Sociological Outlook

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FdA in Health and Social Care – Introduction to Sociology

Developing a Sociological Outlook:
Learning to think sociologically – looking, in other words at the broader view – means cultivating the imagination. A sociologist is someone who is able to break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things in a wider context. Sociological work depends on what Mills (1970 cited by Giddens 1997) famously called the ‘sociological imagination’. The sociological imagination requires us, above all, to “think ourselves away from the familiar routines of our daily lives in order to look at them anew’.

The Sociology of Coffee.
Consider the simple act of drinking a cup of coffee. What could we find to say, from a sociological point of view, about such an apparently uninteresting piece of behaviour?

1. Coffee is not just a refreshment. It possesses a symbolic
value as part of our day-to-day social activities. For many
Westerners the morning cup of coffee is a personal ritual.
However, the ritual associated with drinking coffee is much
more important than the act of drinking the coffee itself. For example meeting for coffee: the social interaction is much more important than the actual drink!

2. Coffee is a drug, containing caffeine, which has a simulating effect on the brain. Coffee addicts are not regarded by most people in Western culture as drug users, as it is a socially acceptable drug. Yet, there are cultures who frown upon the consumption of coffee and in extreme cases prohibit it use. Sociologists are particularly interested in why these differences exist.

3. An individual who drinks a cup of coffee is caught up in a complicated set of social and economic relationships stretching across the World. The production, transport and distribution of coffee requires continuous transactions between people thousands of miles away from the coffee drinker. Coffee is a global enterprise affecting

several cultures, social...
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