Do you think sociologists should try reform society or study it?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is my belief that sociologists should study society instead of reforming it. A sociologist studies society and its behavior. They examine cultures, groups, and social institutions that have been developed by people.  They do research, collect data, analyze it, make conclusions, and report on their findings. Once the sociologists have done their work, I believe it is up to others to make or suggest the reforms. The momentum for making these reforms may come from various individuals. Teachers, administrators, politicians, and social workers could use the information gathered by sociologists to correct perceived problems or issues.  For example, journalists could do in-depth reporting on whatever issue may need reforming. Based on their stories, citizens could put pressure on their elected officials to pass laws to improve the situation. Consumers could pressure business owners to change policies to correct an injustice that may exist. During the Progressive Era, this is how many reforms were made.  Journalists wrote about issues in society.  This led to political pressure to change laws.  Therefore, sociologists should study society, analyze data, and prepare reports while leaving it up to other groups to bring about the needed changes.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are appropriate times for sociologists to study society and times when their studies might motivate them to reform society. Auguste Comte developed the idea that positivism, a method that relies on hard evidence such as statistics and quantitative data, should be used to study society and understand how it works. However, he also thought that knowledge gained from positivist approaches could be used to reform society and better the human condition. Even positivist sociologists such as Comte believed that reform of society was one of the goals of the field.

In addition, it is doubtful whether sociologists can ever look at society in totally dispassionate and objective ways. Each person brings biases and judgments with him or her, and sociologists are always part of the society they observe (even if their role is only that of an outside observer). Therefore, since total objectivity is impossible, a sociologist should acknowledge his or her role in the society and, at times, decide to use their role to change the society.