Page 5 - Flipbook: Sociology Shortcuts Issue 3
P. 5

“People know what they do.

         They frequently know why they do

                                        what they do.

          But what they don’t know is what

                              what they do does”.

       Although Sociology definitely is all abut the relationships and the culture, a more-provocative
       way to think about it comes from Michel Foucault (1986).

                                                  Foucault’s observations - at first glance convoluted and
                                                  wonderfully-nonsensical - repay careful unpacking because
                                                  they point towards what Sociology, as an academic subject,
                                                  is designed to do:

                                                  1. As rational, reflective, beings we’re perfectly aware of
                                                  the things we do.

                                                  We don’t in other words, need sociologists to tell us…

                                                  2. We also tend to have a reasonable idea about why we
                                                  behave as we do.

                                                  But that’s not always necessarily the case and there’s a role
                                                  for sociologists in trying to understand and explain the
                                                  choices people make. Why, for example, some people
                                                  choose crime or why some people leave education at the
                                                  earliest opportunity.

       3. It’s the third part of the statement - the idea people don’t really understand how the choices they
       make or the things they do impact on others - that’s arguably the major focus of sociology.

       The role of the sociologist, in this respect, is to explain how the consequences of individual
       choices and behaviours impact on the behaviour of others - and vice versa.

       Sociology, in other words, is all about understanding and explaining how individual behaviours
       are actually the outcome of group decisions.

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