SOC375- Classical Theory 3 Tocqueville

SOC375- Classical Theory 3 Tocqueville - Different Types of...

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Different Types of Sociological Analysis Macrosociology that is close to Philosophy of History Focus is on huge changes in society over time (ex from Tocqueville: society goes from ‘aristocracy’ to ‘democracy’). Other examples: Comte, Marx, Weber Middle-range Sociology Term comes from Robert K. Merton Focus is on: Social structures that may exist in many different societies. E.g. what does a group or a class look like? (ex from Tocqueville: role of customs [ moeurs ] and institutions in society) Social Mechanisms (Term used by many – including Merton, Jon Elster and others) Focus is on what explains . Not only that something happens but ‘why’ and ‘exactly why’. Examples: selfulfilling prophecy, critical mass. (ex from Tocqueville: role of inheritance in Democracy in America )
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Tocqueville’s General Approach to the Social World (1) Society is moving from being controlled by an elite (“aristocracy”) to being increasinghly egalitarian (“democracy”); and it is important to compare these and other types of society. (2) As part of this movement to democracy, interest will become more important than old- fashioned morality. (3) New threats to man’s freedom – the most precious aspect of man’s life – will always emerge.
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Terminology Tocqueville “democracy”-“aristocracy” moeurs ”(=norms, habits, etc); habits of the heart/habits of the mind/habits of the body “self-interest properly understood” “manufacturing aristocracy” “tyranny of the majority” “individualism”
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My Instinct, My Opinions My mind favors democratic institutions but my heart is aristocratic: I despise and fear mobs … I belong neither to the radical nor to the conservative party. Yet, after all, I incline rather to the second than to the first. For I differ with the conservatives rather in their means than in their end, while I differ with the radicals both in their means and their end. Freedom is the strongest of my passions.
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2011 for the course SOC 3750 taught by Professor Swedberg during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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SOC375- Classical Theory 3 Tocqueville - Different Types of...

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