Sociology:dimensions of inequality

Essay by naturallyUniversity, Bachelor's May 2006

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'Sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies' (Giddens, 1993). Sociology is concerned with the small things like interactions between strangers to bigger issues such as global warming. Bhaskar described society as a multilayered reality. His work was concerned with looking at the history of things as opposed to just what's on the surface. Studying sociology is being able to look at social situations in a wider context than your own personal view. Having the ability to do this is referred to as the 'sociological imagination' (Mills, 1970). This way of thinking allows us to look at things objectively. A classic example of the sociological imagination is considering an individual drinking a cup of coffee. The act of drinking a cup of coffee is a seemingly simple, everyday routine. However on closer inspection we realise the significance of it. It has become a social ritual we all feel obliged to comply with in order to conform.

Coffee is a socially acceptable drug in our society whereas marijuana is not. There are societies that are more lenient towards marijuana, why is this? Also coffee has been down a long line of people before it has gotten to you. This line connects some of the poorest countries in the world to the wealthier countries in the west. These links are provided by the people who transport the coffee all over the world to various places. Coffee holds a significant symbolic value, we have all at some point met up with a friend for coffee. However, individuals are more interested in meeting up with one another as opposed to actually drinking the coffee itself.

The sociological imagination shows us that situations that seemingly only affect one person actually affect a lot of other people. Sometimes even a...