Tag Archives: Essential Concepts in Sociology

functionalist accounts and political economy approaches

“Early sociological work on the mass media tended to be broadly functionalist, looking at the integrative functions of the media. […] But the main problem with such accounts is that they seem only to describe certain positive aspects of the mass media and ignore the active interpretations of the audience itself. More seriously, functionalist accounts do not take into account major conflicts of interest and the production of ideology aimed at maintaining existing inequalities.

By contrast, political economy approaches show how the major means of communication have come to be owned by private interests. For example, over the twentieth century, a few ‘press barons’ owned a majority of the pre-war press and were able to set the agenda for news and its interpretation.” (Giddens & Sutton. Essential Concepts in Sociology. p.147)

ideology and discourses

“Today the concept of ideology is not as well used as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, and it is much more likely that sociological interest in the power of ideas will draw on the Foucauldian concept of discourses and their effects, which has shifted the focus away from ideas and beliefs towards language use, speech and documentary sources. However, the two concepts are not necessarily opposed.” (Giddens & Sutton. Essential Concepts in Sociology. p.142)

life course and structure-agency problem

“The concept [of the life course] has also stimulated interest in new research methods such as biographical research and oral histories, which allow sociologists access to the ways in which differently situated individuals experience life-course stages. Studies in this vein may well offer new information on the structure-agency problem from the point of view of social actors at different stages of the life course.” (Giddens & Sutton. Essential Concepts in Sociology. p.125)

old age and residency 

“[T]his study [Phillipson (2007)] argues that the economic, social and cultural aspects of globalization are transforming many residential environments and that new divides among older populations are emerging. This is especially so in relation to those who are able to move into retirement communities or second homes and others who view changing neighborhoods as problematic for their sense of self and belonging.” (Giddens & Sutton. Essential Concepts in Sociology. p.119)