Sociology is an intriguing study. It explains and examines human life at personal, societal and global level. The main subject of concern in sociology is human interaction with fellow human and institutions. Sociology gives explanation for world’s happenings such religion, politics, environment and peace. Similarly with other area of study, sociology has its strengths and weaknesses.
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The strengths include enhancement of self awareness and national cohesion and integration while weaknesses include huge consumption of time and resources. Over time sociology experts have tried to explain why the societies struggle with racism, stigma, and sexism among others.
What is sociology?
Briefly the term sociology can be defined as the study of how humans relate with each other and with institutions. The subject of sociology is broad and can be discussed from different angles. Some of the angles of discussion range from religion to crime, state to family, tribalism to racism, culture to traditions. And all these aspects have special contribution to sociology.
Thus this diversity serves is a key ingredient to its wealth of experience and exploration. This underscores the point that indeed sociology is a very intriguing study subject. Essentially sociology is a pillar of understanding human behavior and its contribution in shaping the societal and cultural systems.
This paper presents a detailed discussion of what is sociology, and its strengths and weakness. The paper goes further to elucidate the role of racism, sexism, stereotypes, and stigma in the society.
Holistically sociology can be an illuminating and intriguing field of learning. This is because it tries to elucidate and analyze vital aspects affecting our personal lives, our society, and our world. A look at how important sociology is at personal level is that sociology tries to explain the cause and effect of what we may term as normal, our daily engagements.
Naturally human beings easily get acquainted with daily activities and rarely care about explanation for the underlining factors behind these normal activities.
Sociology comes handy and offers explanation of the causes and repercussions of these recurring deeds such as falling in love, gender and racial identity, deviant behavior, family differences and conflicts, growing up and aging, religious beliefs and faith, among others (Hutton-Mills & Walker, 2003).
At the societal point sociology explicates and examines subjects such as law and crime, wealth and poverty, discrimination and prejudice, education and school, business engagements and developments, rural and urban movements in the society (Vivian & Riggs, 1992). All these topics are encountered at several points in life. Unfortunately only a few of us can give details behind them.
The rest of us it is business as usual. In addition sociology offers critical explanations for matters such as peace and war, economic stability, population growth, technological innovation, and environmental factor. These happenings are directing affecting the world at a global scale.
General sociology entails the process of gathering and analyzing evidences that surrounds social undertakings of different people. The collected information constitutes the backbone of sociology. To accomplish this task, sociologist use different research methods depending on their end goal. It is in this sense that drives sociologist t to be the most observant people around us.
This is because every detail about what is happening within or without is a matter of concern (Hutton-Mills & Walker, 2003). Apart from observation, other key approaches used in gathering information include undertaking surveys. These surveys could be in large or small scale.
The others are interviewing participants from different groups, recording of video-taped dialogues, analyzing census data, and conducting experiments in laboratories.
The study of sociology is not a standalone entity. Rather it closely relates with other fields of study such as anthropology and other fields dealing with human living. This relationship strengthens sociology in terms of development, analysis, and simulation of concepts.
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Also enables researchers in sociology not to reinvent the will and instead build on the functional concepts. A better understanding and informed knowledge of society therefore enhances academic and practical preparations to face the ever evolving and complex society (Vivian & Riggs, 1992).
Strengths and Weaknesses of Sociology
Generally the study of sociology has the following strengths:
Sociology is a key study that offers enlightening and distinctive ways and means of understanding and turning societal factors for the good of the community. This knowledge helps us to look at ourselves beyond selfishness, tribalism, racism lines but instead focus on deeper and important aspects of life. The discipline of acquiring right social perspective, culture, relationships goes a long way to shape our lives now and days to come.
A person who is aware of his or her social well being is likely not to be caught up in absurd behaviors of self destruction or destruction of the community’s resources. This kind of a person is expected to have self-respect and also respect other people as a matter of principle.
Living in a generation where self awareness is not a celebrated thing, I think it is the high time we started teaching the young generation the essence of self awareness. Because when they become aware of whom they are and understand the environment they live in, in retro respect they shall know how to cope up with strains that cometh with occurrences culture shock and generation gaps (Vivian & Riggs, 1992).
National integration and cohesion
No man is an island. We all need one another. The prosperity of any society depends mainly not on individual’s success but communal success. National development indexes are based not on isolated cases of growth but on corporate and national growth and development. Therefore in as much as personal and individual growth is good and encouraged, in some sense it is limitative.
The sense of belonging to a community is paramount to the achievement of national and international cohesion and integration. Gone are days that people looked forward to interact, trade, marry each other. Instead we are living at a time when people are actually afraid of their neighbors and to make the matter worse they even do not know them. Appreciation of who lives near us is a responsibility we cannot run away from.
One wise man once said that together we are stronger and divided we are weaker. Indeed we have more reasons to be together than to separate and live to pay attention or care for our lives only. Looking at the International front the increase in acts such terrorism and civil wars could be attributed to lack of sociology knowledge or deficiency of social skills.
Exposure to knowledge and information
As they say ignorance is no defense and lack of knowledge leads to destruction. Our society has and will continue paying dear price for lacking adequate information especially about the current society. The current societies and the world at large is turning to be a knowledge and information based.
This implies that anyone or any quarter happens to be left behind by these new developments will be dislocated from the rest of the world society. Realities of phenomena such as digital divide have come to pass and next who knows it could be societal divide. Meaning those with little or no social information shall be at a disadvantaged state to develop and match with the rest of the world.
In addition, sociology is important to the academic world. Students thoroughly trained in sociology are well versed with critical thinking skills. These skills enable them enquire the right research questions. They are better placed to come up with well researched projects. And this is done through careful collection and analysis of empirical data and keen compilation of findings.
Still of great importance is that persons who are well equipped with sociology information can help others understand themselves better as well the environment around them. This information is vital because it helps people understand the impact of their actions and intentions.
After a clear discussion about the strengths of sociology, it is only fair if we look at the other side of the coin. Because every good thing has a bad side unless it is imaginary or doesn’t exist. The weaknesses of sociology include the following:
Consumption of time and resources
Researchers spend a lot of time and resources carrying out studies on sociology. These studies do not always come to fruition. Some researches flop incurring losses in terms of finances, and human capital. These resources could be used alternatively to facilitate other projects of priority. In addition some researchers have ended up with false conclusions.
This is misleading not just the research fraternity but the rest of the world. This has downgraded sociology as an area of study. As they say half truth is dangerous than no truth. In this sense therefore the study of sociology could be viewed as a liability rather than asset.
Wrong impression of people or institutions
In a way sociology can lead us to have a wrong impression of ideal picture of a real man or woman. We can be driven to ignore the fact that we do not live in a world of idealism but real world. And so we can be forced to expect perfection from people.
This is a pure recipe of disappointment and failure. After spending a lot of time reading various materials about sociology which include watching sociology related films, reading books and magazine talking about sociology, and interacting with colleagues and experts, we can develop an attitude of over depending on institutions and over expecting perfection from our fellow human (Hutton-Mills & Walker, 2003).
The truth about life is that mistakes and weaknesses are part of our creation and throwing them below the carpet shall not help much to better the situations.
I think the more we learn to appreciate people and situations in the perspective that they can fail or disappoint the more real we become to ourselves and society around us. Unrealistic expectations syndrome is a feature that we need to cope up with as we delve into deeper sociological developments.
Lack of responsibility and commitment
Having explanation of why people behave in a certain way and repercussions of their deeds can somehow erode the sense of commitment and responsibility. In some cases one could be weighed down by the desperation of mess and rot in the society and therefore feel there isn’t much he or she can do to make things better.
In other situations, there is a feeling of doing so much for people who do not appreciate the effort and sacrifice made. Therefore it is like spending your life to grow and develop people at your expense. As they say if you cannot beat them join them. It is easy to give up and give in to been committed and responsible for people’s life.
The role of racism, sexism, stereotypes, and stigma in sociology
According to social theorists dealing with sexism, racism and various forms of inequality, these cases can be attributed to deficiency of correct social knowledge. A complex analysis of the above mentioned traits closely relates them to oppression of some kind.
These oppressing trends always lead to discrimination of the subordinated persons while at the same time unfairly exhorting the privileged groups in the society. Some examples of subordinated groups include the heterosexuals, and persons living with disability, while the privileged include the affluent, the talented, and public figures (Hutton-Mills & Walker, 2003).
Majority of sociologists dealing with social theories relate prejudice and discrimination as the capital causes of stigma in the society. This school of thought explains why many people consciously or unconsciously get aligned to some sort of labeling process that subsequently result to stereotyping. Stereotypes are do more harm than good to the issue of social well being.
This is because they highly contribute to loss of one’s social status and thus reducing life options for people to be treated with respect and worth regardless of shortcomings and defects. Three levels of oppression are believed to exist; they include oppression at individual level. This is when socialize and accept stereotype as part of their lifestyle.
They live to internalize the theory of superiority and inferiority complexities about certain groups of people. The next level of oppression at institutional level, in this level policies and practices of religion, media, healthcare, and legal matters are negatively instigated to oppress members of a certain background. The third level is at cultural level, this is based on some underlying cultural rules, symbols and beliefs.
Research supports the notion to label people groups requires access to social power and acceptance. Some experts have gone ahead to explain why the inclusion of advanced macro-level and meso-level variables are key contributors to enhancement of stigma.
The subject of sociology is wide and can be discussed from different angles. Some of the aspects that can be used to define sociology ranges from religion to crime, state to family, tribalism to racism, culture to traditions. Holistically sociology is an illuminating and intriguing field of study that elucidates and analyses vital aspects affecting our personal lives, our society, and our world.
Essentially sociology entails the process of gathering and analyzing evidence that surrounds social undertaking of different people. The strengths of sociology include self awareness, national cohesion and interaction, and exposure to knowledge and information.
The weaknesses are consumption of time and resources, wrong impression of institutions, and lack of commitment and responsibility. According to social theorists dealing with sexism, racism and various forms of inequality can be attributed to deficiency of sociology information.
Hutton-Mills, F. & Walker, L. (2003). Devil’s Playground. United Kingdom. Winstar Cinema.
Vivian, K. & Riggs, M. (1992). Color Adjustment. United States. California Newsreel.