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Coined the idea of self-presentation: very radical at the time. Was a variant of
Interpretative sociology: a sociology of people interpreting and attaching meaning to their world. You
are either for agency or structuralism: schism in sociology. Tries to find implicit rules that govern life.
Disturbances are used to discover these.
Dramaturgical approach social life is like a performance: a play enacted on a stage, in front of an audience.
Why? Because you want an audience to test your identities (front stage) and teammates with whom you
withdraw backstage and can converse casually. Tact: helping people out when people make mistakes.
Goffman’s methodology was participant observation, often very deep. Institutions that should deal with
madness, criminality or illness often enhance the phenomena they should reduce because within these total
institutions only two identities are possible: right and wrong. Goffman’s focus on micro situations makes him
lose track of the bigger picture.
Looked at how the cultural elite convince the rest of society that they are special, and how this keeps them in
power. Theory of Bourdieu on consumption: people consume to show their status. Did work on Capital, but
found the economic definition too narrow. Bourdieu said you cannot become rich overnight: you need to
accumulate capital. Three forms: Economic capital. This is defined by property rights. Cultural capital. It is
connected to knowledge, and takes three forms: Embodied knowledge (knowledge that is a part of you),
objectified form (things people use to furnish their living environment) and institutionalised form (titles,
diplomas). Social Capital. Resources that you can mobilise by knowing someone. The three forms of capital can
be interchanged, but sometimes there are barriers. People show their differences in capital: Distinction.
Bourdieu also coined the idea of Habitus. It connects action and structure: laws of fields are inscribed into
human agents (Structured), but they are responsible for reproducing these laws (Structuring). It defines your
future choices. In his book, Distinction, Bourdieu tried to measure the class struggles. He found a relationship
between social class and taste, and how this permeates all aspects of people’s lives (see habitus). The elite
have accumulated cultural capital over time and have a higher cultural competence (ability to understand
works of art). Nowadays, class differences are smaller, and high-brow culture has been popularised. The
concepts he used are still valid though.
JAMES S. COLEMAN 1926-1995
He looked mostly at individuals: see how small interactions lead to larger institutions. He conducted a very
large study on education in the US. He said that equality should be measured by looking at the results of
students, not the resources of schools. He found that it wasn’t so much the school that mattered, but the
background that children came from. To improve school results they should be (forcibly) mixed. Coleman
became famous for his work on rational action. Individual behaviour can be explained by looking at the
individual’s wishes. People try to maximise their rewards and minimise their costs. When with these choices
you only have to take yourself into account they are parametric, when your decisions affect others they are
strategic choices. Introduced the idea of prisoner’s dilemma, which will lead to a non-efficient outcome (nashequilibrium). Rational choice is very attractive, as it is relatively simple and unites the social sciences. In most
discussions, it is implicitly assumed. Coleman also talks about social capital. He says this is a consequence of
rationally acting individuals, and calls it a public good, not individual property (like Bourdieu). Social capital is
constructed through closure from other networks, stability and shared ideology. His idea that everything is
rational makes it impossible to question it. He also could not offer an explanation on how cumulative
knowledge is created.
He worked on both the macro and micro level, which is unique in sociology. Most famous for his theory on
Interaction Ritual Chains. This explains the reproduction of symbols, ideas and group solidarities through
interaction rituals. How interaction situations produce individuals. A ritual becomes a ritual when you are
involved in it, are focused on one thing and when you notice this. This has as a result the creation of collective
effervescence. It has several ingredients (Bodily co-presence, barrier to outsiders, mutual focus of attention
and shared mood) and several outcomes, when successful (group solidarity, Emotional Energy, sacred objects,
standards of morality). Emotional energy is the will to engage in more interactions. You need rituals to keep
this high. Symbols can also carry over the emotional energy, and the standards of morality can distinguish you
from others. Collins himself calls this an expansion on Coleman: choosing to perform in IRs is a form of
rational choice.
Collins uses micro emotions (caused by rituals) to explain macro happenings (solidarity). Emotions aren’t just
outbursts, they are always present, different cultures all have the four basic emotions: anger, fear, happiness
and sadness/disappointment. The will to gain emotional energy is a driving force in behaviour: and people
make rational choices to optimise this. Collective effervescence is about creating a common mood, and this
intensifies the emotion felt. Bodily presence can be an intensifier, but is not necessary. It is easier to leave
rituals at which you are not bodily present. The order-giver sometimes gives orders to an order-taker to assert
his authority. This raises his EE, but lowers that of the order-taker. Order-takers can become angry (if low
control) or extremely subservient (if high control) when being dominated. Emotions are short-term, EE is
something long-term, collective. He uses four characteristics to identify how much energy individuals get from
a ritual. Ritual intensity (how much collective effervescence is created) Central/peripheral participation (how
close are they to the group). Density (how close the people in the group are) Diversity (how large their
difference in background, this changes the type of energy created). Winners in a group make themselves the
focus of the ritual.
Explain social development and individual behaviour from the structural characteristics of society.
Famous for
Structural functionalism. Society is an ordered, encompassing system with a structure. In modern
societies there are coordination problems, to overcome this there is specialisation, and functions are
split between different institutions: functional differentiation. There needs to be a balance between
these different functions. Society has stability as a characteristic, there is only slow evolution. In a
social system three subsystems support each other: cultural system (values) social system
(institutions) and psychic systems (dispositions). Each system needs to have functions fulfilled.
Parsons developed the AGIL scheme: four functions that all societies have to fulfil to survive in the long run:
Adaptation (to nature, or other social systems) Goal attainment (defining it, and how to get there. We call this
the political system), Integration (Norms and values that keep society together) and Latent Pattern
Maintenance (Making sure that society is reproduced in the future). Societies are stable system because the
norms and values are programmed into them: deviant behaviour is punished. In modernity there is more
specialization, and you can recognize this by looking at pattern-variables. He is criticised as making society
seem too ordered, and there is no space for human action. Also, trying to cover all sociological theories can
makes the categories used too broad.
A part of neo-functionalism: making problems easier to handle by only looking at sub-systems (e.g. law,
economy, civil sphere). He has a special focus on the Civil Sphere, this is where people develop norms and
values, here they make the identity of society. He sees culture as a structure that is normative, it defines what
people believe and do. The civil sphere is organised using binary codes something is either civil, or anti-civil.
Alexander says that these binary codes are redefined through debates, in the civil sphere. Everyone should
have a predisposition to participate in this debate. Key institutions are Communicative (public opinion, polls,
associations) and Regulatory. Political parties set the agenda for the debate. Other, non-civil spheres can spill
over into the civil sphere: economic inequalities heightening some people in debates. To remedy this, societies
can go into Civil repair.
Alexander says that what keeps society together, solidarity, must be studied in itself. A closer look at the civil
sphere is therefore needed. By talking about functions he connects his theory to that of Parsons. Civil sphere is
the identity of society. The civil sphere creates a we, distinguished from the other. An example of how the civil
sphere works: pressures from the civil sphere on the legal and economic sphere resulted in the abolishment of
child labour. There are norms and values there, but they are also created there. Identity is often linked to
geography. The identity of the Netherlands is seen as being always there, primordial. In reality, it is created
and recreated, for example by groups that are excluded from the civil sphere: these try to change history to
include themselves in it. These people challenge the identity. The civil sphere should be independent from
other spheres: no spill over. If this does happen, society attempts civil repair. Civil repair often fails, but it has
nonetheless made large differences in worker’s rights etc.
He was captured by Parsons’ approach of seeing society as a whole. All systems have boundaries, making them
specific. To make boundaries a system needs to fulfil its functions. Functional structuralism, societies become
more complex, and by making subsystems this can be reduced somewhat (e.g., in law you don’t talk power).
Societies are Social systems. The communication between people is what makes the system, not the
individuals. Every sub-system has a binary code as the basis for communication. Example: environmental
problems. They cannot be fixed by incorporating them into existing sub-systems, so Luhmann says a new subsystem should be created. Very abstract, hard to see what it means for society. Human agency is completely
Worked within structuralism, and how power works in individual life, the underlying mechanics. In premodern times the crime was punished, now the criminal is punished more. In the modern age power works in
several different ways: Surveillance: people do not know if they are being watched, so they act as if being
watched all the time. Judgment becomes normalised judgment: on the basis of order and standards. This all to
achieve discipline: deviant behaviour is corrected, almost automatically. Foucault also coined the idea of
Discourse: A shared way of talking, system of reference. This can limit room for deviations, and can be used by
politicians to force their reality on society. Foucault sees power everywhere, but it is often invisible as a result
of discourse/framing. This can be more effective.
Applying sociological theories on the contemporary period of time. Trying to answer the question of what is
happening around us today. Almost all writers highlight certain parts of modernity, but they have in common
the impact of globalisation on social relations in modern societies. This has caused a new modernity: Second
modernity as preceded by first modernity. The world has become more complex: Internet, neoliberalism,
Supra-national politics, omnipresence of the market.
Has done a lot of work on the Global network society. Everything that matters in society is organised around
electronic information flows. In these networks, space and time no longer seem to matter. Space of flows:
flows of information that travel the world. This is where the important stuff happens now. He opposes this to
Space of places: real places where people experience ordinary things, somewhat like the old time. Castells says
social change is how the space of flows affects the space of places (Glocalisation). If you see a company as a
network it can be in several places at the same time. Important nodes are called networks, and the state turns
into just a node: politics are deterritorialised. The GNS makes sociologists have to rethink key concepts, such as
power. Castells defines four types: Networking power (Inclusion/exclusion of a network), Network Power (The
standards that control a network, and if they have more connections e.g. are present in more networks they
are more powerful) Networked power (Power of elites) Network-making power (new, based on the capacity
to construct and code networks (by programmers) and to connect it to other networks (Switchers) <-Very
In his paper, Castells reaches new definitions of power, and the main new powers are those of the
programmers and the switchers, which form network-making power. The main mechanisms of power of the
state are violence and discourse. Power over is to control someone else, Power to is to be able to change
something. Power is also the institutional arrangements that make people act in a certain way. Power is
relational, Domination is institutional. There are three sources of power for the state: Violence, money and
trust. The violence monopoly is only legitimate if the discourse is embedded in the society. People who are not
part of a network are infinitely far away. Networked power: simple answer: there are power relationships
that have to do with its programmed goals. Impossible answer: there is no single most powerful person.
Done a lot of work on the shift to mobile modernity. He thinks that sociology should focus more on mobility
to be relevant for the 21st century. Social relations have been globalised, so sociology should be redesigned.
The concept of society is problematic now because they are connected to nation-states, whose role is eroded.
Globalisation results in massive increases of mobilities, and Urry calls these flows and fluids. This involves
looking at the infrastructures that feed an object (e.g. the house). He distinguishes between flows and fluids:
flows are Globally Integrated Networks, and they are more or less manageable because they use standardised
formulas. Fluids are much less predictable: environmental risks, Internet etc. Complexity science is needed to
describe these fluids (example of complexity science: tipping point).
Sassen shows how three components, territory, authority and rights mark the changes between different
forms of society. Thesis: the nation-state has made today’s global era possible. Sassen says that place is still
important in today’s globalised world. Global cities will become key: they concentrate vital knowledge, people
and institutions. In Castells’ words: they are important nodes. They are the sites of power. Sassen’s idea of
functions is based on Tokyo, London, New York. Some new Asian cities are very different, and do not fit with
her ideas. She sees globalisation everywhere, saying it is inevitable. Nobody is studying that some countries
are not connected: what does this mean? Protests now are about more than being connected on the internet,
you also have to make yourself visible in a place. Images of this can be diffused over the world, enhancing the
Beck says sociologists should build realistic utopias. Cosmopolitan society is his utopia. Beck want sociologists
to do more research above the national level. Beck has also done a lot of work on the risk society. There is a
difference in perception of risks in reflexive modernity: risks cannot be seen directly anymore. Scientists also
do not know for sure how to deal with them. The old dominant logic of welfare-distribution shifts to a logic of
risk-distribution: some people are more susceptible to risks. He also did work on Life politics. People need to
build their own lifestyle now, through consumption, identity etc. Beck says his idea of Cosmopolitan society is
a way of dealing with the ‘other’ in society. You need to accept that person as an individual.
Says that we no longer live in a culture where the economy is dominant, but culture is dominant. Has done a
lot of work on the shift from fixed to liquid modernity: for example consumption becoming the basis of
identity. In fixed modernity, the role of the government was to build an ideal order, as designed by scientists.
In liquid modernity this is challenged: it is impossible to make an ideal order, there are several different
orders, and people need to be able to adapt to these different orders. Now, there is more freedom for people
to choose, but this also means that they HAVE to choose. Bauman says that the state only protects the private
sphere, but it should also protect the public sphere because some people are dependent on it. People are
increasingly turning themselves into commodities, but Bauman says this will fail in the end, because a
commodity cannot grasp the complexity of a person.
Giddens is a very committed sociologist: he wants to change the world. He developed a new formal theory:
Structuration theory. A social theory that bridges the difference between macro and micro
sociologists. Central focus is the idea of agency.
Nation-states take on a new role in modernity, but they are still a crucial power container. Giddens says that
the classics (Durkheim, Marx, Weber) were looking at the first shift to modernity. He found out that it is
different because of changes in four institutions: Capitalism, Industrialism, Surveillance (the state), Military
(the state). Market and politics have become separated, The state surveys, and this is backed up by their
monopoly of violence (the military, in the end). All clusters are relevant at the same time, the classics looked at
only one cluster. Reflexive modernity leads to time-space distantiation: social relations are stretched. People
are also disembedded: no longer naturally connected to society. Globalisation brings some disruptions, but is
not overall bad. Trust changes, and politics become life politics. Trust takes a different form: symbols (ecolabels) but also faceless commitments. It has to do with 1. Past performance. 2. Technology used. 3. People
involved. Thus, active trust management is needed: at access-points their doubts are reassured (see
Goffman). He has also done work on life politics: how should we live, but also connecting the personal and the
Distinguishes between emancipatory politics and life politics. The former is about overcoming tradition, and
breaking illegitimate domination: you look at other people. It can take three forms: Exploitation, Inequalities
and Oppression, though there is a lot of overlap. The answers are more clear: Justice, Equality and
Participation are necessary. Emancipatory politics is about moving away from something, but it doesn’t state
where you’re going. Life politics is a politics of the self. It is about the choices you have after being
emancipated. These individual choices affect politics: if all women work society can change. It is related to four
themes. 1. Self-identity. Your identity involves actions, and to assert your identity you need to work on your
body (e.g. to be healthy you have to eat healthy). 2. Reproduction. Because of new techniques, the definition
of life is challenged. Biological reproduction is now completely social. And sexuality is no longer related to
reproduction. 3. Globalisation. Choices of individual humans can have a large effect on the planet’s ecology.
These new global problems require a global coordination, but this is hard as these global problems seem far
removed from individuals. 4. Existence. Ehh? Individuals should be aware of the questions these themes raise,
and they should try to answer them.
Goffmans’ form of interpretative sociology is called the ‘dramaturgical approach’ (right/wrong)
Goffman is a micro sociologist (right/wrong)
Mention three key concepts from the micro-sociology of Goffman
The area behind the curtains in which stewardesses relax can be regarded as front stage regions (right/wrong)
According to Goffman, hospitals and prisons can be regarded as ‘total institutions’ (right/wrong)
Goffman favours participant observation (right/wrong)
Define Bourdieus’ concept of Habitus and explain why and how this concept connects agency and structure
Muscles are an objectified form of cultural capital (right/wrong)
The ‘search for distinction’ is considered by Bourdieu to be an important driver of human action in all major fields of social life
According to Bourdieu, higher classes have better/more legitimate tastes (right/wrong)
According to Alexander, institutions that are based on bonds of loyalty and personal relations belong to the anti-civil sphere (right/wrong)
The theory of Alexander on the civil sphere belongs to the family of system-theories in sociology (right/wrong)
Mention three sub-systems or spheres as distinguished by Alexander
Multi-culturalism implies the purification of the outgroup-qualities (right/wrong)
Correct or not?
sub-systems in societies are created to reduce complexity
communication between sub-systems is not possible because the people involved do not want to talk to each other
Open question
Explain what Luhmann means when he claims that social systems are based on communication and not on people. Give an example.
True or not?
It is more effective to discipline people in contemporary societies through the visible use of power than via indirect invisible means
Only by studying the permanent social structures underlying social phenomena is it possible to explain these phenomena
Foucault understands surveillance to mean that power does not have to be visible provided it is organised in such a way that the effect is
permanent but the required action is not
Open question
Explain with the help of the concept of ‘framing’ why the recent debate on the future of the European Union has not resulted in a clear
The concepts of reflexive modernity and second modernity are interchangeable (right/wrong)
The shift or switch-over from the first to the second modernity brings along major qualitative changes in the institutions of modernity
With Castells, the space of place is used to describe the heightened time-space dynamics in the global network society (right/wrong)
Define and discuss four forms of power in the network society as defined by Castells
John Urry discusses mobilities because he things that conventional definitions of ‘society’ and ‘social system’ have become outdated
Globally Integrated Networks (GIN’s) are used to analyze flows that show unpredictable behaviours due to globalization (right/wrong)
According to Urry, sociology could benefit from complexity sciences when trying to understand processes of social change (right/wrong)
MacDonalds is a good example of a global fluid (right/wrong)
According to Sassen the nation-state has lost its importance in today’s global age (right/wrong)
In today’s global age place has lost meaning (right/wrong)
Global cities are strategic sites for global networks (right/wrong)
Explain what the acronym TAR stands for and how Sassen puts it central to the study of globalization
The ‘anthropological shock’ of Chernobyl refers to the awareness of the invisibility of many environmental risks as well as to the perceived
lack of control of these risks (right/wrong)
Beck is the inventor of the concept of ‘risk-society’ (right/wrong)
Second Modernity brings along the gradual breakdown of existing institutional frames for identity formation (right/wrong)
Cosmopolitanism as a concept is more encompassing and radical when compared to multi-culturalism (right/wrong)
Correct or not:
in liquid modernity scientists are ‘legislators’ and not ‘interpreters’
under liquid modernity, individuals are forced to build their own identity
uncertainty in liquid modernity is the consequence of not knowing enough and more research can solve this
Open question:
Why are consumers ultimately not commodities according to Bauman?
Giddens uses a discontinuous view of historical development to explain the particular characteristics of reflexive versus simple modernity
Globalization refers to the increased levels of time-space distanciation and the disembedding of social relations out of their local contexts
Active trust means trust to be gained and sustained by both facework and faceless commitments and mechanisms (right/wrong)