Weekly log Jan 25-31

I was reading through several pieces on Talcott Parsons’s theory of action when I thought of this idea to start a series of weekly log to write down what I have read and how things are connected. Again sorry for those of my readers who are not so into sociological stuff. You might as well enjoy the pleasure of leering at a graduate student’s wasted intellectual life.

Jan 26 Tue

  • Wrote a review on Andrew Abbott’s Methods of Discovery. Think about (and tried to write a Chinese blog post on) my journey in reading sociological methodologies. From superficial stuff like qualitative/quantitative issues, to Zhao Dingxin’s two by two table (structure/agency * formal/empirical) in 政治与社会运动讲义, to Michael Burawoy “extended case method” and finally to Abbott. The journey goes on.
  • Went to a lecture by Taiwanese scholar 徐斯俭 on Sunflower Movement, NGO and the public. He presented two papers on NGO’s attitude and the public’s attitude in mobilization process respectively. Interesting facts: distrust in Ma Ying-jeou’s (I was about to say Ma Yinjiu before Bi Ran corrected me) government is the most important reason for people to support the movement.
  • Read pieces on Talcott Parson’s theory of action, including Dr. Wang Liping’s assigned reading for Modern Social Theory course and Hans Joas’s Social Theory book. They are interconnected. Should write a summary after tomorrow’s lecture.

Jan 27 Wed

  • Today’s main intellectual reflections are on Parson’s ideas about 1) the model of social action and  2) critique on utilitarianism. Haven’t finished reading and summarise this part of knowledge.

Jan 28 Thu

  • Found some literature on narrative methods but haven’t read them thoroughly. The task again is left for weekend, as the task of a 4000 word literature review on this. The debate happened somewhat 20 years ago when sociologists (methodologists) were trying to upgrade narrative method. After reading Abbott’s method book the map of methodological debates seemed to be much clearer.
  • Read a chapter of Exemplary Society. I don’t think this book has a neat theoretical agenda in mind. Some of the possible main themes –
    • Exemplars in Chinese tradition is both educational and disciplinary. It is a form of social control.
    • The Foucauldian approach to social control is insufficient as it ignore the resistance strategies.
    • The Chinese project of modernization is an attempt of controlled social change.
    • Chinese and the West have different meanings of “norm”. The Chinese ‘norm’ is an exemplary one, in which everyone can achieve the exemplary form through education (and discipline?). Values are given as a priori. But the Western ‘norm’ is about average men, values are defined through comparison.

Jan 29 Fri

  • Talked to Dr. Denise Tang about coming out to parents and loneness in academic. She gave me the following tips –
    • “Coming out” is a process that will never end. You will come out again and again whenever you meet new people in the future. For parents, the journey is longer so be prepared.
    • Seek support friends and don’t give up.
    • There will surely be unfriendly people in your life. Just remember it’s not your fault and don’t take this personally.


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