How Does Sociological Thinking Differ from Common Sense?

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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 challenge the idea of “common-sense”. Our everyday lives are led by incoherent, indescribable knowledge otherwise known as “common-sense”. Sociologists regard common sense as a problem even though other sciences may not even acknowledge that it exists. The main reason for such interest in the matter of common sense is because all sociological findings are based on experiences of normal people in their everyday lives. (Jaqueline, 2007).

Sociologists challenge the assumptions of common sense by using cross- cultural and historical research to see whether these assumptions have always been the way they are and whether the assumptions of common sense and belies are the same in ever country. What sociologists usually discover from their research is that different societies hold different ideas of what is ‘natural’, for example, “the belief that everybody grows up, falls in love, then marry – it is a norm in some countries, for marriages to be arranged, thus or couples to fall in love after this process. Sociologists also find that things regarded as ‘natural’ these days were not regarded as so in the past.”(Jaqueline, 2007). Émile Durkheim, a French sociologist, best known for being one of the founders of the academic discipline of sociology, along with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science. (K. Sung Ho, 2007). Argued that society conflicts with common sense, he said that “society is real: we tend to think that ... The individual is real and that society is no more than what individuals do together.” (A, Roberts. 1997). Durkheim believed that society differs from common sense. He claimed that society puts individuals together and shapes us. We learn from the others, not from our common sense. For example, Durkheim compared society to a dance. He argued that a dance has a set form that needs to be followed which shapes the dancers. “Only because the dance exists are any of us able to modify the...
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