Sociology is the scientific study of society and human behavior. This is the most basic definition of sociology that one would find. Getting a little more in depth, it is the study of humans in groups and how they interact with one another. A scientist in this field, a sociologist, would look at these groups by means of the sociological perspective. This involves looking at a certain behavior like you have never witnessed it before. If done correctly the sociologist should be able to gain a new level of understanding of the behavior or social reality.
The term group could refer to a lot of things as far as groups of people. It could be two people but for the purpose of sociology it should be a lot more. There are demographic variables used when defining the group. These are things such as race, religion, sex, social class, and so on.
When a sociologist studies behavior the most important aspect they view is the interaction of people both within the group and with people that fit into other groups. This action can be what the individuals verbally say to one another or simply their nonverbal messages. There are many hand signs, both good and bad, that people exchange as well as facial expressions in reaction to an event or statement. Now that I have some of the terms described lets look at an example.
I hate lawyers. This is a personal opinion of mine and a lot of other peoples. Its nothing personal against any one of them, I don't like the way they operate and the way they have set the system up for their own benefit. They have made it impossible for anybody to navigate their way through even the simplest of legal matters without their assistance. I also believe that there lack of values and ethics are responsible for a lot of problems in this country. This is what's called a level 1 perspective. It's my view of a group of people in our society, their behavior, and how their behavior interacts with society.
The aim of sociology is to study this behavior and see it in a different way. Perhaps if I looked at lawyers and what they do through a lawyer's eyes I might catch something I didn't notice. If I were to give more thought to the fact that they go to school for a very long time and have to learn a great deal of material, I might think a little differently. If I imagine myself a lawyer and think to myself, these people will pay whatever I want to get them out of the jams they're in, it might not sound too bad. The idea of sociology is not necessarily to change my view but to give me better understanding, what's referred to as level 2 understanding. Level 2 understanding means that you have taken a new sociological perspective on a behavior and gained a new social reality. When people have opposing opinions in an issue that has to be resolved such as a war, gaining level 2 understanding is of great importance. You wouldn't have to change your view on the situation at all but you would be in a much better position to compromise an end to the argument.
This is sociology and it will work with any behavior on any group of people assuming that the researcher, or sociologist, has an open mind to looking at things a little differently than they are used to.
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