How Does Sociological Thinking Differ from Common Sense?

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How Does Sociological Thinking Differ from Common Sense?

By | November 2011
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“Sociology is the scientific study of human life, social groups, whole societies and the human world as such...it’s subject matter is our own behaviour as social beings. The scope of sociology is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of...encounters between individuals...to the investigation of international relations. Sociology demonstrates the need to take a much broader view of our own lives in order to explain why we act as we do.” (A. Giddens, 2009). Sociology emerged at the end of the 19th century through the work of sociologists such as Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Robert E. Park and Albion Small. (R.E.L. Faris, W.Form, 1994-2008). According to Jonathan H. Turner 1982, Max Weber defines sociology, as a “science, which aims at the interpretative understanding of social behaviour in order to gain an explanation of its causes, its course and its effects”. On the other hand, common sense refers to routine knowledge we have of our everyday world and activities. People interact with each other, they acquire knowledge of behaviours needed to interact with others, they acquire this knowledge by observing others within our society, and it could be argued that people do what they do because they have observed such behaviours from others. Different sociological approaches adopt different attitudes to common sense knowledge. According to G. Marshall 1998, the idea of common sense originated from Alfred Schutz's phenomenological sociology. Schutz's suggests that common sense refers to “organized ‘typified’ stocks of taken-for-granted knowledge, upon which our activities are based, and which, in the ‘natural attitude’, we do not question.” (G. Marshall, 1998).

The following essay will assess how sociological thinking differs from common sense. This essay will examine the views of sociologists on sociological theory and common sense, and why sociologists may challenge the idea of common sense. Sociologists often...