ReadingGuide1 - Sociology 3AC: Reading Guide to Social...

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Sociology 3AC: Reading Guide to Social Theory I. Social Theorists and Theories A. C. Wright Mills (1916-1962)--one of the most influential sociologists of the 1950s. C. Wright Mills was among the first people to study corporate culture (White Collar , 1951) and those at the top of U.S. society (The Power Elite , 1956). He also offered penetrating insights into the course of sociology as a discipline and how larger social forces can affect individual lives (The Sociological Imagination , 1959). Mills was often critical of trends in US society and believed that sociologists needed to play a leading role in shaping public discussions of controversial issues. Mills died suddenly at the relatively young age of 45. 1. Based on "The Promise," the first chapter of The Sociological Imagination , explain the following terms and ideas: a) what is the " sociological imagination "? What benefits do we as individuals gain from developing a sociological imagination? i) how do people gain insight into self and others by exploring the “ intersection between biography and history ”? ii) what is to be gained by understanding the difference between “ personal troubles” and “ public issue s”? iii) what three examples did Mills use to illustrate the “public issues” behind problems that are often thought to be “personal troubles”? b) what were the three major questions raised by those exploring social issue with a sociological imagination? i) does Mills believe that “human nature” is a fixed entity? How might social conditions affect traits that we often consider to be “human nature”? 2. How might our approach to addressing and solving public problems be different if we as a society fully developed a “sociological imagination” B. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)--a French scholar who introduced sociology as an academic discipline at various universities in France. His approach to sociology stressed the necessity of developing a common sense of commitment to the larger society. Durkheim believed that society had a great influence on the character of human beings and that it would be impossible to fully comprehend human behavior without understanding the role of external social forces shaping human behavior. As a sociological scholar, Durkheim stressed the importance of developing approaches and methodologies that would make sociology a "scientific" study of society. Thus his book Suicide broke new intellectual ground as Durkheim argued that suicide was more than the act of a desperate individual by showing variations in suicide rates by social category. Durkheim argued that there were elements in different social groupings that either increased or
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ReadingGuide1 - Sociology 3AC: Reading Guide to Social...

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