Sociology impacts everyone’s life as long as they are part of society. Through social studies, one is able to understand the fundamental concept of culture, economics, and politics.
The emergence of sociology was a product of combining space and time dimensions. The conflicts between the advanced forces and the feudal forces, the rapid development of social science, the desire of the bourgeoisie to get much more interests and freedom, and the specific historical factors, combined together to make philosophes think profoundly about ourselves, which pulled as well as pushed the sociology to a scholarly discipline.
As for the social forces, it was a coefficient outcome of the feudal social forces like the authority institutions, the kings, the churches, and the advanced social forces like the philosophes, the bourgeoisie, the working class, the noble, the professors, the journalists and so on to develop the sociology.
Karl Marx, the very important thinker in sociology, believed that capitalism in the economy determines the social and moral problems that they will have in the future, and that it also determined who they will encounter in the future. He was mostly concerned with the economic and social changes that were happening during this time. Much like Marx, Max Weber was also concerned with the changes that were being made. Weber agreed that capitalism played a huge role, but also thought that the part of the government that made decisions, the bureaucracies, was also was affecting social relations.
Last but most certainly not least, I will be talking about Èmile Durkheim. He played a very important role in sociology and was one of the first to write about the idea of “social facts”. He believed that things that people do every day and the conditions and circumstances that they have grown up in determines the way their life will play out. He truly believed that by collecting data of divorce and suicide rates, it is easy to tell how a group of people in a specific society will live their lives.
During the late nineteenth century, many political, economic and social transformations were taking place. Because of this, there were many important “social facts” that captured the interest of many thinkers in the early stages of sociology. There were many patterns of social life that sociologists like Auguste Comte, Harriet Martineau, Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. The first one I am going to be talking about is August Comte, a Frenchman because he is known to be the sociologist who created the word sociology. Comte concluded that along with sciences like physics, chemistry, etc.… our society should also be studied scientifically. He concluded that just like these sciences, our society needed to make changes that were based on solid evidence and true facts rather than just opinion.
Harriet Martineau was the first female sociologist, who was responsible for translating August Comte’s work from French to English. Through doing this, she began to develop her own interests in “social facts” that were established. She came to the conclusion that in order to understand a society, all features must be studied. For example, she began studying women, children, marriage, religion, suicide, relationships between social classes. Before her, most of these issues were often ignored and she set a precedent for others to study these issues as well.
In my opinion, a significant “social fact” is women giving birth. I think this is significant at this moment in history because I feel as though the age that women want to have children is becoming older rather than younger. In older days, women would have children at a very young age because society expected them to be mothers and wives. At this moment in history, women are going to school, working and being more independent now more than ever. It fits the definitions by Durkheim because women in society feel pressured to have children at a young age because of old norms and patterns in societies. We should be compelled to study this social fact because women should be able to feel no pressure when it comes to making a decision as to when they want to be a mother.
One concept from Sociology that I consider being vital to everyone is Family. A family is defined as a group of people related by marriage, adoption, or blood. I personally would add to that definition and say that family is the people who make your place feel like home. In every family, everyone has a role, and as a result that creates role expectations. I was born in a former Soviet Union country, and in communist countries, everyone had a specific role expectation. For example, women are wives, stay-at-home moms, and the ones who cook and clean. The further away Communism was gone, I saw changes in role expectations and norms, and I have especially seen that when I moved across the globe to the United States. To speak about another difference that I have seen in the United States compared to back in Europe where I was born would be socialization. Something else that happens when one is moving from one place to another is desocialization. At first glance, this might seem like a bad thing but I think it is necessary. In order to live peacefully in a new place, it is necessary to give up some old norms, beliefs, attitudes and to adopt new ones and that would be called resocialization.
When I moved to the US, I had to go through the process of socialization and adapt to this new life by dressing a bit differently, eating a little differently, and also learning a new language. Along the same lines, when moving to the US, it was the time that I realized how my culture is different from other people’s culture and it was such a big shock that there are so many cultures present here in the US, yet people have a way of all living beautifully and peacefully together. Another concept from sociology that made me think a lot is social class. I have asked a bunch of my friends what social class they are or they think they are and I got only one response across the board, “MIDDLE CLASS”! After that I was thinking, is middle class really the only class existent, and is it possible to move up? Or is it that we like to say we are part of the middle class to comfort ourselves? Another feeling I have dealt with is ethnocentrism. In my mind, my culture is the best and I used to judge other cultures with a bias in mind and in order to break this habit, it took a long time and effort.
I have seen that the study of Sociology has helped me understand better myself and also the society I live in, and Sociology is indeed a big part of my life and there are things I have been doing my entire life that have Sociology terminologies that I was not even aware of. Another concept that is relevant is Structural-Functional theory. This theory talks about how in order for race and ethnic relations to be functional, minorities have to assimilate and get along, and I think that can especially be seen when living in America, which is made up of different races, cultures, and ethnicities.
To conclude, Sociology proves that people’s behaviors have a logic behind it and thankfully, throughout time there have been people who took their time and effort to study these behaviors and as a result, we have Sociology, which helps us live our lives better and gives us a better understanding of the society.
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