Today, it is hard for any individual to make their own decision without taking aspects of society into consideration. Like discussed in class, the process of naming a baby is an example of how society plays a part into individuals lives without even knowing it. There are a lot of societal influences that can affect a baby’s name such as; religion, tradition, spelling, and creativity. The concept of taking aspects of society into consideration is called having a sociological perspective. Using a sociological perspective, one will not only take in their own thoughts, but include aspects of society to further their choices which can either fit into a pattern of society or stray away from it, shaping society without knowing it.
Sociologists study human behavior and society, which seems very broad- and is- but can be broken down into many units and subunits within society. According to Cherlin, there are many parts of society, including; race, ethnicity, religion, gender, marriage, kinships, etc. All these aspects come together to form a society. When sociologists study these units and subunits within society, they observe by gathering information through surveys, and questionnaires compiling information to help them conclude their study. After completing a study, Sociologists put all the information together as well as including outside influences such as environment, and social class into the study to make it as thorough as possible, minimizing any flaws within the study.
The environment is one of the most important things to take into consideration when studying human behavior. For example, if an observation on interfaith marriages compared the percentages of marriages between people of two different religions today to 1990, the environment would need to be taken into consideration. The time period in which information is being collected would also be taken into consideration, but the environment in which the couples are that are being studied would need to remain the same. If the study is taken in a neighborhood where there are multiple religions being represented in 1980, the study would need to be taken in the same neighborhood or one with similar circumstances, meaning that they have multiple religions represented throughout the neighborhood.
Taking factors like environment, poverty level, diversity rate, etc. during a study is an example of having a sociological perspective. Instead of just collecting this information from the study and leaving it at that, sociologists will include the factors surrounding the study taken at the time, gibing people more of an understanding of why the human behavior did or didn’t change. Studying human behavior can be very difficult because there is always going to be a variable that can affect/vary the information being collected, so coming into a study with a sociological perspective helps make the study through from start to finish.
Studying from a sociological perspective is similar to the sociological theory of “Agency within Social Context”. Taken from the “Introduction to Marriage and Families” paper written by Professor Brenda Wilhelm, Agency is defined as the given right to make decisions, but those decisions are heavily influenced by society, therefore agency is given, but exists only within social context. Coming back to the decision of baby naming, if a couple is deciding on a name, they can take many things into consideration that will then lead to the naming of their baby. All the things that are taken into consideration such as religion, tradition, uniqueness, etc. makeup the social context that leads to the final decision (agency).
Having a sociological perspective, and agency that exists within social context come together hand in hand, shaping society. Having a sociological perspective is key in understanding human patterns and behavior by taking everything within society into perspective. Having agency within social context is how society works, giving people the right to make their own decisions, but having society play a role into the decision-making. Over time, sociologists have studied human patterns and behavior, and have opened societies eyes to examine the world in a whole new light.