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Origins of Sociology and the Importance of Culture

(a) What is sociology and how and why did it develop? (Hint: Note the importance of social change and social transitions).
(b) Is the study of sociology important in today's modern information-driven world? Why or why not?
(c) Why should we understand other cultures and ethnocentrism? What difference does this understanding make in navigating today's complex global world?

Use that information and your "sociological imagination" respond to ONE of the following:

How can ethnocentrism contribute to global tensions, conflicts, even wars? How can ethnocentrism be lessened?

What are the differences between a society and a nation? In the contemporary world, what are some examples of this? Why is "nation" so important in the global arena?

How does culture affect socialization and the transitions of life (or "rites of passage")?

To what extent is a global culture emerging? What difference does it make if we're emerging into a global culture?

Here are two websites to help -
Characteristics of culture, thanks to Dennis O'Neil of Palomar College:
http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_2.htm

What is ethnocentrism? Thanks for Ken Barger of the University of Indiana: http://www.iupui.edu/~anthkb/ethnocen.htm

Solution Preview

Hi,

Interesting set of questions! One approach to help with questions like these is to discuss and provide information from various sources, which you can then draw on fro your final response. This is approach this response takes.

Let's take a closer look.

RESPONSE:

(a) What is sociology and how and why did it develop? (Hint: Note the importance of social change and social transitions).

Sociology is a relatively new academic discipline among other social sciences including economics, political science, anthropology, and psychology. The ideas behind it, however, have a long history and can trace their origins to a mixture of common human knowledge, works of art and philosophy. (1)

Auguste Comte coined the term "sociology" in 1838. Comte hoped to unify all studies of humankind--including history, psychology and economics. His own sociological scheme was typical of the 19th century; he believed all human life had passed through the same distinct historical stages and that, if one could grasp this progress, one could prescribe the remedies for social ills and social change necessary to fix these social ills. (1) However, Giambattista Vico and Karl Marx, are considered classical sociologists.

Sociology as a scientific discipline emerged in the early 19th century as an academic response to the challenge of modernity: as the world is becoming smaller and more integrated, people's experience of the world is increasingly atomized and dispersed. This was a time of social transition, where sociologists hoped not only to understand what held social groups together, but also to develop a social change "antidote" to social disintegration and exploitation. (1)

(b) Is the study of sociology important in today's modern information-driven world? Why or why not?

The study of sociology is very important in today's modern information-driven world, especially how it relates to human culture and the global society. The information era drives globalization making the need to understand diversity of cultures imperative, especially in the business world, but also at the person and group level. In addition to studying the form of modern society from an historical perspective in sociology, it also teaches how to understand and apply social phenomena, that impact the information-driven world on individuals, social groups, and societies. It also bridges the elements and principles of society, as well as topics that relate to pathologies, transformations, and problem solving as social phenomena. For example, problem solving is an essential social ...

Solution Summary

Applying the concept of the "sociological imagination", this solution applies information about the origins of sociology and the importance of culture to address one of the questions. Supplemented with an informative article describing the "sociological imagination."

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