Making Sense of Sociological Theory

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Making Sense of Sociological Theory (57:00)
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This multi-section program explains the role of sociological theory, distinguishes between structure and action, and sheds light on three major perspectives in sociology—societies as organic structures, societies as economic structures, and societies as social action—by looking at their origins and key ideas and then showing how they can be applied. The video concludes by using a case study on the medicalization of life problems in contemporary societies as an opportunity to consider how Durkheimian, Marxist, and interactionist theories might explain that phenomenon. Viewable/printable educational resources are available online. A part of the series Understanding Sociology. (57 minutes)

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Segments in this Video - (28)

1. Understanding Theories (01:34)
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Students taking a sociology class attempt to understand the various theories and how they can be applied to society.

2. Sociology Defined (01:54)

Sociology is the study of individual actions in terms of the wider society as a whole.

3. Sociological Theories: Models of Society (01:53)

General and abstract, theories are used to create models that can be applied to a specific context.

4. Societies as Social Structures (01:54)

Social structure is the framework of society that dictates to us appropriate behaviors and attitudes depending on our particular status (or position) within the overall structure of society.

5. Societies as Organic Structures (01:52)

Emile Durkheim argued that societies rely on its collective conscious in terms of the various functions which contribute to the operation of their overall structures.

6. Structural Functionalism (01:48)

Durkheim believed that at the core of society is its values. Talcott Parsons further developed this theory by arguing that the different parts of each society contribute to the operation or functioning of the system as a whole.

7. The Functionalism View on Education (01:52)

Durkheim theory argued that education served two main purposes: socialization & integration.

8. Socialization - Education's Focus (01:47)

Parson's view on education was that education has a primary function of socialization to convey society's values on it's members.

9. Education Inequalities (02:10)

Some students and teachers view the inequalities that exist in education.

10. Societies as Economic Structures (02:23)

Marxist theories argued that societies were determined by the existing relations of production, by the economic structure of society.

11. Theory of Social Classes (01:52)

Marxist theory argued that societies were divided into ruling and subordinate classes. The conflict between these classes brought about social change.

12. The Cultural Role (01:52)

Marxists believe that the cultural institutions' role is to help reproduce these inequalities.

13. Marxist View on Education (02:52)

Marxists believe education is a necessary tool for capitalism.

14. Working Class Jobs (02:01)

Paul Willis's study of working class kids combined Marxist theories with interpretivist approaches to demonstrate how these kids reject the role of education in their life.

15. Societies as Social Action (01:52)

Social Action stresses the importance of the individual as a subject and views social action as something purposively shaped by individuals within a context to which they have given meaning.

16. Symbolic Interactionism (02:06)

George Herbert Meade argued that social interaction was key to society and people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them.

17. Put Yourself in My Place (02:31)

Ability for human to put one self in place of another is the basis for which symbolic interaction is all about.

18. Symbolic Interactionism on Education (02:45)

Interactionists focus on how Identities are created, sustained, and changed.

19. Labelling (01:48)

The particular contribution of Symbolic Interactionist theory is how we make sense of other's actions and how this, in turn, helps shape our views of ourselves.

20. Perspectives of Sociological Theories (01:56)

Sociological theories have different ways of looking at society, each one giving a different view.

21. Understanding and Answering Theory Questions (00:45)

In preparing to ask theory questions, students must grasp the basics of the theories which can then be applied to a given situation.

22. Case Study: Medicalization (02:20)

This study looks at the medicalization of life problems and considers how Durkheimian, Marxist and interactionist theories might explain it.

23. Medicalization - Applying Durkheimian Theory (01:53)

Durkheim theory argues that lack of integration is the underlying cause that explains why people take their problems to doctors.

24. Medicalization - Applying Marxist Theory (02:04)

Marxist theory argues that the pharmaceutical industry persuades the public and doctors that there are chemical solutions to sociological problems.

25. Medicalization - Applying Interactionist Theory (01:51)

Interactionist theory argues that it is the way people define themselves that makes them believe medical solutions exist for their problems.

26. Applying Theories (01:50)

Once a student understands the different sociological theories, they can be applied to different situations.

27. Taking the Sociological Theory Exam (02:31)

A chief examiner helps students understand what is expected of them when taking the exam.

28. Does It All Make Sense? (02:01)

Sociological theories attempt to help us understand society and our place within it.

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