The study of the social world in addition to sociological imagination contests the individualistic and naturalistic approach to the analysis of social forces that mould human behaviour in contemporary society. The interrelated social concepts that influence human behaviour challenge both explanations through suggested theories, empirical investigation and critical analysis hence, illustrate difference in perception.
A direct interpretation of sociology, as defined by the writers of the text, “˜Sociology: Themes and Perspectives’ is, “¦”˜ the study of society.’ (R. Van Krieken, P. Smith, D. Habibis, K. McDonald, M. Haralambos, M. Holborn 2000:05). The study reveals mixed assumptions and perspectives of the institutions of the social world and how it influences the development of social behaviour. It challenges ideas and factors outside an individual for the pattern of human behaviour, that is, an external view. (E.C. Cuff & G.C.F. Payne 1979:09).
Understanding the patterns of individuals and groups in society as a whole is accepted as a scientific venture. Thus, it engages in theoretical assumptions that are empirically tested via systematic methodology and critically analysed after research results are displayed. (A. Giddens 1997:12). Sociology can only act as a window, suggesting viewpoints that may assist in a greater understanding of society. It will never determine the “˜truth’ as a concluding result. (E.C. Cuff & G.C.F. Payne 1979:09).
The distinctive characteristic of sociology is the concept of being able to think beyond what is logically obvious in a particular situation concerning an individual or a whole population. It also reflects the position of an individual within the barriers of a social institution within society. This concept is referred to as “˜sociological imagination.’ Author of “˜The Sociological Imagination: The Promise’, C. Wright Mills, establishes the significance of “˜personal troubles’, stating that, “˜Troubles occur within the character of an individual”¦they have to do with his self”¦a biographical entity”¦ a private matter: values cherished by an individual are felt by him to be threatened’ and “˜public issues’ as, “˜An issue, in fact, often involves a crisis in institutional arrangements”¦’ (C.R. Mills 1959:08-9). The exemplification of unemployment can be adapted to illustrate the framework of sociological imagination as a means of perspective.
In the working field of a society, an individual is depicted as unemployed in contrast to the employed members of society. The individualistic situation is viewed as a “˜personal trouble’ therefore theories based upon the character, skills and available opportunities of the individual are critically analysed and considered as possible explanations. Conversely, a group of individuals labelled as unemployed, are juxtaposed to the remaining employed members of the society. The circumstances are presented as a “˜public issue’ and individualistic factors are no longer the case. The institutional arrangements of the society are contested critically, judging the social structure rather than examining each individual separately. Sociological imagination demonstrates the variation between the sociological perspective, that is, examining society as a whole, with the individualistic explanation of conforming to personal solutions contained by an individual. (C.R. Mills 1959:09, 2000:05-6).
The naturalistic explanations of human behaviour, in terms of biology, suggest the theory, “˜it is only human nature.’ (2000:06). The sociological perspective applies a critical approach, debating the idea of natural occurrences in the pattern of human behaviour. Social behaviour, perceived on sociological grounds, is acquired by the social force of culture, which is used as a theory against naturalistic or biological interpretation. The concept of culture generates the notion for change and permanence of societies in local, national to global contexts. It also refers to customs, beliefs, values, associated language and traditions that are learned and passed on from generation to generation of a particular community in society.
A theoretical statement that is proposed and challenged by both explanations is the idea of “˜parents loving their children.’ (2000:06). Naturally, parents express strong emotions towards their offspring as a result of biological structure. However, sociological perspective explores beyond the stated assumption and examines the issue on a cross-cultural basis. Empirical research submits the view of China and the involvement of illegal adoption schemes, the limited interaction between parents and children of European backgrounds with regards to boarding schools and the contact of a nanny during most of the growing ages of a child. Sociological imagination supports the concept of culture as a means of determining the patterns of social behaviour of individuals in society.
A key role that also plays a part in moulding human behaviour is the social force of socialisation. It is a process of interaction between individuals and groups of a society. The knowledge is shared, learned and transmitted within small groups and large systems. Socialisation is promoted throughout a mixture of agents where the process occurs. A naturalistic perspective views this notion of communication as, “¦”˜an essential component of being human”¦’ otherwise, known to be biologically inherited. (2000:08). The sociological assumption to the theory of skill adaptation, argue that the exposure of being in contact with other human beings assists in the development of social behaviour.
However, the assumption does not contradict the biological theory of inheritance, it simply suggests that a considerable amount of identity development is produced from the social environment, that is, the agents of socialisation. The evidence of “˜wolf’ children empirically justifies the need for human interaction in order to evolve an identity. (2000:08). The perceived theoretical explanations, supported by empirical evidence for the development of patterned human behaviour, demonstrate a differentiation that is critically contested between both evaluations.
The perspective of functionalism in association to sociological imagination, practiced in the work of Emile Durkheim, may be interpreted on a biological level. Distinctively speaking, the human body may be exemplified as an aid to enhance the understanding of society as a whole. The different parts of the human body are linked, therefore understanding the relationship between them, formulates a basic conception of the organism as a whole. (2000:13, A. Giddens 1997:08-9).
The Marxist feminism perspective views the position of women in society within the structural form. Sociologically, women are a form of underclass in the working class society of the economical system. The type of work and duties carried out in the institution of the home is unrecognised in the macro world. As a result, women undertake low-status jobs in the workforce, this action is known as a, “˜reserve army of labour.’ (2000:20). The radical Marxist perspective suggests that females in contemporary society lack equality due to the biological difference of their body structure. Thus, the removal of the reproductive system is said to alleviate male patriarchy. The variation of the natural theory in contrast to the social idea is evident within the critical analysis of the position of women in society, hence moulding the social behaviour of individuals with regards to the status of women. (A.Giddens 1997:10).
In conclusion, the emphasis on critical analysis between the sociological perspective and imagination in opposition to the individualistic and naturalistic approach illustrate differentiation in suggested theories. The dissimilarity articulates solid empirical evidence supported by both sides of perspectives, therefore challenges the social forces of culture, socialisation and identity that manipulate and mould the human behaviour in contemporary society.
The connections like functionalism and Marxism, branch out from the perspectives to function as padding, placing a conceptualised interpretation of social behaviour with regards to society. The process of learning sociologically is, “˜looking, in other words, at the broader view”¦cultivating imagination.’ (A. Giddens 1997:03). Sociology does not determine an accurate response to the theories placed upon society. Nevertheless, it can supply a greater capacity for understanding the society as a whole via the linkages of sociological imagination and individualistic and naturalistic angles.