Classical Sociological Theory Coursera Quiz Answers

Get All Weeks Classical Sociological Theory Coursera Quiz Answers

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) will offer the participants an introduction to the most important classical sociological readings between the 18th and 20th centuries. Highly influential social science scholars, such as Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim, will be discussed during 8 sessions.

Combined with small tests, based on the videos and recommended readings, the participants will be encouraged to dive deeply into the complex texts and get familiar with classical sociological concepts that are still very relevant today.

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Classical Sociological Theory Coursera Quiz Answers

Week 1 Quiz Answers

Quiz 1: Classical Sociological Theory – An Introduction

Q1. Why are the precursors of modern social science still important? Their theories…

  • are still relevant today
  • are still empirically valid
  • describe contemporary societies
  • reflect the truth about societies

Q2. Why is it enlightening to make one’s own implicit theories explicit?

  • It enables one to make better explicit choices
  • To better understand the implications of theories
  • To support implicit theories with explicit evidence
  • To better understand one’s theoretical motivations

Q3. What is the main issue that classical sociologists were concerned with?

  • To locate and solve personal problems in modern society
  • To understand the fundamental changes in modern societies
  • To explain individual choices in modern society
  • To study the history of European modern societies

Q4. What is ‘sociology’?

  • The philosophy of the social world
  • The classical theory of social life
  • The empirical study of interaction
  • The science of human societies

Q5. The liberal, socialist and conservatist strands within sociology:

  • are currently the main sociological standpoints
  • do still influence sociological research to some extent
  • help observing what is actually happening in society
  • have been abandoned from the discipline completely

Q6. To understand contemporary society:

  • it is useful to take into consideration classical sociological theories
  • it is important to keep some distance to classical sociological theories
  • it is necessary to know all the classical sociological theories by heart
  • it is necessary to treat the classical sociological theories with respect

Q7. Why can classical sociological theory be important to contemporary social scientists?

  • Most scholars agree on the content of these theories
  • It serves to decide which authors are important
  • It solves disagreements among social scientists
  • It offers a common ground for sociological knowledge

Q8. The most important objective of this course is:

  • to discuss all details of the classical sociological theories
  • to compare classical theories with contemporary ones
  • to learn to read classical theoretical texts independently
  • to criticise classical theories from a contemporary standpoint

Q9. In their ‘General Introduction’, Calhoun and others (2013, pp. 1-18) show multiple reasons why sociological theory can be helpful for both social scientists and ‘lay-people.’

Which of the summaries below fits these reasons best?

  • Sociological theory provides a crucial basis for systematically explaining, exploring, understanding and analysing social life
  • Sociological theory provides insight into individualism, modern states, capitalism and the consequences of European exploration
  • Sociological theory is an indispensable tool for grappling with basic questions concerning social, political and economic formations

Q10. Whereas sociology embraces the Enlightened message of reason and reliance on empirical evidence, Calhoun and others (2013, pp. 21-29) argue that most sociologists question some of Enlightenment’s basic assumptions.

What basic assumptions do they question?

  • Social scientists question the emphasis on independent reason
  • Social scientists question the idea of inevitable human progress
  • Social scientists question the Enlightened standards of knowledge and logic

Week 2

Quiz 1: Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733) and Adam Smith (1723-1790)

Q1. In his work The Fable of the Bees, Bernard Mandeville poses the idea of ‘private vices, public benefits’. What does he mean by that?

  • If too many private vices take place, the public will restore the order
  • Society needs private vices and sins in order to flourish economically
  • Private vices make the public aware of the negative consequences of crime

Q2. What does Adam Smith mean by ‘The Invisible Hand’?

  • If society flourishes it is because of the self-interested acts of individuals
  • If society flourishes it is because of the actions of unknown citizens
  • If society flourishes it is because of the invisible hand of God

Q3. What was the most important effect of the Division of Labour?

  • Labour became more efficient
  • Labour productivity increased
  • Labour became specialized

Q4. What was the most important outcome of the rise of productivity?

  • Even low-skilled and non-educated workers could get a job
  • It brought about more wealth for the highest ranks
  • Wealth trickled down to the lowest ranks of people

Q5. What premise about human nature underlies the theories of Adam Smith?

  • Human beings are essentially self-interested, they cannot be trusted
  • Human beings always try to improve their position on the labour market
  • Human beings cannot survive in isolation, they are interdependent

Q6. How can social stratification be explained, according to Adam Smith?

  • The existing elite has the power to assign the best occupations to themselves
  • Different talents account for the different social positions people occupy
  • Different social positions account for the development of different talents

Q7. Why can Smith be seen as a precursor of modern social sciences?

  • Smith is aware of the social implications of technical improvements
  • Smith makes a connection between social theory and empirical knowledge
  • Smith points out to the consequences of social stratification and inequality

Q8. Which quote describes best Smith’s concept of ‘the division of labour’ (Smith 1776, cited by Calhoun et al. 2013, pp. 55-66)?

Alternative reading:

Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations,” pp. 3-16, from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, edited by Edwin Cannan (New York, Random House, 1937).

  • “But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades” (Ibid., p. 56)
  • “In those great manufactures, […] destined to supply the great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen, that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse” (Ibid., p. 55)
  • “Though in such manufactures, therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of more trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious […]” (Ibid., p. 55)

Q9. Which quote refers best to the main consequence of the division of labour, as described by Smith (Smith 1776, cited by Calhoun et al. 2013, pp 55-66)?

Alternative reading:

Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations,” pp. 3-16, from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, edited by Edwin Cannan (New York, Random House, 1937).

  • “The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour”(Ibid., p. 56)
  • “How many different trades are employed in each branch of the linen and woollen manufactures, from the growers of the flax […] to the dyers and dressers of the cloth!” (Ibid., p. 56)
  • “Their lands are in general better cultivated, and having more labour […], produce more in proportion to the extent and natural fertility of the ground” (Ibid., p. 57)

Q10. Which quote relates directly to Smith’s concept of the ‘invisible hand’ (Smith 1776, cited by Calhoun et al. 2013, pp 55-66)?

Alternative reading:

Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations,” pp. 3-16, from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, edited by Edwin Cannan (New York, Random House, 1937).

  • “To give the monopoly of the home-market to the produce of domestic industry […], is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals […]” (Ibid., p. 65)
  • “But the annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry […]” (Ibid., 64)
  • “By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually that when he really intends to promote it” (Ibid., p. 65)

Week 3

Quiz 1: Auguste Comte (1798-1857)

Q1. What is the relationship between religious and scientific knowledge, according to Comte?

  • Religious thought is not possible without scientific thought
  • Religious thought stands opposite to scientific thought
  • Religious thought is the precondition for scientific thought

Q2. Why is The Law of the Three Stages of the Human Mind called an idealist theory?

  • It assumes the improvement of the human mind
  • It assumes that ideals transform human minds
  • It assumes that ideas transform human history

Q3. What was Comte’s main motive to write his classical book ‘The Course on the Positive Philosophy’?

  • To lay the foundations for an intellectual harmony
  • To create a scientifically founded system of ideas
  • To write a book that would interest his contemporaries

Q4. What is the connection between Comte’s ‘Law of the Three Stages of Human Mind’ and his ‘Hierarchical Classification of the Sciences’?

  • Sciences that rank lowest do reach the positivist stage quickly
  • Sciences that rank lowest will never reach the positive stage
  • Sciences that rank lowest do reach the positivist stage slowly

Q5. Why does Comte consider the theological stage important?

  • In that stage religious human beings made the transition to secularism
  • In that stage the foundations for scientific research were being laid
  • In that stage God gave religious thought and ideas to human beings

Q6. Why is religion indispensable in a ‘modern’ society, according to Comte?

  • Without religion human beings seize to feel any emotions
  • Without religion modern, industrial societies are unstable
  • Without religion societies cannot be scientifically explained

Q7. Why can Comte be called a precursor of functionalism?

  • He paid attention to the (mal)functioning of individuals in society
  • He paid attention to the functionality of the classification of sciences
  • He paid attention to the function of smaller parts for society as a whole

Q8. What distinguishes sociology from other sciences?

  • Sociology is a relative autonomous science, with its own methodology
  • Sociology is a subgenre of natural sciences, with its own methodology
  • Sociology is similar to historical science, with its own methodology

Q9. Comte’s term ‘sociology’ was preceded by his term ‘social physics’ (Ritzer & Stepnisky 2013, p. 15). What did Comte refer to with this latter term?

Alternative reading:

  • Comte aimed for an understanding of both the social and physics
  • Comte sought for collaboration between sociologists and physicists
  • Comte sought to model sociology after the hard natural sciences

Q10. How does Comte define his Law of the Three Stages of Human Mind (Comte 1830/2000, cited on http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/comte/Philosophy1.pdf

  • Through history of the human mind “three philosophies, or general systems of conceptions on the aggregate of phenomena, [will arise], each of which excludes the others” (Comte 1830/2000, p. 28)
  • “The progress of the individual mind is not only an illustration, but an indirect evidence of that of the general mind. The […] phases of the mind of a man correspond to the epochs of the mind of the race” (Comte 1830/2000, p. 29)
  • “[…][E]ach of our leading conceptions, each branch of knowledge, passes successively through three different theoretical conditions: the Theological […]; the Metaphysical […]; and the Scientific […]” (Comte 1830/2000, p. 27)

Q11. Comte outlines the two general aims of his work (Comte 1830/2000, pp. 27-42, cited on http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/comte/Philosophy1.pdf.

What aims are explicitly outlined in his work?

  • 1) To show the necessity of observing facts in order to form a theory,
    • 2) to pursue an accurate discovery of invariable natural laws
  • 1) To come to a distinct classification of all natural and social sciences,
    • 2) to map out the three successive stages of the human mind
  • 1) To fill up the series of sciences of observation with Social Physics,
    • 2) to show that all sciences are branches of the same trunk

Q12. Comte describes “four points of advantage” (Comte 1830/2000, pp. 40, cited on http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/comte/Philosophy1.pdf that come to the fore with the establishment of a Positive Philosophy.

What are these four points?

  • 1) Even those sciences which appear the least interesting have their value,
    • 2) the de-establishment of the radical artificial division between the sciences,
    • 3) a recognition of the whole scope of positive science through education,
    • 4) the development and completion of the organisation of scientific research
  • 1) Insight in the Statical and Dynamical aspects of social phenomena,
    • 2) the formation of good intellectual habits by studying the regular application of methods.
    • 3) to deal more easily with the difficulties of the respective sciences,
    • 4) the proof that Ideas govern the world or throw it into chaos
  • 1) The manifestation by experiment of the laws which rule the intellect,
    • 2) a general instruction based on the Positive Philosophy directed to regenerate education,
    • 3) the progress of the respective positive sciences by their combination,
    • 4) social reorganisation by establishing intellectual agreement

Week 4

Quiz 1: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

Q1. Why is Tocqueville mainly considered a political scientist?

  • Because he presented himself as a political scientist
  • Because of his work on the phenomenon of democracy
  • Because of his political career, as member of the parliament

Q2. What makes Tocqueville’s perspective on democracy so unique within the social sciences?

  • His experiences during the French Revolution
  • His involvement with persecuted minorities
  • His aristocratic background and worldview

Q3. Why did Tocqueville consider a comparison between the US and France important?

  • The process of democratization in the USA gave a good example for France
  • The process of democratization in the USA provided an insight in France’s future
  • The process of democratization in the USA showed the necessity of an aristocracy

Q4. What can be distinguished as the main focus of Tocqueville’s work?

  • The process of secularisation
  • The process of equalisation
  • The process of polarisation

Q5. What is the main pitfall of democratisation, according to Tocqueville?

  • In a democracy the central government becomes too powerful
  • In a democracy minorities will not be protected against the majority
  • In a democracy equality will be more important than liberty

Q6. What is the best antidote against the overwhelming power of the central state?

  • Religious norms and values
  • A free and independent press
  • Grassroots- and local politics

Q7. Why will revolutions become rare, according to Tocqueville?

  • When in a democracy the middle class becomes the majority, there will be no dominant class left to start a fight with
  • When in a democracy the lower classes get equal democratic rights, they will not feel the impulse to start a revolution
  • When in a democracy the large majority owns some property, they will not take the risk of losing it by starting a revolution

Q8. Why can ‘wrong’ predictions, made by scholars such as Tocqueville, still be useful today?

  • It can teach us something about the context in which classical theorists worked and thought
  • It provides us useful information on how to protect ourselves from making the same mistakes
  • It brings about lively discussions and new insights among scholars that live and work today

Q9. In the ‘Introduction to Part II’, Calhoun et al. (2013) outline why democracy faces a dilemma, according to Tocqueville. What is the dilemma of democracy?

  • Self-interest is a basic feature of democratic politics, but the spirit of individualism easily fosters egoism and selfish preferences that make management of common affairs difficult
  • Democracy functions best under a weak central government, but as citizens learn to expect little from the central state they withdraw from civic life and undermine democracy
  • Citizens need a charismatic leader to restore the social order in times of chaos and conflict, whereas democracy offers no guidance due to its claims of egalitarianism and autonomy

Q10. Similar to Smith, Toqueville argues that:

  • It is through knowledge and education that societies become ‘enlightened’ and democratic
  • It is through the division of labour that citizens are encouraged to employ collective action
  • It is through the achievement of private interests that public goods are being established

Q11. Why does Tocqueville believe that literary genius will never exist in America?

  • True literary genius can only emerge in ages of tyranny and under excesses of monarchical power. Whenever the body is enslaved, the soul will free itself through the arts
  • In a democratic society the majority raises barriers to the liberty of opinion, since the author will repent it if he steps beyond these barriers by the persecutions of daily obloquy
  • In an egalitarian and capitalist society the author is induced to write what the majority is willing to buy, since it is the only authority that can support his financial success

Q12. What is Tocqueville’s greatest concern with regard to democracy (Tocqueville, 1840, cited by Calhoun et al. 2013, pp. 122-131)?

Alternative reading:

Chapter XV: Unlimited Power Of Majority, And Its Consequences—Part I and II, Alexis De Tocqueville (H, Reeve, trans) (2006), https://www.gutenberg.org/files/815/815-h/815-h.htm#link2H_INTR

  • Democracy eventually creates a base for revolution, by not fostering and securing its minorities
  • In democratic legislation there is no barrier established against tyrannic abuses by the majority
  • Democratic institutions of the United States will never gain full authority due to their weakness

Week 5

Quiz 1: Karl Marx (1818-1883)

Q1. What did Marx’ theories teach us about the force of social thought?

  • Social thought can inspire political leaders over many decades
  • Social thought can offer solutions to political and economic crises
  • Social thought can be abused and is not without consequences

Q2. How are the concepts of infrastructure and superstructure interrelated, according to Marx?

  • The infrastructure is determined by the superstructure
  • The infrastructure forms the base for the superstructure
  • The infrastructure facilitates and supports the superstructure

Q3. Why is Marx often characterized as a materialist?

  • He stressed that only a focus on material facts could change the world
  • He stressed that economic ties determine the ideas of human beings
  • He stressed that material goods give human beings their dignity

Q4. Which four types of alienation can be distinguished?
Workers are alienated from:

  • Their product,
    • The production process,
    • Their fellow workers,
    • Themselves as human beings
  • Their pride,
    • Their dignity,
    • The secrets of their profession,
    • Their solidarity
  • Their consciousness,
    • Their creativity,
    • Their loyalty to the factory,
    • Their common fate

Q5. How will the division between the classes develop when capitalism reaches its final stage?

  • Eventually only two classes will remain: the poor proletariat and the wealthy bourgeoisie
  • Eventually two new classes will complete the range of existing classes: the proletariat and bourgeoisie
  • Eventually the middle class will divide itself in a low and high middle class: proletariat and bourgeoisie

Q6. Why is the collapse of the capitalist system inevitable, according to Marx?

  • Both classes are captives of the capitalist system. Once they become conscious of that situation, they will destroy the system together
  • The bourgeoisie is scared to death for the power of the proletariat. Once the working class is conscious of its power, they will start a revolution
  • The extreme competition forces the bourgeoisie to increasingly exploit the proletariat. This shapes the conditions for an inescapable revolution

Q7. What is the main critique on Marx’ theories?

  • His false prediction of revolution and the inevitable collapse of capitalism
  • His emphasis on economic aspects only, as driving force of class struggle
  • His unelaborated work on socio-psychological aspects of class struggle

Q8. Why could Marx’ predictions still be valuable and legitimate today?

  • It is possible that revolutions will become rare because of the flexibility of the capitalist system
  • It is possible that the communist system still offers a legitimate alternative to the capitalist system
  • It is possible that the capitalist system stretched its lifetime by processes of globalization

Q9. Karl Marx’ central argument is now known as ‘historical materialism’. In his work The German Ideology (in Calhoun et al, 2013, pp 142-145), Marx elaborates on the relationship between ideas and consciousness (superstructure), and materialist conditions (substructure). Which quote captures this relationship best?

Alternative reading:

  • “[Men] begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life” (Marx 1845, cited in Calhoun et al, 2013, p. 143)
  • “The division of labour … as one of the chief forces of history up till now, manifests itself also in the ruling class as the division of mental and material labour, so that inside this class one part appears as the thinkers of the class […]”(Marx 1845, cited in Calhoun et al, 2013, p. 144)
  • “Men are the producers of their conceptions, ideas, etc. – real, active men, as they are conditioned by a definite development of their productive forces and of the intercourse corresponding to these, up to its furthest forms” (Marx 1845, cited in Calhoun et al, 2013, p. 143)

Q10. In Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 ( in Calhoun et al, 2013, pp. 146-155), Marx criticises private property. What is his main concern with regard to private property?

Alternative reading:

  • “[…] the emancipation of society from private property, etc., from servitudes, is expressed in the political form of the emancipation of the workers” (Marx 1844, cited by Calhoun et al., 2013, p. 154, italics added by author)
  • “Private property is the product, the result, the necessary consequence, of alienated labour, of the external relation of the worker to nature and to himself”(Marx 1844, cited by Calhoun et al., 2013, p. 153, italics added by author)
  • “[…] when one speaks of private property, one thinks of dealing with something external to man. When one speaks of labour, one is directly dealing with man himself” (Marx 1844, cited by Calhoun et al., 2013, p. 155, italics added by author)

Q11. In Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx & Engels argue the following: “What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own gravediggers. Its fall and victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” (in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 165). Why is this fall inevitable, according to them?

Alternative reading:

  • “The less the skills and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex” (Marx & Engels 1848, cited by Calhoun et al., 2013, p. 161)
  • “The essential combination for the existence, and for the sway of the bourgeois class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to association.” (Marx & Engels 1848, cited by Calhoun et al., 2013, p. 164)
  • “The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. […] In all these battles it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for its help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie” (Marx & Engels 1848, cited by Calhoun et al., 2013, p. 163)

Week 6

Quiz 1: Émile Durkheim (1858-1917)

Q1. What is the societal importance of sociology, according to Durkheim?

  • To gain more insight in quantitative date and statistic information
  • To understand and solve problems that are typical of modernity
  • To take a stance against mass psychology and the focus on individuals

Q2. Why did Durkheim think that modern societies would not fall apart, while at the same time becoming increasingly differentiated?

  • Because a new kind of interdependency arises out of heterogeneity: organic solidarity
  • Because a new kind of interdependency arises out of homogeneity: mechanic solidarity
  • Because a new kind of interdependency arises out of heterogeneity: mechanic solidarity

Q3. Why did Durkheim compare social sciences to biology?

  • Similar to biology, sociology is concerned with how life emerges out of the association of ‘cells’
  • Both biology and sociology are concerned with the study of phenomena that exert power on individuals
  • Unlike biology, sociology is concerned with social facts rather than natural or biological facts

Q4. What did Durkheim try to establish with his quantitative study on suicide?

  • He aimed to establish sociology as the most appropriate science to explain psychological problems
  • He attempted to show that such an individual event as suicide can be explained sociologically
  • He tried to show that individual choices can be propagated through processes of mass imitation

Q5. What did Durkheim mean by ‘egoistic suicide’?

  • Individuals who commit suicide do not take into account the feelings and pain of others
  • Suicide can be explained by the egoist characteristics of individuals in modern society
  • This type of suicide is the result of weak social ties and a lack of social cohesion

Q6. Why is social regulation indispensable according to Durkheim?

  • Without regulation human beings are not able to harmonise their desires
  • Too much individual freedom undermines the internal order of societies
  • Human beings need rules and regulations to deal with heavy pressures

Q7. What is the omnipresent power that people do experience in a religious gathering, according to Durkheim?

  • The eternal power of sacred objects and rituals
  • The strength and energetic power of religion
  • The coercive and external power of society

Q8. What are the most important functions of religion, according to Durkheim?

  • It brings people into a state of euphoria, which uplifts them temporarily
  • It offers rituals in times of grief and fear, and protects against secularism
  • It strengthens social cohesion, social regulation and repairs social ties

Q9. In The Rules of Sociological Method (in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 201-219), Durkheim argues that a ‘social fact’ is always external to the individual. Why?

Alternative reading:

The Rules of Sociological Method (1895) (http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/)

  • In a public gathering great waves of enthusiasm, indignation and pity are produced by a collective of individuals. Although starting in the mind and consciousness of one individual, this wave sweeps the others along in spite of themselves, as if it comes to them from the outside
  • Social institutions in a society exist before human beings are born, and will remain after their deaths. These laws and customs are thus external to human beings and their actions, but are nevertheless compelling and coercive with regard to their ways of acting, thinking and feeling
  • The coercive power of social institutions makes individuals unable to resist them. Although aware of the pressure to which they are subjected, individuals are forced to behave in accordance with the rules set out by their social environment. Only the strongest individuals can fight social facts

Q10. In The Division of Labour in Society (in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 220-242), Durkheim defines the term ‘collective consciousness’. Which quote denotes this definition?

Alternative reading:

The Division of Labor in Society (1893) (http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/)

  • “What imparts to it its specific characteristics is the nature of the group whose unity it ensures, and this is why it varies according to the types of society” (in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 222-3)
  • “The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own” (Durkheim, 1893, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 225)
  • “It remains an intangible virtuality too elusive to observe. To take on a form that we can grasp, social outcomes must provide an external interpretation of it” (in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 223)

Q11. In his work Suicide (in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 255-264), Durkheim states that human beings, in contrast to ‘other’ animals, need social regulation to be happy. Why?

Alternative reading:

Suicide (1897) (http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/)

  • “Yet human nature is substantially the same among all men, in its essential qualities. It is not human nature which can assign the variable limits necessary to our needs. They are thus unlimited so far as they depend on the individual alone. Irrespective of any external regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss” (Durkheim, 1897, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 256)
  • “All existence being a part of the universe is relative to the remainder; its nature and method of manifestation accordingly depend not only on itself but on other beings, who consequently restrain and regulate it. Here there are only differences of degree and form between the mineral realm and the thinking person” (Durkheim, 1897, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 259)
  • “All the organism needs is that the supplies of substance and energy constantly employed in the vital process should be periodically renewed by equivalent quantities; that replacement be equivalent to use. When the void created by existence in its own resources is filled, the animal, satisfied, asks nothing further. Its power of reflection is not sufficiently developed to imagine other ends than those implicit in its physical nature” (Durkheim, 1897, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 255)

Q12. What does religion express, according to Durkheim (Durkheim, 1912, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 243-253)?

Alternative reading:

The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912) (http://durkheim.uchicago.edu/)

  • Religion expresses the sacred world that exists above the real world where the profane life passes
  • Religion expresses the collective ideal of a society that the individual has learned to internalise
  • Religion expresses the over-excited passions and strong sensations that are awakened during rituals

Week 7

Quiz 1: Max Weber (1864-1920)

Q1. Weberian value free research means that:

  • In scientific research values should play an important role
  • In scientific research we should keep our values at bay
  • In scientific research values should not a play a role at all

Q2. According to Weber, sociology is the study of:

  • Social action
  • Causal relations
  • Social behaviour

Q3. What is an ‘Ideal Type’?

  • A valid representation of reality
  • A coherent model to analyse reality
  • A description of an ideal situation

Q4. What is the main difference between the methodological approach of Durkheim and Weber?

  • Weber does not believe in social facts, Durkheim does
  • Weber work is value-free, Durkheim’s work is not
  • Weber focuses on individuals, Durkheim does not

Q5. Weber states that goal-rational social action increasingly pushes aside the other types of social action. What does this imply about individuals in modern Western societies?

  • Individuals attain their goals in an increasingly emotionally detached and calculating way
  • Individuals act increasingly rational when goals personally affect them and are considered important
  • Individuals become more conscious of the goals they value and are willing to fight for them

Q6. Why will charismatic authority become rare in modern Western societies?

  • Charismatic authority depends on valuable leadership. Since value-rational social action will become rare, this type of authority will do also.
  • Charismatic authority is linked to traditional social action. Since traditional behaviour is declining, charismatic authority will decline as well.
  • Charismatic authority depends on affects and emotions. These latter will decline due to increasing goal-rational oriented behaviour of individuals.

Q7. With regard to bureaucratisation, what is Weber especially ambiguous about?

  • Bureaucratisation gives individuals the possibility to work more efficiently, but at the same time the work becomes more boring
  • Bureaucratisation offers great opportunities for mankind, but at the same time suppresses all-to-human emotions and spontaneity
  • Bureaucratisation provides solutions to modern problems of coordination, but at the same time obscures transparency by its hierarchical organisation

Q8. Why can the Weberian theses of The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism be seen as a critique on the materialist assumptions of Marx?

  • According to Weber, ideas and convictions can form the base of economic endeavour, and not solely the other way round as Marx claims
  • According to Weber, individuals are more influenced by ideas than by their economic circumstances, and not the other way round as Marx claims
  • According to Weber, materialist circumstances must always be explained by cultural facts, and not the other way round as Marx claims

Q9. Max Weber argues that an ‘ideal-type’ is a utopia. Why?

  • An ideal-type is a mental construct that cannot be found anywhere in reality
  • An ideal-type is an heuristic tool that helps scientists develop the ideal research
  • An ideal-type is an ethical imperative, a model of what ought to exist in reality

Q10. In contrast to Durkheim’s methodological emphasis on ‘social facts’, Weber’s work can be characterised by ‘methodological individualism’. Which quote from Basic Sociological Terms (Weber 1914, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 280-290) illustrates this distinction between Weber’s and Durkheim’s methodological approach?

Alternative reading:

The Definition of Sociology, 1897 (https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/weber.htm)

  • “In the case of social collectivities, precisely as distinguished from organisms, we are in a position to go beyond merely demonstrating functional relationships and uniformities. We can accomplish something which is never attainable in the natural sciences, namely the subjective understanding of the action of the component individuals” (Weber 1914, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 285)
  • “There are statistics of processes devoid of subjective meaning, such as death rates, phenomena of fatigue, the production rate of machines, the amount of rainfall, in exactly the same sense as there are statistics of meaningful phenomena. But only when the phenomena are meaningful do we speak of sociological statistics” (Weber 1914, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 284)
  • “Action is rationally evident chiefly when we attain a completely clear intellectual grasp of the action-elements in their intended context of meaning. Empathic or appreciative accuracy is attained when, through sympathetic participation, we can adequately grasp the emotional context in which the action took place” (Weber 1914, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 281)

Q11. Which quote in The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism (Weber, 1930, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 291-309) reveals most the ‘idealist’ approach of Max Weber, in contrast to the ‘materialist’ approach of Karl Marx?

Alternative reading:

The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, 1905 (https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/weber/protestant-ethic/index.htm)

  • “In addition, it is necessary to have a frame of mind that emancipates the worker, at least during the workday, from a constant question: With a maximum of ease and comfort and a minimum of productivity, how is the accustomed wage nonetheless to be maintained?” (Weber, 1930, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 302, italics by author)
  • “This example illustrates the type of behaviour that should be called economic ‘traditionalism.’ People do not wish “by nature” to earn more and more money. Instead, they wish simply to live, and to live as they have been accustomed and to earn as much as is required to do so” (Weber, 1930, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 301, italics by author)
  • “To speak here of the ‘reflection’ of ‘material’ conditions in the ‘ideal superstructure’ would be complete nonsense. Hence, our question: What set of ideas gave birth to the ordering of activity oriented purely to profit under the category of a ‘calling,’ to which the person felt an obligation?” (Weber, 1930, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 303, italics by author)

Q12. In The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism (Weber, 1930, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 308), Max Weber describes modern capitalism as a ‘steel-hard casing.’ Which quote from his work Bureaucracy illustrates this steel-hard casing best?

Alternative reading:

The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, 1905 (https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/weber/protestant-ethic/index.htm)

  • “Bureaucracy develops the more perfectly, the more it is “dehumanised,” the more completely it succeeds in eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely personal, irrational, and emotion elements which escape calculation. This is appraised as its special virtue by capitalism” (Weber, 1922, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 334)
  • “Once fully established, bureaucracy is among those social structures which are the hardest to destroy. Bureaucracy is the means of transforming social action into rationally organised action. Therefore, as an instrument of rationally organising authority relations, bureaucracy is a power instrument of the first order […]”(Weber, 1922, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 336)
  • “The progress of bureaucratisation within the state administration itself is a phenomenon paralleling the development of democracy, as I quite obvious in France, North America, and now in England […]. The demos itself, in the sense of a shapeless mass, never ‘governs’ larger associations, but rather is governed” (Weber, 1922, in Calhoun et al., 2013, pp. 336)

Week 8

Quiz 1: Norbert Elias (1897-1990)

Q1. Why should Norbert Elias be considered as a classical sociologist, rather than a modern scholar?

  • Elias deploys a typical classical methodology of historical-comparative sociology
  • Elias developed his theories in the same era as, and in debate with classical sociologists
  • Elias lived and worked in the same time frame as the famous classical sociologists did

Q2. What has the ‘loneliness of the dying’ to do with ‘civilisation’, according to Elias?

  • In the civilisation process people have learned how to deal with the dying properly, i.e. to keep some bodily distance to them
  • The ways in which people treat the dying reveal the incorporated feelings of shame that have emerged in the process of civilisation
  • The dying wish to be treated in a civilised manner, which confronts people with their uncomfortable feelings towards the dying

Q3. What is the key transformation that human beings make in the civilising process?

  • They start to suppress their emotions and impulses more, in order to get valuable social rewards
  • They learn to behave more civilised and become trained to act righteously, without using physical violence
  • They learn to manage and organise their emotional impulses more, in accordance with the social context

Q4. Why do citizens become less violent within a ‘civilised’ society, according to Elias?

  • Citizens have internalised the external force of the state’s monopoly on the means of violence.
  • Citizens learn to manage their violent impulses through education, media and etiquettes
  • Citizens behave more civilised because they learn to reflect on the moral implications of violence

Q5. What does Elias mean by stating that “the ‘circumstances’ are the relationships between people themselves”?

  • Circumstances must be perceived of as constructed in social interaction, rather than as contingencies
  • Circumstances cannot be seen as existing outside figurations of people, they are the relationships amongst people
  • People are accountable for the circumstances they live in, for they created them themselves in long term processes

Q6. Why are processes of civilisation and de-civilisation closely connected?

  • Civilisation will inevitably lead to de-civilisation when the state does not take its responsibility to fight violence
  • The two processes are inextricably intertwined, a period of civilisation is always followed by a period of de-civilisation
  • Wild emotions and violent impulses have not disappeared completely, they can be reinforced during social upheaval

Q7. What is the main methodological difference between the work of Durkheim, Weber and Elias?

  • Durkheim focuses mainly on collective rituals, Weber on collective rationalities, while Elias focuses on collective civilisation processes
  • Durkheim focuses mainly on social structures, Weber on individuals, while Elias focuses on the interplay between structures and individuals
  • Durkheim focuses mainly on the emergence of social facts, Weber on the emergence of ideal types, and Elias on the emergence of figurations

Q8. What is the main difference between classic sociology and sociology after World War II?

  • Classic sociology focused on macro processes and networks, while after WWII sociologists focused on meso and micro networks
  • Classic sociology was concerned with long term processes, while sociology after WWII primarily focused on the present
  • Classic sociologists were all convinced of the improvement of humanity, while after WWII sociologists became more critical of that

Q9. What is the connection between the two texts of Norbert Elias that are recommended for this week?

Norbert Elias (1978) ‘On Transformations of Aggressiveness’, in: Theory and Society, 5, pp. 229-242. http://www.scribd.com/doc/125467372/Elias-On-Transformations-of-Aggressiveness-pdf

Chapter 33, Norbert Elias, The Social Constraint towards Self-Constraint, in Calhoun et al. (2012), pp. 499 -509

Alternative reading:

  • In the first text, ‘On Transformations of Aggressiveness’, Elias suggests that people have become less aggressive through the past centuries, while in the second text, ‘The Social Constraint towards Self-Constraint’ he shows that human beings are actually still very aggressive, but in different ways than before.
  • In the first text, ‘On Transformations of Aggressiveness’, Elias presents his empirical data in an historical comparison, upon which he successively builds his theory on the Civilising Process, as partly described in the second text, ‘The Social Constraint towards Self-Constraint.’
  • In the first text, ‘On Transformations of Aggressiveness’, Elias draws conclusions based on his empirical data and historical comparison, which he critiques in the second text, ‘The Social Constraint towards Self-Constraint.’

Q10. Which quote explains best the conditions for the development of self-constraint?

Alternative reading:

  • “Through the formation of monopolies of force, the threat which one man represents for another is subject to stricter control and becomes more calculable. Everyday life is freer of sudden reversals of fortune” (Elias 1937, in Calhoun et al. (2012), pp. 503)
  • “A strongly predictable compulsion or pressure mediated in a variety of ways is constantly exerted on the individual. This operates to a considerable extent through the medium of his own reflection” (Elias 1937, in Calhoun et al. (2012), pp.504)
  • “The closer the web of interdependence becomes in which the individual is enmeshed […] – the more threatened is the social existence of the individual who gives way to spontaneous impulses and emotions […]” (Elias 1937, in Calhoun et al. (2012), pp. 503)

Q11. Which concept is adopted by Elias to describe the characteristics of the Civilising Process?

  • The concept of the ‘Division of Labour’, as used by Karl Marx
  • The concept of the ‘Ideal Type’, as used by Max Weber
  • The concept of ‘Sui Generis’, as used by Emíle Durkheim
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