Sociology is the study of society as a whole, certain elements of the society, such as the family unit and religion, and the evolution of social structures. Sociologists collect various data, such as demographic statistics or personal observations, and determine general explanations of social phenomena. These explanations are called sociological theories and are highly important both in social studies and in everyday life.
Just like chemistry tests information about the composition of chemical elements and physics explains how magnets work, sociological theories have a distinct contribution to human knowledge. Sociologists focus on how a society is structured, how each and every individual works as part of the whole, how society has changed over the years and predictions of future changes. In other words, sociological theories help people understand society and knowledge of the world as it grows.
It is not possible to make decisions affecting a certain community without deep knowledge of its structure, as miscalculated decisions can have a severe impact on people's lives. Tackling a problem, such as high criminal rates, binge drinking and social segregation, requires decision makers to know what exactly the problem is and its causes. Sociological theories provide an insight on such issues, making it easier and safer for elected representatives to find solutions to social problems.
According to the National Council for the Social Studies, the primary purpose of social studies is to promote civic competence. This means that through social studies, students get to learn how to make informed and rational decisions on every issue, from participating in elections to settling disputes with their neighbors. Sociological theories, which are part of the social studies curriculum, help students to understand how society works and how they can be a useful part.
Determining Interdependent Aspects
An element characterizing society is interdependence. Individuals or organizations cannot survive independently, while even seemingly dissimilar concepts, such as religion and the rise of an economic system, can be closely connected, as Max Weber suggested in "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism." According to professor Craig Calhoun, sociological theories are frameworks explaining how specific aspects of society are linked to larger processes.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images