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UONH Schools of Sociological Theory Discussion Post

PROMPT #1: Interpreting the COVID-19 PANDEMIC with the ‘Three Schools of Sociological Theory’ 

One of the main things we are learning about and discussing this week are the ‘three schools of sociological theory’ – symbolic interaction, structural functionalism, and conflict theory. Over the course of the semester we will practice using these theoretical perspectives as tools for interpreting social life and social phenomena. This week let’s use the three theoretical perspectives to interpret the COVID-19 PANDEMIC (as a major global event). In your posts please describe how, using each perspective, you would interpret this event. In other words when you ‘put on your symbolic interaction glasses’ how do you ‘see’ this event? How about when you examine this through structural functionalism? And conflict theory? BONUS: How could you examine this event using Critical Theory (see textbook)? 

Use the resources available to you this week (textbook, lecture, and blog posts that were assigned reading for this week – especially the one about weddings!, etc.) as examples/inspiration for your own analysis.

PROMPT #2: Karl Marx

One of the influential theorists we learned about this week is Karl Marx. Marx is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted social theorists in history, but his work has (perhaps for good reason?) stood the test of time. After reading, listening to the lecture, and exploring the link about ‘what Marx would see at a modern-day college football game’ share with us your thoughts about Marx’s theory and ideas here. Do you find his perspective of capitalism interesting or useful for understanding how the system works? Why/why not? Marx wrote at a time of dramatic social change (i.e., around the time of the industrial revolution), but do you think his theoretical insights can still be valuable to us today to interpret social life? How? Why/why not?

ACTIVITY: General vs. Empirical Research – This post is a two-part exercise (that you can do in one or two initial posts, totally up to you!). 

First, what are your responses to the following questions: What is the difference between “research” and “empirical research”? Given what you know from our module this week, how can you, as a consumer of information, critically assess social science research you hear about in the media to determine whether or not it is of high quality and empirical?

Once you’ve thought about the questions above and posted your thoughts, sometime this week find one news story – either on TV, in a newspaper or magazine, or online – that describes the findings of a sociological research topic of your choice. What information does the news source provide about the methods used in this study? What pieces of critical information are missing for you to determine whether or not this research can be considered high quality, empirical research? Finally, what are the implications of understanding how to assess high quality, empirical research compared to the information we are generally given in various ‘sound bites’ in the media? Could news outlets do a better job of this? Why/why not? How?


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