6 Must Know Sociological Concepts

Sociology is a complex social science. There are a lot of ideas in and it can get confusing. But, to make things easier, here are 6 concepts to introduce you to it.

On Everything Sociology, we've gone over many concepts. 

And since the holidays are here, I thought I'd make a (half) year in review so you can pick and choose what you want to re-read during the lonely, cold days of your break. 

So without further to do, here are the 6 must-know sociological concepts from Introduction to Sociology:

1) The Sociological Imagination

With the sociological imagination, C. Wright Mills explains that to truly understand society and a person's situation, a sociologist must not just look at the social issue from an everyday viewpoint.

Sociologists must use some creativity and imagination. 

They could do these two things by trying to understand the person's story and the society that they were brought up in (or how the social institutions they were involved with affected them). 

2) The Four Paradigms of Sociology

The four paradigms of sociology (or the schools of sociological thought) are the different ways sociologists view society, its institutions, and its problems.

The four paradigms are functionalism, conflict theory, symbolic interaction, and feminist perspective.

  • Functionalism is the relationship and interdependency between all social groups, big and small.
  • Conflict theory looks at the inequalities of society.
  • Symbolic interaction looks at how individuals interact with one another.
  • The feminist perspective looks at the inequality between the genders. 

3) Socialization

Socialization is the process whereby social institutions teach their members how to properly interact and behave in society. 

It also helps its members develop a sense of self (the "self" is a unique sense of identity that distinguishes people from others). 

But socialization can also be negative. 

Many times, it can develop people into conforming citizens rather than free-thinkers or people with agency (a person's capacity to act independently; to have free will).  


4) Sex and gender

The study of sex and gender looks at the differences between sex and gender. 

It also examines how the social construction of each gender affects their treatment and roles in society. 

Additionally, the sociology of sex and gender also studies sexual preferences and sexualization in society. 

5) Social Stratification

Social stratification, society's way of ranking people, is the study of hierarchy, prestige, and power. 

The sociology of social stratification tends to examine the different types in the world.

However, there are two main formats of stratification that most societies use. The caste system and the class system. 

Caste ranks people based on whose family they were born into, while class ranks people based on both birth and a person's achievements. 

RELATED: Sociologist's Tools

6) Race and racism

'What is 'race'? 

'Race,' contrary to popular belief, is a social creation (that is why some sociologists put single quotes around the word). 

It is not biological because people from the same ethnic groups (a group of people who share the same culture) do not have the same behaviours, personalities, and philosophies on life. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it. 

These are the six must-know sociological concepts from Introduction to Sociology. 

If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them in the comment area.


P.S. Do you want to learn more about sociology? Check out my book,  SOCI 001: The Armchair Sociologist’s Guide to Sociology, on Amazon. It's a clear and concise guide with descriptive examples to help you better understand this social science. Click here to learn more about it.


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