Development Of Sociology And Ideological Viewpoints Sociology Essay

Every society is dependent on people that comprise of both men and women who are responsible for every activity that is done by them; without people society has no existence. In the 19th century, sociologists started studying relationships between society and people’ interaction with it; it is studied under separate discipline known as “Sociology”. In other words, sociology is both scientific and systematic study of behaviors of human, society and social groups; sociologists are continuously striving to study the forces which are structural and institutional to determine their impact on people’s behaviors, lives, social values along with creation of socially defined structures and institutions (Bau, 2009).

Sociology is described both as a discipline and a practice that requires various attempts by sociologists to attend this field; they have to study people’s activities to note what they are doing on daily basis. It has been rightly stated by a Greek philosopher, cited by Dunn (2010) that sociology is a science that has accumulated every aspect of human’s life; various facets of human interactions have emerged into different subjects or disciplines and that is why sociology is considered as the basics of all social sciences. According to UNESCO (2010), people prefer to assemble so that they can form families, tribes, groups, organizations, nations and communities which can even go beyond boundaries at national level.

As people decide to form groups, they have to make various conscious and oblivious choices regarding sacrifices for their freedom on individual level; at same time, various social benefits can be deduced during this process. The interdependency between individual and society is the main area of focus for every sociologist and they have been trying to study the relationship among people which is known as “social imagination”; it is a mind’s quality which develops an understanding about people in larger society’s context (Anderson, 2006).

Development of Sociology and ideological viewpoints in Sociology

As a result of changing social climate, many developments took place in field of sociology; some problems were observed in worldwide industrialization, immigration, urbanization and changes in intellectual climate and they initiated the need of finding explanations that were impacting social, economic and political sectors in United States and Europe (Dholokia & Wilcox, 2010).

The word ‘sociology’ was coined by a French philosopher “Auguste Comte” in 1839 who is recognized worldwide as father of sociology. The term “Sociology” is basically combination of Latin word ‘Socius’ which means ‘society’ with Greek work ‘Logus’ which means ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’ (Dunn, 2010). According to Auguste Comte, sociology is defined as ‘science of society’; it is the study of societies, groups and social life of humans and it is a discipline that focuses on understanding human behavior as part of social life. Comte focused on positivism which emphasizes on analyzing society by using methods such as experimentation, historical evaluation, observation and comparison. His major contribution is identification of two major areas of sociology, social statics and social dynamics; social statics focus on stable elements such as social structure that can be easily found in societies, while, social dynamics focus on changes that happen on social level. Both of these factors contributed in development of structural functionalist perspective (Bau, 2009).

Harriet Martineau contributed to sociology by introducing first and thorough sociological treaty on social life of American people and did comparison among social stratifications of America and Europe by the name “Society in America”. Her major contribution is translation of Comte’s Introduction to Positive Philosophy in English language; she even realized the need of ending inequality that existed between women and black people. Likewise, Herbert Spencer introduced the idea of evolution which was introduced before Darwin coined the phrase ‘phrase of the fittest’; his philosophy is referred to as Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism is based on the concept that societies get evolved like living organisms that evolve with time while getting adapted to environment that is changing at an accelerating rate.

Emile Durkheim did a lot of work in field of sociology by establishing it as a vital part of academic discipline. According to the sociologist, there are a lot of social bonds that exist among various societies which are classified as mechanical solidarity and social solidarity. Durkheim believed that pre-modern and agrarian societies are held together by the mechanical solidarity which is a form of social bond that ensures that beliefs and traditions shared by a group have a sense of social cohesion. On the other hand, societies that are industrial ones are held together in the form of organic solidarity which is a social bond that is based on division of labor which creates interdependence and rights for individuals (Bau, 2009).

A German philosopher Karl Marx made major contribution in sociology by working on conflict theory; he lived during Industrial Revolution era when societal changes were taking place at an increasing rate and concept of capitalism emerged from his work which is the economic system that formed basis of private organizations and sector. Marx had a viewpoint that capitalism was causing class conflict and social inequality in between bourgeoisie who were the owners of factors of production (land, natural resources, money and factories) and proletariat who were the workers. His work also gave foundation to functionalist perspective of sociology. Max Weber contributed to field of sociology by studying the shift from traditional society into modern industrial society. Weber emphasized on rationalization process by studying application of economic logic to every activity of human as a result of the development of bureaucratic society (Dholakia & Wilcox, 2010).

Theoretical perspectives in sociology

In sociology field, there are three major theoretical perspectives in which all theories are classified that are Structural Functionalism Perspective, Conflict Perspective and Symbolic Interactionism Perspective. According to Structural Functionalism Perspective, society is viewed as a social system that comprises of interdependent parts and all of these elements have to fulfill vital functions to enhance effective operation. The origin of this perspective can be traced back to works contributed by Comte, Durkheim and Spencer. According to Dunn (2010), society is composed of a system that has interrelated parts or structures that are basically large-scale institutions which form society like family, politics, education and economy; each of these various parts have to meet society’s needs and when they work together they create a whole system in the form of society.

The concept of conflict theory emerged from the works of Marx who emphasized that social change and society are the basis of social conflict. Marx viewed society with materialistic viewpoint in which people try to maintain their status quo and in order to retain the same status, conflicts arise between people. According to conflict theory, conflict arises when there is disparity in resources both material such as wealth and property and immaterial such as ideology, power and identity of groups. All theories falling in this perspective have macro-oriented view and they emphasize on the structure of society that how it is originated and functions; structure of society is mainly controlled by cultural, social and economic assets. Capital is the main element in conflict theory that enables people to get positions of power in both private and public sectors in which structures are created which disseminate their interest and power (Bau, 2009).

The most modern perspective that is shaping the field of sociology these days is Symbolic Interactionism Perspective (Dunn, 2010). According to this theory, society is similar to a stage where people are the ones who define and redefine their interpretations as they do interaction with one another. The theorists of Symbolic Interactionism perspective view interaction and interpretation or meaning as foundation of society; it is assumed that meanings are created by interaction and they are not inbuilt. This perspective has proven to be highly prominent perspective of 21st century (Bau, 2009).

It is a belief that Symbolic Interactionism is a process in which things are constructed by people as human beings behave towards concepts, values and ideas on their basis of meaning which things have for them, all these meanings are results of interaction that take place in society and they can be filtered and revamped via a process that is interpretive which is used by each individual to deal with signs of outward level (UNESCO, 2010).

Issue of diversity

As a result of globalization, mobility has increased which has created an environment in which people from various cultures, religions, nationalities, ethnic backgrounds and races are forming part of society; such diverse culture is raising demand of creation of society in which everyone is given equal and fair treatment. There are many sociological researches that have indicated that every American is acknowledging diversity importance and well-known conceptions are ambiguous that reflect more on political correctness rather than understanding the existence of diversity (Bau, 2009). It is important for people to realize that social issues cannot be viewed solely by focusing on simple terms such as good or evil, white or black and right or wrong; diversity issue can be tackled only by understanding values, viewpoints, beliefs and lifestyles of people who have different ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, races, religions and cultures.

In order to understand diversity that exists in society, research should focus to make a sample that comprise of people of both sexes, complete range of roles of each gender, wide variety of groups such as ethnic and racial, diverse range of physical and mental abilities, various sexual orientations and many representatives from various political, cultural, religious and national affiliations along with social classes (Dholakia & Wilcox, 2010). Therefore, sociologists are taking interest in various variables like age, sex, social class, race and other social characteristics such as interaction on social level and society structure in which people are living. Hence, social diversity is being studied by many sociologists so that various aspects of social life can be questioned which is the basics of sociological thinking.

Impact of media on public attitudes

According to all three perspectives of sociology i.e. Structural Functionalist, Conflict and Symbolic Interactionism, media has impacted the way in which people view groups belonging to specific race, nationality and religion; it has high power in influencing people’s perceptions about various groups. Media has both benefits and drawbacks that have affected people’s attitudes towards diverse groups. With the help of various communication tools such as Television, Internet, Newspapers, Magazines, Conferences and alike, various critical issues can be heightened such as natural disasters, instability in society and war. As a result of various media activities, passivity has been encouraged, stereotyping is promoted, people are provided fake and inaccurate information, physical activity has been discouraged and critical thinking skills have been affected to a considerable extent (Dunn, 2010).

For instance, when 9/11 incident took place, Muslims were condemned worldwide and it was imposed by media that every Muslim should never be trusted and a stereotype was created about Muslims; this image was wrongly portrayed by various mediums of communication. However, when people protested about inequality between men and women and black and white people, the government took necessary steps by passing a law that there should be no discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, lifestyle, ethnic background, religion and nationality. Therefore, it can rightly said that media has power of influencing patterns of people’s thinking mechanism and even their attitudes towards various diverse people (Bau, 2009).

Subtle cues impacting Individual’s thinking about social structures and patterns

The sociologists have rightly pointed out that media plays an increasing role in creating social structures and patters that are preferred by powerful people of the society. According to Symbolic Interactionism perspective, media has the ability of defining situation in shortest possible time; some of the most effective tools are films, videos, advertisements and posters that have been used to create images about certain groups of society. All tools of communication create subtle cues that tend to impact their thinking about structures and patterns of society. For instance, when posters related to some ethnic group are posted to highlight their role in society, they will create certain images in minds of people which form subtle cues.

Hence, in these days, various communication tools are being used in media to create awareness in the market; politicians even stage various media events so that they can create popularity of various important agenda and promote careers. Every activist organization and social movement organization has a website so that it can form images in people’s minds and promotes its mission and primary business objectives. Therefore, films and critiques even communicate information both real and overt that impact societal attitudes, patterns and structures. People get influenced by films and try to implement the things learnt from such videos in their real lives; it is vital for them to make sure that they accept right messages and implement those cultural aspects that will impact their culture. Therefore, media has played an important role in shaping societal patterns, structures and culture.

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