September 8, 2013
Chapter One Question for Review #6: You tell a friend that you’re taking a class in sociology. There’s a chance they know about sociology and are quite jealous. There’s also a chance they’re confusing sociology with the other social sciences. How would you describe sociology? How does sociology differ from history and psychology?
Sociology is technically described as the study of human society, but you can break that up into two smaller sub-definitions: the analysis of a group’s culture and structure and patterns of social interaction. Obviously you could go into great depths about the makeup of that actual study of sociology, but just to touch the surface, I would explain to my friend that to be a sociologist you have to apply analytical tools to something you have always done without much conscious thought. You are required to reconsider your assumptions about society and question what you have taken for granted in order to better understand the world around you. You have to make the familiar strange. Sociology differs from history in that history is practically the recitation of past events while sociology looks into depth about why those events happened and how different societal makeups caused that event to happen. Sociology differs from psychology in that psychology is the study of mental functions and behaviors pertaining to an individual while sociology studies a group as a whole. Psychologists explore concepts such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, phenomenology, motivation, brain functioning, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Psychologists of diverse stripes also consider the unconscious mind; sociologists on the other hand consider the actions and reactions of a society or group.
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