Thursday, January 19, 2017
The Founders of Sociology: Freaks and Geeks? Three Perspectives
No the founders of sociology were not freaks and geeks, but the series Freaks and Geeks has some great sociological insights in it. In the Pilot episode, (you can watch it here on mediacast)we see that the characters are part of a dynamic that is larger than who they are as individuals. To understand this dynamic is to have a sociological imagination. Three specific ways of having a sociological imagination are the three founding perspectives of sociology. These three perspectives were the beginning of sociology. All three of them were a reaction to the extraordinary changes of the industrial revolution taking place in Europe in the 1800s. The founder of each of these theories is considered one of the founding fathers of sociology. Here are the ways that we applied each theory to the tv show:
What are the groups and what functions do they serve? Are there negative influences from any of the groups (dysfunctions)? This is functional theory. It was developed by Emile Durkheim.
Who has power in the episode? How or why do they have power? How do they use it? This is conflict theory. It was first developed by Karl Marx.
What are the important symbols in the episode? Note that the symbols might be an object, but also might be an idea, an event or something else. How do the characters act based on the symbols they find important? This is symbolic interactionism. I like to connect symbolic interactionism to Max Weber.
Can you relate any of these theories to your own life? How can the things you do be interpreted through one of these theories? For example why do you wear what you wear or why are you going to college or why do you stress yourself out to get "good" grades?