Sociology: the Comparative Method

Topics: Sociology, Western culture, Society, Boy, Man, Epistemology / Pages: 8 (1936 words) / Published: Oct 9th, 1999
Sociology: The Comparative Method

Sociologists have embraced what is known as the comparative method as the most efficient way to expose taken-for-granted 'truths' or laws that people have adopted. But what is this comparative method and how does it work? Are there any advantages/disadvantages to exposing these false 'truths'. What forms or variations of the comparative method exist? In the pages to follow I will attempt to give you some insight and understanding of what the comparative method is, and how it works. The comparative method, simply put, is the process of comparing two things (in our case societies, or the people that make up society) and seeing if the result of the comparison shows a difference between the two. The comparative method attempts to dereify (the process of exposing misinterpreted norms. Norms that society consider natural and inevitable characteristics of human existence) reified (the human created norms or 'truths') beliefs. Obviously there are various ways in which a nomi (a labeled, sometime constructed, norm or truth) can be exposed. Which form of the comparative method should one use however? The answer, whichever one applies to the 'truth' in question. For example, you certainly would not do a cross-gender form of comparison if you wished to expose whether or not homosexuality has always been feared and looked down upon by most people throughout history. No, rather you would perform a historical comparison of two or more different societies to see if these beliefs always existed, or, whether or not this is a newly constructed belief. Let's look at little more closely at the above mentioned historical comparison and see how the comparative method works with a specific example. There is no question that in today's western society there is a lot of fear and trepidation towards people who are labeled 'homosexual'. The question we will attempt to answer however is whether or not it has always been like this and is this a

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