Explain why "social location" might be an important concept in sociology.

Social location might be an important concept in sociology because it could help a sociologist better understand how a person’s particular environment impacts their behavior.

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Every individual possess a “social location” that determines where they stand in society. A person's social location is built upon of their gender, social class, race, education, abilities, age, sexual orientation, religion, culture, and place. All of these join together to create and manifest a person's identity and to shape...

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Every individual possess a “social location” that determines where they stand in society. A person's social location is built upon of their gender, social class, race, education, abilities, age, sexual orientation, religion, culture, and place. All of these join together to create and manifest a person's identity and to shape how a person looks at the world.

An individual's social location also contributes to how that person interacts with others, either people with similar social locations or people with very different social locations. Sociology, which studies how people interact with each other in society, is highly interested in social location because it helps explain people's relationships and their responses to various elements of society. Studying a person's social location also provides clues about how a person's environment and characteristics influence their behavior and communication.

Let's look at an example. A sociologist is studying the social norms of a group of high school students to learn more about how groups form and what kinds of attitudes and behaviors allow people to enter into groups or prevent them from entering into groups. The students in this particular group all share a similar social location (although no members have exactly the same social location). They are all around the same age and share the same race, religion, and cultural background. Some members of the group are boys and some are girls, and their abilities vary based on individual talents. Their level of education is similar.

The sociologist observes how the group members interact with each other and how their behavior, attitudes, and communication arise from their similar social location. The sociologist is also interested in how the group incorporates new members, and they discover that most people entering the group share a similar social location and mesh nicely with the groups' values and norms. Others trying to enter the group with a dissimilar social location often feel uncomfortable and out of place even though the group members are open and friendly toward them. The sociologist determines that social location has a significant impact both on group dynamics and on group membership.

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Social location might be an important concept in sociology because it allows the sociologist to examine how a person is impacted by the structure of their environment. If a person is studying what leads a person to engage in violence that’s commonly described as terrorism, they’d probably want to study the social location of that person. They could focus on why their surroundings and culture make them vulnerable to a specific kind of violence. Social location wouldn’t exculpate such violence. However, by taking into account social location, one’s understanding could be deepened, which might lead to substantial solutions.

In 2013, the activist Malala Yousafzai manifested social location when she told then-president Barack Obama that American “drone attacks are fueling terrorism.” For Yousafzai, terrorism is partly a byproduct of America. Terrorists are propelled to strike back against the country that consistently attacks their country.

Another interesting way to use social location in the context of sociology is to challenge certain perceptions. People believed that most of former president Donald Trump’s support came from uneducated, lower-class white voters. Yet evidence suggests that Trump had support from affluent Americans as well. Trump appealed to people from divergent social locations—well-off areas and destitute places. Here, social location underlies the complexities of sociology and how people from different spheres can act similarly.

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Social location is important because it acknowledges that all people in a society don't think alike or experience reality in the same way. Our perception of reality is shaped by a myriad of factors. These include our race, our gender, our socio-economic status, our geographical location, our ethnicity, and our level of education.

This is important because it counters the tendency of elites, who often have the biggest platforms from which to proclaim truth, to assume that their truth is the "objective" truth. Despite many advantages, people in more privileged positions can be blind to the social experience of those who have encountered discrimination or oppression. In addition, privilege can foster blindness: How could a person who has never been discriminated against understand the many subtle ways discrimination can harm a less privileged individual? If we acknowledge social location, we can be more mindful and intentional about involving as many perspectives as possible as we work on building a better society or understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the one we live in. In recent times, it has become more common to include less privileged groups in decision making about their own lives, rather than having public policy occur in a top-down matter, though that still also occurs.

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In sociology, the concept of social location refers to how groups in a society experience the interactive effects of intersecting social hierarchies. In other words, it is the sum effect of factors including race, gender, sex, socio-economic class, level of ability, sexuality, age, and geographic location on an individual's experiences, life chances, and worldview. Social location is important in the study of sociology because membership in different social groups often includes a set of societal roles and expectations relative to other groups, and can confer certain levels of privilege and power in society. Understanding the concept of social location lends to an understanding of how individual group membership or identity affects life experiences on a societal and interactive level. Social location explains the systematic, societal effects of a group's location in social hierarchies on those groups.

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