SOC 2 MIDTERM FINAL - Ng 1 Sharon Ng Professor Evans TA...

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Ng 1 Sharon Ng Professor Evans, TA Lila Sharif SOCI 2 – A03 07 February 2011 The Enlightenment and the Emergence of Sociology Sociology emerged in the Enlightenment period (1800’s). The political, economic, and cultural changes in this era led to the manifestation of this field. The themes and contradictions of the Enlightenment discourse influence the birth of Sociology because they contribute to a new group of ideas about society. Three themes of the Enlightenment discourse, universalism, uniformity, and freedom have fostered the path breaking start of Sociology, but at the same time, had contradictions, which instigated the study of society and the way people think. The Enlightenment was an age of reason advocating authority. The Enlightenment discourse often had contradictions because no single thought existed. The Enlightenment focused on questioning institutions, values, and the strong notion in rationality and science. This age was vital to the origination of Sociology because it focused on the important developments in the Western society, which eventually impacted the rest of the world (Hamilton 6). Universalism was the notion that reason and science could be applied to every situation. It also assumed that any educated person could technically know everything (5). The paradox behind this is that the Enlightenment era accentuated progress and the creation of disciplines by intellectuals. There was nothing set in stone for people to “know everything about,” since ideas were continually being recreated. Universalism challenges progress because progress suggests that the social conditions of people can always be ameliorated, while universalism simply sticks to the belief that everything is laid out by reason and science, and that all people with rationality
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Ng 2 would know all these things. Time would not affect universalism because things seem to be more permanent, while progress transforms over time and generations. Uniformity is the principle that all humans are the same (5). This contradicts in several ways because people before and now are not the same in reality. Class divisions are inevitable. There were the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie, and the Bourgeoisie usually ruled the Proletariat. This indicated that the Proletariat held less authority than the middle-upper class. The class divisions are similar to the modern day because in society, people who are part of the upper-class have the ability to send their children to prestigious schools and live in a wealthy neighborhood, while the poorer people struggle economically, and therefore do not have the same privileges and opportunities as the middle-upper class. Class divisions lead to another important intersection of race. Class divisions often occur on racial lines in society. For example, people stereotype the dominant race of the United States, whites, to be the wealthiest, while foreigners like blacks are not as well off. Gender is another aspect in which contradictions of uniformity can be found.
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SOC 2 MIDTERM FINAL - Ng 1 Sharon Ng Professor Evans TA...

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