What is Sociology?

Some say that Sociology is “about people”. This description is undoubtedly valid but also suitably applicable to the disciplines of biology, psychology and such like. So what is it that gives Sociology its unique character? A question which reoccurs among sociologists and non-sociologists time and time again…

As in my previous post, Sociology embodies a certain means of theorising society; its relationships, structures and ambivalences. The subject matter is ubiquitous in that it can be found in everyday life which renders it a relevant but vast field of study. One of the third year modules I studied, Humans and Other Animals, is evocative of the assumption that Sociology’s sole concern is people. As one of the most engaging topics of my degree, discussion revolved around the social significance of non-human animals for culture and the conceptualisation of relations in terms of offering us resources (as food), companionship (as friends) or leisure (as fun). The value of sociological concerns such as these, is rooted in uncovering the injustices and the misconceptions which lurk in our shadow.

Arguably, gender is one of the most prevalent tenets today in its centrality to mundane routine and as a stimulus for thinking sociologically. In submitting forms, visiting the bathroom or choosing clothes, we think gender. A common sense view of gender may be that it is a natural difference, a notion which is reproduced and is damaging for overlooking the social construct and the social impact of relations. To what extent have we reflexively understood the choices we make and how far are our lives mapped out for us by norms and expectations? The interplay between individual troubles and social issues, outlined by C Wright Mills (yes, I am obsessed with this guy), I think is one of the easiest ways of describing Sociology. When the personal becomes a pattern persisting in the public (tongue-twister alert), there must be something of the context to be discussed - this is the job of Sociology.

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