Sociology 319 – Contemporary Social Theories

Midterm Examination – Part I

11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m., March 1, 2006

Answer three questions in part A (15 points), one question in part B (15 points), and one question in Part C (15 points).   

Part II of the examination (30 points) is an essay question, Friday, March 3.  This will be on open-book examination so bring any of the written materials you wish.


A.  Definition (15 points).  Select three of the following concepts and, for each, identify the theorist most closely associated with it.  Provide a short definition or explanation of the concept. (3 x 5 = 15 points).

  1. Semi-autonomous employees
  2. Deep acting
  3. Semi-periphery
  4. Affectivity
  5. Interaction order
  6. Surplus repression
  7. Latent function
  8. Dialectic of enlightenment


B.  Explanation (15 points).  Select one of the following statements and write a paragraph analyzing or explaining the statement.

  1. Explain how I and L in Parsons’s AGIL system constitute a means of regulation.
  2. What is critical theory critical of?
  3. Explain the difference between undistorted and distorted communication.
  4. Why are managers and supervisors in a contradictory class location?
  5. Explain how world-system theory can be used to explain Canadian history.
  6. Ritual connects individual and society.  Explain.


C.  Quote (15 points).  Select one of the following quotes and write an explanation of the quote.   Discuss how the ideas in the quote relate to the sociological perspective of the author of the quote.


  1. “Among the occupational statuses of members of a family, if there is more than one, much the most important is that of the husband and father, not only because it is usually the primary source of family income, but also because it is the most important single basis of the status of the family in the community at large.”  From Talcott Parsons, “Sex Roles in the American Kinship System.”


  1. “Today this private space has been invaded and whittled down by technological reality.  Mass production and mass distribution claim the entire individual, and industrial psychology has long since ceased to be confined to the factory.  The manifold processes of introjection seem to be ossified into mechanical reactions.  The result is, not adjustment but mimesis: an immediate identification of the individual with his society and, through it, with the society as a whole.”  From Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, p. 10.


  1. “It is important to see that both principles [justice and solidarity] have one and the same root: the specific vulnerability of the human species, which individuates itself through sociation.  Morality thus cannot protect the one without the other.  It cannot protect the rights of the individual without protecting the well-being of the community to which he belongs.”  From Jurgen Habermas, “What is Discourse Ethics?” p. 200. 


  1. “Human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of another’s actions.”  From Herbert Blumer.


  1. “For if an individual is to show that he is a “nice guy” or, by contrast, one much less nice than a human being need be, then it is through his using or not using role distance that this is likely to be done.  It is right here, in manifestations of role distance, that the individual’s personal style is to be found.”  From Erving Goffman.


  1. “The whole system of emotional exchange in private live has as its ostensible purpose the welfare and pleasure of the people involved.  When this emotional system is thrust into a commercial setting, it is transmuted.  A profit motive is slipped in under acts of emotion management, under the rules that govern them, under the gift exchange.”  From Arlie Hochschild, The Managed Heart, p. 119.