Defining Sociology: What I Learned In Sociology

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What is sociology? Sociology defined by the Oxford dictionary states that it is ‘the study of development, structure, and functioning of human society’. Or to make it simple the study of society and social problems. Many things make up sociology. Three major Sociological perspectives are Structural functionalism, Social Conflict, and Symbolic Interactionism. The term Sociology was created by Aguste Comte in 1838. Aguste Comte was a college dropout and was said to have a mental illness. Despite the odds against him Comte came to be known as the father and founder of Sociology. Comte’s impact in the evolution of sociology was tremendous. Comte also created Positivism. 

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Positivism which is also a key theory in sociology, is the fault of many great philosophers. Comte being the most profound. ‘Positivism is a philosophy of Science that assumes a specific Epistemological, Ontological, and method with a methodological perspective’ (Seth B. Abrutyn, 2017) A common example of positivism would be claiming that God is real or meaningless. In positivism there is no in between. Another major factor in sociology is Structural functionalism. Structural functionalism is a sociological perspective. Structural functionalism is also a sociological theory that explains the reason and reasons as to why we as a society function. It also explains the way we do things based off of our religion, social status, education, government and much more. An example of structural functionalism in America would be being able to vote and having a chance to be able to choose who we have in office, unlike other countries who have no say. I believe structural functionalism has a big religious impact in my life for example going to church every sunday and fasting before easter. 

A main concept behind Structural functionalism is collective consciousness. Collective consciousness is a main concept behind structural functionalism but it is also a major sociological concept. This was discovered by Emile Durkheim. David Emile Durkheim is also a very vital sociologist who has made many contributions to sociology including but not limited to many things like social fact and collective consciousness. He also began the establishment of academic discipline. Collective consciousness is a concept that means and refers to ‘A set of shared beliefs, ideas, attitudes and knowledge that are common to a social group or society.’(Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D., 2019) An example of this would be christians believing in god. Emile Durkheim has a different theory on Collective consciousness, He wants to explain Collective consciousness as “Why certain values, traditions, and beliefs are consistent across a society?” I personally believe these theories are true to my experiences. I believe religion can definitely influence a society and have a society have and share certain beliefs for example in countries like iraq women collectively wear hijabs to remain modest although not all religions believe this is necessary.

Social conflict theory which is just one of the three major sociological perspectives is a theory that was developed by Karl Marx. Karl Marx was another important philosopher. Not only did he develop social conflict theory but he was also behind much more such as co writing ‘The Communist Manifesto’. Social conflict theory can be explained as an issue and/or conflict that occurs in society very often. There are many examples of social conflict for example gender inequality, racism, and much more. Defined by (, 2019) ‘it occurs when two or more people oppose one another in social interactions.’ Social conflict can even cause war of genocide. Conflict can occur in many ways And can cause many outcomes one of those outcomes could also be social change but if not careful social change could end up back into conflict. An example of social change in America is the legalization of gay marriage in 2016. 

One of the last major sociological perspectives is symbolic interactionism. symbolic interaction is him can be defined in many ways but in simple terms it explains our behavior and social behavior on how we interact with each other through symbols. This means we are creating meaning through things we believe that are not necessarily true. Symbolic interaction theory is a frame of reference for how humans create understanding through symbolic world and how those world affect human behavior (west & Turner,2010) an example of this could be how the confederate flag triggers different behavior from different people. Some claim that the confederate flag is a symbol of American history while to others it can feel like a symbol of racism. Sociology and society are huge topics that play a role in our lives. There is many parts of society that can be to blame for our function and part in it. Although there are many questions as to how we function and/or why, These three major sociological perspectives and theories can give a bit of insight as to why. 

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