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Soci 210 - Reading Response - Chapter 1

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Reading Response #1

        Sociology has three core focuses of study. The first area is social inequality which involves differences between people or groups of people within a society that puts certain factions of the society at a disadvantage. (Corrigall-Brown, 2016) The disadvantages incurred through social inequality restricts an individual or group of individuals’ opportunities in life. Grabb defined social inquality as “Differences between people that are consequential for the lives they lead, most particularly for the rights and opportunities they exercise and the rewards or privileges they enjoy.” (Grabb 2006) Social inequalities are prevalent in every society but each society has different social inequalities. The prevalence of these social inequalities fluctuates over time. Many believe that there has been a reduction in social inequality worldwide but there has simply been a reduction in certain social inequalities in different societies. There are certain factions of society that are the focus of sociological study in social inequality such as social class, race, ethnicity, and gender.

        The second core focus is the role of social institutions. Institutions can be separated into two categories of visible and invisible. Modern Canadian society can be broken down into five main institutions (both visible and invisible): family, education, religion, the economy, and government. (Corrigall-Brown, 2016) These are not all the institutions existing in Canada but are the main ones that are considered. The foundation of social institutions are the routines and patterns that individuals fall into through what they are taught. By maintaining patterns through time, society can ensure a smooth transition between generations. These patters can also reinforce different social inequalities as patterns are not being changed and thus they are reinforced simply by existing.


        The final focus of sociological study is that of social change. The example listed in the textbook of secularization is particularly interesting as religion has been a large driver of history. Much of European history has involved conflicts of religious ideals. There are differing perspectives on whether secularization is advantageous or disadvantageous to society. Once again, many individuals believe that society as a whole is moving away from religion but statistical inference would indicate that there have actually been increases in religiosity.


        Following these three core foci there are the three core aims of sociology. These consist of seeing general themes in everyday life, assessing critically that which seems familiar or common sense, and considering how individuals shape and are shaped by society. (Corrigall-Brown, 2016) In order to successfully achieve these aims, we must consider them through the sociological imagination. Themes in everyday life can only be found when considering public themes and not only personal themes. Along the same vein, we cannot truly understand what is familiar or common sense unless we consider a broader viewpoint on that which we are considering; individual familiarity or common sense is not important in sociology.


        The sociological imagination entails considering the world from a different viewpoint than our own. Individuals must understand that the choices they make are not made in a vacuum but are affected by their experiences. This means that history is very important as it can be useful in identifying patterns that will likely continue into the future. Though individuals may think that their experiences are unique, it is likely that what is occurring in their lives is also occurring in that of others in similar situations; personal troubles can frequently be traced to larger public issues. The sociological imagination allows us to see the big picture of that which we observe in day-to-day life. When we place ordinary events in the context of history and current social issues they can reveal much about the individual that they concern.

        Durkheim’s study of suicide aimed to prove that it was not only a psychological phenomenon. (Corrigall-Brown, 2016) The common belief is that suicide is an individual act fueled by the individual’s psyche. Durkheim did not disagree that it was a psychological act but argued that there were patterns in suicide victims relating to their place in society. Differing social groups had widely different probabilities of committing suicide and Durkheim separated types of individuals into suicidal categories.



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