How does sociology help us to better understand how our own society functions?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sociology helps us better understand how our own society functions by exploring people's and groups' application of principles that govern society's interactions in the areas of communication, social structures (such as the family), economics, decision making and choice, distribution of resources, power structure (including religion and law), distribution of wealth, and ownership of resources. Sociology brings to light how society can best function in conflicts over sharing resources, defining priorities, and reaching agreed-upon goals.

Communication lies at the heart of sociological exploration because communication disseminates facts and the reasons for them to people, feelings between people, and charismatic confidence to people. Communication breaks down in the face of the convincing charisma that overreaches the impact of facts and their reasons. Understanding which forms of communication are most effective in spreading facts and reasons (instead of charisma or other influences) is one way sociology helps us better understand how our own society functions.

Another way among many that sociology helps us better understand the function of our own society is through identifying where people and industry fail to demonstrate the essential principles of such social functions as economics and human behavior, as, for example, in the economic principle that price cannot be held below costs and, in human behavior, that groups tend to shift responsibility from themselves off on to someone else. 

[Drawn from Charles Goodeve, "How Society Works."]