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SOC 185 Discuss Personal Experiences in Social Societies

Our decisions do not simply result from what philosophers call free will. Sociology teaches us that the social world guides our life choices in much the same way that the physical world influences our choice of clothing or the type of food we feel like eating. C. Wright Mills pointed to the power of what he called the sociological imagination to help us understand everyday events. As he saw it, society, not people’s personal failings, is the main cause of poverty and other social problems.

For this discussion, explain how a personal problem can be caused by a larger social issue. Some examples include homelessness, poverty, suicide, and so on. It can be a problem that you, a friend or family member, or someone you have read about has experienced. Describe the situation, both the personal problem and the larger social issue, and then explain the relationship in terms of cause and effect.

Most of us are brought up to believe that we are responsible for our decisions in life. Sociologists believe that our choices are guided by the society in which we were raised.  Does this mean that we shouldn’t take credit for our successes in life or blame ourselves for our failures?

What do sociologists mean when they claim that they study how social contexts influence individuals? What are some social contexts that shape human behavior? How and why?

Thinking globally let’s discuss how our society views and treats older people compared to other societies and countries.   Also, discuss the rapidly aging population in Japan and the implications it has for that country. Compare and contrast the United States and Japan and how each country handles inequalities or needs for the elderly population.

Sociology was grounded in the idea that the scientific method can be applied to obtaining accurate knowledge about society and human behavior. The ideas of Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber established the agenda for much of modern sociology. Durkheim examined the nature of social solidarity; Marx was concerned with social conflict and inequality, and Weber considered the rationalization of modern life. Other scholars gave voice to marginalized groups and demonstrated how sociology could illuminate the origins and consequences of discrimination and oppression.

Do some online research or from your reading… what do sociologists mean when they claim that they study how social contexts influence individuals? What are some social contexts that shape human behavior? How and why?

In 1959, sociologist C. Wright Mills coined the term “the sociological imagination” (and wrote a whole book with that title!).  What is the sociological imagination? Why is it useful—in other words, what does it allow us to do or understand about the world? How does someone with a well-developed sociological imagination differ from a psychologist or a biologist?

Most of us are brought up to believe that we are responsible for our decisions in life. Sociologists believe that our choices are guided by the society in which we were raised.  Does this mean that we shouldn’t take credit for our successes in life or blame ourselves for our failures?

What do sociologists mean when they claim that they study how social contexts influence individuals? What are some social contexts that shape human behavior? How and why?

Keeping in mind the devastating issue of homeless, let us focus on the impact of social forces (structure) on individual lives. This has a macro approach initially and lends itself most directly to functionalism or conflict theory. For example, the impact of family and community could be considered from a functional view (the effect of violence on student performance) and/or from a conflict view (not all students are equally at risk to live in violent communities). Search for “social hierarchy” as social structure, which relates to conflict theory and discuss…

Why do social contexts matter?

I found this image to help with understanding the social hierarchy.  Looking into the conflict theory, the top of the hierarchy is the upper 1st class, whereas the bottom is considered the lower class.  In the lecture, this was addressed from the vantage point of how those of the upper class perceive and address those of a lower class and vice versa.

This does provide a visual insight of the tiers that as a society have been created in our world and the impact of such social stratification structure.

What are your thoughts here Class?  What is social stratification, and why does it matter?

How does looking at the world from the point of view of a sociologist help us to see complex issues in a new light?

Discussing the impact of social structure and how important it is in shaping individual lives is a critical factor in society and culture. Through civic engagement and the practice of public sociology, groups and individuals can begin to influence their surroundings and, if desired, effect social change. Organizations like the National Coalition for the Homeless engage in advocacy work not just to help individual homeless people, but to shift social structure so that homelessness is no longer a social problem.

Choose a social issue that is important to you. This could be anything from joblessness in the United States to sexual assault on college campuses. What structural forces do you think have contributed to your issue? Keeping these in mind, what types of suggestions do you have for addressing, improving, or solving this problem?


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