How does sociology help us to understand social issues like crime, poverty, and national development?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Sociology helps us to understand social issues like these because it requires us to think about the ways in which our society affects these issues.  We cannot just think about individuals and their traits.  Instead, we have to consider societal institutions and other macro-level factors that affect the issues.

If it were not for sociology, we might tend to think of poverty and crime as issues that were solely related to individual shortcomings.  We might say that people become poor because they lack the drive to succeed.  We might say that people turn to crime because they were not brought up properly or because they were born with some sort of lack of character.  Sociology allows us to think about poverty and crime more intelligently.  We can look at how a lack of good educational opportunities can lead to poverty even among people who have good character.  We can look at how poverty makes crime more likely.  In other words, we can look at macro-level factors to help us gain a more thorough understanding of why people come to commit crimes or to have low socioeconomic status.

Sociology can help us to understand national development in a slightly different way.  In this case, it helps us to understand the ramifications of such development.  Sociology helps us to think about the ways in which countries’ societies change as they develop and it helps us think about the ways in which those changes will affect those countries’ people.

In these ways, sociology helps us to have a better understanding of various social issues.

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