Sociological Theories

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Lacy V. Wood
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SOC. 480, Sociological Theories
Spring 2011
Lacy V. Wood
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SOC. 480, Sociological Theories
Spring 2011

Taking It Big

Charles Wright Mills is most commonly known for his theory of the sociological imagination. Through both the acknowledgement of biography and history within the context of sociology, his analysis was able to determine an interesting perspective that tied religion, the end of history, and sociology without society into our cultural context today. Mills was able to shift his focus to examine how people influence others based on external social forces that shape personal experiences. Mill’s definition of the sociological imagination allowed for the ability for others to see the impact of social forces on individual’s private and public affiliations. Through Mill’s establishment of the sociological imagination, a perspective on religion could then be observed through viewing religious institutions as merely a product of social foundations (Dandaneau, 146). In Steven P. Dandaneau’s book, Taking it Big, Developing Sociological Consciousness in Postmodern Times, the analysis of chapter seven entitled, Religion and Society- Of Gods and Demons, created an assessment which viewed the nature of religion as a social institution. The arrangement of religion within a society creates a structural analysis of patterns and beliefs that are replicated through the development of social establishments and are maintained within a society by linking social institutions directly to a religious belief. “…Structural analysis, that is, systematic thinking about how patterns of life and belief are reproduced across time and space such that social institutions- composed of roles, positions, groups, norms, values, and rituals- are created and maintained, thereby building and rebuilding society…” (Dandaneau, 145). Therefore, we can conclude that social institutions help to formulate the individual within society by establishing the roles endorsed through the institutional framework. As an outcome, institutions and the individuals within it, consequently determine the structure of a society through using religion as a collective social enterprise (Dandaneau, 146). This establishment of social enterprise requires unique customs and practices in order to maintain social cohesiveness within a specific religious institute. Each religious society is then able to formulate distinct internal divisions that allow for individuals to develop a sociological imagination within a religious society (Dandaneau, 148).

Through a historical context, religion has always been a product of human existence. Various religious institutions practiced today are an outcome of recent history after the shift away from Aminism. The transformations within the human consciousness arose as a result from the combination of urbanization and modernity. Through a more urbanized and contemporary society, the growth of the human population was abundant and inevitable. As a result, religion was then used as a form of material comfort for a new, emerging, and suffering population evolving within human history (Dandaneau, 150). Religion prevails today amongst people within a particular culture because of the ability for religions to reproduce themselves based on adaptations made from the establishment of modernization (Dandaneau, 150). However, the use of religion as a means of social change does not necessarily enhance or diminish societal modifications within a structured society. The sociological imagination was an outcome presented by religion partially because of the impact of sciences and nature within the development of the scientific revolution. “These imagined responses are understandable, at least on sociological grounds, because never before had humans been so influenced by the scientific revolution.” (Dandaneau, 157). This skepticism of...
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