SYA 4110 - Development of Sociological Thought

Friday 20 February

1. Announcements
-Make sure to check the Detailed Readings site regularly
-Exam grades will be posted this afternoon
2. Questions?
3. Today: The Golden Age: Structural-Functionalism & Parsons & Merton

Note: We did not have class on Friday due to my father's heart attack. Below are the classnotes that we would have gone over together. You will be responsible for the notes as well as the Parsons, Merton, and Reisman readings in your text. I may also post my version of the classnotes if I am able.

*On Monday we will discuss Goffman and will hold off on Garfinkel until Mon. 3/1.

Robert Merton

Robert Merton (1910-2003) attempted to rectify some of the weaknesses within structural functionalism. Specifically, he criticized the underlying assumptions of functionalism and added complexity to how structural functionalism dealt with the relationship between structures and functions.

Manifest and Latent Functions
Manifest - intended
Latent - unanticipated
    -Example - rain dance ritual
      What is another unintended function of rituals?
         (besides "making it rain" or doing whatever it was intended to do?)
           -group solidarity
   -Importance for sociological research: “Hawthorne Effect”

Merton sees the analysis of latent functions as one of the most essential contributions of functionalist sociology.

Social structure and anomie

    Anomie = lack of fit between culturally prescribed goals and culturally prescribed means

Culture as a source of deviance
    -The rate of deviance in a society is a reflection of the amount of anomie, leading to Merton's famous typology.

Remember: both Parsons & Merton believed that science held the promise of progress.

David Riesman
 -reservations about “progress”
 -believed that during the postwar period the country was undergoing a profound change in social character

 -social character: the more or less permanent socially and historically conditioned organization of an individual’s drives and satisfactions.  

        Older type = the “inner directed” person
internalization of values and goals instilled early in life by parents; become guiding principles upon which a person makes their way in the world.

        New type = the “other-directed” person
shaped less by family than by peers.  Personality type that seeks to “fit in” and to respond in ways that are seen as socially approved.  

            -actually 4 different types (traditional-directed and autonomous)

Riesman was critical of this shift
    -but noted: the other-directed personality was well suited for the highly bureaucratic world of advanced capitalism.