Introduction to Sociology

Sociology as a subject is related to social study comprising of the entire human society and the various models of relationships that exists within the society including the various interactions that happens within the boundaries of such society and the various types of cultures that encompasses the regular social life of human beings (Gottdiener, 2019). It is often termed as social science since various methods and models of study and experiments are being conducted and followed as a normal practice of studying this subject to carry out various practical experiments and critical evaluation to further develop the findings and understanding the concept of social changes how they have been influenced to bring out the changes in the society over a period of time. The main component of studying sociology is of course the social animal which comprises of such a society which is the human being (Fulton, Oyakawa, & Wood, 2019). The entire study of sociology or social science is developed keeping the human society at the epicenter and human beings are the prime subject of study in this subject. How and what induces the changes in the formation of a society and the role of humans in each and every change is the matter of vital study because without humans there would be no society so they form the corner stone of this subject and all observations, analysis and evaluation of human behavior in context of the human society has been the matter of study in sociology. So, the change of the human society from a very primitive stage till the present global pattern of human society all comes under the realm of sociology.

The study of social science or sociology is based on a few basic and fundamental key themes of social studies which are as follows:

1. Culture

2. Time, continuity and change

3. People, places and environment

4. Individual development and identity

5. Individual, groups and institutions

6. Power, authority and governance

7. Production, distribution and consumption

8. Science, technology and society

9. Global connections

10. Civic ideals and practices

In addition to these themes there are various other types of standpoints, viewpoints and frameworks of social studies to analyze and understand the various cause and effects of social behavior. One such important and vital theory of sociology is known as the standpoint theory which tends to challenge the traditional way of looking at the practices of studying social science and tries to look at it from a new and different perspective.

Standpoint Theory

This theory is very often termed as feminist approach to the practices and knowledge of social science studies. This theory believes that social position is the root of all knowledge (Etengoff, 2020). This theory challenges the orthodox viewpoints of social studies and claims that such traditional manner of assessing and analyzing social studies have undermined women as a whole and any sort of feminist thinking has been strongly denied and underestimated to be considered while studying social science. Many gives credit to the Marxist school of thoughts as the originator for this theory which strongly propagates that people from subjugated level of the society has special rights to certain knowledges to which the advantaged or upper class of the society has no access. This theory had a very strong impact on lot of feminist social writers particularly during the 70s and they started to work on finding that how disparity between men and women on the basis of gender biasness can affect the production of knowledge. This led to examining the root and nature of knowledge and focuses on the point that knowledge is ultimately the outcome of an individual’s social positioning (Gilroy, & Donelly,2016). When the society is divided and recognized and categorized by factors like gender, race and class then under such circumstances it is finally the social position of an individual that tends to decide the quantum of his knowledge.

In continuation to these outcomes it was further stated that women’s knowledge had long been undermined and ignored in the context of social studies. A lot many woman social science writers contended that it has always been convenient for those at the highest strata of the social hierarchy to not being able to see the real nature of relationships between humans and the raw facts of reality that exists in the society and hence they are never able to know the vital requirements of the social world.

On the contrary people at the lowest level of the social hierarchy have a much better view about the real needs of the society and in spite of being neglected these people are much better positioned to provide vital insights which can prove to be very useful to answer and explain various social and natural problems (Phillips, & Milner, 2017). This theory strongly stated that traditional approach of sociology has for long ignored and neglected the viewpoint of women whereas the theory claimed that experiences of women can be a very productive source of feminist knowledge based on their daily experiences and learnings and various new questions of sociology can be answered.

Southern Theory

Another very important viewpoint on social studies is the Southern theory which gives more importance to a global nature of the social science that consists of multiple social concepts going beyond the stereotype of boundaries of Europe and North America who always tends to dominate the field of social studies by always trying to establish and propagate their own theories leading majorly to ignoring and under estimating the social voices of those school of thoughts that arises from the regions outside to these dominant parts of the world (Morrell, 2016). It is termed Southern because it typically deals with the theories of social science that originated mainly from the southern part of the globe from places like Australia, South America, India, Africa and societies of other post-colonial nations which have provided important insights on various aspects of global social science. The origination of so many social science theories helped to gain greater understanding of social science and their relevant implementation in today’s global context of the society providing the capacity to alter the impact of the supremacy of urban influence on thoughts of social studies by shared respect and interaction of mutual knowledge and findings (Dados, & Connell 2016). This theory gives special importance to the discovery of various new lands, countries and continents and how the social science and social studies of those nations has actually influenced in shaping the present global pattern of social science studies.

As such they have mentioned discovery of Australia, Africa and South Africa nations and how they have been colonized by the European powers. The good and bad effects of colonization and how the mixture of the western social culture with those indigenous cultures gave rise to a new trend of social studies in which both the western and the new nations of “South” incorporated various changes and exchanges of social norms and practices and gave rise to a completely new set of social rules and gave rise to new models and structures of the society by abolishing lot of old social practices and creating and implementing new social practices which gave a completely new perspective to the global nature of social studies and sociology had an entirely new makeover from its traditional approach of studying social sciences which was totally dominated by the thoughts and theories of European and North American school of thoughts which now got replaced by knowledges of social studies imparted from various corners of the world ranging from Australia, Africa, South America to India and other Islamic nations, each contributed to these vast subject in their own capacity and thus giving a global outlook to sociology (Banerjee, & Connell,2018).

This theory tends to answer the causes and outcomes of global difference in terms of studying the social science where the practices and thoughts of the colonized societies were given prime importance and the experiences of those societies were being focused to put an end to the question of global difference by ending the imperialistic approach to social studies and bringing in and combining both the imperialistic and the colonial social studies into one so that various questions and issues related to the global context of social science can now be answered based on the incorporation of such new theories and practices.

Class and Inequality

One of the very important components of studying sociology is the study of class and inequality and how it impacts the balance of the society on the whole. Sociology makes a careful analysis of how class brings inequality among the society and how it shapes the factor of social inequality based on such uneven distribution of the social classes. In the typical language of sociology this is termed as stratification. Such a practice of class based social inequality is common in almost every society even in the interview we made we came to know that the grandma belonged to a well-off class of the society who had access to own car and good education (Korom, 2019). So, it shows that individuals from the higher class enjoy certain social privileges which are not available to the lower class people of the society and such inequality is the cause and effect of inequal distribution of wealth and power within the society which created such social inequalities of high, medium and low class.

Gender and Sex

Another prime factor of social stratification or differentiation is gender and sex. Both the terms are however synonymous in the context of sociology. The role of gender in sociology is used to denote the specified behavior, mindset and attributes related to a specific gender in terms of being a male or a female (Risman, 2018). The traits related to any specific gender are the outcome of learning as per the cultural or behavioural norms of that specific society. Gender is given extreme importance in the study of sociology because gender is directly related to the structuration of the society. What position an individual will enjoy in the society in the society is dependent purely on the gender of that individual (Sikka, 2018). As in the interview we saw that grandma was a rebel considering her social position of being a female, she was not supposed to do certain things, not supposed to behave in manners which were not socially acceptable for women to do, so that society decides how a male or a female should conduct herself or himself within the boundaries of the society. The entire social behavioural pattern is based on the gender of the individual.

Race and Ethnicity

Race is termed as the external differences between various social groups and cultures that differentiates one group of people from another while ethnicity is a common factor which binds many people together by means of language, culture, social practices and social beliefs. Both these factors have a huge influence on the study of social science.

Such race and ethnicity are the differentiating factor between societies and explains that why every society is different from one another (Stone, 2018). The roots and reasons for social difference are inherent to race and ethnicity. In the interview we can see the reflection of a lifestyle that was typical to the race and ethnicity to which grandma belonged to just imagine if she had an aboriginal origin then the entire dynamics of her external features as well as her tradition of social practices and social beliefs would have been entirely different from what she had shared in her interview. The twin factors, race and ethnicity are very vital in deciding the quantum of distributing wealth, power and opportunity and thereby leading to further social classifications based on such differentiating factors. Racial discrimination is one such burning example of establishing racial and ethnical supremacy within the frameworks of social structure.

Intersectionality

One of the most important frameworks of sociology for understanding that how the social and political characteristics of an individual like gender, race, class, sexuality etc. collectively leads to form typical basis of discrimination within the boundaries of the society. Intersectionality is a vital component in defining an individual’s identity in the context of social studies (Degnen, & Tyler,2017). All the above-mentioned characteristics decides how the individual would be identified in the society. The interview clearly showed us the identity and position of grandma in the context of intersectionality in her society. Such intersectionality is often the reason for social oppression where one part of the society tries to exercise their superiority based on such factors of intersectionality and which further leads to social violence and counter resistance from the oppressed parts of the society. The history of oppression on the black population by the white people is one of the most burning examples of such an effect of intersectionality.

Education

Since sociology deals predominantly with the organization and functions of the society hence education being an inherent part of each, and every social system becomes an integral part of sociology. So, education is one of the most important tools of sociology through which sociology tries to find the answer of the various questions that arises from studying this subject (Musgrave,2017). In the interview also grandma emphasized on her educational experiences which shows that education is an inseparable part of the society, such education might have been informal at the initial stages of the society but with the advent of time education has been an integral part of the social structure and due to which education has the closest tie with the study of sociology than any other sciences of social study. Under sociology education is considered as a social medium of uniting the social members under a specific institution within the social norms of the society.

Migration

Under the realms of sociology migration means movement of individuals or groups from one place to another and settling down in the new place mostly in permanent manner and that shifting takes place across geographical and political boundaries making the migrants a part of the new society where they settles and becomes a part of the new society (Jansen, 2016). It is also a matter of study that how that new society welcomes these migrants and helps them to be part of the new society with proper support from them. Such migration causes changes in the social studies which covers various aspects of sociology like assimilation, multiculturalism and social cohesion. It paves way for uniting of two different social cultures which has two sides, the migrants bringing in their social practices and rules while the place where they have migrated are already having an existing set of social practices and rules. So migration definitely brings in social cohesion between two different social cultures and can trace relation to ethnical differences while combining two different types of social practices within a single framework of the society.

Conclusion on Self and Society 

As per my opinion it can be inferred from the above discussions that sociology is one of the most relevant and important subjects of study in today’s global context and considering the various aspects which it covers helps us to know, identify, analyse and answer the reasons of social differences among the members of the society and how such differences arises and are answered using various methods of practical and theoretical investigation and experiments. I am also amazed by the fact that this subject solely considers human beings as their topic of study and that gives it a unique status among all the different subjects of study. Sociology as a subject is deeply linked to philosophy and history and are interrelated to each other in tracing the origin as well as the future progress of human society in the times to come.

References for Self and Society 

1. Gottdiener, M. (2019). New urban sociology. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Urban and Regional Studies, 1-5.

2. Fulton, B. R., Oyakawa, M., & Wood, R. L. (2019). Critical standpoint: Leaders of color advancing racial equality in predominantly white organizations. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 30(2), 255-276.

3. Sikka, T. (2018). Climate technology, gender, and justice: The standpoint of the vulnerable. Springer.

4. Etengoff, C. (2020). Repositioning cultural competency with clinical doctoral students: Unpacking intersectionality, standpoint theory, and multiple minority stress/resilience. Women & Therapy, 1-17.

5. Gilroy, J., & Donelly, M. (2016). Australian indigenous people with disability: Ethics and standpoint theory. In Disability in the Global South (pp. 545-566). Springer, Cham.

6. Phillips, W., & Milner, R. M. (2017). Decoding memes: Barthes’ punctum, feminist standpoint theory, and the political significance of# YesAllWomen. In Entertainment Values (pp. 195-211). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

7. Morrell, R. (2016). Making southern theory? Gender researchers in South Africa. Feminist Theory, 17(2), 191-209.

8. Dados, N., & Connell, R. (2016). Neoliberalism, Intellectuals and Southern Theory. In Global Knowledge Production in the Social Sciences (pp. 215-234). Routledge.

9. Banerjee, P., & Connell, R. (2018). Gender theory as southern theory. In Handbook of the sociology of gender (pp. 57-68). Springer, Cham.

10. Korom, P. (2019). A bibliometric visualization of the economics and sociology of wealth inequality: a world apart?. Scientometrics, 118(3), 849-868.

11. Risman, B. J. (2018). Gender as a social structure. In Handbook of the Sociology of Gender (pp. 19-43). Springer, Cham.

12. Stone, J. (2018). Race and ethnicity. Core Concepts in Sociology, 242.

13. Degnen, C., & Tyler, K. (2017). Amongst the disciplines: Anthropology, sociology, intersection and intersectionality. The Sociological Review, 65(1_suppl), 35-53.

14. Musgrave, P. W. (2017). The sociology of education (Vol. 40). Routledge.

15. Jansen, C. J. (2016). Readings in the Sociology of Migration: The Commonwealth and International Library: Readings in Sociology. Elsevier.

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