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The term ‘structure’ (Latin structura from struere, to construct) was first applied to ‘construction’. Later, during the classical period, it was used in the scientific field of biology. To grasp the meaning of this oft-used conceptin sociology and social anthropology (and now, in other social sciences), let us begin with the analogy of a house. Irrespective of the type of community to which a house belongs, it is divided into rooms, with each room set apart for conducting a particular set of
activities. For instance, one room may be used for cooking foods and keeping raw ingredients and utensils for cooking, and it may be called the kitchen. Another room may be used for housing the idols and pictures of sacred deities and ancestors, and stacking sacred books and objects (such as lamps,incense sticks, peacock feathers, etc), and it may be called the place of worship, while another room may be used for spreading the bed, keeping clothes, money and jewelry, storing grains, as happens in rural communities, and it may called the bedroom.
In this way, depending upon the purpose(s), the other rooms of the house may be set aside, given some sort of specialisation and name. Terms like ‘study room’, ‘store’, ‘guest room’, ‘toilet’, ‘bathroom’, ‘pantry’, ‘anteroom’, ‘children’s room’, etc, all indicate the purpose for which a particular portion of the land is marked, and thus designated. Where the tract of land is less, many of these ‘rooms’ may not be there, but rather different corners of the same room may be associated with different tasks and activities, so one of its sides may be used for cooking, while another, for keeping deities.
Social Structure is a Model: Contributions of Claude Lévi-Strauss
Perhaps the most provocative and debatable contribution to the concept of social structure was that of Claude Lévi-Strauss, the French structuralist, who is famous for his ingenious cross-cultural analysis of myths and kinship systems. If for functionalism, society is a ‘kind of living creature’, consisting of parts, which can be ‘dissected and distinguished’, for structuralism, it is
the analogy from language that helps us in conceptualizing society. From the study of a given piece of language, the linguist tries to arrive at its grammar, the underlying rules which make an expression meaningful, although the speakers of that language may not know about it. Similarly, the structuralist from a given piece of social behaviour tries to infer its underlying structure.
In structuralism, the shift is from observable behaviour to structure, from organic analogy to language. Further, structuralism submits that the set of relations between different parts can be transformed into ‘something’ that appears to be different from
what it was earlier. It is the idea of transformation — of one into another — that lies at the core of structuralism, rather than the quality of relations. Edmund Leach (1968: 486) has given a good example to illustrate this. A piece of music can be transformed in a variety of ways. It is written down, played on a piano, recorded on a phonographic record, transmitted over the radio, and finally played back to the audience. In each case, the piece of music passes through a ‘whole series of transformations’.
IGNOU MSO 001 Free Solved Assignment 2021-22 , IGNOU MSO 001 Free Solved Assignment 2021-22
Q.2. Delineate the role of Concept and Theory in sociological analysis.
Sociological theories are embedded in a particular social context, and are deeply influenced by them. Each sociological thinker or theorist has to respond to the social situation in which he or she exists and to try and make sense of the enveloping culture. That is to say that sociological theory is the sociologist’s response to the context in which he lives and works. This truism will become increasingly apparent as you study the unit. However, it needs to be pointed out that there is an inner context and an outer context. The interplay between these two interrelated arenas of living creates sociological theory. The inner context is the background and mind-set of the theorist and also the strong influences and ideas that motivate a thinker to become a social theorist. The outer context is the overall environment, social and physical that the society is embedded in. However this is not to say that similar contexts cannot or do not produce competing theories.
Social Theory and its Development thus take place in a particular social and psychological setting. We now give a description of the overall social context in which sociological theory developed. As is well known sociology developed first in the west and it was in the 20th century that it percolated to India.
Prominence of Socialism
Another series of factors which created a great deal of reaction was the coming into prominence of socialism. This was a direct critique of capitalism and was supported by some thinkers while a majority of them were suspicious indeed hostile to it. The main figure who supported socialism among the sociologists was Karl Marx who was not only an effective writer but also a
political activist. In his political activism he was different from the armchair social theorists who were against socialism. That is they wanted to improve and streamline the capitalist systems defects, like the creation of alienation among factory workers (masterfully depicted in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times). They did not feel that socialism was in any way an answer or solution to the ills of capitalism. It has been pointed out that Marx’s socialism was often seen as a counterpoint from which to develop different theories. Now, due to the industrial revolution there were great movements of people from the rural to urban locales. These phenomena of migrations partly due to the opening up of jobs in urban areas yet this meant adjusting to the
new lifestyle urban areas also saw negative factors entering into the picture, such as pollution, overcrowding, inadequate transport systems, disparities in income and so on. As a matter of fact this impacted on the religious system also with a plethora of cults coming up and some of these even predicted the ‘end of the world’ in the last years of the 20th century, but this did not happen. It was not surprising that early sociologists wanted to emulate the physical and biological sciences in order to get them recognition, prestige and create popularity for sociology.
Comte’s (1798-1857) pioneering work in Sociology (a term he coined) comprised partly an analysis and reaction to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Thus Comte’s “positive philosophy” was aimed at what he felt to be a counter to that he considered to be the ill effects of the Enlightenment. His own approach was influenced by various counterrevolutionary thinkers such as De Bonald. Comte was, however, different from these counterrevolutionaries and he ruled out a regression to
the medieval times because science had advanced too much to make that possible. On the other hand the developed an excellent theoretical system, much better than anyone else at that time.
Q. 3. Examine the distinction between Marxian and Weberian ideologies.
Karl Marx and Max Weber are recognized as two of the most prominent theorists of the 19th century. Many might argue that there are many similarities between these sociologist’s theories, however although Marx and Weber both examined similar ideas, they noticeably came to two drastically different conclusions. During this essay I am going to compare and contrast the ideas of these two influential sociologists to see whether there are any similarities in their understanding of society. I will attempt to gather enough evidence in order to draw conclusions on whether Marx and Weber are indeed as different as is so often claimed or whether their similarities are significant enough to class them as having comparable understandings in their key ideas.
Marx took inspiration from Hegel, and consequently came up with the idea of base and superstructure. The base is the relationships that arise as a result of production and the superstructure are the ideas and relationships that the base relations determine (S.H.Rigby). He was also strongly influenced by the classical political economists who came up with the labour theory of value. This states that the real ‘cost’ of a product was determined by how much labour went into it (Evans). From these and other influences Marx came up with his extremely influential ideas about the economy as a whole.
Weber on the other hand, was influenced by Kant who said that when we try to explain something, we can only give one interpretation. From Kant, Weber learnt that to understand the human sciences, you have to understand the motivations of the people involved. Weber explained that you must look at the historical contexts and reject the idea of universal laws because of the fact that people have free will. Weber was also influenced by ‘The German model’, which seemed to motivate the majority of his work (Giddens).
In Marx’s opinion, the mode of production is what shapes history; he believed that the ways in which people make products is the catalyst that governs the Western society. Marx suggested that as workers lost control over what they produced, they were forced to sell their labour and therefore be exploited which inevitably alienated them from their work. Marx argued that as Capitalism expands, competition increases which inevitably means power will fall to an increasingly smaller minority, which will leave a division between “The property owners and the property-less workers” (Marx)
On the other hand, Weber disregarded exploitation as important in Capitalism and instead thought that Capitalism was strongly correlated to the protestant faith. He based this on the protestant belief that “the fulfilment of duty in worldly affairs” is “the highest form of moral activity”. Weber interpreted this as an encouragement to Protestants to work hard and save money which in turn led to a division of labour and class (Sztompka).
Firstly, I am going to outline some similarities within Marx and Weber’s theories. The first is the idea that “individuals are ruled by abstractions”, which is the foundation to both theorists’ ideas. An example of this could be taken from their views on feudalism. Feudal economics meant that people didn’t want to make a profit but instead sold products at a reasonable price for their ‘use value’ (Marx). Weber’s explanation of feudalism is that ‘private property is a result of military violence’ within a political structure. Marx, On the other hand explains feudalism as a result of ‘the means of production within an economic structure’ (Mannheim).
Another similarity that could be drawn is that Marx and Weber both believed capitalism to be largely based on irrationality. Both try to understand this irrationality through the medium of religion, although it differs in significance. The Weberian viewpoint argues that religion is the key to explaining the origins of Capitalism. In ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’, Weber argues that the ideas within the Protestant faith, combine with technology to shape society (Weber). In contrast, Marx believes that religion is nothing more than a method used to spread the ruling class ideology to the working class. It could be suggested that the arguments that Marx and Weber made, somewhat parallel each other; the main difference which sets them apart is that in Weber’s opinion God dominates the individuals actions, whereas in Marx’s argument capital controls their actions.
Q.4. What is power? Discuss the instruments of power.
Q.5. What is entrepreneurship? Explain the perspective of Schumpeter on entrepreneurship.
Q.6. What is modernity? Discuss Giddens’ concept of modernity.
Q.7. What is citizenship? Discuss its various types.
Q.8. Explain the roles and functions of civil society in a democracy.
Q.9. Compare and contrast post-structuralism and post-modernism.
Q.10. Discuss the elements of caste in gender stratification.
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