The Sociological Imagination

Sociology can be defined as effort to comprehend and clarify the way that certain individuals or groups interrelate within a society. Sociology is a social science that uses different methods of experimental investigations as well as vital scrutiny to develop and purify a body of acquaintance about human societal activity. It is a subject that examines social and cultural norms that form interrelations within communities. A culture provides people with a set of familiar understandings that they use in designing their mode of doing things. A culture enables a society to thrive by providing the same framework of meaning. Norms are social regulations that specify proper and improper conducts during certain circumstances and situations. Norms create a means by which we familiarize ourselves with other people. Most sociologists have a goal of conducting research which could be functional directly to social guidelines and welfare while another group produces entirely academic theory which could be compared to that of philosophy. Sociologists disagree in their understanding of the notion, but some significant similarities exist in their works.

Sociological imagination is the ability to shift from one viewpoint to another. This could be from psychological to the political, from studying of a single family to relative evaluation of the state budgets of various countries in the world or from examination of the oil industry to the studies of modern poetry (Mills, 1959). Sociological imagination is thus the clear consciousness or the association between skill and the wider society. It could also be described as the understanding that societal results are designed by social environment, actors and social procedures. This is the precise understanding that some actions in the community may lead to certain outcomes. The actors could be such things as norms and motives while the social environment could be country and time period. Social procedures are things that could be done and in the process affect other people. The things that people do are often fashioned by the situation they are in, the values they possess, the way those around them act and how all that is related to some kind of outcome.

Sociology is not only topically but also systematically a very wide subject. Its traditional focal point has included social class and mobility, secularism and law. Since all areas of human life are intertwined with sociology, it has over time expanded its spotlight to other disciplines such as health, military, medical, the internet and punitive institutions. The range of social systematic methods has also widely expanded. Social examiners draw upon different quantitative and qualitative practices. The language and culture transformation at the middle of the twentieth century led to more and more interpretive, philosophic and hermeneutic approaches to societal analysis. In addition, there has been a rise in the development of new mathematically, analytically and computationally rigorous practices in the recent years such as social network analysis. Sociology should however not be confused with different common social studies courses which have no relationship with traditional social hypothesis and social science research style.

Sociological perspectives are theories that help us to study aspects of our social environment in ways that go beyond the common knowledge. As we continue looking at the outer manifestation of our social world, we find that other levels of reality do actually exist. There are several different sociological perspectives in existence as has been divided by experts. Modern sociologists admit three different theoretical perspectives, or ways in which we can look at how different social experiences are interrelated. The three are the functionalist, the symbolic interactions and the conflict perspectives.  The functionalist perspective also referred to as structural perspective sees the society as a structure.  Functionalists classify the structural distinctiveness and functions and dysfunctions of institutions and differentiate manifest from latent functions. They also believe that most members of a community share a consensus as far as their beliefs and values are concerned. The conflict perspective is inspired by the work of Karl Marx and states that the system of the community and the temperament of social relations are the result of past and ongoing disagreements. Finally, the interaction perspective argues that society is made because people possess the ability to communicate with each other using symbols. They say that we do something towards people, events or objects based on the meanings we convey to them. That is how the term ‘constructed reality’ was arrived at.

The understanding of the sociology perspectives helps one in identifying cultures and norms of other people and thus, it is possible to peacefully co-exist. Let us look at sociological perspective towards religion as an example and how it helps in understanding our social as well as personal lives. Religion forms one of the strongest, intensely felt and significant forces in the human race. It has designed relationships with one another, influencing family, financial and political life. Religious faiths and morals inspire human action with spiritual groups manifesting their combined religious expressions. It forms an important aspect of societal life, and the social element is a vital part of religion. Sociologists study religion for mainly two reasons. One is that religion is a significant object for sociological study because of its authority on people and the people’s impacts on religion. Examination of this vibrant relationship requires studying the interdependence of believes and other societal aspects, which may mean analyzing seemingly simple ways of understanding collective actions. The other reason is that religion is crucial to many people and religious practices are crucial elements of almost all individuals. Values that are based on faith influence a number of people together with their actions and in addition, religious interpretations help them deduce their experiences. 

Sociologists study the social world in different ways in order to realize correct and reliable results. These could be divided in to two major categories namely quantitative and qualitative designs. Quantitative design tries to study social issues using quantifiable substantiation and most of the time depends on numerical analyses of several cases in order to develop legitimate and dependable general claims. Qualitative design on the other hand stresses on the proper understanding of the social status through direct surveillance, communication with accomplices or analysis of texts. Qualitative design may prioritize appropriate and prejudiced accuracy over generalization. Sociologists do not agree towards the support for particular study techniques. The disagreements are related to the epistemological disputes that were experienced at the historical foundation of social theory. Though very diverse in many characteristics, both quantitative and qualitative methods use a systematic interface involving theory and data. Quantitative designs however, are dominant in sociology particularly in the United States. In the two most cited journals that cover the discipline, quantitative articles have beaten qualitative ones in numbers over the years by a factor of two. (Hunter & Leahey, 2008).  A number of textbooks on social research have been written in the quantitative design and the term methodology is mostly used identically with statistics. In essence, all people pursuing a PhD in sociology are required to be trained in statistical methods.

The method to use on a research is often chosen on the basis of the research being carried out. For instance, in a research that intends to draw an arithmetical generalization across the total population, one may need to give an assessment questionnaire to a sample population that represents the entire group. On the other hand, a research that seeks to get full contextual understanding of a person’s societal actions may require an open end interview or ethnographic partaker observation. Sometimes it is not unusual to find researches that have combined both techniques for some reasons. Using systematic research, such as the scientific method in conducting research has several advantages. Some of the advantages include the accuracy of information collected. For instance data collection using audio video taking can reveal other information that would not have been said or written. This is through facial expression and tone variation which may depict different feelings (Haney, Banks & Zimbardo, 1973).  Another notable advantage is the uniformity in the prototype of relationships which materialize across a variety of measuring instruments and different observers. This means that not much of special analysis will be required.

In conclusion, sociology is a subject that tries to uncover people’s interrelations across different cultures. It uses different systems of experiential exploration and critical study to develop information about human social lives. Sociology is a very wide subject covering almost all spheres of human life. These include religion, social class, social mobility, law and secularization. It continues to widen its scope to other areas such as health, military, medicine and the internet.  Sociology mainly uses two designs in research performing. These are qualitative and quantitative methods. Quantitative is more used than qualitative according to research but sometimes, it is necessary to use both.  Using systematic research carry advantages of integrity and accuracy of the information collected as well as uniformity in the prototype of relationships.

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