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Sociology and Common Sense Essay

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Explain the difference between a “common sense” and a “sociological” view of human behaviour, giving relevant examples.

Sociology is a social science that enables people to understand the structure and dynamics of society. By using a scientific approach, and by critically analysing society using qualitative and quantitative methods, sociologists can find patterns and connections within human behaviour to provide explanations of how society affects people. Sociological views are based on theories that have been tested through unbiased research and attempt to take all values into account. Common sense theories are generally individualistic and naturalistic assumptions that are based on opinions than can vary depending on an individuals class or cultural background. During this essay I will aim to provide examples of the differences between the sociological viewpoint, and the common sense viewpoint of human behaviour, using theories of some renowned sociologists.

In 1959, American sociologist Charles Wright Mills wrote his influential book 'The Sociological Imagination'. In the book, Mills proposed that possibly the most assistive part of his sociological imagination theory was differentiating problems within society between 'personal troubles of the milieux' and 'public issues of social structure'. In his view, 'personal troubles' were individualistic and where 'an individual's character and with those limited areas of social life of which he is directly and personally aware'. By contrast, his thoughts on 'public issues' were that they were more general problems, out with the scope of an individual, and would affect more than just one person. He used the example of unemployment to explain his sociological viewpoint further. H...


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... thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.” I think this quote fits in with this essay perfectly, as sociologically you can teach something that has been examined scientifically to someone who has no knowledge of the subject, but trying to explain the same thing to someone who has prior knowledge, or common-sense, is not always so simple.

MacDonald, M. 2011. Access Sociology: The Sociology Perspective handout

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/mar/25/voters-cuts-coalition-poll ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1,014 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 23-24 March 2011. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

Tolstoy, Leo. In The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894),


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