Sociology Current

Sociology and common sense

Sociology and common sense

Published on:
02 Dec 2023

Written by:
Pranay Aggarwal

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the relationship between sociology and "common sense," exploring how sociologists challenge and dissect prevailing assumptions within societal perceptions.

"Common sense" encompasses the collective understanding, beliefs, and assumptions shared within a society. While often deemed intuitive and universally accepted, sociology introduces a critical lens to examine these perceptions, recognizing that they can be shaped by cultural biases, historical contexts, or societal norms.

Foundational sociologists such as Emile Durkheim laid the groundwork for sociological exploration by emphasizing the concept of social facts. Durkheim's emphasis on these objective, external social phenomena, existing independently of individual beliefs or experiences, served to challenge the idea that common sense provides an accurate portrayal of societal complexities.

Moreover, the work of Max Weber introduced the concept of verstehen, urging sociologists to understand social behavior from the perspective of those being studied. This approach diverges from the simplistic nature of common sense by acknowledging the intricate motivations, cultural nuances, and historical influences that shape human actions.

Sociology's examination of common sense extends to fundamental societal constructs, including prevailing notions of gender roles. While common sense might propagate the idea of inherent gender-related behaviors, sociological investigation uncovers the socially constructed nature of these roles. Sociologists explore how cultural influences, historical contexts, and power dynamics within society shape and perpetuate these roles, challenging common sense perceptions by acknowledging the fluidity and diversity of gender expressions.

Similarly, discussions surrounding race relations confront the disparity between common sense beliefs and sociological realities. Sociological analysis unveils how entrenched biases, systemic racism, and historical injustices perpetuate misconceptions about racial groups. Sociology's role in dismantling these perceptions prompts critical reflection on common sense beliefs about racial hierarchies and the impact of institutional discrimination.

Moreover, sociology's examination of social inequalities challenges common sense assumptions about success and failure. While common sense might attribute individual outcomes solely to personal effort, sociological investigations uncover systemic factors—such as economic disparities, educational inequities, and structural discrimination—significantly influencing opportunities and life trajectories. Sociology urges a reevaluation of common sense notions about meritocracy, highlighting systemic barriers that perpetuate inequalities.

This critical engagement with common sense beliefs forms the cornerstone of sociological inquiry. By exploring these examples and numerous other societal phenomena, sociology facilitates a deeper understanding of the complexities inherent in human interactions and societal structures. This intellectual endeavor encourages individuals to move beyond simplistic assumptions, fostering a comprehensive comprehension of the intricate tapestry of social realities and human experiences.