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Introduction to Sociology

We analyse the structure of social relationships and interaction


Our lives are socially organised according to interaction of Nature to meet basic biological
needs
Eg. Clock and MRT prohibitions, taboo sexual avoidance
Social structure = one person is related to many social categories
Vice-versa (dialectical relationship)
Social entities define who you are and in turn you define it
A member of a social body influences the social body
Society shapes individual lives
Agency = an individual has agency, can exercise choice, within constraints of social
structure

Place of sociology: is it relevant/pertinent today?


Yes: As long as human beings are relevant, sociology is relevant
Specifically:
Why is this happening to me?
How to address social crisis and margins, in context of post-globalisation/industrialisation
Addressing Social Crisis:

Question of principles at the foundation of our nation-state (meritocracy),

Question of class consciousness and identity (restrict opportunities available according to


our position on class ladder)
Addressing Social Margins:

Question of why/how we perceive social minorities with limitations of their abilities

(what respect we accord to them)

Question of the roles and place of social minorities in society


Context: Consequences to vast array of knowledge

Post-Globalisation > movement of people > diversity in SG > National identity crisis >
National Service

Post-Industrialisation > technology > birth rate and ageing population > the white paper
Application

Constantly affected by world

Explanation versus predictions

Disenfranchised can be empowered

Issues -> public policy to better address issues confronting society ?


Quality of the sociologist
Sociological imagination:
1. How to look at society and create knowledge
2. Individuals are part of a larger social reality
3. Understanding personal story is only possible by understanding larger social story
4. Individual choices are constrained by larger social context
5. Troubles versus Issues
Analysis by Categories
1. Social Structure
a. Class structure
Social mobility & education
b. Population
Core & Migrant Labour/Talent
2. Culture
a. Language
Official language labels, used to describe/define action
b. Norms
Designs for proper behaviour
c. Morals
?

3.
4.
5.

Function & dysfunction


Infrastructure of organisations
Power
Media, Ministry, Company, Class, Ethnicity, Rationality, Foundational Principle
Action ?
Choice -> group action may sustain or change social structure

Debunking common sense


Commonly held belief
Meritocracy reality
Racial harmony
Gender = species
Democracy
Human rights
Terrorism

Valid social data


Systematic analysis of facts
Ideal
Racism and social profiling of ethnicity
Minimal difference
Corruption
Gay rights
Islam

Examples covered
1. Singapore Social Development Unit + Intelligent population
2. 1st labour strike in 26 years
3. Harvard & Asian Americans