Essay On Sociology Based On Historical And Social Context
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Introduction to Sociology
Sociology is the scientific and systematic study associated with the social life of humans (Calhoun, 2002). It focuses on the analyzing the social behavior of humans as well as its origin, development and its organizations (Abercrombie et al, 2000). Sociologists use the knowledge of social science such as critical analysis in order to develop certain understandings about social order, change and social disorder (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004). In short sociologists study people as they interact with social groups such as couples, peers and other large cultures. In sociology, different entities are studied such as individual elements or group of people which resembles a global perspective. The objective of this essay is to discuss some of the concepts and aspects of sociology.
The reasoning of sociology could be observed even from the establishment of discipline. Western history and philosophy uses social analysis to explain social phenomenon in their own time. The word Sociology comes from a Latin term socius which means “companion” and Greek term logy which means “study of” (Macionis & Gerber, 2010). During the age of enlightenment, the concept of sociology was first introduced as an idea of positivist’s science of society (Abercrombie et al, 2000). Studying the nature of man in a society becomes important as society is facing sudden changes over periods of time. However, the modern sociology is not considered as a concept established in the enlightenment but an idea of classical political philosophy.
The word sociology was first used by French writer Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes. However, its concept or idea was made famous by Auguste Comte which is widely considered to be the “Father of Sociology” (Abercrombie et al, 2000). He tried to study the changes in the society especially the social changes that occurs during the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. During the French Revolution, there is a dramatic change over the class system in France. The rich people lost their wealth and status while the peasants gained the power and influence (Calhoun, 2002). The changes in the French Revolution were followed by the social changes in the Industrial Revolution. In the Industrial Revolution, people shift from agricultural life to factory jobs (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004).
Comte became fascinated with the sudden social changes that happened during these two major revolutions. He tried to study these changes and tried to makes sense of the events that happened during this period. It was then when he realized that new science should be used in order to understand these events and phenomenon. It was the time when the science of sociology was first used. Comte was the one who argue that new social problems will emerge from these major revolutions.
One of the major influences of the Age of Enlightenment to the development of sociology is the use of scientific method. Comte used the process of scientific method to understand the society. He also used the idea of positivism or the application of the scientific method in order to understand the changes in the society (Abercrombie et al, 2000). The changes in the society brought up the attention of new science to understand the social behavior and social changes (Watson, 2008).
Another person who contributed to the development of sociology is Karl Marx. Both Comte and Karl Marx have the best description of the development of the society. Karl Marx uses his idea or own theory of historical progression in order to understand the social changes of capitalism to communism. Karl Marx also influenced the development of sociology and introduced some of the concepts used in modern understanding of the society (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004).
Later in the development of social Darwinism, several mechanisms for the understanding of society were made and influenced the modern sociology (Calhoun, 2002). One of these mechanisms is the division of labor by Emile Durkheim. Durkheim was also responsible for the first institutionalization of sociology. Sociology became an academic institution in 1895 when Durkheim founded the first French Department of Sociology in the University of Bordeaux (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004).
Features of a Sociological Explanation of Behavior and Sociological Imagination
Patterns in behavior and interactions of individuals in a society could be observed and explain using common sense. However, it could not explain some of the features or sociological aspects of these patterns in behavior (Abercrombie et al, 2000). Sociological explanations to behavior use scientific method or empirical reasoning in order to explain these behaviors which could not be explained easily by common sense. Sociological explanations on behavior also use sociological perspectives in order to view these patterns differently. Sociological perspectives could be used as a concept or idea that individuals and society are inseparable (Calhoun, 2002).
For example, it was found out that there are more and more couples or marriages that end up in a divorce nowadays (Turner, 2003). One could explain the behavior of marriage as whole in which reasoning and philosophy is used to explain the phenomenon (Calhoun, 2002). However, using sociological perspectives, divorce and marriage could be viewed differently. Sociological explanations of behavior try to answer fundamental questions of history, structure and biography. It tries to answer how and why societies are formed, what is the ideal structure of society and how individuals affect society as a whole (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004).
Although different perspectives could create different views about the society and individuals, there is a certain concept that could links these differences. This concept is introduced by Wright Mills which is called sociological imagination (Watson, 2008). It is the understanding of how individuals view themselves and the others in the context of history and social structure. By magnifying the interactions of individuals in the society, social imagination could be used identify what influences behavior, patterns, attitudes and culture (Macionis & Gerber, 2010).
Macro and Micro Models of Society
Theories in sociology could vary in scope or scale of issues in which they could be used. With this, there are two major models of the society to describe the scope in which theories are being used. Macro-level model of society refers to the explanation of the large-scale relationships (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004). It is also referred to as the Grand Theories which tries to answer some fundamental questions of society such as why societies change and why do they form. These theories are often not verifiable through empirical studies; rather it focuses on abstract theories and uses reasoning for its explanation. It could help in explaining human behavior by how society is acting (Abercrombie et al, 2000). On the other hand, micro-level model of society focuses on the very specific relationships of people and society. They are more concrete on explaining relationships between individuals and groups. These theories could be verifiable using empirical studies and could be dependent on their own context. It could in explaining the behavior of man using their relationship between small to large groups (Calhoun, 2002).
Socialization, Social Order, and Social stratification
Socialization is a process in which people or individuals accepts social values and social norms. In this process, individuals became proficient members of the society. Socialization could be a description of how people came to understand how the society works (Calhoun, 2002). Socialization is the sociological process which occurs during every social interaction (Watson, 2008). Socialization is essential to the individuals as well as the society in which the individual lives in. Socialization illustrates the links and connections between individual and society. It explains that individuals and the social world are intertwined. Social interaction is the medium of any individual to understand or to acquire the process of socialization (Macionis & Gerber, 2010).
Sociologists could identify the importance of socialization to the individuals and to the development of the society (Calhoun, 2002). However, various sociological perspectives view socialization differently. For consensus theorist, socialization could be essential to society due to two major reasons (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004). First, it could help individuals to acquire skills to operate successfully in a society. Second, it could perpetuate culture from generations to generations. For conflict theorist, they vie socialization as a means of reproducing inequality in which different social expectations and norms are created. For social action theorist, socialization focuses on the individual interactions and concerned about how these actions are magnified in a society (Abercrombie et al, 2000).
Social order is a set or arrangement of proper behavior or practices in which individuals should follow. Most of the society uses social order as a basis of their daily lives. Social order is the goal or mission of social control. Social control on the other hand is the enforcement or regulation of social norms and social expectations. For example, in a classroom, there are specific rules that the students should follow. Using analogy, these rules may refer to the social order which is set in the classroom while the teacher is the social control which enforces the rules (Turner, 2003).
In consensus theory, it is concerned with how different elements of the society contribute to the society as a whole (Turner, 2003). In this case, consensus theorist could view social order as a necessary tool to provide functions to each element. However, they could also view deviance, or a violation of social order, to challenge the different views. For conflict theorist, they view social problems or conflicts as a main reason why people deviate from the social order. Unlike the consensus theory, they view deviance as evidence of inequality of the societal system. For social action theorist, they view social order as a means of explaining how social groups came to view different perspectives (Harlambos & Holborn, 2004).
Social stratification is the arrangement, hierarchy or classification of each individual in the society depending on their economic power, wealth or race. It is used by sociologists to explain some of the system of social standing which controls or governs the society. The modern Western social stratification system uses cultural and economic classes as a mode of division of individuals in a society. Social stratification is viewed differently from various theoretical perspectives used in sociology. Sociologists also view social stratification as a means of social inequalities which are evident in the modern times (Abercrombie et al, 2000).
Various theories also view social stratification differently. For consensus theorist, hierarchy of classes could be beneficial to all societies (Calhoun, 2002). Since hierarchy of classes could be observed in all societies even in the past, then it could be essential to its development. The conflict theorist view social stratification differently. They would argue that social division could result to slow social mobility and inaccessibility in resources which could limit the development of the society. For social action theory, social stratification could be viewed in a micro-level model of society. They could use social stratification in order to explain some of the individual interactions that occur in a society (Turner, 2003).
Abercrombie, N., Hill S., & Turner, B. (2000). The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. London: Penguin
Calhoun, C. (2002). Classical Sociological Theory. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (2004). Sociology: Themes and perspectives. 6th ed. Collins Educational.
Macionis, J., & Gerber, L. (2010). Sociology. 7th ed. Toronto: Pearson Canada.
Turner, J. (2003). The Structure of Sociological Theory. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Thompson/Wadsworth.
Watson, T. (2008). Sociology, Work, and Industry. Routledge.
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