Rules of Sociological Method

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Nicole Perez

SBS 300/L, 330, 362, HDEV 365 & 371 & Summer 14’/Capstone Annotations

Chapter 1, “Rules of Sociological Method”

Durkheim, E. (2012) Rules of Sociological Method. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp. 7-12). New York, NY: Routledge.

Durkheim discusses that everything is social. These things are external experiences that happen everyday to every person. Social facts are ways of acting, thinking and feeling that are external to self. Even if you wish or do not wish something, it is external and may happen anyway. These are external and coercive, social facts. We are embarrassed by something we do even if no one is around, this is because it is an external impression that society has created for us, we do not create it.

Social facts are external and coercive. Social facts are beliefs/practices of a group. “Social Currents” - public waves of enthusiasm or pity leaving the individual awkward feeling.

Education - effort to teach a child the ways to think, feel and act in society.

This short essay discusses social facts, why they are what they are, what is social and why social facts are external and coercive. Good essay that after the 5th time reading it and 4 weeks into the semester most it makes sense.

Section1,Chapter 2, “Division of Labor in Society”

Durkheim, E. (2012). Division of Labor In Society. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp.14-37). New York, NY: Routledge.

How society is ordered according to the labor forces of its population.

Function of the division, mechanical solidarity, solidarity from the division, causes, anomic division.

Friendship - like goes with like, people flock to similar and are attracted to the opposite. People seek friendships with people having the qualities they lack. Makes them feel less complete. The division of labor for friendship - “its economic services are insignificant compared with the moral effect that it produces and it is true function is to make people feel a solidarity.”

Marriage - sexual division, conjugal solidarity. In the past difference was minimal between the two sexes. evidence through bones show very similar skeletons and capacity for weight carrying was very similar, in fact less than today. Men and women were equal in tasks, women went to war and were involved in politics. Marriage did not happen as the sexual relationship defined everything and could be started or stopped at any time.Relationships were established between child and mother, marriage eventually came around but with very weak rules. Marriage continues to evolve to mean more, including extensive obligations it imposes on the people joining into it.

Social solidarity - law. A close knit community of a society maintains relationships with one another. These relationships are proportional to the laws that determine the group.

Public law regulates the relationships between the individuals and state; private law is the individuals and each other. All law is public, and private. The line between state and individual is unclear.

“an act offends the common consciousness because it is criminal, it is criminal because it offends that consciousness. We do not condemn it because it is a crime, but it is a crime because we condemn it”. An act is bad only because society believes it is bad.

Each person consists of two consciousnesses - one for the individual and one for the society. Two opposing forces, “centripetal and centrifugal”.

The last pages of this essay were extremely difficult to decipher, let alone put it into your own words. Re read only if you must because it is lengthy and difficult.

Chapter 3

Durkheim, E. (2012) Suicide. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp. 38-49). New York, NY: Routledge.
“But to what do theses crisis owe their influence? Is it because they increase poverty by causing public wealth to fluctuate? Is life more readily renounced as it becomes more difficult? The explanation is seductively simple; and it agrees with the popular idea of suicide. But it is contradicted by facts.” (pp. 38-39). “So far is the increase in poverty from casing the increase in suicide that even fortunate crises, the effect of which is abruptly to enhance a country’s prosperity, affect suicide like economic disasters.” pp. 39

“ If therefore industrial or financial crises increase suicides, that is not because they cause poverty, since crises of prosperity have the same result; it is because they are crises, that is, disturbances of the collective order.” pp. 41. Even though when I initially read this in 300 I did not understand, and even now a lot of it is over my head, this is written fairly well that someone like me can read it once or twice and extract the important points from it. Durkheim is stating that suicide is caused by a couple of different factors, and the illusion that a market crash or low employment spikes the suicide rates is incorrect. In fact, he states that any disturbance in the homeostasis of someones life is a cause for them to look to suicide as a solution ( whether this be a good or bad change in that persons life). He also states that poverty protects from suicide as it is a restraint on its own. This aspect is included as he discusses anomy. “Egoistic suicide - results from a man’s no longer finding a basis for existence in life; altruistic suicide, because this basis for existence appears to man situated beyond life itself. …” pp. 48. Anomic suicide is the result from a mans suffering due to the lack of regulation on his life activities.

Very intriguing, love being able to re-read this and pick up more details every time and becoming familiar with theory.

Chapter 4, “Elementary forms of religious life”

Durkheim, E. (2012) Elementary forms of religious life. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp. 50-65). New York, NY: Routledge.

“Besides, apart from those indirect consequences the study of primitive religions in itself has immediate interest of the first importance. If it is useful to know what a given religion consists of; it is far more important to examine what religion is in general.” pp. 50-51 “The general conclusion of the chapters to follow is that religion is an eminently social thing. Religious representations are collective representations that express collective realities; rites are ways of acting that are born only in the midst of assembled groups and whose purpose is to evoke, maintain, or recreate certain mental states of those groups…” pp. 53

“Furthermore, while i is true that man is a dependent of his gods, this dependence is mutual. The gods also need man; without offerings and sacrifices, they would die. I will have occasion to show that this dependence of gods on their faithful is found even in the most idealistic religions.” pp. 57

This chapter is very dense and 15 pages, so it is rough to get through even the second, third, fourth time for me. I am not sure if it is because religion has never been a large component of my life, therefore I am not as interested in it, or if it is just that it is difficult material. I believe what he is trying to say that religion has been created around society’s requirements and has covered all aspects for those participating to be involved in all areas of their life, including a god to pray to, rites, festivals, holidays that will all continue every day and year with or without the singular person using the religion so long as it attracts a couple of people to become involved.

Chapter 5, Categories of the Orientation and Organization of Action
Parsons, T., & Shils, E.(2012). Categories of the Orientation and Organization of Action. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp. 66-81). New York, NY:Routledge.
Main topic: organization of action and what action entails ( behaviors, actors, actions themselves, and pattern variables). This essay goes into detail describing how each component makes up the organization of an action.

Conceptualization of behavior -

  1. it is oriented to the attainment of ends/goals

  2. takes place in situations

  3. normatively regulated

  4. involves energy, effort or motivation

Example: a man is driving a car to go fishing. The end/goal would be to ‘go fishing’, the situation is the road, car and place, the energy expenditures are normative (driving intelligence to get there), spends energy/ puts out effort while driving (depressing pedals, pays attention).

Behavior that can be analyzed as above is called, “Action”!

“Each action is the action of an actor, and it takes place in a situation consisting of objects”. These objects can be other actors or physical/cultural objects.

Organization of actions are in a system (constellation), 3 systems, 3 modes of organization of the elements of action: 1. social systems, 2. personalities, 3. cultural systems.

  1. Social system - organization of motivated action - relations of actors to one another

Has characteristics - involves the process of interaction, situation toward which the actors are oriented includes other actors, interdependent and concerted action.

  1. Personalities - motivated action organized about the living organism

Characteristics - system of interconnections of actions of an individual, actions are structured by a needs-dispositions

  1. Cultural systems - systems of symbolic patterns

Characteristics - organization of values, norms, symbols, elements, patterns of regularity present, patterns of culture.

The frame of reference of the theory of action (actors, situation of actors, and orientation of actors to that situation) - multiple points and breakdowns, actors, situation, orientation of actor to situation, actor being ‘individual-collectivity or subject-object distinction. Situation of action is broken down into “Social Objects”, which can be divided further to ‘quality’ or ‘performance’ and the distinction between them.

The frame of reference theory of action - set of categories to analyze the relations of one or more actors in a situation.

Pattern Variables - 5 dichotomies that form choice alternatives. One side of dichotomy is chosen by actor . Most important as characteristics of value standards.

  1. Affectivity-Affective neutrality

  2. Self-orientation-Collectivity-orientation

  3. Universalism-Particularism

  4. Ascription-Achievement

  5. Specificity-Diffuseness

Definitions of pattern variables goes into detail with the cultural aspect and personality aspect of each.

This essay describes pattern variables in detail very well, as well as action and the organization of it (hence the name of the essay). I found it, as like everything else in the first chapter of this book difficult to get through even after a few times of reading it.

Chapter 6 Studies in ethnomethodology”

Garfinkel,H. (2012). Studies in Ethnomethodolgy. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp.82-92). New York, NY: Routledge.
Main topic is, The accountability for actions as ongoing accomplishment. Re-discovery of common sense activities. facts to support points - The things that happen in everyday life can be extraordinary, and by that the author means those things can be observed and recorded. These are continuous, EVERYDAY accomplishments that they can be overlooked and taken for granted. Laws in this way that are around every day activities in the past have been “loose” and therefore not universal laws. These laws cannot be used for every type of legal case either because of it.

“Natural facts of life” - everyday life and everyday order as it has been established, as it always has been because it is. They are facts from the real world and a product of activities from that real world. The “moral order” is the rule/law governed over these everyday activities.

Background features of everyday life going seemingly unnoticed. To become aware of them you must be a stranger or become estranged from them. Alfred Schultz called these background expectancies “attitude of everyday life”.

In conversations people read between the lines, or understand more than what is said. Conversations happen with the expectation that others will understand everything even though not everything is said out loud. (colloquy - formal conversation or conference).

Experiment: college students were asked to make the other person clarify their “common place” remarks. example - “im tired.” “how are you tired?” , “you know what i mean”, “are you tired emotionally, physically, mentally?”, etc.

Experiment: man and woman conversation about picking up kids, doing chores - “kid put a penny in a meter without being picked up” which really means that the kid wasnt dropped off at day care, and was therefore with the parent to run errands and has now successfully learned how to pay a parking meter without help because they are tall enough, etc.

I thought this essay was very interesting, useful for anyone wanting to know more about the background information of everyday life and how to adjust it for experimenting with subjects perceptions of their reality. Worth a re-read.

Chapter 7, “The social construction of reality” Annotation

Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (2012). The Social Construction of Reality. In Longhofer, W., & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp.93-105). New York, NY: Routledge.
The social construction of reality’s main topic is in fact, the construction of reality through the knowledge of everything surrounding those things in reality. The essay goes through explaining what is ‘reality’ and how it is constructed by those persons in it and those around them.

“everyday life presents itself as a reality interpreted by men and subjectively meaningful to them as a coherent world. As sociologists we take this reality as the object of our analysis.”

The method used for this is a descriptive method that is “empirical” but not “scientific”, “phenomenological analysis”.

They state that consciousness is always directed or intended toward something. The process of consciousness can be found in observing a skyline, or becoming aware of an inner anxiety.

Consciousnesses are capable of moving through different spheres of reality, such as awaking from a dream. The transition between them is a ‘shock’ and is understood as the shift in attentiveness. Objects present themselves to the consciousness and can be recognized as separate objects for separate realities.

These objects of reality have been pre-determined (prior to us existing) as objects in our reality. Objects are tools, language, housing, vast relationships (such as clubs, american, etc).

Reality of life is organized by the “here” as the body and the “now” as your present, ( the “here and now”), this means everyday life is experienced in degrees both spatially and temporally.

Zones - zone of everyday life that is accessible to body manipulation is the closest zone, however the everyday life has zones that are not accessible or there is no interest in them or the interest in indirect. (example: working in your garage as a mechanic you may not be thinking about the testing labs in Detroit for the car company - the testing may eventually affect the everyday life).

Everyday life is confirmed that is in fact real, because it is shared with others, (intersubjectivity).

Everyday life is divided into sectors - familiar and foreign.

Habitualization - action that is repeated frequently becomes a pattern, which can be reproduced and becomes a habit. “Even a solitary man has at least the company of his operating procedures”. Habitualization provides a psychological gain that choices are narrowed and frees the individual from the ‘burden of all the decisions”.

Institutionalization - reciprocal typification of habitualized actions by types of actors, “actions of type X will be performed by actors X”. Institutions- control human conduct by setting up defined patterns of conduct. Interactions become predictable.

The division of labor leads to more habitualizations. Addition of new people into reality changes it, where habits of every day for people in it changes to “this is how things are done” for the new.

Society is humanly produced and is constructed objectively. Society is a human product and man is a social product.

Institutional world must be legitimized/justified, and mechanisms of social controls become necessary for society. Compliance can become an issue and the institution must claim authority.

If conduct is institutionalized, it can be predictable and controlled.

I found this essay interesting after reading and re-reading it a few times even though much of it is still hard to follow the path of thoughts.

The later part of the essay that hits on the institutionalization of society was difficult to follow, even though I get the main points of it. I find these essays hard to follow due to the detailed, large worded “descriptions” and examples used to clarify their points.

Marx, K., & Engels, F. (2012). The german ideology. In W. Longhofer & D. Winchester (Eds.),

Social Theory re-wired (pp. 115-119). New York, NY: Routledge.
This chapter is about man separating himself from animals through thoughts, language,

consciousness and their position in relation to the rest of nature.


Producers of their own existence

Division of labor

Human history is the existence of all human beings.

Men (humans) are distinguished from animals because they think, they have a conscious and

language. As humans express their life, they establish life and they are in fact

living. This influences society around humans, and it is constantly changing. Humans produce

their ideas, consciousness is existence, and existence is life process. Camera obscura can occur

when life processes appear upside down.

Human nature - organization of individuals and the relation to nature

labor -natural and social relationships

“productive force”

history of humanity must always be studied and treated in relation to the history of industry and


consciousness is the beginning of social products.

relation of men to nature is determined by the form of society.

“division of labor is spontaneous or natural” pg. 117

the ruling class is the class that is ruling material force and at the same time intellectual force.

Good, short read on human consciousness and living, and how living is creating products, ideas

and the social world around us.

Chapter 9, “Communist Manifesto”

Marx, K., & Engels, F. (2012). Manifesto of the communist party. In, Longhofer, W. & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social theory re-wired. (pp.120-128). New York, NY: Routledge.
Karl Marx describes the bourgeoisie as the middle class and the proletariat as the working class. In our capitalist economy, we have surpassed these definitions and the bourgeoisie is the upper class and the proletariate is the middle class. Our capitalist society has in fact gone beyond what Marx had predicted and the American dream of becoming rich has allowed a small amount of the nations population to control majority of the money, leaving a very small amount for the middle and lower classes. This class owns and controls big businesses and property on which society functions. The proletariat is the “working class”, the people which work for the bourgeoisie.

This chapter was utilized as my theory reference for my social issue/theory paper in combination with Marx’s other chapters about capital and commodities as well as alienation from products and labor. I used this theory on the structure of society to explain how hunger is a large national issue due to the capitalist society that has been created and forcing the lower and middle class to suffer due to low incomes and inability to afford food to live. I find Marx difficult to read the first time through, however it is all still very relevant and accurate.

Chapter 10, Capital

Marx, K. (2012). Capital. In W. Longhofer & D. Winchester (Eds.), Social Theory re-wired (pp

129-135). New York, NY: Routledge.
This chapter discusses Karl Marx’s view of commodities, their values (use, exchange and labor) as well as the fetishism that comes with some commodities.

Commodities (value - use, exchange and labor) - Fetishism of commodities

Commodity - anything that serves a purpose externally from us, “satisfies human wants”. pg. 129

Use of a commodity (work of history), utility of object gives it “use-value”. The use of the object is only good with the physicality of the object, can not exist apart from the object.

Amount of labor required to produce object is independent of the use. The use is only there as we use it or need it.

“Exchange value” - value of one thing to be replaced or exchanged for another equally. Exchange value is different quantities.

Labor - is embedded into a product. Makes the object useful. “As values, all commodities are only definite masses of congealed labor-time” pg.131

Use value is present in an object because of the human labor embedded/materialized in it.

Homogenous labor - societies labor counts as one homogenous labor power - no more than is socially necessary required to produce an object.

Value would remain constant if labor time remained constant. The more time spent on an object, more labor time into it, less amount of value. The less time spent on object, less labor put into it, greater value. The value directly related to the productiveness of labor to create it.

Commodity can have use value but no value (air).

Materials into commodity - fetishism. (example: wood turned into a table). pg.132

Fetishism comes from the social character of labor that produces them.

This is a good chapter discussing commodities, what they are, how they become commodities, what makes them valuable. Good to re-read if doing any research/paper on commodity or fetishism of commodities.

Chapter 11, “Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844”

Marx, K. (2012).Economic and philosophic manuscripts of 1844. In, Longhofer, W. & Winchester, D. (Eds.), Social theory re-wired. (pp.136-142). New York, NY: Routledge.

Karl Marx’s description of a commodity, “ an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another” (Longhofer and Winchester Eds., 2012). The commodity is given value through the time it takes the employee to make it. The less time spent on the commodity makes it less valuable, the more time producing the commodity, the more value it has. The time spent producing the commodity is the efficiency of the laborer. Many laborers are forced into the industry to survive, and are forced to become a commodity of the industry, having to sell their labor for a wage. At this point, they become a commodity to the bourgeoisie and do not own the product they create.

Laborers are forced to create commodities at such low wages that they can not afford the product they make with the wages they earn. For persons in the agriculture industry, this speaks true as they work long, strenuous hours picking produce that is sent nation wide, yet they can not afford the product themselves. This chapter was utilized as my theory reference for my social issue/theory paper. I used this theory on the structure of society to explain how hunger is a large national issue due to the capitalist society that has been created and forcing the lower and middle class to suffer due to low incomes and inability to afford food to live. I find Marx difficult to read the first time through, however it is all still very relevant and accurate, and even now after reading it again for the 10th time, it could probably be applied to almost any social issue.

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