Sociology - as most of us have understood - is the study of society. Many a time it is mis-conceptualized as being a common-sense understanding of the world. In reality, it is more than that; that is why it is being studied as a discipline. It studies the intricate details of the society and decides what can be applied and what cannot. It questions the present situation when the evidence and opinions conflict and then supports changes in the society.
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How does sociology apply in our day to day life? What does sociology teach us?
One of the first lessons a sociology student learns is to unlearn all their previous socialization behaviors. Many of us may feel it is impossible to unburden ourselves from societal norms, rules and expectations. However, sociology helps to do the same. The sociological lens helps to see the world in a new light. The best way to study sociology is to pay attention to our everyday life. The families we are born in, the religion we practice, the college and the school we attend are subject matters of sociology. The most important lesson sociology teaches is to think rationally and learn the ‘other side’ of the story.
The best example of sociological imagination is looking past the drinking of coffee as just simple refreshment to its symbolic value in our culture. Drinking coffee alone in the morning can be considered as the start of a personal life in a routine manner every day. Later individuals gather at the coffee shops/ cafes and socialize/ catch up, which is more than the coffee itself. The next interesting thing about coffee is it contains caffeine and is an addictive drink, it is accepted by many cultures. Finally, Coffee is mainly grown in poorer countries like Brazil, Vietnam, Columbia etc. and is consumed by mostly the rich nations like the USA, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, to name a few. So next time when you are out to have a cup of coffee, think of all the social relations and interaction you are a part of.
Another common example is eating disorder and body image. Many girls, especially in their teenage, are troubled with anorexia and bulimia disorders. Many a time they are given medications to combat those disorders and are considered to be personal problems. These are social issues that are affecting a huge portion of the population. If we look up this issue through a sociological lens, we can find that the beauty standards are imposed by families, friends and social media leading to the diseases. Thus, by opening up our minds to such issues, we can correctly address the public issues without incorrectly blaming the individuals.
In the present time, technology plays an important role in our day to day life. We are engaged in different platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Whats App, and Twitter through our phones, yet we are part of a big social phenomenon. The accounts we follow, the information we share, people we message are all influenced by our social interactions and experiences. Though these platforms help in keeping oneself up to date with current events, it is also influencing how we present ourselves. It tweaks how we present ourselves to the world. We tend to portray ourselves in any manner we choose to (many a time the actual self is modified).
Finally, the concepts of roles and statuses in the society. Many of us adopt multiple roles and adapt over life such as that of a daughter, sister, mother, etc. Master status is considered as the social position of an individual, which shapes their entire life. When we take the example of the master status of women in India, we find how the socialization process of gender starts from a very young age. When I say socialization, it is the way a girl should sit, eat, wear, talk, so on and so forth. Gender stereotyping is a learnt behavior. Sociological lens helps in finding solutions to these behaviors.
If we evaluate our lives even closely, each of our moves can be analysed from a sociological perspective. The life of a sociologist is tiring. The constant questioning of things in society keeps the sociologist on the toes.