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BSOC-133: Sociological Theories

BSOC-133: Sociological Theories

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: BSOC-133/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BSOC-133

Assignment Name: Sociological Theories

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. Compare and contrast Marx’s, Durkheim’s and Weber’s viewpoints on society, class and solidarity.

Ans) The perspectives of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber on solidarity, class, and society:


Society: Marx and Weber both see society as a cohesive totality. They insisted that there are connections among social groupings, social structures, norms, beliefs, values, and ideologies. Both saw people as being a component of society's social collectively. Marx argues that the production and exchange that predominate within a certain historical era determine the social organisation. The foundation is the economy, while the superstructure is made up of institutions such as the legal, educational, and political systems.


According to Marx, humans produce things because they are a basic necessity for living. People are forced to form specific social relationships as they participate in the industrial process. Marx's theory of society is based on this key tenet. According to him, social interactions must inevitably alter in response to changes in the material world. We can sum up by saying that dominant modes of production are at the centre of Marx's vision of society and social order. In actuality, the social relations of productions determine the prevailing modalities of production. Inequality and conflict are characteristics of exploitative class relations. Marx bases his theory of society's knowledge not on the individual but rather on class disparity and class strife.


Class: Max Bendix noted three key differences between Marx and Weber's approaches to conceptualising class. First, contrary to Marx, Weber did not believe that people from the same class would band together and create associations. In that it was a logical creation based on observed tendencies, he treats Marx's concept of class as an "ideal type." Second, Weber expands Marx's idea of class as entirely determined by economic factors. Ownership of the means of production or reliance on wage labour, in Weber's view, were essential but exceptional circumstances. In addition to the criterion of owning land, labour, or capital, Weber claimed that there were other property classes, commercial classes, and social classes.


According to Weber, the market is ultimately in a class position. Third, according to Marx, the 'bourgeois ideologists' develop particular beliefs as a result of the capitalism's compelling structure. These bourgeois ideologists' viewpoints influence the labour movement's political radicalization. Weber contends that despite admitting that easily understandable goals are crucial to the development of class-conscious organisations of workers, these goals are really "imposed and interpreted by men outside their class."


Solidarity: The fundamental principle of the division of labour is the breakdown of an activity into smaller operations that are carried out by an individual or group of individuals. The goal is to increase efficiency and finish the task quickly. Suppose a carpenter is required to build a chair. He has two choices available to him. The first is to construct the chair from scratch. It would take a while to complete this. Emile Durkheim was interested in locating the signs of community life that represented solidarity and a shared conscience. He contended that religion is a social institution that fosters a sense of moral duty to abide by social norms and aids in internalising these duties. The sacred and the profane are two divisions made by religion.


The term "holy" refers to things that are regarded as superior and extraordinary, while the term "profane" refers to commonplace items. A system of religious ideas and rituals centres on the sacred. Marx emphasised the class-based collective identity and activity, whereas Weber sought to interpret identification, solidarity, and action in terms of several bases, including class, status, and party. Support for Max Weber may be based on a variety of social factors, including class, status groupings, and political parties.


2. Discuss Marx’s perspective on division of labour.

Ans) Marx distinguishes between two types of labour division: the social division of labour and the division of labour in manufacturing.


Social division of labour: In all communities, this is the case. It is a procedure that is required for people living in a society to carry out the duties required to sustain social and economic life. The division of all valuable forms of labour in a community is done through a complicated structure. For instance, some people make food, while others make handicrafts, weapons, and so forth. The process of exchanging items between groups is encouraged by the social division of labour, for example, a potter's earthenware pots may be swapped for a farmer's rice or a weaver's cloth. Such interactions encourage or give rise to specialisation.


Division of labour: in industry or manufacture: This is a process that is common in industrialised civilizations with a factory system and capitalism. This procedure divides the production of a good into various steps. Each employee is only permitted to carry out or participate in a discrete process, such as work in an assembly line. Typically, this task is tedious, repetitive, and dull. This division of labour serves the straightforward goal of raising production. The excess value produced increases in direct proportion to productivity.


Capitalists are driven to organise manufacturing in a way that maximises output and minimises costs by the desire to create surplus value. In contemporary, industrial societies, mass manufacturing of goods is made feasible by the division of labour. The division of labour in manufacturing entirely separates the worker from his product, in contrast to the social division of labour, where independent producers create things and trade them with other independent producers. The following are the implications of division of labour in manufacturing:


Profits accrue to the capitalist: As was previously said, the division of labour in manufacturing contributes to the creation of increasing amounts of surplus value and capital accumulation. Marx addresses an important issue: who steals the profits? Marx asserts that it is the capitalists, not the workers. Owners of the means of production, as opposed to those who really produce. He asserts that the existence of private property and the division of labour combined strengthen the capitalist's position of power. Since the capitalist is the owner of the means of production, the production process is set up and run in a way that maximises the benefits to the capitalist.


Workers lose control over what they produce: Marx asserts that the division of labour in manufacturing tends to rob workers of their status as the true producers of things. Instead, they devolve into insignificant connections in a production pipeline created and managed by capitalists. Workers are kept apart from the results of their labour, and they hardly ever get to see the finished product. They have no influence over the purchase or sale of it.


Dehumanisation of the Working Class: Workers cease to be independent producers of things under the capitalist system, which is characterised by division of labour. They turn into labour-power suppliers, which are necessary for production. Individual personality requirements and desires of the worker are meaningless to the capitalist. The only thing that matters to the capitalist is the labour force that the worker sells to him in exchange for compensation. According to Marx, the working class is therefore dehumanised and labour force is reduced to a simple good that the capitalist can buy.


Alienation: Alienation is one of the key ideas Marx devised to comprehend the realities of the industrial society.

Assignment II

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


3. Discuss Émile Durkheim’s contribution to the sociology of religion.

Ans) According to Durkheim, we must first purge our minds of any previous notions about religion in order to describe it. The idea that religion is solely interested in "mysterious" or "supernatural" phenomena, such as gods, spirits, and ghosts, is rejected by Durkheim. He makes the observation that religion is equally concerned with the mundane and remarkable facets of life. As much a part of religious thinking as miracles and amazing events are the sun rising and setting, the seasons' predictable patterns, the growing of plants and crops, and the birth of new life. He claims that in order to define religion, it is necessary to analyse the numerous world religions in order to identify the aspects or traits that they all share. According to Durkheim, "religious cannot be described except in terms of the features that are present wherever religion itself is discovered."


All religions, in Durkheim's opinion, are made up of two fundamental elements: rites and beliefs. Beliefs are the communal representations and the ways of action that are prescribed by rites and are influenced by them. The division of all things into the "holy" and the "profane" is a presupposition of religious beliefs as investigated by Durkheim. These two spheres are in opposition to one another, and this conflict needs to be carefully controlled by rituals and ceremonies. The sacred is something that is revered, regarded as holy, and set apart—or feared and shunned. When compared to profane things, the sacred is typically regarded higher and its identity and power are safeguarded by societal conventions. On the other side, the term "profane" alludes to the banal, commonplace elements of daily life. According to Durkheim, the sacred and profane are maintained apart because they are diverse, hostile, and isolated.


Religion is made up of ceremonies and beliefs, according to Durkheim. The moral principles, laws, teachings, and myths make up beliefs. They are the collective representations that are apart from the individual but include them in the religious system. Humans comprehend the sacred and their connection to it through their religious beliefs. Accordingly, they can live their life.


4. What are the main characteristics of bureaucracy?

Ans) As was already mentioned, bureaucracy is the mechanism that carries out reasonable legal authority. Max Weber conducted a thorough study of bureaucracy and created an ideal type that embodied its most salient traits. Let's look at this model type, which shows us the main characteristics of bureaucracy.


1) The bureaucracy depends on the following laws and rules in order to operate effectively.

a) The officials are assigned official duties, which are the actions that make up bureaucracy.

b) The mechanism by which officials are given authority is reliable or consistent. The laws of the land clearly define the limits of this jurisdiction.

c) The proper performance of officials' tasks is ensured by rigid and meticulous procedures.

2) The three qualities listed above make up "bureaucratic authority," which is present in advanced and contemporary countries.

3) Written documentation or files are used to run the bureaucratic office. They are appropriately maintained and conserved by clerks who have been appointed specifically for this task.

4) Staff members receive specialised training to handle the highly specialised tasks in the administrative office.

5) A completely functional bureaucratic office needs all of the workers to be able to work. Officials might be required to work overtime in such a situation.


The hierarchy of officials in authority is the second characteristic of bureaucracy. This refers to the existence of a solidly constructed subordination and superordination framework. Higher authorities supervise and are accountable to lower officials. The benefit of this system is that the people who are governed can voice their displeasure with lesser officials by making an appeal to the higher ones. For instance, you can appeal to the higher official to seek remedy if you are unhappy with the conduct or performance of a clerk or section officer at an office.


5. Explain Weber’s Theory of Social Action.

Ans) ‘In order to investigate social action from the perspective of the social actor, Weber sought to advance social theory in this way. Although Weber and Marx both wanted to create what we can call a theory of social action—that is, a coherent account of how and why social actors behave in the way they do—there are several ways in which Weber's explanation diverges from Marx's. Weber contends that social action also gave social actors opportunity to live out their ideals and views. Marx defines motivation as the expression of human-beingness through productive effort and the desire to survive and develop.


However, for many people, the quality of existence also depends on some of the more esoteric and abstract components of human consciousness, qualities that are frequently articulated as values and beliefs. It is undeniable that social actors act in order to live. Such views are likely to influence how a group of social actors manages their existence, for instance, if they hold similar religious or spiritual ideas despite the fact that they still need to survive. Even the definition of "survival" could be altered to incorporate concepts related to spiritual health. A social theory that aims to explain social activity in such setting must take needs and desires into consideration along with basic economic necessities.


Weber's theory of social action is based on an examination of the rationality of various forms of action, and it is placed in the context of his critique of the relentless growth of instrumental rationality in contemporary society. If people are actually surrounded by a rationalised and rationalising social environment, this must have a significant influence on how they behave. Weber's theory of social action begins with the fundamental premise that different behaviours can be distinguished from one another depending on the type of reason that the actor is attempting to convey. Unsurprisingly, he comes to the conclusion that instrumental rationality is the type of rationality that most frequently directs social conduct in contemporary society.


Assignment III


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


6. What is mechanical solidarity?

Ans) Mechanical solidarity is a solidarity of likeness or resemblance. There is a lot of homogeneity and close-knit social ties that help to integrate the individual members of the community. There is a very strong sense of communal consciousness. By collective conscience, we mean the set of shared values and sentiments that determine how members of a society should interact with one another.


Such societies are cohesive due to the strength of the collective conscience, which bonds individual members together via steadfast beliefs and ideals. The violation or departure from these principles is taken very seriously. Offenders receive harsh or oppressive punishment. It must be emphasised once more that this is a unity or solidarity based on resemblance and homogeneity. The range of individual differences is quite small, and the division of labour is at a low level. In such civilizations, the individual conscience and the collective conscience are combined briefly.


7. List the rules of observation of social facts.

Ans) The following three rules must be followed in order to investigate social facts as "things" with objectivity.


Preconceived notions must all be dispelled. In order to conduct their research objectively, sociologists must liberate themselves from the everyday beliefs that rule the minds of the general public.


Sociologists must express the ideas clearly. The sociologists conducting the research are probably extremely unfamiliar with the phenomenon at hand. In order to move further, students must conceptualise their subject matter in terms of those features that are sufficiently external to be noticed. Therefore, in Division of Labour, the prevailing kind of law—repressive or restitutive, criminal or civil—can be used to infer the level of solidarity in a given society.


When sociologists investigate a certain order of social facts, they must do it from a perspective that is distinct from each manifestation. Separating social facts from the individual facts that express them is necessary for maintaining the objectivity of those facts. Social truths give society's participants a common benchmark. Legal and moral requirements, proverbs, social norms, and other forms of social fact exist. Sociologists must research these in order to comprehend social life.


8. What do you understand by is collective conscience?

Ans) Collective consciousness, collective conscience, or collective conscious is the set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society. In general, it does not refer to the specifically moral conscience, but to a shared understanding of social norms.


The modern concept of what can be considered collective consciousness includes solidarity attitudes, memes, extreme behaviours like groupthink and herd behaviour, and collectively shared experiences during collective rituals and dance parties. Rather than existing as separate individuals, people come together as dynamic groups to share resources and knowledge. It has also developed as a way of describing how an entire community comes together to share similar values. This has also been termed "hive mind", "group mind", "mass mind", and "social mind".


9. Explain the concept of class.

Ans) Bendix claims that there are three key ways in which Marx and Weber's approaches to conceptualising class are different.


First, contrary to Marx, Weber did not believe that people from the same class would band together and create associations. In that it was a logical creation based on observed tendencies, he treats Marx's concept of class as an "ideal type."


Second, Weber expands Marx's idea of class as entirely determined by economic factors. Ownership of the means of production or reliance on wage labour, in Weber's view, were essential but exceptional circumstances. In addition to the criterion of owning land, labour, or capital, Weber claimed that there were other property classes, commercial classes, and social classes. According to Weber, the market is ultimately in a class position.


Third, according to Marx, the 'bourgeois ideologists' develop particular beliefs as a result of the capitalism's compelling structure. These bourgeois ideologists' viewpoints influence the labour movement's political radicalization. Weber believes that despite agreeing that easily understood goals are crucial to the success of class-conscious labour unions, these goals are really "imposed and interpreted by men outside their class."


10. Outline the laws of dialectic.

Ans) Hegelian dialectics are the exact antithesis of the dialectical materialism developed by Marx. In terms of the paradoxes of matter, it tries to explain everything. Abstract laws for guiding societal and natural change are provided by dialectical materialism. It holds that objects in Nature are connected, related, and determined by one another, in contrast to metaphysics. It views Nature as a cohesive system. According to dialectical materialism, change is the law of reality.


Human society and inorganic nature are both constantly changing. Nothing is static for all time. These changes are forceful and revolutionary in nature; they are not gradual. The following three fundamental rules of dialectical materialism were proposed by Friedrich Engels, a Marx collaborator.


  1. The Law of the Unity and Conflict of Opposites

  2. The Law of Negation of the Negation

The Law of Transition of Quantity into Quality

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