TUESDAY, JANUARY 22
The youngest social science. 1800s split. Similar to how natural sciences split from
philosophy in the 1600s. the idea of applying science to the human condition is very new.
Originated in Europe, particularly in France. 40s-30s Harvard, Columbia, UChicago first
few to institutionalize these as academics. Talcott Parsons, Harvard, late 1930s book
structure of social action
, in which he laid out ideas of social theorists Durkheim, .
except Marx. Interpreting significance in specifically American way.
Statistical trend, work brought out by Durkheim, founder of French sociology.
Philosophical department resisted the forming of sociology because it didn’t think
science could be applied to the human condition
In order to establish itself as a legitimate discipline, had to prove that it had independent
level of phenomena worthy of professional study, independent study matter. The first
move that was made was to distinguish sociological from biological and psychology
(which they thought to have a self-centered nature), requires specific methods and
reasoning that was not already covered elsewhere. While others speculated about human
Sociology is not the study of human societies. It studies social phenomena.
What are social phenomena, and do they exhibit an independent reality, or are they
simply aggregates of individual level phenomena, and not necessary to have own study.
He opposed reductionism of social phenomena to any other ordered phenomena, with
characteristics that are
. Phenomena have
. Eg, class
has different properties than sum of people in it.
There are group phenomena that have different characters and properties separate from
the individuals in it, therefore have to use abstract understanding. Social phenomena are
—irreducible and cohort independent. They can be culture dependent, with a
good example being language, which transcends any collection of its speakers. It is
therefore cohort-independent, and the fact that it cannot be described from the vocal
cords, therefore it is irreducible.
Edmund Husserl. What is a number? There is nothing empirical about
the question, but rather a conceptual one. Of course, numbers can empirically answer
questions. Empirical phenomena have empirical and conceptual answers: two
dimensions. What makes and x an x? This is a phenomenological question, some of
which have an empirical answers if experiments have answered.
Alfred Schutz. Some questions don’t allow us to fully answer the question what makes
and x an x when they are social phenomena.
Both Husserl and Durkheim say that the social phenomenon has the property of being