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What is Sociology - Research Paper Example

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Basically, sociology is the study of society. It involves the study of social lives of groups, societies, social institutions, and people. There are many sociological concepts that may be subjected to debate. …
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What Is Sociology? Kristen Tice Bryant & Stratton Sociology Basically, sociology is the study of society. It involves the study of social lives of groups, societies, social institutions, and people. There are many sociological concepts that may be subjected to debate. Collective behavior is defined as spontaneous (unplanned) action by groups in situations (or circumstances) where the cultural rules of behavior are debatable, inadequate, or vague. Spontaneous collective behavior may develop into a social movement. Collective behavior has been applied in many situations that have brought changes in the structure of social institutions. Collective behavior as a sociological concept is important since it can bring structural changes of social institutions. What is Sociology? Thesis Statement Collective behavior as a sociological concept is important since it can bring structural changes in social institutions. Definition of Sociology The American Sociological Association (2012) simply defines sociology as the study of the society. It further defines sociology as a social science that involves the study of social lives of groups, societies, and people. Browne (2011) defines sociology as the organized or systematic study of social life and human groups in modern societies. It entails the study of social institutions. Social institutions are various systematic arrangements found in all societies. For instance, the family is an institution associated with the marriage arrangement. With the family arrangement come notions related to the age at which people should marry, the individuals they are supposed to marry, the number of partners they should have, and how they should bring up their children. Other social institutions include the education, economic and work systems. The mentioned social institutions build up the social structure of the society. Sociology attempts to understand how these social functions work, and how they associate with each other. For instance, it tempts to analyze how the family might influence the performance of children in the education system (Browne, 2011). Different Perspectives on Collective Behavior There are many sociological concepts that may be subjected to debate. However, this paper will be limited to discussing collective behavior as a sociological concept. Collective behavior is defined as spontaneous (unplanned) action by groups in situations (or circumstances) where the cultural rules of behavior are debatable, inadequate, or vague. It entails diverse actions such as spontaneous candle-lit vigils and mob violence. These actions are unplanned to an extent that groups or individuals improvise a joint reaction to a problematic or unusual situation. It differs from social movements in that they are short lived, the participants do not have a clear social agenda, and neither do they have enough resources to affect public policy (Brinkerhoff, Ortega, and White, 2007). Sociologists studying collective behavior attempt to discover the circumstances under which different forms of spontaneous collective behavior happen, and why the events are associated or not associated with social movements. It is important to note that collective behavior can occur in masses or in crowds, or in both simultaneously. The actual “behavior a crowd or mass generates depends largely on the emotions the people feel are appropriate to express in a particular situation” (Kornblum, 2011, p213). This means that the individuals may be motivated by various desires such as the need for change, excitement, or material gain. However, majority of them will express their emotions in a manner to suggest that the norms of the event are appropriate (Kornblum, 2011, p213). The Lofland typology is important in the classification of some forms of collective behavior. However, it is worth noting that at times these categories overlap. Mass behavior can turn into crowd behavior. The spontaneous collective behavior may develop into a social movement. For instance, the effects of the stock market crash in 1929 led to the emergence of social movements that sought to reform investment insurance. The reforms would protect investors from similar events in the future. Institutions such as the deposit insurance and social security were established as a result of the social movements (Kornblum, 2011). This event illustrates how spontaneous collective behavior led to the overall change of social institutions. Own Perspective Based On Collective Behavior Apart from the example given above, collective behavior has been applied in many situations that have brought changes in the structure of social institutions. Some of these situations involve religious movements against unethical behaviors, and protest movements against environmental pollution. Collective behavior has been used to bring the desired excitements or changes in the society. They are usually unplanned, and this means that they do not follow any cultural rule. Because they are not confined to any cultural rules, their effects can be significant and thus may bring the desired results. Although collective behavior is short lived, it can bring significant changes in the structure of social institutions. For instance, collective protests against environmental pollution can lead to the formulation of policies that will affect entire social institutions. Individuals and groups will have to conform to the set policies. Institutions will have to change the way they function in relation to the implemented policies. For example, a company may be forced to change its organizational behavior in a manner that it will be environmentally sustainable. Its systematic arrangement will be based on the implemented environmental policies. In this respect, collective behavior as a sociological concept is important since it can bring structural changes of social institutions. References American Sociological Association. (2012). What is sociology? Retrieved from http://www.asanet.org/sociology.cfm Brinkerhoff, D. B., Ortega, S. T., & White, L. K. (2007). Essentials of sociology. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Browne, K. (2011). An introduction to sociology. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Kornblum, W. (2011). Sociology in a changing world. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Read More
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