sociology and common sense

August 29, 2017 | Author: Gangadhar Reddy | Category: Common Sense, Sociology, Social Research, Knowledge, Idea
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Sociology is criticized for being merely common sense and stating the obvious but in more detail than what we already know. Read and be informed… Sociology and other social sciences focus on the study of certain aspects of human behavior. Yet human behavior is something with which we all have experience and about which we have at least a bit of knowledge. In our daily lives, we rely on common sense to get us through many unfamiliar situations. However, this knowledge while sometimes accurate is not always reliable because it rests on commonly held beliefs rather than systematic analysis of facts. Common sense is knowledge and awareness that is held communally (shared by majority of people). It does not depend on specialist education and in some respects states the obvious. Sociology is study of society and of people and their behavior. Positivists claim that it produces scientific knowledge. Many people argue that sociology merely state the obvious by reporting what common sense already tells us. In other words, sociology is criticized for being merely common sense and stating the obvious but in more detail than what we already know. Many sociologists have responded that common sense is wrong and obvious truths are not so obvious. Common sense ideas and explanations represent a form of social perspective since they claim to represent the things that everyone knows about the social world and / or human behavior. These ideas are not necessarily incorrect but they seem to be different from sociological forms of knowledge. Differences between sociology and common sense: 1. Common sense views are based on people’s immediate and often limited experiences. This leads to a distorted view of reality. Hence common sense knowledge is statement of the obvious which is simply based of assumption. Sociological views are based on rigorous research and therefore evidence based. This can either be based on large scale quantitative research or in-depth qualitative research. Sociology knowledge is, therefore, the product of theory development and testing. 2. Common sense views tend to reflect social traditions and conventions and therefore tend to reinforce the status quo and resist social change. Conflict approaches in sociology raise serious questions about the status quo and call for social change.

3. Common sense views tend to be historically and culturally specific and are often based on stereotypical images. Interactionist / social action theories recognize that social life is socially constructed and relative to time and place. It actively challenges stereotypes. 4. Common sense views lack validity and reliability. Sociological knowledge has relatively greater reliability and validity. Sociological views based on quantitative data are high in reliability and those based on qualitative data are high in validity.

Whether sociological knowledge is superior to common sense forms is a matter of debate. Some postmodernists would claim that sociological knowledge is not superior to common sense knowledge. This is because they claim that there is no such thing as the truth and therefore all knowledge is uncertain. Sociologists of course stand up for sociology over common sense. Sociology is more important than common sense as it is evidence based and challenges common sense views of the world and enhances human life and freedom. Giddens claims that sociological knowledge often becomes common sense knowledge. Most sociologists describe common sense in very negative terms. They see it as biased, subjective and incomplete. Common sense is shown to be not only wrong but also contradictory. E.g. out of sight out of mind and absence makes the heart grow fonder. But there are also many cases in sociological writings where beliefs long held as factual have proven to be wrong or unsubstantiated. On most important issues in sociology there are two or more theories and statements often contradicting each other. Common sense – knowledge and understanding of social life – must be correct some of the time otherwise people who are not sociologists could not survive. Some people possess more valid and empirical knowledge than others and this knowledge is indispensable for social life. As sociology becomes a profession, practitioners have more time to study individuals, groups and societies thereby having more advantages over most other people. However, there are instances where people have profound understanding of the social world gained through careful, repeated and varying observations of the world. Common sense is often wrong but that does not prove that all common sense wrong. Like other social scientists, sociologists do not accept something as fact because ‘everyone knows it’. Instead, each piece of information must be tested and recorded, then analyzed in relationship to other data. However, this method is also partial and limited. Sometimes sociological findings confirm the common sense view; sometimes they do not. The only way to test common sense assumptions about society is to do it scientifically. Sociology relies on scientific studies in order to describe and understand a social environment. At times, the findings of sociologists may seem like common sense because they deal with facets of everyday life.

This does not mean that there is no place for intuition or common sense in sociology. These approaches are rich sources of insights. But they can provide only hunches. The hunch must be tested by the methods of science.

Read more: http://socyberty.com/sociology/sociology-and-common-sense/#ixzz15ZsrEHwe It is important that we view social research as something more than simply asking people a few questions, getting their opinions and then trying to make some sort of sense out of the whole process. In this unit we are going to begin by looking at the idea that social research is planned and organised to reflect the idea that it involves such things as: • • • •

Putting forward ideas that can be tested. Collecting data to test these ideas in a systematic way. Analysing the collected data. Drawing conclusions based on sociological evidence.

This Unit, therefore, is mainly concerned with what are usually called questions of methodology.

We will look at the concept of methodology in more detail in a moment, This idea, in basic terms, but we can begin to understand the idea of a research process by to the and, principles thinking about the difference between common sense and sociological relates knowledge by we use as a means of extension, why this distinction should be important. providing a framework for our research (in short a “research process”).

We can start, therefore, by noting that the objective of all research is to produce knowledge and the point of “doing research” is to produce knowledge that is true. Sociologically we usually express this as “not The key question, therefore, is why do we need to “do research” in order false”. We’ll see why this distinction is important to “produce knowledge”? later

The basic answer to this question is that we don’t. People, in their daily lives, produce and consume knowledge all the time without ever “doing research” (sociological or otherwise). This everyday knowledge (or common sense) has, however, at least one crucial difference from sociological knowledge; it is, by and large, “taken for granted” (if common sense knowledge is “what everyone knows”, then it follows that it goes unquestioned).

Examples of “taken for granted”

This is not to say that sociological knowledge is never sociological knowledge from our “taken for granted” - it would, after all, be impossible to society might include the idea that live in any society without taking some things for granted. the powerful exploit the weak, that we live in a class-based society and that gender inequalities exist between men and women.

Rather, it is to say that sociological knowledge has been tested in some way. It is, in short, knowledge that is not simply assumed to be true. In addition, one of the main

assumptions that sociologists take

This is not to say that common sense knowledge is for granted is that the social world always wrong, nor that sociological knowledge is always is characterised by certain patterns right (the relationship is much more complex than this). of behaviour (regularities) that must have a social cause.

Additionally, sociological knowledge is not always opposed to common sense knowledge - sociologists, like any other social or natural scientists may, after all, actively contribute to the store of human knowledge that appears “self-evidently true” (until, of course, someone else comes along and shows it to be false…).

Just as social scientists (Sociologists, Psychologists etc.) study the social world, natural scientists (Physicists, Chemists, Biologists, etc.) study the natural world.

However, without overstating the case, the distinction I’ve made between common sense (untested) and sociological (tested) knowledge is a device that helps us to think generally about the way knowledge can be produced and, specifically, about how sociological knowledge can be produced. It does, in short, lead us towards a consideration of sociological methodology or, if you prefer, the process of sociological research.

Before we look at this question of methodology, there are two further points we can note arising from the distinction between common sense and sociological knowledge:

• Firstly, it suggests there are at least two ways of interpreting “social reality”, since if it is possible for common sense and sociological knowledge say different things about the same phenomenon, it follows that they cannot both be right. • Secondly, it suggests that sociological knowledge is superior to common sense knowledge because it is based on evidence that comes from the systematic testing of ideas through research.

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