The Sociological Consciousness

Sociological Consciousness is another way of considering Sociological Imagination with a more explicit critical stance. It is, literally, and by title, Peter L. Berger's Invitation to Sociology (1966) and focusses on how to think sociologically. There are four motifs or themes for sociologists:
  1. The sociologist is involved in debunking, which includes:
    • Looking beyond what is presented
    • Seeing through what is presented
    • Mistrust of the apparently obvious
    • Unmasking the surface appearance
  2. The sociologist deals in unrespectability, which involves:
    • Awareness of other than middle class standards and propriety
    • Not accepting the division between the respectable as an imposed value by rulers and the unrespectable, so always asking questions and going beyond the respectable and allowed to get a clearer view
  3. A sociologist says what is presented as truth is not truth for all (a sociologist is a relativist):
    • Truth of one group is never absolute for all
    • Looking at the perspectives and beliefs of the different
    • Gaining insight through examining other cultures
    • Realising that ideas change
    • The sociologist can disagree with core beliefs that a society promotes as meaningful
  4. And there is the cosmopolitan motif for sociologists:
    • Like C. W. Mills the sociologist transcends the particular situation
    • Be open to other ways of thinking without being prejudicial
    • Transcending where one is and taking a wider world view
    • Being at home where other people are
    • If it is human, it is not alien to the sociologist
So sociological consciousness means a critical awareness of social life. The person with sociological consciousness keeps asking the question why in a critical and information seeking manner about collective level causes and effects. In asking why, new levels of analysis and understanding are revealed.
It means the sociologist having an attitude of suspicion. It is not about taking things for granted as they are or accepting what is on the surface.
It is not that sociology is negative, but that it is analytical and pursues its analysis. Sociology looks at society and asks why and what other it could be.

What's In A Name Assignment hereAssignment One AS Level


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful