The Sociological Perspective
If there were no need for anyone to develop and use the sociological perspective then we shouldn’t be on this planet. The sociological perspective is known as sociology which means the systematic study of human society. Peter Berger described the sociological perspective as seeing the general in the particular.
Sociology helps us see general patterns in the behavior of particular people. Although every individual is unique, social cultural which shapes the lives of people are only in these categories: as children and adults, women and men and the rich and the poor, vary differently. We begin to think sociologically by realizing how the general categories into which we fall shape our particular life experiences.
We may think of marriage as the simple product of personal feelings. Yet, the sociological perspective shows us that patterns involving our sex, age, race and social class guide our selections of partners. Indeed, it might be more accurate to think of “love” as a feeling we have for those who match up with what society teaches us to want in a mate. At first, using the sociological perspective amounts to seeing the strange in the familiar.
Consider how people would react if someone were to say something to us, “You fit all the right categories; you would make a wonderful wife. Let’s get married!” Looking at life sociologically requires giving up the familiar idea that we live our lives only in terms of what we decide, in favor of the initially strange notion that society shapes these decisions, as it does all our experiences. For individualistic North Americans, learning to see how society affects us may take a bit of practice. Consider the decision by women to bear children
Like the selection of a mate, the choice of how many children to have would seem to be a personal one. Yet, there are social patterns here as well. The average woman in the United States and Canada has slightly fewer than two children during her lifetime. In India, however, the choice is about three, in South Africa about four, in Cambodia, about five in Saudi Arabia, about six and in Niger, about seven. What accounts for these striking differences is women in poor countries have less funding and fewer economic opportunities, are more likely to remain in the home, and are less likely to use contraception. Clearly, society has much to do with the decisions women and men make about childbearing.
Some situations can stimulate sociological insights for everyone. Observing the diversity of people in our own society, we might wonder why others think and act differently than everyone else. As we continue to interact with people from social backgrounds that initially seem strange to us, we grasp the power of society to shape our lives and find ourselves easing into the use of sociological perspective. The ability to think sociologically comes quicker to people society labels as different. Those who routinely experience social marginality, being set apart as outsiders, rapidly sense the power of society. For example, most African Americans are keenly aware of how race affects their lives. Being the dominant majority, many Caucasians think about race only from time to time and may imagine that race affects only people of color rather than themselves as well.
Applying the sociological perspective to our daily lives benefits us in four ways. The sociological perspective helps us critically assess “common sense” ideas. Ideas we take for granted are not always true. The notion states that we are free individuals who are personally responsible for our lives. If we think that people decide their own fates, we may be quick to praise successful people as superior and consider people with fewer achievements as personally lacking
The sociological perspective helps us see the opportunities and constraints in our lives. Sociological thinking leads us to see that, in the game of life, we may have a say in how to play our cards, but it is society that deals us the hand. The more we understand the game, the better players we learn to be. Sociology helps us size up the world around us so that we can more effectively pursue our goals.
The sociological perspective empowers us to be active participants in our society. The better we understand how society operates, the more effective citizens we become. For some, this may mean supporting society as it is; others may attempt to change the world in some way. Whatever goal, evaluating any aspect of social life includes identifying social forces and understanding their consequences.
The sociological perspective helps us live in a diverse world. North Americans make up just five percent of the world’s population. Much of the other 95 percent lead lives very differently from our own. Still, like people everywhere, we tend to view our own way of life as right, natural, and better. The sociological perspective prompts us to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of all ways of life including our own.
There is the sociological perspectives on gossip and violence. When society comes across the word “gossip” they think of one phrase “He said/She said”. Gossip is another word for radio which means all people do is talk about things not knowing if it is true or if it is false. The stories keep on coming and coming. Sociological perspective is made up of gossip. It is heard everywhere school, workplace and TV news. How do we know what is true and what is false? Ninety percent is true and ten percent are just rumors.
There is no doubt that we wouldn’t need the sociological perspective. If we didn’t have the sociological perspective, we couldn’t communicate because there wouldn’t be any people in the world to talk to because it would be empty. Without sociological perspective, there wouldn’t be any people on this earth. The sociological perspective helps us with the advantage of getting to know one and another. The sociological perspective was made for a reason which people just have not found out what that reason is yet.