bois' thoughts on materialism

W.E.B Du Bois believed that Americans (or people from Capitalist societies) were too obsessed with money and its ability to get material things. He saw more to life than economic and material success and wanted people (mainly the black community because they hadn't fallen into this trap yet) to realize this.

I feel this same way, however, the majority of my community (the Asian community) has already fallen ill with this disease and I want them (well, all people) to revert back to seeing life as a lesson about self-knowledge and growth, rather than zeroes in the bank account and possession of fancy things.

Must Know W.E.B. Du Bois Concepts on Social Stratification

(W.E.B. Du Bois )
W.E.B. Du Bois was an American sociologist who examined race issues and was a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was founded in 1910. And though he discussed the oppression against all non-white people, most of his works are rooted in the African-American experience.

Must Know Karl Marx Theories on Social Stratification

(Karl Marx)
Karl Marx was a German philosopher who focused much of his time conceptualizing his findings for economics and sociology. His work draws from liberal, humanistic, and democratic principles while rejecting the abstractness of Hegelian philosophy.

Division of Labour is the main component of social inequality

(J.D. Pooley / Getty Images)
Did you know that the eighty-five richest people in the world have a net worth that equals the net worth of halfof Earth's population's? It's true. Inequality exists in every society, and you can see it clearly when you look at the Walmarts in America. The reason why it is so vivid in this company is because you can see (via news reports and studies) that the owners make so much more than the store employees, and it is because of the division of labour; CEOs use this aspect of society to exploit the working class.

Inspire to study and explore society (video)

"Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both." C. Wright Mills