The study of Sociology is important but the level of importance is debatable. Sociology is the study of the organisation human society and what problems come about within the society. It looks at who is affected and why they are affected. A prime example would be a married couple with children who then decide to divorce. Not only are the couple affected but so are the children. Why? The children would have to come to the harsh terms of their mother and father no longer living together, in some cases have to welcome a new family member or members, ‘the step parents or siblings’ They would have to adjust to new living conditions whether that be a new school or two different homes etc.
Sociology questions why rules were put in place and why people choose to follow them. In some cases we look at what other people do and we ‘follow by example’. If there is a queue at the bus stop to wait for the bus, naturally we would go to the end of the queue and wait for the bus. Why? Some may say it’s out of respect, if the people were in the queue before me who am I to cut the queue. Another person may say that following simple rules has a positive effect on our living. If you’re able to follow simple rules then it may be easier for you to follow the bigger rules with strong consequences and this will enable you to teach others i.e. children.
The term sociology was coined by French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838, who for this reason is known as the “Father of Sociology.” He believed in the concept that the social world was based on scientific facts and with this people could build better future. For example, humans need food to survive and all the major supermarkets know this, therefore they come up ‘special offers’ and provide more organic options as ways to attract a larger audience. By studying sociology we are able to look the relationship between a man and society. A ‘celebrity or public figure’ is often highly scrutinized for their choices or lifestyle and this is because a lot is expected of them. This could be anything from the way they dress to even the way they walk/ talk and the mass media i.e. TV, Radio, Movies, Internet etc help us to form assumption of this person.
As humans we are often cautious of the decisions we make as we don’t want to be the topic of discussion within the society. For example when we do something bad in school we may not want many people to know about it and that is because we are afraid of how we will be branded in society (the bad kids). But why should we be so afraid of something that we created ourselves. Realistically without us there would be no society as we are what form it. By studying sociology we are able to understand others cultures, customs, traditions etc within the society.
This is very important to us as it helps us to gain insight into certain groups both minorities and majorities this prevents us from making assumptions about people and makes it easier for us to accept people. Often when controversial topics arise the media uses this as a way of branding a particular part of society very negatively and as humans we sometimes get sucked into this then we find it co-exist with one other. Many people fail to see the importance of sociology with the belief that it is simply common sense, this is false. Living in a society doesn’t necessarily mean you know everything about it. “People who like to avoid shocking discoveries, who prefer to believe that society is just what they were taught in Sunday School, who like the safety of the rules and maxims of what Alfred Schultz has called ‘the world-taken-for-granted’, should stay away from sociology” (Berger 1963, 24).
Naturally when asked what we believe to the ideal structured society we would say something like ‘everyone would be employed’ ‘’everyone would have a home’ etc. But if someone were to say that crime played an essential part in this ideal structured society you may think this would be absurd. However sociologists have found that without the identification of crime and the punishments that go along with it then society really wouldn’t be structured. This is true because without both of those things mentioned then people wouldn’t know what type of behaviour is tolerable or intolerable.
Therefore crime does play a part in an ideal structured society. Sociology appears to only look at groups and not individuals, this is not true. Sociologists believe that individuals can’t be understood without being aware of the society that they live in e.g. You walk down a dark alley late at night your pace will be faster than you walking down a high street in the middle of the day. This may be caused by a number of reasons, from a young age you’ve been taught that it’s dangerous to be out late at night. This is referred to as primary socialisation and is sourced by the family. It is our family. It is our family that shapes into the view of what we consider is ‘normal’.
There are more witnesses on a high street so you would feel a lot more confident and comfortable. Another continuously proven theory is that men and women have different roles and responsibilities. Men are shown to be in control of business’ and high in power i.e. the government. 52 out of the 53 Prime Ministers the UK has seen have all been male. In certain situations males behaviour may be said to be overlooked. Aggression and Loud behaviour is tolerated by the males. However females still assume the role as bringing up the children and caring for people. According to the Nursing Times only 1 in 10 nurses in the UK are male which would mean that women would dominate that role.
This does support the theory that the differences between males and females are through socialisation and this helps boys to become men and girls to become women. Human culture has been enriched through the contribution of sociology. According to Lowie ‘most of us harbour the comfortable delusion that our way of doing things is the only sensible if not only possible one’.
This means that Sociology has given us training to have rational approach to questions concerning oneself, one’s religion, customs, and morals. This gives us the confidence to be able to decide whether or not we choose to practice a religion or not. It has further taught us to be objective and critical. This means we are able to give constructive criticism to our peers. It enables man to have better understanding both of ourselves and of others. By comparative study of societies and groups other than his existence, our lives have more meaning. Sociology also impresses upon us the necessity of overcoming narrow personal prejudices, ambitions and class hatred.
This allows us to accept others as equals. The fact that few Muslims have been found to be terrorists does not mean that all Muslims should be treated as beneath us and be subjected to ridicule. The study of sociology can help us to view things differently, things we view as negative we may begin to see the other side of. A prime example would be suicide which we would associate with somebody that has some psychological problems. Although, Durkheim revealed in sociological study into suicide that our surroundings play a part in us making that decision to commit suicide and this could be anything from our relationships with the church to the one with we have with our family. This to me means that society influences certain decisions we make without us even knowing. Also as Straus once said ‘Taking a sociological perspective requires that we look beyond our individual experiences to better understand everyday life’ (Straus 1994).
This allows us to look beyond the ‘social expectations’ and we then begin to learn from our experiences. Sociology has played a big part in how the government makes decisions and how they form rules and regulations. In 2011, the government made the harsh decision to abolish Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) this meant students from the age of 16-18 would no longer be receiving a weekly allowance from the government. This decision affected each class of people, higher middle and lower. For lower class this may have meant they couldn’t help out at home with any necessary bills etc. For the middle and higher class they lost that extra bit of cash weekly. Sociology can be used as good teaching skills as Teachers can test students knowledge by reversing situations where they may need to apply their everyday knowledge which is an important skill to have.