Simmel_Apr18

Simmel_Apr18 - SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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1 SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological Theory Georg Simmel Key Points: ± Why is the triad the smallest group form, according to Simmel? ± Explain the notion that identity is relationally defined.
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2 Simmelian sociology ± Georg Simmel advances the notion that society consists of a web of patterned interactions (or “sociations”), and that it is the task of sociology to study the forms of these interactions as they occur and reoccur in diverse historical periods and cultural settings. ± The results of everyday interaction creates a level of reality in its own right--an “ interaction order ”-- that is never totally fixed and is therefore always problematic and capable of change. Simmelian sociology (continued) ± Simmel began with the elements of everyday life (playing games, keeping secrets, being a stranger, forming friendships) and arrived at insights into the quality of relationships. ± Like Durkheim and Weber, Simmel resisted reducing social behavior to individual personality. Nor, for Simmel, could social relationships be fully explained by larger collective patterns such as “the economy.” ± Rather, the results of everyday interaction creates a level of reality in its own right--an “interaction order that is never totally fixed and is therefore always problematic and capable of change. Simmelian sociology (continued) ± Simmel’s approach to sociology can best be understood as a self-conscious attempt to reject the organicist theories of Comte and Spencer, as well as the historical description of unique events that was cherished in his native Germany. ± Instead, he advanced the conception that society consists of a web of patterned interactions, and that it is the task of sociology to study the forms of these interactions as they occur and reoccur in diverse historical periods and cultural settings.
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3 Simmelian sociology (continued) ± In Simmel’s perspective, a host of otherwise distinct human phenomena might be properly understood by reference to the same formal concept. ± The student of warfare and the student of marriage investigate qualitatively different subject matters, yet the sociologist can discern essentially similar interactive forms in martial conflict and in marital conflict. ± Although there is little similarity between the behavior displayed at the court of Louis XIV and that displayed in the main offices of an American corporation, a study of the forms of subordination and superordination in each will reveal underlying patterns common to both. Social Types Simmel constructed a gallery of social types to complement his inventory of forms of interaction: ± The Stranger ± The Mediator ± The Poor ± The Adventurer ± The Man in the Middle ± The Renegade Social Types (continued) ± Simmel conceives of each particular social type as being cast by the specific reactions and expectations of others.
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Simmel_Apr18 - SOCIOLOGY 313 Development of Sociological...

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