Sociology 304

January 7, 1999

Examples of Concepts, Statements, Propositions, and Formats

1. Folbre notes that the Rational Economic Man (REM) of the neoclassical economic model could be described as follows:

He is a rational decision-maker who weighs costs and benefits. ... All his decisions are motivated by the desire to maximize his own utility. (Folbre, Who Pays for the Kids? p. 18). 

2. About the Marxist Mr. Prol, Folbre says,

He ... has nothing to sell except his labour power. ... His capitalist employers pay him less than the value of what he produces, extracting a surplus in the form of profits. (Folbre, Who Pays for the Kids? p. 29). 

3. In a section distinguishing multination and polyethnic states, Kymlicka notes:

One source of cultural diversity is the coexistence within a given state of more than one nation, where ‘nation’ means a historical community, more or less institutionally complete, occupying a given territory or homeland, sharing a distinct language and culture. A ‘nation’ in this sociological sense is closely related to the idea of a ‘people’ or ‘culture’—indeed, these concepts are often defined in terms of each other. (Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, p. 11). 

4. Folbre outlines a Marxist theory of ruling class in capitalism as follows:

Lack of access to means of production and repression of efforts to organize collectively constrain the proletarian to ‘choose’ the only alternative open to him, wage labour. The ruling class, on the other hand, controls Capital and tried to control the State, defending property rights and rules that work to its advantage. In democracies, elections become an arena of class conflict in which capitalists hold the future of the economy hostage. (Folbre, Who Pays for the Kids? p. 30). 

5. In distinguishing national minorities from polyethnic states, Kymlicka notes:

Immigrant groups are not ‘nations’, and do not occupy homelands. Their distinctiveness is manifested primarily in their family lives and in voluntary associations, and is not inconsistent with their institutional integration. They still participate within the public institutions of the dominant culture(s) and speak the dominant language(s). (Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, p. 14). 

  1. Describing communication technology, Stone provides two different views of what’s new about networking.

Answer 1: Nothing The tools of networking are essentially the same as they have been since the telephone, which was the first electronic network prosthesis. Computers are engines of calculation, and their output is used for quantitative analysis. Inside the little box is information. I recently had a discussion with a colleague in which he maintained that there was nothing new about virtual reality. "When you sit and read a book," he said, "you create characters and action in your head. That’s the same thing as VR, without all the electronics." Missing the point, of course, but understandably.

 Answer 2: Everything Computers are arenas for social experience and dramatic interaction, a type of media more like public theater, and their output is used for qualitative interaction, dialogue, and conversation. Inside the little box are other people. (Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age, pp. 15-16).


Class handout for January 7 and 12, 1999.

Back to notes of January 7, 1999.