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Sociology

BY
Ebrahim Bin Najam
Lecture No. 1
What is Sociology?
Hello, everyone, this is the first lecture on sociology and by the end of this
lecture, you will have a general idea of what sociology is. We are all taught
maths, English and science subjects from primary school but what we are not
taught beforehand is sociology. This subject can be defined as the “The
organized study of the development, organization and functioning as well as
classification of societies, alongwith the relationships that exist within them.”
This tells us that sociology is the study of societies.

Sociological Perspectives
There are three major perspectives in sociology . These perspectives actually
represent the viewpoints of sociologists on societies and their functioning.
Within every perspective there are different schools of thought and within
every school are theories. So coming back to perspectives, the three main
perspectivres are:
1. Functionalism Perspective
2. Conflict perspective
3. Symbolic interactionism
Functionalism basically focuses on the interdependence of all
functions and their contribution in keeping societies functioning. All their
theories are marked by this notion. Famous sociologists from this perspective
include Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and Robert Merton. These
sociologists look for consensus in society.
Emile Durkheim fathered the theory of solidarity in a society, his
works such as “Suicide” and “The elementary forms of religious life” also show
his deep enthusiasm and command in viewing the world in a perspective
neither philosophical nor psychological.
According to Durkheim in all societies solidarity and consensus exist,
these forms of cohesion are natural to the society and the forms of solidarity
are two:
1. Mechanical Solidarity: This form of solidarity exists due to the
homogeneity of activities in a society. It was inherent in simpler , more
primordial societies where all men shard similar activities i.e hunting and
building and the women did the child bearing and cooking. It is the
similarity of activities between members of the same sex that gave birth
to this form of solidarity
2. Organic Solidarity: This form of solidarity is present in modern-day
society where people specialise in different activities e.g engineer,
architect, businessman etc. No doubt activities are not similar but even
this difference gives rise to a bond because the people realize their
interdependence on each other as each member is needed to do his/her
job so that other members can benefit and vice versa.
Conflict Theory
This perspective in sociology is all about defiance and change with the
traditional “bourgeoisie” system. It emphasises upon the class difference that
leads to the domination in society of the lower class( Proletariat) by the upper
class( Bourgeoisie). Karl Marx one of the classical leaders of Conflict theory, and
the father of Marxism, spearheaded this belief by giving it an economic
dimension. He emphasised that the proletariat did all the wok and in return
were given the bare minimal, they only had their labour to sell, whereas, the
bourgeoisie bought the capital and absorbed most of the profits themselves.
The false class consciousness and sense of complacency that the bourgeoisie
instilled in the proletariat dispelled any threat of revolution as the proletariat
were made to think that bourgeoisie were doing everything for welfare of
proletariat. However one thing Marx made clear about was that the revolution,
that will cause the downfall of the bourgeoisie and the levelling of classes, will
be inevitable. He gave this reason that slowly the gap between the two classes
will grow larger and will cause the proletariat to realise their position and
revolt, the masses shall hence overpower the elite.

Symbolic Interactionism
This perspective focuses on the meaning of symbols and events and the
way individuals perceive them and attach certain values to them, this is a micro
scale perspective and focuses on the importance of the actions and symbols.
George Herbert Mead and Max Weber are important sociologists belonging to
this perspective. Such sociologists focus on qualitative data, which is the
responses of people about how they feel about things.
Well, these are the main perspectives of sociology that you
must know. For now we will be studying just these and hopefully in the next
lectures I will explain to you the outlook of these perspectives on almost every
aspect of society.
FAQs
Q:1 Breifly describe the Marxist perspective.
Ans: Marxism, is a movement that was started by Karl Marx, this movement
centres around the economic relations that determine classes and hence the
superstructure of the society. According to Marx there were three periods in
the human history. These periods he referred to as “epochs”. The first epoch
saw the birth of primitive communism where no man was the slave of another
and each was independent, the second Epoch was that of slave society where a
slave class existed and on the other hand a slave-ruling class. The slaves were
given no property and were only made to do work where as the ruling class
enjoyed the fruits of their hardwork. The third Epoch was that of Feudal
Societies where several classes like King, Nobles, Knights existed but the serfs
had to do the slave work. Finally came the epoch of social revolution where the
proletariat will be so much deprive that they will finally gain class
consciousness. This will cause them to overthrow the Bourgeoisie who are
now powerless against their labour.
Marxist perspective thereby revolves around hoe Bourgeoisie
control all the structures that uphold society and use them for spreading false
consciousness in the minds of proletariat.