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Invitation to sociology

Discuss about the Annotated Bibliography on Introduction to Sociology.

The discipline of sociology emerged as a response to the changing social events and the task of the sociologist to identify and explain those events through a critical analysis of the events (Cragun et al. 2014). Sociology is premised on the principles of debunking, disrespectability, relativization and cosmopolitanism (Wolfe & Callahan, 2017). The study of sociology enables an individual to contextualize the everyday social interactions and personal troubles in the broader spectrum of issues that have been part of struggles in history. Sociology is the science of examining social events through a critical lens.

  • This essay on introduction to Sociology aims to introduce the readers to the world of sociology and the various tenets, contributions and propositions made by sociologists.
  • It outlines the quintessence of sociology and in what ways it may be different from natural sciences. There is a discussion on the methodological framework that has been undertaken by Durkheim.
  • Sociology has progressed through the years and have responded to the changing vents like the bane of urban life to the critique of modernity.
  • The scathing critique of modernity underlines that the generalized image of modernity an emancipatory project is an illusion and conceals the social, political and political evils that have been promoted and perpetuated.
  • It concludes with the post-modernist and post structuralist approach envisaged by Foucault about the modern institutions and how power is infused in the body of the individuals.
  • The literature (annotated bibliography) selected for the essay plan have been found through the library research catalogue and the suggested readings in the assignment.
  • It is expected that the essay would be enriching to understand sociology by anyone interested to engage with the subject and at the same time these readings are widely cited for the study of sociology.

Berger, P. (1963). Invitation to sociology. New York: Anchor, 1, 963.

Peter Berger’s Invitation to Sociology is apt for the reading of the scientists who want to understand the fundamental distinctions between the discourses of natural sciences and social sciences. Penned in the year 1966, the book provides the reader an insight into the essence and contents of sociology. The book’s major strength lies in its ability to focus and critically examine the things that are closer to us. He exhorts the sociologists to not to look at the cultural artifacts as de-contextualized and unpoliticized objects whereas on the contrary those should looked with a critical lens.

Mills, C. W. (2000). The sociological imagination. Oxford University Press.

C W Mill’s Sociological Imagination underscore on the distinction between personal trouble and public issue. According to Mills, the very notion that individual troubles are isolated events is a facade. Our personal troubles are situated in the broader context of public issues all over the world. History is the manifestation of the individual trials and tribulations. Individuals fail to understand that their personal failures are not unique and are located in the larger  society in which they live. The strength of the book is that it enables the reader to contextualize their everyday issues and the weakness may be the strict intellectual parameter set by Berger.

Bauman, Z. (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Cornell University Press. 

Liquid modernity is a seminal text in the discipline of sociology  that locates the xenophobic attitude meted out to the Jews in the broader context of the essence of modernity. The text brings out Bauman’s social location as a Jewish critical social scientist who always had to be in the periphery because of his ethnic minority position. The author argues that the theoretical complacency that has surrounded the event of holocaust. The strength of the book lies in its reinterpretation of modernity and the identification of modernity as a bureaucratic-rational event. The shortcoming of the text is that is a synthesis of different themes that have been already addressed earlier by sociologists.

Sociological Imagination

Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid modernity. John Wiley & Sons.

In Liquid modernity, Bauman encapsulates the nature of modern relationships as fragile, loose and lacks the intense bond that had existed before the pre-modern era. Bauman also emphasizes on the increasing fear of the stranger that is permeating into the society. Spatial differentiation is growing in correspondence with social differentiation. This text is the legacy of Bauman’s ethical or normative sociology. Bauman argues that the lack of ethics in society is leading to disintegration of relationships both at the micro level as well as the macro-level. The strength of the text lies in its befitting response to understanding the nature of modernity whereas the possible drawback may be the presence of too many themes in one book, quintessential to Bauman’s work.

Durkheim, E. (2013). Durkheim: The rules of sociological method: And selected texts on sociology and its method. Palgrave Macmillan.

Emile Durkheim is considered as one of the key figures in the functionalist school of sociology. For Durkheim, sociology is the scientific study of society where reality is understood as sui generis. It underscores on the view that there are social facts that a sociologist needs to intervene. Durkheim proposed that social facts are to be derived through the pre-determination of legal facts. The strength of the text lies in its detailed account of methodology. The drawback of the text lies in its positivist and functionalist orientation of placing too much importance on the structure and overlooking the micro-level everyday human interactions.

Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in. Butler, Bodies that Matter.

Goffman, a micro-sociologist and important figure in the domain of symbolic interaction argued that social interaction is the performance of roles. He used the analogy of the front stage and back stage to underscore on the motivation of human action. In the front stage, the social actors act according to the norms and expectations of the society. In the back stage, the individual retreats from the given role. The strength of the text is that Goffman criticizes the structuralist and functionalist theoretical strands and his contribution of dramaturgical sociology. His weakness lies in not using the gender perspective to understand the dramaturgical tenet.

Foucault, M. (2012). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage.

Discipline and Punish highlights Foucault’s post-modernist approach towards the existing issues in society. Foucault recognized that power is infused in the everyday social relationships and the body becomes the site to manifest that power. In the pre-industrial society the nature of punishment unveiled its power relationship with the body. The exertion of one’s power through corporeality remains the same and has taken the shape in disciplining the bodies in the industrial societies. The strength of the book lies in its nuanced approach of identifying power and the possible critique would be the invisibilization of discussions on gender, body and power.

Modernity and holocaust

Horkheimer, M., & Adorno, T. W. (2006). The culture industry: Enlightenment as mass deception. Media and cultural studies: Keyworks, 41-72.

The concept of culture industry proposed by Adorno and Horkheimer is a critique of the project of enlightenment. It was believed that enlightenment would be emancipatory and pave the path for progress. On the contrary, enlightenment induced modernity, bureaucratic rationality and capitalism has caused more harm than good. The aspect of culture has been turned into a commodity, manufactured and sold in the capitalist market. This had culminated to a culture of consumerism. The strength of the text lies in its critique of popular culture through a neomarxist approach. The drawback lies in it ability to recognize the subjectivity of the individual in preventing themselves to be cultural dopes.

Simmel, G. (2012). The metropolis and mental life. In The urban sociology reader (pp. 37-45). Routledge.

Simmel also known for his formal sociology has highlighted about the impact of mental health on the individuals residing in the metropolitan cities. Simmel encapsulates the disposition of the modern urban culture. It emphasizes on the psychological implications on the lives of individuals. In metropolis human interactions are short and there is an increasing of animosity and doubt among the people. The strength of the book lies in its critique of the implications of health in the backdrop of urban megalopolis whereas the weakness of the book may be argued as Simmel’s pessimistic view about the society much like Weber.

Weber, M. (2013). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Routledge.

In Protestant ethic and spirit of capitalism, Weber makes an interesting analysis by linking Protestantism and the rise of capitalism. According to Weber, the prevalence of capitalism and entrepreneurial venture among the protestant believer may be attributed to the specific qualities in the religious sect. Protestants believe that they should not engage in hedonistic life and rather save the money made from the business venture. There is also an emphasis on predestination and calling that is compatible with the temperament of capitalism. The strength of the text lies in its ability to identify a phenomenon with specific values shared by the group. The weakness lies in the overgeneralization of the explanation.  

References

Bauman, Z. (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Cornell University Press.

Bauman, Z. (2013). Liquid modernity. John Wiley & Sons.

Berger, P. (1963). Invitation to sociology. New York: Anchor, 1, 963.

Cragun, R., Sumerau, J. E., Friesen, B., Carter, K., & Cragun, D. (2014). Introduction to sociology. St. Petersburg, FL: Wikibooks.

Durkheim, E. (2013). Durkheim: The rules of sociological method: And selected texts on sociology and its method. Palgrave Macmillan.

Foucault, M. (2012). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage.

Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in. Butler, Bodies that Matter.

Horkheimer, M., & Adorno, T. W. (2006). The culture industry: Enlightenment as mass deception. Media and cultural studies: Keyworks, 41-72.

Mills, C. W. (2000). The sociological imagination. Oxford University Press.

Simmel, G. (2012). The metropolis and mental life. In The urban sociology reader (pp. 37-45). Routledge.

Weber, M. (2013). The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. Routledge.

Wolfe, C., & Callahan, J. S. (2017). Introduction to sociology.

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