for sociologial geeks II
damn, I am on a roll!
"XXX notes (IMO, too) that the distinguishing factor of our discipline is that we consider the totality -- structure and individual or culture and individual. I believe that this is the heart of sociology.
Gerth and Mills in Character and Social Structure (think that is the title) have a nice diagram that displays this interplay. I do think that this is what sets us apart from other behavioral sciences.
IMO, the structure/individual is inescapable, although it is almost entirely ignored in our (US) culture. We are deluded by the notion that the "individual" is a discrete, fixed entity that is free to do as s/he chooses. What sociology informs me is that this is not accurate at all. We are all bound by structure/culture. True, we may be free to choose among several options, but ultimately, the options available to us are, for all intents limited, so by default, our choices are limited, too. Yet, we blithely go around thinking such odd things that "anyone can be President in the US." Yes, that it is indeed a possibility, but it is highly unlikely (i.e., NOT probable). This understanding is NOT the current weltanschauung among our citizens.
My contribution to the list of "required" texts for any sociological practitioner (in academia or otherwise) is Harry Cohen's wonderful text, "Connections, Understanding Social Relations," Ames, IA, U. S. A.: Iowa State University Press, 1990, ISBN 0813817447. I think it is out of print, but it can be found here.
Harry does an incredible job of getting the reader to think outside of the box when it comes to applying sociological theory in our daily lives -- just wonderful.