What is the sociological perspective?
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The sociological perspective is a perspective on human behavior and its connection to society as a whole. It invites us to look for the connections between the behavior of individual people and the structures of the society in which they live.
Typically, we tend to think of our society as just natural. We think that it is just "there" the way the air is. We don't think about how it affects us and our behavior. The sociological perspective is one in which we do not do this. Instead, we look at our society and the way it is set up. We ask how that society affects us. In this way, the sociological perspective helps us to understand how society is important in shaping our everyday lives.
Symbolic Interactionism: This perspective focuses on symbols that can be found in society, what those symbols mean to each of us, and how those symbols affect the way we interact with others in our society. See George Herbert Mead
Functionalism: This perspective is an oddly positive way to look at society. It explains that each part of society is dependent on other parts of society and vice versa. All aspects of our society are interdependent, and rely on each other to function. Functionalism is a very passive way to look at sociology. It does not challenge the way things are, but in fact believes that whatever is happening in society is supposed to happen.
See Robert Merton
Conflict Theory: A more negative approach to sociology. Conflict theory focuses on how certain parts of our society are in conflict with each other, and how the "elite" members of our society oppressed the lower class for their own gain.
See Karl Marx and C. Wright Mills.
The sociological perspective is a particular way of approaching a phenomenon common in sociology. It involves maintaining objectivity, not by divesting oneself of values, but by critically evaluating and testing ideas, and accepting what may be surprising or even displeasing based on the evidence. The sociological perspective often assumes that “official” explanations are incomplete or self-serving. It involves a conscious effort to go beyond the obvious and question what is accepted as true or common sense. This is important because common-sense assumptions are usually based on very limited observation. Moreover, the premises on which common-sense assumptions are based are seldom examined. While sociological research might confirm common-sense observation, its broader observation base and theoretical rational provide a stronger basis for conclusions.
The sociological perspective helps us to see general social patterns in the behaviour of particular individuals and offers insights about the social world that extend far beyond explanations that rely on individual quirks and personalities. Essential to the sociological perspective is the sociological imagination. This term, attributed to C. Wright Mills, means “...the vivid awareness of the relationship between experience and the wider society.” It means going beyond the individual and understanding how structural forces shape individuals and their action.
The sociological perspective, as a broad way of approaching phenomena, is different from a sociological paradigm, which is a specific set of assumptions that frame a sociologist's theories and findings
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