Here is a new article series about Sociology as a discipline. As I explore the subject, I will be posting what interconnections it has with the present day happenings in India and the world.
Sociology as a discipline deals with studying about an individual’s actions in the context of the society he is living in. The discipline grew with time as the thinkers and intellectuals added their insights as per the changing nature of the society. Their studies, hence, become a guiding light to explore the societies of all times.
Before studying about the works of various sociologists, it is important to know about certain basic characteristics of a society. The first among them is the culture of the society. The culture of the society is the sum total of all ideas and habits, which we learnt from our elders and now, will be transmitting to our next generation. Culture teaches us the expected ways of behaviour.
Socialization is another important aspect – it is the process by which we learn the culture of our society. There are various agents of socialization, like, our families, schools, media etc. which start making us aware about the social norms or the expected rules of behaviour since childhood
It is important to mention here that the culture varies from one society to another, or, in other words, the expected ways of behaving in a social context can not be generalized for all societies. In fact, today, it is difficult to find people from one single culture in a particular society. Migration, for example, has led to culturally pluralistic societies. Thus, one can find the culture of a society with various subcultures integrated into it.
The culture and subculture gives us a social identity. We usually associate or identify with people who are similar to us.
Inequality is the next feature of a society. It stems from the differences in the distribution of scarce resources among people. The power and material inequality give rise to social divisions in any society. The one, who has power means the ability to get what one desires even against the resistance of others has a clear advantage. Similarly, the one, who has wealth, leads life in a better way than the poor.
The important social divisions which sociologists study are – class, gender, ethnicity, religion etc.
Social class are defined according to their access to material resources. Upper class, for example, is the one which owns the wealth; middle class has qualification and access to skilled jobs; and the working class which do low paid manual work.
Gender division is related to inequality between men and women. The age division is about the differences between the elderly and young people of a society, for example, elders are seen as role models by the young ones in some societies.
Ethnic division lies at the core of the social division, as it encompasses cultural differences based on religion, caste, language, race etc. Individuals who consider themselves, or are considered by others, different form other social groups, form an ethnic group. A distinctive cultural behaviour emerge out of these different characteristics of the ethnic group in relation to the society as whole.
Social divisions undergo a constant change in consonance with the evolution of the society. For example, society and the intra-relation between its members, has undergone a huge change from early hunting and gathering societies to today’s modern industrial societies.
Various thinkers and intellectuals gave their theories or a set of ideas to explain the working of a society in a particular time period. As the society evolves, these set of ideas also undergo a transformation accordingly. The upcoming posts will be an attempt to explore the ideas of various thinkers, and an inquiry into their relevance in present context.