INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY-I
IGNOU BSOC 131 Solved Free Assignment
BSOC 131 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. Discuss the factors for the emergence of sociology.
Ans. The emergence of sociology coincided with two of the most significant social and political revolutions of recent times.
In 1838 the French social thinker Auguste Comte was the first to use the term sociology as a way of studying the world in terms of society, having grown up during the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789.
Along with the industrial revolution in England during the 18th century and the rise of urbanisation and mass social change, thinkers such as Comte, Durkheim and Marx began to realise the need to study society in its current form as opposed to the tendency of past philosophers on “Imagining the ideal society”.
The scientific and technological advances led to the transformation from a traditional rural agrarian society to a modern urban industrial society.
With the new inventions, the scale of production changed from small home-based to large- scale factory like enterprises.
This period of history is often described as ‘The Great Transformation’, which led to the emergence of sociology.
Around the late 18th century an intellectual period known as ‘The Enlightenment’ challenged many of the established orders of society from an analytical and scientific perspective.
With a greater emphasis on the state as opposed to an established monarchy and church system, a new social movement known as nationalism came into existence, as some replaced allegiance to God and the monarchy with an allegiance to the state.
Nationalism has sparked various uprisings since the French revolution (most notably National Socialism in Germany during the 1930’s) and again gave people another perspective of the society they live in.
This is relevant as Nationalism is studied in depth in social scientific fields such as anthropology and sociology today.
It could be argued that the intellectual revolution known as ‘The Enlightenment’ during the 18th century lay the ground for the French revolution which saw through significant social change.
It brought about an ideology which believed that scientific and historical study should be looked at and incorporated into a philosophical perspective.
Enlightenment figures such as Charles Montesquieu, one of the pioneers of social science, saw humanity as something that develops from infancy to maturity with conflict in between the different stages.
He also believed that the Enlightenment could be the beginning of a great period of human development, as science was being applied to humanity. This could be described as the birth of sociology and of social scientific thought.
The Age of Enlightenment, in this period of European thought, emphasis was placed on the individual’s possession of critical reasoning and experience.
There was also widespread skepticism regarding the primacy of religion as a source of knowledge and heartfelt opposition to traditi-onal authority.
A basic assumption of the Enlightenment was that scientific laws had been designed with a view to human happiness and that the “Invisible hand” of either providence or the emerging economic system of capitalism would ensure that the individual’s pursuit of enlightened self-interest would always be conducive to the welfare of society as a whole.
In France, the Enlightenment (also referred to as the Age of Reason) was dominated by a group of thinkers referred to collectively as the philosopher.
The Scientific Revolution
A scientific revolution is a change in the attitudes and behaviour of the scientific community.
Scientific revolutions are sociological facts and must be studied by methods of sociology, while epistemic ruptures are linguistic facts which can be studied by methods of epistemological reconstruction of scientific texts.
The “Scientific Revolution” refers to historical changes in thought and belief, to changes in social and institutional organisation, that unfolded in Europe between roughly 1550-1700; beginning with Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543), who asserted a heliocentric (sun-centered) cosmos, it ended with Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who proposed universal laws and a Mechanical Universe.
This revolution was marked by a new attitude towards man and nature. Natural objects became the subject of close observation and experiment.
The impact of this revolution was crucial therefore, not just in changing material life, but also the ideas which people held about nature and society.
Q. 2. Discuss the approaches to the understanding of social change.
Ans. Social change is the way human interactions and relationships transform cultural and social institutions over time, having a profound impact of society.
Sociologists define social change as changes in human interactions and relationships that transform cultural and social institutions.
Social change broadly is defined as the significant alteration or modification of any social organisation and/or social structure and functions of a society and its various manifestations.
Significant changes in various patterns of social relationships are social processes, social pattern, action and interaction- the rules of relationships and conduct (norms), values symbols and cultural products all these aspects are incorporated in the definition of social change.
Variations in both material and non-material aspects of culture with time also referred as the part of social change concept.
Approaches to Understanding Social Change
Evolutionary Theories of Social Change: Despite the wide variety in the possible directions change may take, various generalisations have been set forth.
Because the lot of mankind generally has improved over the long term, by far the most numerous classes of theories of the direction of change comprise various cumulative or evolutionary trends.
Though varying in many ways, these theories share an important conclusion that the course of man’s history is marked up ‘Upward’ trend through time.
Cyclical Theories: Cyclical change is a variation on unilinear theory which was developed by Oswald Spengler (Decline of the West, 1918) and Arnold J. Toynbee (A Study of History, 1956).
They argued that societies and civilisations change according to cycles of rise, decline and fall just as individual persons are born, mature, grow old, and die.
According to German thinker Spengler, every society has a pre-determined life cycle-birth, growth, maturity and decline.
Society, after passing through all these stages of life cycle, returns to the original stage and thus the cycle begins again.
A society can grow and survive if it can constructively respond to the challenges. Cyclical theory of change or sometimes called rise and fair theory presumes that social phenomena of whatever sort recur again and again, exactly as they were before in a cyclical fashion.
Structural-Functional and Conflict Theories: Functionalism, as a new approach of study of society, developed mainly as a reaction to evolutionism, in the early years of 20th century.
Critics of evolutionism advocated that there was no use to know the first appearance of any item of culture and social behaviour.
They called it the “Fruitless quest for origin”. One of the most significant assumptions of functionalists is that society (or culture) is comprised of functionally interdependent parts or the system as a whole.
These theorists believed that the society, like human body, is a balanced system of institutions, each of which serves a function in maintaining society.
When events outside or inside the society disrupts the equilibrium, social institution makes adjustments to restore stability.
This fundamental assumption became the main basis of the critics of functionalism to charge that if the system is in equilibrium with its various parts contributing towards order and stability, it is difficult to see how it changes.
Critics (mostly conflict theorists) argued that functionists have no adequate explanation of change. They cannot account for change, in that there appears to be no mechanism which will disturb existing functional relationships.
Q. 3. Explain political sociology as a sub-field of sociology.
Ans. Political sociology investigates the association between society and politics, and can be considered the intersection of political science and sociology. More specifically, the main focus is on power.
In sociology, power is defined as the ability to achieve one’s goals over the objections of another group. In political sociology, we study who has the power, how they use it, and how it is institutionalised.
This can include the study of political activity of specific groups (race, class, gender, ideology), how social pressure forces change in policy, or how policy will affect society.
Political sociology is considered as a connecting bridge between sociology and political science. Sociologists see give and take relationships between the two (Rathore 1986).
Latter some sociological tools of analysis were applied to the political phenomena has added to the understanding of political behaviour (Sharma 1978).
The cross-bordering of both the disciplines had led to develop political sociology as crucial sub- field but both the disciplines have refined themselves, added to their reservoir of concepts and widen their themes and issues and applications to understand and analyse social reality embedded into human society.
According to the areas of research in the domain included analysis of functioning of public agencies, groups and family as an agent of socialisation.
Certain other areas such as voting behaviour, political ecology and political community reflect upon themes of political functioning.
The conception of political membership, allegiance, ideological contestations, value orientation of the groups and identities are formed and transformed and added to the growing maturity of political sociology as an intellectual discipline because of the political processes.
Q. 4. Explain the different kinds of organisation.
Ans. Organisations have been divided into work organisations and treatment organisations by Goffman and by Etzioni on the basis of power relationships between participants and administrators.
Another way to classify organisations into four categories based on ‘Prime Beneficiary’ was suggested by Blau and Scott (1963) they serve.
Four categories suggested are as follows:
Business Organisations: They formed into organisations for earning profits. Companies, partnership firms, sole trading firms are organised along these lines with a profit motive to survive against competition, future expansion and development.
Government Organisations: Such organisations serve for the satisfaction of the people and their welfare. They exercise some measure of control. Central and State government undertakings, local bodies, etc., come under this category.
Protective Organisations: Organisations which protect the citizens from threats and dangers. Example of such organisations are polices, military fire brigades, navy and air force services which shield citizens and the country from danger.
Service Organisations: They include voluntary organisations formed for promoting social welfare activities in the country. They are non-profit social organisations.
Political Organisations: They seek to elect a member of their group to public office of the country (parliament or legislative body). Political parties, groups and associations come under this category.
Religious Organisations: They serve for the attainment of spiritual needs of members and try to convert non-believers to their faith. Churches, mosques, temples, etc. come under this category.
Associative Organisations: They satisfy the needs of people to make friendships and to have contact with others who have competitive interests. Clubs, teams, fraternities, etc., come under this category.
Educational Organisations: They include schools, colleges, universities, institutes, etc. committed to promote education and knowledge.
Q. 5. Examine the sociological concepts and methods used in social psychology.
Ans. Social psychology draws on many concepts and methods of sociology to study the reciprocal relationship between human and social environment.
In sociology, Max Weber emphasized that influence of culture on human behaviour had to be taken into account.
He introduced the concept of verstehen, a German word that means to understand in a deep way in verstehen, the researcher attempts to understand the social process or the cultural activities of the small social group from an insider’s point of view.
This approach led to the development of methods, where the sociologists strive to capture the subjectivity involved in the social processes, cultural norms, and societal values.
The aim of the researcher is to systematically gain an in- depth understanding of the social worlds he is observing rather than draw board generalisations.
This is seen as the fundamental difference between the qualitative and quantitative research methods in sociology. Following this, research methods in social psychology could be qualitative or quantitative.
Quantitative research in social psychology uses large-scale surveys (which involves a large number of participants), experiments (including two different groups), and statistical techniques are used to analyses the data which leads to predict general patterns of human behaviour.
Qualitative research method seeks to understand the human behaviour using in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and analysis of content sources.
With the expansion of social psychology, it is adopting methods such ethnography and qualitative approach which are the core methods in the domain of sociology.
Middle range theory, developed by Robert K. Merton, is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research.
It is currently the de facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States.
Middle-range theory starts with an empirical phenomenon (as opposed to a broad abstract entity like the social system) and abstracts from it to create general statements that can be verified by data.
This approach stands in contrast to the earlier “Grand” theorising of social theory, such as functionalism and many conflict theories.
Raymond Boudon has argued that “middle-range” theory is the same concept that most other sciences simply call “theory”.
The analytical sociology movement has as its aim the unification of such theories into a coherent paradigm at a greater level of abstraction.
Sociological theory, if it is to advance significantly, must proceed on these interconnected planes: (i) by developing special theories from which to derive hypotheses that can be empirically investigated, and
(ii) by evolving a progressively more general conceptual scheme that is adequate to consolidate groups of special theories.
Q. 6. What is socila institution?
Ans. Institution is a customs, practice, relationship, or behavioural pattern of importance in the life of a community or society: the institutions of marriage and the family.
Consistent and organised pattern of behaviour or activities (established by law or custom) that are self-regulating in accordance with generally accepted norms.
For example, political institutions are involved with (and regulate) competition for power; and economic institutions (such as markets) encourage and regulate production and distribution of goods and services.
Institutions are set of rules that structure social interaction (Jack Knight, 1992), can be understood as code of conduct or a set of rules and guidelines for human activity.
Institutions structure human interaction through stated or implied rules that set expectations.
Emile Durkheim referred to sociology as the scientific study of principle institutions. Institutions such as religion, family, education, etc. are still critical to the discipline of sociology.
The institution of family has been attacked for its assumptions about the roles of ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’, of sexuality and division of labour.
Q. 7. Differentiate between multiple roles and role set.
Ans. It is generally assumed that there is one fairly clearly defined role appropriate to each social position, but the facts of social reality are much more complex.
There are, indeed, frequently many roles related to any one social position. For any social position there is what Merton (1957) calls “A complement of role-relationships in which persons are involved by virtue of occupying a particular social status”.
This means that each status carries with it a role set consisting of a collection of roles performed in relation to different role partners.
Thus, the various roles associated with occupying a particular status when combined is known as role set.
Merton illustrates the idea of role set with an example of a medical student. He writes, the status of medical student entails not only the role of a student vis-a-vis his teachers, but also an array of other roles relating him diversely to other students, physicians, nurses, social workers, medical technicians, and the like.
Similarly, the school teacher who by virtue of his position has roles to play vis-a-vis his pupils, his colleagues, his head master, parents, members of the school board, professional associations and so forth.
There is possibility for a considerable degree of conflict in such a role set, for what the parent feels should constitute the education of his child is not necessarily what the school board considers it should be and the head master may have his views, so may be professional associations and other organisations.
Merton has distinguished role set from ‘Multiple Roles’. He writes: “The role set differs from what sociologists have long described as ‘Multiple Roles’.
By established usage, the term multiple role refers not to the complex of roles associated with a single social status, but with the various social statuses in which people find themselves-for illustration, the statuses of physician, husband, father, professor, church elder, conservative party member and army captain.
(This complement of distinct statuses of a person each of these in turn having its own role set. I would designate as a status set).”
Q. 8. What are culture trait and culture complex?
Ans. Cultural traits are the single elements or smallest units of a culture. They are “Units of Observation” which when put together constitute culture.
Thus shaking hands, touching the feet, tipping hats, the kiss on the cheeks as gesture of affection, giving seats to ladies first, saluting the flag, wearing white ‘sarees’ at mourning, taking vegetarian diets, walking barefooted, drinking water on the idols, carrying ‘kirpans’, growing beard and hair, eating in brass utensils, etc. are cultural traits.
“Cultural complexes are nothing but larger clusters of traits organized about some nuclear point of reference”. Cultural traits, as we know, do not usually appear singly or independently.
They are customarily associated with other restated traits to from cultural complex.
Thus, kneeling before the idol, sprinkling sacred water over it, putting some food in its mouth, folding hands, taking ‘Prashad from the priest and singing ‘Aarti’ form a religious complex.
Q. 9. What is status?
Ans. The status is individual’s social or professional position. In every society and every group each member has some function or activity with which he is associated and which carries with it some degree of power or prestige.
That is called his/ her status in the society. In a lifetime an individual occupies different statuses on the lines of age, gender, class, occupation, and education.
A person can have several statuses at a point of time such as being a daughter, social worker, member of a book- reading club, guitarist, and a manager in a company.
A combination of all the statuses that a person holds is called status set. Ideally the term status refers simply to the positions occupied by an individual in the society, whether of a man or woman, lawyer or shopkeeper, Brahmin or Dalit we often attach a sense of high and low with statuses in our common everyday usage.
The status classifications are based upon where we live, what we do, what we eat, who do we mix up with, kind of schools or institutions we attend, which social category we belong to and so on.
Therefore, status is also a basis of social stratification and individuals not just occupy a position but these positions are also placed in a hierarchy.
Say for example, one occupation is not merely different from another in division of labour but also ranked in terms of prestige and differentially rewarded.
Q. 10. Differentiate between political sociology and sociology of politics.
Ans. The main difference between sociology and political science is that sociology is the scientific study of human society while political science is the study of politics and their impact on society as a whole.
Hence, unlike sociology, political science emphasizes the use of political power in the national and international level.
Like political sociology, sociology of politics is a subfield of sociology. Political sociology actually underlines the links between politics and society, between social structure and political structure, and also between political behaviour and social behaviour.
Political sociology essentially deals with social reasons and contextual aspects of a phenomenon while explaining why people act the way they do.
Political sociology unlike sociology of politics is a cross-disciplinary breakthrough which gave a contextualised treatment to any issue under consideration.