Sociology Reflection Paper

Sean Galloway
SOC 1010
Sociology Reflection
Auguste Comte, who is considered to be the founder of sociology, defined sociology as the study
of society. His hope was that threw the studies of sociologists that the world would become a better
place to live. By definition “the sociological perspective stresses the social contexts in which people live.
It examines how these contexts influence people’s lives. At the center of the sociological perspective is
the question of how groups influence people, especially how people are influenced by their society-a
group of people who share a culture and a territory” (Henslin, pg. 4). Herbert Spencer believed in and
came up with the theory of “the survival of the fittest”, he believed that “unless some do-gooders get in
the way and help the less fit survive” (Henslin, pg. 6) that the better or fittest members of society would
survive creating a more advanced society. Social integration or the degree that we are tied to our social
group has an effect on the likelihood of someone committing suicide. The French sociologist Emile
Durkheim said, “Human behavior cannot be understood only in terms of the individual; we must always
examine the social forces that affect people’s lives” (Henslin, pg. 7).
I hadn’t given much thought to how different groups and society have influenced me and who I
am until I started this class. Who we are and who we become are products of both biological and social
influences. When we are born we inherit certain mental and physical qualities that are a combination of
those same qualities of our parents and the rest of our ancestors. This means that I am the product of
moth Scottish and Norwegian ancestors and that I have some of the same qualities that they had. The
other piece to the puzzle is our environment. We are a product of our environment and much of what
we do and say is learned behavior. My temperament may be inherited but the way I display aggression
is learned.
Something I read in the text book that I liked is “to develop a sociological imagination, it is
essential to understand how culture affects people’s lives” (Henslin, pg. 36). The reason I like this is
that we all come in contact with people from different cultures and societies on a daily basis, in my case
I work with people from many different cultures every day. It is fundamental that as members of the
human race that we learn about the cultures and societies of those that we come in contact with
especially if we see them frequently, otherwise we cannot understand each other and we will hinder our
abilities to work together to create a better place to live.
The company I work for not only employs people from many different nations, we are also an
international company, selling our product in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia,
Germany, France, Great Britain, and many other parts of the world that aren’t official yet. Because of
the many cultures and societies that the company contacts and affects it is important that as a company
we learn about the many cultures that we are in contact with. We influence all that we come in contact
with whether it is for the good or bad.
The control theory, developed by Walter Reckless, “stresses that two control systems work
against our motivation to deviate. Our inner controls include our internalized morality-conscience,
religious principles, and ideas of right and wrong. Our outer controls consist of people-such as family,
friends, and the police-who influence us not to deviate” (Henslin, pg. 148). When we deviate from the
norm we do so for different reasons. Some deviation, such as with adolescents, is done for the reaction
or it is done to fit in with a specific group.
I always find it funny when someone does something with their hair or cloths to be an
“individual” but they end up looking just like all of their friends. Society has a great deal of power to
influence what the individual does within the society. This is especially apparent youth but it happens at
all stages of life. “In affirming the power of social control, we must not overlook our power as
individuals. Social control (the power of the situation) and personal control (the power of the individual)
interact. People aren’t billiard balls. When feeling pressured, we may react by doing the opposite of
what is expected, thereby reasserting our sense of freedom” (Myers, pg. 541). I remember going to my
first concert as a teenager with my older brother. He invited me to go, bought my ticket, and then
informed me that the concert was on a Sunday. As members of the LDS faith, my parents were against
me going to a concert on Sunday, but they left the decision in my hands expressing their opinion about
the matter but leaving it up to me. I enjoyed the concert and many more with my brother, the first one
being the only one that I have ever been to on a Sunday. My decision to go was mostly based on the
simple desire to go and spend time with my older brother, but there was part of me that enjoyed going
a little more to that concert because I was going against the opinion of my parents showing that I was
my own person. Luckily for my parents, the Motley Crue concert on a Sunday was the most rebellious
thing that I did as a teenager. “Deviance clarifies moral boundaries and affirms norms. A group’s ideas
about how people should think and act mark its moral boundaries” (Henslin, pg. 151). Deviance can also
help strengthen a community by punishing those that are deviant from its beliefs. This strengthens the
position and unity of the group in their beliefs.
Even though the majority or the society has a large influence on the individual, the individual
can also have a large influence on society. This is known as the minority influence or “the power of one
or two individuals to sway majorities” (Myers, pg. 541). The key to the minority influence is that the one
or two must be firm in their position. The act of minority influence is not done for popularity and in fact
will make you unpopular to the majority. A good example of this is Mahatma Gandhi. “A persistent
minority voice can sway the majority. Gandhi’s nonviolent appeals and fasts were instrumental in
winning India’s independence from Britain in 1947” (Myers, pg. 541).
As technology improves we become a more global society. This happens through media,
internet, and through easier travel. When something happens in Japan we hear about in the United
States within hours and sometimes minutes of when it has happened. We are able to communicate
with people all over the world unlike any other time in our history. I have a friend who works all over
the world and he is currently off the coast of Brazil. I can email him and wait for a response or I can get
on Facebook and chat with him as if he were sitting next to me. Because of the improved
communication we can have an influence not only on our own communities but on the world
community that we are all part of. “Travel and communication unite us to such an extent that there is
almost no “other side of the world” anymore. One result of this is cultural leveling, a process in which
cultures become similar to one another. The globalization of capitalism brings with it both technology
and Western culture. Japan, for example, has adopted not only capitalism but also Western forms of
dress and music. These changes have transformed Japan into a blend of Western and Eastern cultures.
Cultural leveling is occurring rapidly around the world” (Myers, pg. 57). This same change has taken
place all over the world.
Sociology is a subject that everyone should learn about because it is something that is part of all
of us and affects all of us. We should each take every opportunity to learn about ourselves and about
those that we come in contact with. The more we find out about the world we live in the better off we
will be. The societies we live in have an impact on who we are and what we become but they do not
control who we are and what we become. We are products of our cultures and our genetics. We are
born with certain tendencies and temperaments and we then learn how to act and react through
observation of our surroundings. We can affect our societies just as much as they affect us if we have
the desire to do so. Societies change through time by the addition of new technology, interaction with
other societies or cultures, natural disasters, and by the individuals that live within the societies or
individuals that enter into the societies. The only way to learn and grow is to keep our eyes open to the
world around us so that we can see what is going on and the act upon the knowledge that we gain. If
everyone in the world would worry more about what is right than who is right and then take action to
make things right the world we live in would be a much better place.
Myers, D. (2011), Exploring Psychology 8th Edition, New York, NY: Worth Publishing
Henslin, D.G. (2008), Essentials of Sociology A Down-To Earth Approach 8th Edition, Allyn and