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BSOC-111: Sociological Thinkers -I

BSOC-111: Sociological Thinkers -I

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BSOC-111/ASST/TMA/ 2022-23

Course Code: BSOC-111

Assignment Name: Sociological Thinkers-I

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Assignment I


Answer the following Descriptive Category Questions in about 500 words each. Each question carries 20 marks. 2× 20 = 40


1. Discuss the role played by religion in the development of capitalism.

Ans) Weber uses his theory of rationalisation to analyse changes in politics, administration, science, and the arts. According to Weber, the maximum level of economic rationality gave rise to capitalism. Weber makes the case and provides evidence for the power of ideas in the process of development. The concepts provided by the protestant faiths were vital to the growth of capitalism.


West and the East


Weber discovers that only in the West has rationalisation progressed to such a high level when compared to the East. Take science as an example. According to Weber, science has only advanced to a high level of development in Western culture. Although India, China, and Egypt had long histories of knowledge, in his opinion, they lagged behind in economic progress because they lacked the experimental technique. The West has advanced to a higher level of rationalisation in a number of areas, including music, architecture, the legal system, printing, bureaucracy, and capitalism.


According to Weber, the birth of rational capitalism can be traced to three distinct factors: first, the "rational capitalistic organisation of free labour," second, "rational industrial organisation suited to regular market," and third, "technical exploitation of scientific knowledge." Cost-benefit analysis, bookkeeping, and balance counting are a few signs of a capitalist firm. There were a lot of mystical and religious powers in existence before capitalism emerged. Protestantism gave rise to an economic mentality that could surpass all the conventional magical and theological energies, paving the way for capitalism.


Spirit of Capitalism

Calvinism, in particular, developed an economic morality that was favourable to the growth of capitalism. The heart of austere Protestantism is encapsulated in Benjamin Franklin's quotations, such as "Time is Money," "Credit is Money," and "Money can beget money." People used to work for a living in a more traditional setting. However, since the advent of Protestantism, earning money has turned into a virtue and an aim in itself, demonstrating one's aptitude for their "calling." Also becoming an end in itself is the labour. After Protestantism, people made a lot of money but didn't spend it extravagantly. They toiled hard but didn't indulge in luxury. This "spirit of capitalism" had its roots in ascetic Protestantism, and its devotees were primarily the middle classes of the lower industrial classes who were rising through the ranks.


Sense of Calling

The concepts of "calling" and "labour," as they are understood by Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism, differ significantly. Thirdly, both of them agreed that the "new capitalist entrepreneurial classes did not come from the precapitalist financial or merchant classes... the new capitalist class was a rising one." For the Catholic Church, calling meant renunciation of the world in favour of monastic asceticism, whereas for Luther, values necessary for the growth of capitalism were not "natural," but the outcome of historical development. Aside from these, "calling" referred to carrying out duties associated with one's employment.


According to Catholicism, "labour" is the "result of selfishness," but Lutheranism views it as a "display of brotherly love." Luther claimed that because of the division of labour, everyone is forced to work for someone else. Because Luther's idea of a "calling" just required one to accept their place in the world, his "economic ethic" was not progressive. Calvin was the one who gave the "Doctrine of Predestination" and his interpretation of "calling" the impetus necessary for the rapid growth of capitalism in nations like Holland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.


2. Explain the relationship between Weber’s types of social action and types of authority.

Ans) Early Weberian theory of social action. Sociology, according to Max Weber, is a complete study of social action.


Types of Social Action

  1. Zweck An engineer building a bridge is an example of someone acting rationally or rationally in relation to a goal, using certain materials in a specific way to accomplish that aim. The completion of the construction is the objective of the action at hand.

  2. One could use the example of a soldier giving his life in service to the nation as an example of rational behaviour, or reasonable action in connection to a value. His actions are not intended to achieve any particular tangible purpose, like wealth. It is done in the sake of honour and patriotism, among other values.

  3. Affective action: An actor's emotional state of mind influences this type of activity. A girl in a bus who is being teased can become so enraged that she slaps the offender. She was so severely provoked that she reacted violently.

  4. Traditional behaviour refers to behaviour that is influenced by long-standing norms and beliefs that have developed into habits. Pranam or Namaskar to seniors is practically automatic in traditional Indian society and requires no prompting.


One could observe that Weber's division of forms of authority reflects the aforementioned typology of social action.


Types of Authority


Traditional Authority: This legitimation framework derives from conventional action. In other words, it is founded on common law and the reverence for long-standing customs. It is predicated on the idea that a certain authority should be revered since it has existed for all eternity. Traditional leaders have personal power because of their hereditary position. They have the authority to enforce compliance from the governed and to issue directives in accordance with custom. They regularly abuse their authority. In the truest sense of the word, those who obey them are considered "subjects."


They follow their master out of a sense of personal loyalty or out of reverence for his illustrious position. Let's use our own civilization as an example. You are aware of the Indian caste system. Why did the "lower" castes endure the abuse from the "higher" castes for so long? This can be explained in part by the fact that the 'upper' castes' authority was supported by history and antiquity. Some claim that the so-called "lower castes" were socialised to accept their subjugation. Thus, it is clear that traditional authority is founded on the conviction that ancient customs have a hallowed nature. This provides those in positions of authority legitimacy.


Charismatic Authority: Charisma refers to a remarkable characteristic that some people possess. This provides these individuals special abilities to arouse the interest and dedication of common people. Extraordinary dedication to a person and to the way of life they advocate is the foundation of charismatic leadership. The validity of such power depends on the acceptance of the person's supernatural or magical abilities. The charismatic leader "proves" his or her authority through miracles, triumphs in war and other conflicts, or the astronomical success of the followers. Charismatic leaders maintain their authority as long as they continue to "prove" their supernatural abilities to their followers.


Rational-legal Authority: The phrase describes a form of government that is both rational and lawful. It is the responsibility of a regular administrative team that operates under specific established regulations and legislation. Those who hold positions of authority are chosen for them based on their attained qualifications, which are outlined and regulated. Those in positions of authority view it as a career and receive compensation. So, it is a system that is logical.


Assignment II


Answer the following Middle Category Questions in about 250 words each. Each question carries 10 marks. 3 × 10 = 30


3. What did Weber mean by rationality and rationalization?

Ans) The rationality of today's world, in Weber's view, defines it. According to Max Weber, modern society's rational traits and rationalising forces are the key to understanding it. According to him, the logic of the contemporary Western world defines it. Human behaviour is thus characterised by meticulous calculation. The importance of quantification, predictability, and regularity increases. Individuals depend less on superstitious beliefs and more on logic, reason, and calculation. According to Weber, rationalisation means that, in theory, one can control everything by calculation rather than being affected by mystical, unknowable forces. In contrast to the savages, who had access to this unknown ability, one no longer needs to use mystical methods to control or enlist the spirits.


Take this as an example. A farmer might invest time, effort, and money in doing poojas and prayers if he wants to get a healthy harvest. In order to ensure the success of his crops, he can use the same time and money to dig irrigation canals or a tube-well. He is reliant on "strange incalculable forces" in the first scenario, however in the second scenario, he uses logical calculation. According to Weber, Western culture's technological distinction and scientific specialisation produce rationalisation. He characterises rationalisation as a quest for excellence, a clever refinement of one's way of living, and the acquisition of control over the outside world. Secularizing thought and demystifying ideas are significant components of rationalisation that help one gain control over the universe. The formalisation of laws and organisations is another aspect of rationalisation.


4. Discuss Durkheim’s viewpoint on crime.

Ans) Durkheim argues that crime is inevitable for two main reasons:


Everyone is socialised differently and some people may not be effectively socialised. Poor socialisation means that they do not accept the shared norms and values of mainstream society which can make them deviant.


Modern society is also very complex, and especially large cities, there are many people with many different cultures and lifestyles in a concentrated area. This causes the formation of subcultures and the subcultures may have norms and values that do not agree with the norms of mainstream society. For example, in some African cultures it is acceptable to eat with hands but if an African was residing in Europe, mainstream European society may see this as deviant.


Durkheim also believes that there tends to be anomie in modern society caused by the special division of labour. Everyone does their own thing and that leads to a weakened social solidarity and value consensus and Durkheim believes this leads to high levels of crime and deviance.

The Functions of Crime


It is common belief that Functionalists would argue that crime is bad for society because it can lead to the breakdown of it. Imagine a society where everyone ran by their own rules and there was no control whatsoever. However, Durkheim shows that, yes, too much crime is bad but too little crime is also bad for society. He highlights the two functions of crime within any society:


Boundary maintenance: the whole purpose of the law and justice system is to “dramatize evil” in order to act as a warning to the law-abiding citizens.


Adaption and change: when individuals challenge or go against the norms of their society, at first they are seen as deviants. However, challenging the norms of a society is what allows it to adapt and grow so that society can meet the functions of its members. Think of the Suffragettes who challenged patriarchy in order to create society that was in support of women. If society is very controlling then it does not allow this adaption to occur causing it to stagnate.


5. Explain Durkheim’s concept of ‘collective conscience’.

Ans) Collective consciousness (sometimes collective conscience or conscious) is a fundamental sociological concept that refers to the set of shared beliefs, ideas, attitudes, and knowledge that are common to a social group or society. The collective consciousness informs our sense of belonging and identity, and our behaviour. Founding sociologist Émile Durkheim developed this concept to explain how unique individuals are bound together into collective units like social groups and societies.


Durkheim first introduced his theory of the collective consciousness in his 1893 book "The Division of Labour in Society". In this text, he explains that the phenomenon is "the totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society." Durkheim observed that in traditional or primitive societies, religious symbols, discourse, beliefs, and rituals fostered the collective consciousness. In such cases, where social groups were quite homogenous, the collective consciousness resulted in what Durkheim termed a "mechanical solidarity" — in effect an automatic binding together of people into a collective through their shared values, beliefs, and practices.


Durkheim observed that in the modern, industrialized societies that characterized Western Europe and the young United States when he wrote, which functioned via a division of labour, an "organic solidarity" emerged based on the mutual reliance individuals and groups had on others in order to allow for a society to function. In cases such as these, religion still played an important role in producing collective consciousness among groups of people affiliated with various religions, but other social institutions and structures would also work to produce the collective consciousness necessary for this more complex form of solidarity, and rituals outside of religion would play important roles in reaffirming it.

Assignment III


Answer the following Short Category Questions in about 100 words each. Each question carries 6 marks. 5 × 6 = 30


6. What is the main focus of dialectical approach?

Ans) Hegel's notion of dialectics was accepted by Marx, although he disagreed with the focus on ideas. Marx introduced material forces in place of concepts and created the concept of dialectical materialism. He researched the proletariat's dialectical connection with capitalists. He also charted the dialectical evolution of society from the prehistoric through the feudal to the capitalist eras. Additionally, the dialectical method holds that different facets of society are constantly at odds with one another. Marx recognised the conflict between capitalists and the proletariat after gaining this understanding. He said that while exploitation of the working class lies at the core of capitalism. The working class will be given the means by this exploitation to rise up and destroy capitalism.


7. What did Marx mean by ‘labour power’?

Ans) Marx defined labour power as the ability to perform such beneficial work that raises the value of goods. Workers sell their labour power, or their ability to perform work that increases the worth of goods. They exchange their labour for a cash wage from capitalists.


Labour power should be distinguished from labour. Work is the real use of one's ability to enhance the value of goods. Marx explains the origin of surplus value using the concept of labour force. Let's assume that business owners invest money to purchase items, then resell them for a profit. Only if any value is added to those things is this possible. Marx argues that labour power is the specific ability that gives a good more worth. The ability of the capitalist to extract labour, which is the source of value, through the purchase and use of labour force. The process by which capitalists pay less for labour than the value that labour provides to a good or service is the source of surplus value in the capitalist mode of production. various socioeconomic production structures that have increased society's productive capacity. However, the expansion of the productive forces


8. Explain Marx’s concept of alienation?

Ans) Karl Marx's theory of alienation describes the estrangement of people from aspects of their human nature as a consequence of the division of labour and living in a society of stratified social classes. The alienation from the self is a consequence of being a mechanistic part of a social class, the condition of which estranges a person from their humanity


The theoretical basis of alienation is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine life and destiny when deprived of the right to think of themselves as the director of their own actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define relationships with other people; and to own those items of value from goods and services, produced by their own labour.


Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realized human being, as an economic entity this worker is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie—who own the means of production—in order to extract from the worker, the maximum amount of surplus value in the course of business competition among industrialists.


9. Explain the concept of commodity in a capitalist society.

Ans) In classical political economy and especially Karl Marx's critique of political economy, a commodity is any good or service “products" or "activities" produced by human labour[2] and offered as a product for general sale on the market. Some other priced goods are also treated as commodities, e.g., human labour-power, works of art and natural resources, even though they may not be produced specifically for the market, or be non-reproducible goods. This problem was extensively debated by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow, among others. Value and price are not equivalent terms in economics and theorising the specific relationship of value to market price has been a challenge for both liberal and Marxist economists.


10. What is the use of ideal types in social sciences?

Ans) Weber himself wrote: "An ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct..." It is a useful tool for comparative sociology in analysing social or economic phenomena, having advantages over a very general, abstract idea and a specific historical example. It can be used to analyse both a general, sup ahistorical phenomenon such as capitalism or historically unique occurrences such as in Weber's Protestant Ethics analysis.

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