What is sociology and how is it useful?
Sociology is the study of human behavior and social relationships in our world and in society. Sociology is very vast, ranging from everyday behaviors in societies about crime and religion, the divisions of race and social classes, and beliefs about various cultures around the world. Bringing all these different parts of sociology together we are able to understand how human action and social behaviors shape the surrounding social structures of our very own world. Sociology is a study that allows analysis of the communities and groups that we live in, and the whole world at that. At a societal level, sociology examines crime, law, poverty, wealth, discrimination, and education. At a global level, sociology studies population growth, war, and things such as economic development. Sociology also allows us to evaluate our very own personal day to day lives as well, by looking at religion, race, gender, family background, romantic relationships, and social behavior. We can start to investigate human social causes and effects, as well as reasoning behind these actions.
By looking through what sociology brands the “Sociological Perspective “we are able to analyze things from very strong and stable interpretations, to sweeping generalizations of society and social behaviors. Sociologists study everything from specific events, or micro level analysis of small social patterns, to the “big picture” meaning the macro level of analysis of large social patterns. Sociologists use mainly three theoretical perspectives or approaches but there are five in Macionis, J., and L. Gerber. 2018. Sociology, 9th Canadian Ed. The symbolic interactionist approach, structural functionalist approach, social conflict approach, Feminist approach, and Postmodernist approach. These perspectives offer sociologists insight on how society influences the people directly and the people they surround themselves with.
Symbolic interactionism, directs sociologists to consider the symbols our everyday life, what the symbols mean to people, and how people interact with each other using them. Symbolic interaction uses micro level orientation to analyze up close and personal face to face interactions. An example given in the text would be “Exploring urban life in this way occurs at street level, where you might watch how children invent games on a school playground” Macionis, J., and L. Gerber. 2018. Sociology, 9th Canadian Ed. Pg. 20. By using this approach sociologists are able to create a framework of the interactions of day to day individuals.
Structural functional approach, tells us that each aspect of society is interdependent and contributes to society’s functioning as a whole to make a better world to live in or find stability among society. This approach focuses on both social structure and social functions, social structures are any consistent pattern of behaviors that shape our lives, and some examples would be within our family, school, friend groups, and romantic relationships. Social functions are consequences for the operation of society as a whole. In education for example, it has several important functions in a society, such as socialization, learning, and social placement through different groupings and classes.
Social – Conflict approach focuses on the negative, the conflicted, and the ever?changing nature of society in the world. Using this approach we focus on the negatives of our society, allowing us to further our insight on inequality and change in the world. Sociologists are able to look towards understanding different conflicts suck as war, money, social class, gender, sexual orientation, abortion, and education from a whole different perspective of thinking. In our textbook is reads out “Conflict analysis rejects the idea that social structure promotes the operation of society as a whole, focusing instead on the fact that social patterns may benefit people while hurting others.” Macionis, J., and L. Gerber. 2018. Sociology, 9th Canadian Ed. Pg. 18. Meaning that this approach allows us to see what is happening in the bigger picture that I was talking about earlier, from a Macro level orientation we see a large focus on what shapes our society as a whole.
The Feminist approach is a view where we focus on one genders inequality and conflict between another genders, being Women against Men. This approach is very important to sociology and sociologists in general because it makes us see the ways women are treated by other men, especially men of power. Some examples given in the text book are in the household Men are given the title of “Head of the house”, in the workplace men earn more money than women do because men usually hold higher positions then men. This is a crucial view point because we do not always get the other side of the story when it comes to different gender equality conflict and it is very important to see it from others views.
Lastly the Postmodernism approach, “the approach that is critical of modernism, with a mistrust of grand theories and ideologies, that can have either a Micro or macro point of view” Macionis, J., and L. Gerber. 2018. Sociology, 9th Canadian Ed. Pg. 21. Postmodernists seek to look at societies and understand their goals and how they will achieve them by finding what influences them on a grand scale.
By using these many points of view or approaches we are able to think sociologically, this is useful because it gives us a different way to understanding society and the way people do things. Without sociology we would only think psychologically to understand how people behave and act, we would be unable to notice the difference between how a man acts and a woman acts, unable to see how people act differently depending on how much money they make. We would only be able to see the individual’s actions for behavior, not their reasoning behind it. When we understand our reasoning behind our behaviors we can start to think about fixing our problems as people and problems as a society. It’s not that easy trying to understand the complexities of human behavior and decision making based upon different attributes of people, nut sociology gives us an opportunity to try.