Page 4 - Flipbook: Sociology Shortcuts Issue 3
P. 4

What Is


     Having decided to study Sociology it’s perhaps understandable that you might want to know exactly
     what it is you’ve let yourself in for. And while all will, no-doubt, become clear at some point -
     sooner, rather than later, hopefully - it won’t hurt to have a sneak-peek at the Bigger Picture: the
     broad brush strokes, as it were, of what the subject’s all about.

     We can do this in a couple of ways: the first being what we might call a conventional Introduction:

     Sociology, in this respect, is the study of human such as family groups, with a long history, others
     behaviour and relationships and Ritzer (1979)           much more recent than we may imagine:
     provides a good “working definition” when he            compulsory State education in the UK, for
     says:                                                   example, was only established in the mid-20      th
     “Sociology is the study of individuals in a social
        setting that includes groups, organisations,         The key point to understand here is that patterns
       cultures and societies. Sociologists study the        of shared, stable, behaviour, such as family
          interrelationships between individuals,            groups, must have a cause: something that
          organisations, cultures and societies”.            encourages individuals to behave in ways that,
                                                             while not necessarily entirely predictable, are
     Sociology, therefore, involves studying people          predictable enough on a general day-to-day basis.
     and their patterns of behaviour.
                                                             For sociologists, this “cause” is culture -
     To do this involves looking at the relationships        something that, for the moment, we can consider
     we form, such as between parents and children as a distinctive way of life characteristic of a
     or teachers and students and how these                  particular society.
     interconnect: the focus of sociology, therefore,
     is group behaviour: how membership of social            It’s a concept that’s central to a sociological
     groups, such as families and schools, impacts           understanding of both individuals and societies
     on individual behaviours.                               and it’s one to which we will necessarily return.

     Personal experience of the social world should          For the moment, however, we can have a quick
     tell you that life isn’t a series of random,            look at what we might call a less-conventional
     purposeless or unstructured events. We’re               Introduction to Sociology…
     surrounded by patterned behaviour; some,

       Make a list of the groups to which you belong (such as friends, family, school, social media…).
                           For each group identify ways they influence your behaviour
                              (you must, for example, attend school until you’re 16)

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