C. Wright Mills; The Sociological Imagination p. 355-358 in Lemert, C. (Ed.) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3nd ed. (37-41) (2004) Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
“Underlying this sense of being trapped are seemingly impersonal changes in the very structure of continent-wide societies. The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the failure of individual men and women. When a society is industrialized, a peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a businessman. When classes rise or fall, a person is employed or unemployed; when the rate of investment goes up or down, a person takes new heart or goes broke”. (P 355 para 2)
In this classic text, C Wright Mills discusses the application of sociology to various stages in life, but most of all it is applied to the workplace. In some cases, Wright Mills is rather vague but when he begins to discuss the interaction within the workplace, the situation changes and reading this becomes much more interesting. The politics in the workplace and different relationships are constantly touched upon and the application of sociological theory to these areas makes the argument interestingI don’t always agree with what Wright Mills concludes but on the whole it is an intriguing and challenging argument.
Charlotte P. Gilman ,Women and Economics (174-178) in Lemert, C. (Ed.) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3nd ed. (2004) Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
“Physically, woman belongs to a tall, vigorous, beautiful animal species, capable of great and varied exertion. In every race and time when she has opportunity for racial activity, she develops accordingly, and is no less a woman for being a healthy human creature. In every race and time where she is denied this opportunity,–and few, indeed, have been her years of freedom,–she has developed in the lines of action to which she was confined; and those were always lines of sex-activity. In consequence the body of woman, speaking in the largest generalization, manifests sex-distinction predominantly” p 178 para 2.
Gilman discusses the importance of women in the economic system and how the changing face of the world is also changing women’s approaches and perspectives to work. Coming from a woman who lived in the middle of the 19th century, her achievments are considerable and extremely avant garde so it is definitely a piece with which I would have to agree. The concepts of social Darwinism are also rigorously applied here and one can see that women need to break out of their social obstructionism to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour. One also has to make allowances for the state of women’s rights at that time, these were virtually nil so Gilman’s argument is all the more compelling. I found the arguments highly interesting and extremely progressive for their time, in fact they can easily be applied to today’s society.
Anna Julia Cooper, The Colored Woman’s Office (178-184) in Lemert, C. (Ed.) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3nd ed. (2004) Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
“The very next year, I had planted my little North Carolina colony on Seventeenth Street where I began like a little beaver to build a home, not merely a house to shelter my body but also a place where I could refresh my mind” (p 178, para 1)
This is another important text for the emancipation of African Americans. Here, Cooper describes the state of slavery in the Deep South were women were treated as even less than chattel, in some cases constantly exploited by their masters for sexual purposes and also left to conduct their own mundane affairs under the constant watch of the overseer. Women were also expected to work as maids and housekeepers with very little free time and they were constantly belitted and abused by the amster’s wife or even by the children for no pay at all except board and lodging. Cooper exhorts the capabilities of the African American woman in several ways which are far reaching and very modern for their time. It is a powerful piece which is also very much ahead of its time in that it envisages the freeing of coloured woman from the bondage and shackles of slavery into a world where they can make a valid contribution to society.
Marx & Engels; Manifesto of Class Struggle (39-43) in Lemert, C. (Ed.) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3nd ed. (2004) Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. (p39, para 2)
Marx; Estranged Labour (32-38) in Lemert, C. (Ed.) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3nd ed. (2004) Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
Political economy starts with the fact of private property; it does not explain it to us. It expresses in general, abstract formulas the material process through which private property actually passes, and these formulas it then takes for laws. (p. 32, paragraph 2, line 1)
This reading begins with a severe criticism of the concept of political economy, basically with what it can achieve and what it cannot.
Basically Marx insists that although political economy can bring together labour and capital, it does not manage to explain the inner working relationships of same. It is a harsh anlysis but a very realistic one in terms of a monetarised society which is still very much prevalent today especially when dicsussing the fixed rate of wages for labour which encourages exploitation. I found the text very chllenging but also agreed with it wholeheartedly.
Tse-tung Identity, Struggle Contradiction ( 267-270) in Lemert, C. (Ed.) Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. 3nd ed. (2004) Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.
The metaphysical or vulgar evolutionist world outlook sees things as isolated, static and one-sided. It regards all things in the universe, their forms and their species, as eternally isolated from one another and immutable. (p. 267, 5th paragraph, 1st sentence)
This essay by former Chinese Communist leader Mao tse Tsung is considered as one of his most important sociological and philosophical works. He suggests that all movements in life can be the result of contradiction but in a socialist system, these contradictions can be lessened or actually removed completely. Mao tse Tsung also discusses the aspects of socialism which can be used to improve society and these are also workable in theory although not so much in practise. I am not in complete agreement with Mao on the latter point given the various disasters China experienced under his watch mostly due to economic mismanagement, but the grist of the argument is surely compelling.
Marx Karl; From Capitalism to Communism (1-13) from Ritzer G Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots McGraw-Hill
Religion is the opium of the people (para 1, 1st sentence)
In this piece, Marx analyzes the situation when Capitalism lets breed inequalities and thus creates communism. Communism is an interesting sociological study on several counts and here Marx brings out the positive aspects of this theme. I am obviously in agreement with most of Marx’s arguments although at the end of the day, the fact that communism has failed has also to be taken into account.
Auguste Comte: The Law of the Three Stages (21-25) from Ritzer G Contemporay Sociological Theory and it’s Classical Roots; McGraw-Hill
“all theoretical conceptions, whether general or special bear a supernatural impress” (para 1, first sentence)
This strange phrase by Comte sums up the strength of theory and conceptions which occasionally tend to overwhelm us. Comte is quite direct in his phrases and writings and this excerpt is no exception. I do not really agree with Comte’s phrase on theory and the supernatural however he does have a point in the sense that theories are not always grounded in actual reality.
Archer Margaret; Culture and Agency: (193-195) Contemporary Sociological Theory and it’s Classical Roots; McGraw-Hill
“The problem of structure and agency has rightly come to be seen as the major issue of sociological theory” (para1, 1st sentence)
Margaret Archer needs no introduction in the world of sociological theory and her focus on culture and agency is hugely interesting. The statement on structure and agency is interesting in that it combines the sociological schools of thought with those of action, She speaks about the importance of cultural mores and customs as well as the changing faces of agency in today’s world. I agree wholeheartedly with Archer’s espousals and also her forward looking conceptions of sociology.