SOCIOLOGY AND CAREERArcadio Váldez GonzálesFacultad de Ciencias BiológicasUniversidad Autónoma de Nuevo LeónSan Nicolás de las Garza, NL, México
1. Education Raises the Standard of livingSociological analysis allows us to gain an in-depth understanding of careers, as a fundamental path of modern life and occupational niches, and the development of new knowledge.Professional training constitutes one of the most important chores for society and has been a leading factor for the changes seen in the XXth century.Sociological perspectives allow us to discover in social life: structures, types of players, behavioral traits, changes and acceptable values.
The importance of sociology resides in the elements for interpretation that provide us the understanding of professional career, in which we obtain our education, as a social opening that also means responsibility and commitment to the society in our surroundings.Professional knowledge comes from the sciences for social development associated with career as of the XIXth century. It has emerged as a university institution with all its associated development for almost a thousand years.Types of Professional Institutions are analyzed to understand how a professional is formed and the social consequences that ensue. The implementation of professions in México has been analyzed since the XVIth century, seeking to understand its emergence and development, and its social and economic significance up to the present.
The objective of this lecture is to explain the function and place that the student will occupy with his/her professional job in our contemporary society.Focusing on sociology means to analyze the way in which sociology approaches the analysis and reflexive thinking about society. Sociological thinking allows the individual to observe society through questions such as: sociological structure, culture, social changes, accepted values; and it provides the possibility to adopt a perspective of or approach to the desired or idealized society.
1.1 SOCIOLOGICAL THOUGHTHumans think of themselves as being configured in society by means of social relations established among them, not only determined by social life but by being capable of constructing and changing the society to which they conform and constitute.Individual integration into society is made possible thanks to family structure.“Sociological imaginary” according to C. Wright Mills (1974) is the capacity to understand personal and social history as components of one and the same process. Biography refers to one person, who is social by definition, and history refers to what has been lived by others.
1.2 SOCIOLOGICAL TROUBLES A ND QUESTIONSSociology is a scientific discipline because it is capable of explaining social reality by defining problems and concerns for research and to set proposals for change.Individuals do not just live, but provide meaning to their life, provide meaning to that for which they live, and provide meaning to the society in which they live. The direction that life takes is oriented by social values. Each society sets it own values in agreement with its historic development and the dynamics and interactions with other societies.
1.3 SOCIOLOGICAL METHODOLOGYIn order to understand social problems, it is essential to explain the theory of sociology. It is a rich body of concepts, principles, fundamentals, classifications, typologies, and other products that allow for the search of the possible causes and conditions that favor such phenomena.The search for causes and conditions permits us to understand problems from a scientific perspective. The theory provides possible lines of explanations to understand social phenomena. Hypotheses are suppositions founded on theoretical explanations, preliminary studies, and logical and coherent conceptual schemes. Their objective is to be proven; it demands an explanation of reality.
1.4 THEORY OF SOCIOLOGYSociologists’ work consists of studying the individual in society, and because they form part of their study subject matter; they get involved in the explanations they derive. Explanations of phenomena in society are limited by the developmental level of scientific knowledge at a specific historical moment. Social problems do not exist without reason, but rather must be considered in relationship to the specific societal set of values. That is, social circumstances are not problems until considered so and conceptualized by the individuals who want to study them.Marxist theory fought for a society in which the exploitation of humankind by humankind itself would cease to exist.Functionalist theory represents the possibility for further development so that society benefits as a community.
FOUNDERS OF SOCIOLOGY Auguste Comte was born in Montpellier, France, the 19th of January,1798. He died on September 5th of 1857 in Paris. From an early age on, he showed a strong rejection toward traditional Catholicism and monarchy doctrines. He managed to get a position as professor in mathematics at the Polytechnic School in Paris by 1814, but by 1816 was kicked out of this center for taking part in student revolts. During those years, he became the personal secretary of the theoretical sociologist Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Count of Saint-Simon, whose influence was to be to felt in some of Comte’s work.
Èmile Durkheim (1858- 1917), was born in Epinal, France, in a Jewish family. He is considered one of the French working on social theory to pioneer and develop modern sociology. He graduated from the Ècole Normale Supériure in Paris in 1882, and later worked as a professor teaching law and philosophy. By 1887, he started teaching sociology, first at the University of Bordeaux, and later on at Paris. He used scientific methods to approach the study of social groups, believing that individuals are the product of complex social forces, which cannot be understood out of the social context in which they live in.
Karl Marx (1818-1883), born in Trèveris, Germany the 5th of May, 1818, studied at the University of Bonn, Berlin, and Jena. He published articles in the Rheinische Zeitung (Renan Gacet) in Cologne by 1842, and later on became chief of editors. In spite of his radical way of thought, he cannot be considered a communist. His critiques on the social and political environment spread through the daily newspaper and caused the government authorities to oppose him. He was forced to resign by 1843, and later the newspaper was canceled, after which he moved to Paris. His studies about philosophy, history, political science, led him to adopt the philosophy of Friedrich Engel. When they met in1844, they realized that they had independently arrived at the same conclusions about the nature of the revolution problems.
Max Weber (1864-1920) was born in Erfurt, Germany, and studied at the University of Heidelberg, Berlin and Gottingen. He lettered in Berlin, and taught economy at the University of Freiburg (1894), Heidelberg (1897) and Munich (1910). He was the editor for years at the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, a German publication on sociology. Shortly before he died, he formed part of the German delegation for peace negotiations at Versailles and also took part in the redaction committee for the Weimar Constitution.
Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado USA, and studied at Amherst College, London School of Economics, and the University of Heidelberg in Germany. By 1939, he lectured on sociology at Harvard University, USA, and by 1944 received full tenure. Only two years later, he would occupy the presidency of the Department of Social Relation at the same university.
Robert King Merton (1910 )was born in Philadelphia and received his PhD at Harvard University in 1936. He became a professor at Tulane University, lectured in sociology at Columbus University, and formed part of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at the latter university. He proposed functional analysis based on the study of society from a relative point of view. Opposed to the “absolute” functionalism of Bronislaw Malinowsky. Merton proved that it is excessive to maintain that all cultural or social elements have a function, and is therefore indispensable.
Borislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) was a British anthropologist born in Krakow, Poland. He completed his studies at the University of Krakow, Leipzig and London. Malinowsky began teaching at the University of London by 1924, and worked as an invited professor at Yale University during 1939-1942. His research about the formation of human culture led him to conduct many studies in Africa, Latin America, and some regions of the United States. For him, the notion of context and interdependence of social facts were fundamental to the study of culture.
Antonio Caso (1883-1946)was a Mexican writer and philosopher, one of the most renowned and active figures of Mexican intellectuality for the first half of the XXth century. Since the beginning, he opposed the prevailing positivism (introduced by Gabino Barrera), criticizing its limited concept on experience. He introduced to his country the most advanced philosophical tendencies, in particular the ideas represented by Henry Bergson and Edmund Husserl. Casos’s thought, distant from systematic speech, was characterized by a pluralist character, and the trust in insight as a way to access knowledge. He was concerned with the idea of “synthesis” as a philosophical knowledge goal, in which it must convey morals, arts, sciences, and culture.
Pablo Gonzalez Casanova (1922 )is a Mexican historian, political scientist and sociologist, who analyzed in-depth the political and economical troubles that affected Mexico and other Latin American countries. He was born in Toluca, State of Mexico, studied at the National School of Anthropology, “Escuela Nacional de Antropologia,” UNAM, “El Colegio Mexicano, and at the University of Paris. He is a well known historian of the Mexican Illustration, but from 1960 has been dedicated to studying Latin American politics. His main contribution is on the studies about the troubles of Latin-American society from an economic point of view, with a critical view on the historical handicap that drag those countries down.
2. Technical and scientific knowledge and its relation to professional knowledge
2.1 SCIENCE IN HISTORYScience has its roots founded in:1. Technical tradition, where skills and experience are developed and transferred from generation to generation, and in 2. Spiritual tradition, in which ideas and human aspirations are cultivated and are communicated.Such traditions existed well before human civilization appeared. Scientific explanations are characterized by providing interpretations for natural and social phenomena based on the objectivity and causation of the principles of knowledge. To solve a problem, you have to establish what causes it.
Aristotle was born in Étagère, Macedonia, in 384 BC, and died in 322 BC in Calcis, Eubea. He separated for the first time the philosophy disciplines of logic, ethics, metaphysics, politics, and aesthetics. He studied and systematized almost every branch of knowledge and provided the first ordered relations for biology, sociology, physics, and literary theory, according to a systematic and analytical method. Aristotle is perhaps the most important thinker to have influenced Western history and intellectual development.The role of philosophers was substituted during the Middle Ages by that of the theologian or church’s doctor, figure from the Hebrew tradition, well before the time of Catholicism. They interpreted and applied the Holy Scriptures to real problems. The Doctor was a wise man who provided “erudite or learned” opinion.
2.2 THE INSTITUTION UNIVERSITYMajor changes occurred in medieval Europe from the XIth through XVIIth centuries, leading to the conviction that the world does not follow a “necessary and immutable order.” The Crusades, Eastern culture and America’s discovery, all of which shook the Europeans and forced them to change their conceptions on philosophy, religion, politics, ethics, geography, astronomy, technologies, uses and costumes; all of them led to a crisis. All of those changes can be summarized and conceptualized by Ptolemaic and Copernican thought.
THOLOMEUS AND THE COPERNICAN SYSTEMSIn the VIth century BC. the philosopher Thales of Millet, introduced the concept of the earth being a flat disc floating in the universal element water. In the IIIrd centuryBC. the mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras established a school of thinking in which mathematics became the fundamental discipline for all scientific research. Pythagorean’s thinking postulated that the earth was a sphere that moved in a circular orbit around a central fire. In the IInd century BC during the Hellenist epoch, following the death of Alexander the Great, the mathematician, astronomer and geographer Eratosthenes made an astoundingly precise measurement of the earth’s dimensions; and the astronomer Aristarco of Samos proposed a sun-centered planetary system, although such system failed to gain acceptance in those early times.
The University appropriated from the Greeks, Romans and Arabs their culture for constituting the spirit of modernity for the future. Middle Ages is a term used to refer to a period in European history following the fall of the Roman Empire in the Vth century and lasting through the XVth century. It seems this term was used for the first time by Flavio Biondo de Forli, a historian who published in 1438 his work: “Historiarum ab inclinatione romanorun imperii decades” (Decades of history since the fall of the Roman Empire). The term implies in its origin, a paralysis of social progress, considering Middle Ages as a period of cultural stagnation, chronologically set in between the glory of the ancient classics and the Renaissance. It is usually divided into three epochs: early, high, and low Middle Ages.
SCHOLATICISM was a philosophy and theological movement which tried to use natural human reasoning, in particular the Aristotle philosophy and scientific approach to analyze and understand natural and Christian revelations. Main stream in schools and universities of Europe during the Middle Ages, from the XIth through the XVth centuries, its outmost ideal was to integrate a systematic order for natural Greek and Roman knowledge, and for the religious wisdom of Christianity. Originally, scholastic referred to the teachers of the monastic and cathedral schools of the Middle Ages, after which the university began, but later applied to anyone who taught philosophy or theology. The scholastics main worries were about how to integrate the knowledge already acquired, separating the reasoning character of Greek philosophy from that of Christian revelation, rather than being concerned with the creation of knowledge.
REFORMATION was a religious movement that emerged in the XVIth century in the Catholic Church environment, which led to the end of the Church’s hegemony and the rise of distinctive churches linked to Protestantism. The Reformation was preceded by the culture of the Renaissance, and was then followed by the French Revolution. The Reformation completely altered the way of life of Western Europe and initiated a modern age. It began with Martin Luther challenging the Pope’s authority; the circumstances that drove him to this situation started much earlier and were conjured in doctrinal complex elements, politics, economy, and culture.
UNIVERSITIES are institutions for higher learning, acknowledged to grant academic grades. The original intention was that a faculty composed of student groups would gather to share academic facilities and lodge. Each faculty was an integral part of a corporation called University, a word from the abbreviation of the Latin expression universitas magistrorum et scholarium, union of teachers and students, organized for mutual benefit and the legal protection of this collective. Established in the XIIIth century, Cambridge University is one of the earliest educative institutions in Europe, and one of the most prestigious in the world, some of its most outstanding alumni are Charles Darwin, John Maynard Keynes, Oliver Cromwell, and John Hamilton. Oxford University, the earliest institution for higher learning in the United Kingdom, is composed of 35 centers with proper structures and activities. Great numbers of outstanding alumni have studied at and graduated from its “All Soul’s College.”
2.3 DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNIVERSITYUp to the XVIIIth century, university institutions were composed of five “faculties” or teaching groups:1. Faculty of Arts. It was equivalent to present day high school, for debate of authors of the classics.2. Faculty of Medicine. It was for the treatment of illness, with hand books developed from Greek and Roman tradition.3. Faculty of Jurisprudence. To litigate juridical agreements on canonical, Roman and “local” rights and laws.4. Faculty of Philosophy. It was about the dissertation on the Greek and Roman classics, fathers of the Catholic Church.5. Faculty of Theology. It was to study issues about the relations between God, Man, and Nature.
Universities have been described as conforming to models, with other perspectives regarding the development of the university institution. There are four types of universities based on their relation to knowledge itself and its structural organization:1. German Model. This is an institution profoundly specialized with regard to the subjects of knowledge, and is oriented towards research. Academic labor is distributed among the departments and research institutes according to their theoretical discipline. Its students are developed principally for research in specific areas.
INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER OF UNIVERSTY MODELSThe German university experience in the XIXth century would provide the contemporary type of university with modern ideas. It was home for the most advanced science.Japan would take from the German model that most compatible with Japan’s society for those times, that is: the notion of State control of the University system within a disciplinary authoritarian frame.
2.4 SCIENCE AND TECHNIQUE IN MODERN WORLDThe work of Philosophers, Wise men and Theologians was not applied to productive forces in the society of the ancient world nor of the Middle Ages, nor was their product used in the economy environment, neither to promote social changes. It only served to demonstrate that the royal society was elitist and imperfect.The changes were induced in Europe during the XVIth –XVIIth centuries as a result of such events as the battles in the Crusades, the discovery of the Americas, growth of maritime trade in commerce and discovery of the route to the East. All the latter events produced a great number of changes and demands for knowledge and basis for applied development.
Between the XVIth and XVIIth centuries Europe experienced a flow of information that brought a great number of new demands and foundations to apply those new skills and knowledge. This derived into seafaring commerce and colonization. The decadent feudal system had nothing to do with the development of cities, commercial trade, the industrial revolution, and social and Church reform.Engines are not a product of the slow improvement of artisans’ tools based on its every day use; on the contrary, engines burst into the laborer’s world. They “appear” in practice to displace him. Machinery is the product of theoretical principles applied to production problems, and this process is not a function of the laborers.
Some authors refer to it as “capitalist development” mostly during the last third of the XXth century, with its new contractor’s organization, trust, holdings, cartels, new energy sources as oil and electricity, and new financial systems. This speaks rather of a Second Industrial Revolution.First industrial revolution took place in the United Kingdom by the end of the XVIIIth century; it brought about a profound transformation of the economy and British society. The most immediate changes were produced by the production processes such as: what was produced and how and where. Labor was conducted at factories for manufactured primary goods and services.
Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, and it was for a long time the leading producer of industrialized goods in the world. This meant changes in the distribution social values. In the early stages, the workers’ buying power was reduced and there was a loss in quality of life in regard to their social values. Later on, it translated into an increase in the social quality of life for the entire population.Afterwards, an industrial revolution was set into motion in other countries, first in France, Belgium, Germany and the United States by middle of XIXth century. By the end of this century, it made its way to Sweden and Japan, and by the early XXth century to Russia and Canada. However, it was not until after the middle of the XXth century that the industrial revolution finally arrived in Latin America, Near East, Central and Southeast Asia, and part of Africa.