Essay on Sociological Concepts and Theories

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University of Richmond
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Sociology is a discipline that matches the current worlds outlooks and values. During first and the second world war mainstream academic sociology was infamous. However, with time sociology has been gradually integrated into the society. In fact, some of the American concerns, values, and modes of thinking are closely associated with sociology. These values include cultural diversity, conservative liberalism, individualism, continuing belief in progress, and pragmatism.

Cultural diversity is the presence of a mixture of ethnic and cultural groups within a community. Sociology uses the concepts of race and ethnicity, associating them with the ideology of minority and majority groups and social structures of power, inequality, and stratification. The sociological view examines how people identify with one another and how race and ethnicity are socially constructed. Cultural diversity is supposed to be a value we cherish. However, that is not the case in the North America. In much of our history, it has been a source of oppression and has consequently led to conflicts. For instance, there was the enslavement of Africans by the Europeans, the extermination and displacement of First Nations by white settlers, the stormy history of immigration from Europe and Asia and the war between the French and the English settlers. European sociology knew of the existence of ethnic castes, status communities and marginalized individuals such as the Weber and the Jews and had already offered some of the solutions for addressing cultural diversity issues within a community. However, in the North America, things were a little different cultural diversity was made up of many topics. In the US for instance, sociological evaluation of ethnic and cultural diversity first took the form of an emphasis on the relationship between the African Americans and the Europeans. The race was used as a key dimension of difference in the America community, not just as a subfield that was of personal importance to African-American sociologist. Several theories about race in the US in early 20th century created a framework for the evaluation of racial relations throughout the world later in the century. In fact, many sociologists have since associated racial relations to the study of power and challenged race as a scientific ideology.

Symbolic interactionist theory is a key framework of sociological theory which depends on the symbolic meaning that people develop. This theory views society as a constant flow of interaction, action, and self-reflection in countless situations of human life. Sociology enables us to observe and record these situations and also to present them in an engaging and perceptive manner. Symbolic interactionists are always drawn to extreme situations where these processes of self-reflection, interaction, and negotiation of identities occur. Examples of these situations include drug addiction and states. Interestingly, Symbolic interactionists have different explanations for drug states and addiction. According to them, drug states such as feeling high are not caused by the chemical properties of a drug. Instead, they are socially constructed states in which people have created by responses and expectations of others. In the mid-20th century, Howard compiled his observations of marijuana users and jazz musicians and explained how deviance is a socially constructed category. Sometimes people think that deviance is a product of mental disease. However, instead hastily making decisions it is essential to understand that different groups judge different things to be deviant. In sociology, deviance is the infraction of some agreed-upon rule. Therefore it depends on the reaction of other people to determine whether an act is deviant or not. But modern societies are different they are highly differentiated along ethnic lines and social class lines and occupational lines. Moreover, these groups do not share the same rules hence it is difficult to establish who has deviated and who has not.Pragmatism is a set of concepts that describe what people are doing when they engage in the interactions in the world. Well, it is fair to say that this is not the full definition of pragmatism since pragmatism is a term that covers a broad range of philosophical standpoints. A lot of people have developed their versions, but despite the variability, pragmatism remains to be at the heart of the American values. Pragmatism saw human beings as purposeful and active creatures. It explained that humans were more than a determined and fixed result of external forces, biological or social. Nowadays, many sociologists are turning to pragmatism to gain more knowledge about the human nature. This is because this philosophical perspective explores different ideologies including the role of politics in our societies, the value of truths and the role of philosophy in education and politics.

Conservative liberalism is a political concept which combines critical stances with conservative policies, particularly on ethical and social issues. It is a perfect explanation of the political ideas of most Americans who believe in voluntary associations and individual rights, and they do not trust the government since they believe the state is likely to limit peoples freedom and interfere with the normal operations of civil societies. A lot of sociologists leaned toward more positive perspectives of state than other Americans. However, they still share a common ideology in most respects. Conservative liberalism influenced the way people addressed social problems such as poverty, deviance, racism, and gender discrimination. In fact, individualism and conservative liberalism affected the North American research techniques, leading to heavy dependence on certain types of quantitative information particularly in the postwar period.

One of the important North American values is a continuing belief in progress. Progress came as a result of slow and steady accumulations of improvements in the human condition. These improvements included: expansion of democracy, the growth of science and technology, efficient production of human needs and inclusion of previously excluded groups such as women and people of color in social and political life. Towards the edge of the 20th century, these improvements led to the creation of a progressive movement which was founded to bring immigrants into the American way of life and most importantly to curb the excesses of robber baron capitalism. Progressive movement remains to be an active force in the American sociology and related fields such as social work.

Some other views with the emphasis on symbolic and interaction process emerged in the late 20th century, and one of the most influential work was done by Erving Goffman who designed a dramaturgical model to evaluate self-presentation and interaction. Just like Becker, Goffmans work was more refined and had a critical edge, exposing a lot of pretensions of social life and institutions.

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