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Introduction Sociological vs common sense
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Marriage

Naturalistic (common

sense) explanation: It is

only natural that a man and

woman should live together

for life because they fall in

love and want to raise children

Sociological explanation: Monogamy (one woman and one man) is only one form of mating. Mating patterns depend on a variety of economic and social factors. Marriage is a human institution.

Slide 9

Examples of sociological explanation

Examples of sociological explanation

The domestic role of women

Naturalistic (common sense)

explanation: Women raise

children because this satisfies

maternal instincts, and the

children’s need for a mother

Sociological explanation:

Ideals concerning

domesticity and

femininity

confine women to the

home

Slide 10

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Examples of sociological explanation

Poverty

Individualistic

explanation (common

sense): People are poor because they are lazy or stupid and can’t handle money, or have no skills

Sociological explanation:

Poverty is caused by inequality

in society, and is experienced by those who suffer from a chronic irregularity of work, low wages and unemployment

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Examples of sociological explanation

Suicide

Individualistic explanation

(common sense): The most

individual of all acts,

committed by a person

who is unhappy or mentally ill

Sociological explanation:

Suicide is socially patterned.

Suicide is governed primarily

by social factors such as

religion, family and marriage patterns, and not by individual factors

Slide 12

Private troubles/public issues

Private troubles/public issues

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Private troubles/public issues

When starting to think sociologically, it is

important to try and start by asking the right

questions. To do this, we need to employ

what Mills called ‘the Sociological

Imagination’.

If one person is unemployed, Mills argued that this

was a personal problem, and for that person, a

trouble. As long as there are jobs available, we look

to character or training for an explanation. But,

when a large proportion of a nation's labour force is

unemployed, it is impossible to explain this in terms

of individuals.

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Private troubles/public issues

We instead look at the groups they belong to and

their organization, the way society is organised, for

an explanation. It becomes a public issue. Another

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