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Sociology - Key Perspectives

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Assignment 2 - Key Perspectives in Sociology a) Common sense is a person's own sound judgment after a simple perception of the situation or facts based upon what is believed to be knowledge held by the general population or mankind as a whole, such as grass is green or the sky is blue during the daytime. It is what we believe to be true, from personal experience. But it is not necessarily the case and has no particular research to back it up - and can reflect a degree of personal prejudice. This differs greatly from Sociology. The simplest definition of sociology is "the study of people in social groups" (Paul Taylor et al. 2005 P.1). Study being the operative word. Sociology is the study of public issues to do with social institutions, social groups and societies as a whole in a systematic way, providing research and evidence to back up its theories and insights. b) i) Sociologists use two broad kinds of research. There are the quantitative methods, numerical and statistical, which are considered to be the more scientific methods of research. This usually takes the form of surveys, which involves written questionnaires or structured interviews. ...read more.


Details of results and trends are available online for public viewing. The survey takes the form of an interview. A sample of approximately 13,000 addresses is selected each year from the Postcode Address File. There is a 72% response rate. All adults aged 16 and over are interviewed in each responding household. Demographic and health information is also collected about children in the household. (www.statistics.gov.uk) c) The sociological imagination is an idea supported by German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) and a term more recently expressed by the American sociologist C. Wright Mills in 1959. It suggests that people look at their own private troubles as public issues and, in general, try to connect their own individual experiences with the workings of society. Mills believed the sociological imagination was important to anyone who wanted to understand, change and improve their lives.The sociological imagination allows people to distinguish between personal troubles and public issues. Unemployment, war, and marriage are examples where tension between private trouble and public issues becomes apparent. For example, very specific circumstances might lead to one person becoming unemployed, but when unemployment rates in society as a whole rise, it becomes a public issue that needs to be explained. ...read more.


Functionalists examine a part of society in terms of its contribution to the social system. Social order is one of the main concerns of functionalist theory. Functionalists believe that a certain degree of social order, or social unity is essential to the smooth running of society. Shared norms and values provide general guidelines for behaviour and each area of society plays its part, or function, in teaching and reinforcing these norms and values. For example the family socialises new members of society and begins to teach the shared norms and values, which is then reinforced by the education system and maintained by the legal system. Functionalists recognize the existence of conflict and social disorder, but see them as a temporary disturbance to the social system. With differences in interest between social groups being minor in comparison to their common values. Functionalism, like Marxism, is criticised for picturing human beings as a product of the social system, lacking in free-will, initiative and creativity. Functionalist theories are also accused of being teleological, in that they explain a phenomenon's causes in terms of its effects - which logically seems to be the wrong way round. It also appears to presume the degree of value consensus in a society, and ignores the fact that a high degree of value consensus will not necessarily promote social solidarity. (Paul Taylor et al. 2005 P.15/671) (Haralambos and Holborn 2004 P. ...read more.

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