Today's Takeaway Insights

  1. Individual and Social "aspects" of "human condition"
  2. Coordination + Cooperation + Social Order
  3. Rationality. Solidarity.

Review Questions

Q459. What, to your mind, was the best article of the course - the one you really understood or that really clicked for you or that you've taken to explaining to friends and family it's so awesome. Describe it in a manner that shows the depth of your understanding.

Q458. If you are doing a thesis this year or have a general topic in mind for one in the future, pick two theorists, each from a different section of the course, and show what you have learned about their ideas by "applying" them to your research topic.

Q457. The overall logic of the final section of the course was that groups can promote social order through internalization of norms and provision of incentives. Explain how each of these work and what the difference is using at least one thinker to illustrate each.

Q456. Provide a high level comparison of shared meaning, hierarchy, markets, and groups as sources of social organization understood as coordination and cooperation.

Q455. Think about the articles by Fehr & Gintis and Centola et al. Show what you take away from these articles by talking about how norms can support cooperation and social order and how they can support an order that might be high on coordination but low on the benefits of cooperation.

Q454. Consider the essay you wrote for the warm-up assignment at the start of this course on a film or book in which social order "disappeared." How would you re-write it in a manner that would show off some of what you learned in this course?

Q452. Develop a summary diagram for the entire course. Some examples of the genre from a social control class in solutions.

Q451. If the phenomenon described by Centola et al. is common, what are the implications for Schelling's critical mass and tipping models?

Q450. Centola, et al. describe a process whereby people collectively "produce" something that is contrary to their individual beliefs/interests/preferences. Thomas Schelling, similarly, described a process whereby socially irrational results emerged from individually rational action. Identify points of similarity and difference, using it as an opportunity to show what you know about the two thinkers' ideas as well as your ability to compare markets and groups as generators of social order.

Q449. What does Hechter mean by "the extensiveness of corporate obligations"?

Q448. Why is the Tocqueville selection in the "groups as a source of social order" section of the text?

Q447. What is Tocqueville's argument that associations help to stabilize democratic regimes?

Q446. Walk us through Tocqueville's contrast of aristocratic society where citizens are bound to, say, their local noble, and democratic society where citizens are independent. He wants to say that the latter can't get anything done unless they know how to organize and associate.

Q445. What is the mechanism behind Tocqueville's endorsement of involvement in local politics as a way of building "the social" into citizens?

Q444. Tocqueville writes that "Americans combat individualism with free institutions" (246). Explain what he means.

Q443. Define:
supra-physical (234.5)
raison d'ĂȘtre (234.7)
(instinct) acquits (itself) (234.8)
(collective) asthenia (236.2)

Q442. Explain what Durkheim is talking about when he suggests that egoism is the opposite of social.

Q441. Explain the scientific logic behind Durkheim's suggestion that the three propositions on suicide varying with integration in religious, domestic, and political society lead to the suggestion that social integration is the property behind the variation in suicide rates.

Q440. Define:
regimen (239.6)
erethism (242)
equanimity (242)
apotheosis (243.6)
sacrilege (243.6)
(purely) utilitarian (regulation) (243.7)
liberal professions (244.8)

Q439. Freud in "Civilization and Its Discontents" gives us a theory of how conscience arises and functions. In the selection on anomic suicide Durkheim gives an account of conscience as controlling our otherwise potentially infinite (and unsatisfiable) desires. Compare and contrast.

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Conventional wisdom

  1. Natural condition » need for coordination/cooperation to survive
    1. Evolutionary story: organisms that developed tools for C&C do survive. But what are they? How does that work?
    2. Important to note: our goal is not an explanation of how humans survived.
  2. So, we have humans rational » humans work something out (social contract)
  3. Much contemporary research — from primatology to economics and psychology raise doubts about this line of thinking — search for "social" characteristics that can lead to social institutions

Coordination Problems and Cooperation Problems

  1. Coordination: how to create conditions in which stable expectations are possible?
  2. Cooperation: how to create conditions in which joint behaviors produce superior outcomes (collectively rational trumps individually rational)

* Game of chicken
* Prisoner's dilemma
* Two students who talk each other out of studying
* After you, Alphonse?
* Clocks and calendars
* Driving
* Good Samaritans
* Language, accents, grammar
* Making classroom work
* Public goods, externalities, free riders

Order as variable; Hobbes and disorder. What is the DV? Outcome?

Order > social welfare, social justice, lack of violence

But what produces order? Is it naturally emergent phenomenon from what humans are like? Even if so, how does it do that?

(Collins 1982, 3.9) Against all this commonsense belief in rationality, however, sociology stands out as a dissenter. One of the central discoveries of sociology is that rationality is limited and appears only under certain conditions. More than that: society itself is ultimately based not upon reasoning or rational agreement but upon a nonrational foundation.

Sometimes we think about sociological theory as a "critique" (evaluation, assessment, analysis) of "Modernity"
* what do we mean by "modernity" in this context? democracy, industrialization, mass society, "the modern world" that emerged in 19th and 20th centuries
* late 19th witnessed amazing "progress" in science and rational understanding of the world
* but much that followed a rational process seemed to yield "irrational" results

(Collins 1982 4.9) Max Weber, who formulated the theory of bureaucracy as an orgnanization of record-keeping specialists using rational calculations, also saw that rationality can take several different, and opposing, forms. Functional rationality consists of following the procedures of cooly calculating how a result may be achieved most efficiently. This is in fact what we usually mean by rationality. But functional rationality is concerned only with the means to an end. Substantive rationality, on the other hand, considers the ends themselves.

BIG INSIGHT Functionally rational procedures can lead to substantively irrational results. UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

Nuclear arms race. Finance economy. World war I, world war II. War on Terror.

AND SO: sociology = rationality sometimes leads to irrationality.

BUT that's just part I.

For Wednesday, read something about London riots

Notes and References

Collins: "Non-rational Foundations…" reading notes