So, I was asked by one of my readers to justify the relevance of sociology in the 21st century.
First of all, I would love to emphasize the meaning and purpose of the discipline.
Sociology could be defined, simply as the scientific and systematic study of the society and it’s players (human beings).
It’s the scientific study of groups of people.
Therefore, it’s the duty of a sociologist to study problems amongst groups of individuals and aiming at solving them. There are so many facets to this and I’d like to pick only a few.
Let’s start with workplaces.
Sociology is relevant in industry and industry-related environments. And even in this, there are so many examples; employer-employee relationship or employee-employee relationship or even effects of work on family and other institutions attached.
Let me be a little theoretical, we could analyse how Marx’s Conflict theory would relate well with industries. We could say that both parties (employer and employee) have their different interests which they want to keep. It’s the interest of the employer to make profit while it’s the interest of the employee to get befitting payments; that is, payments that are equal to or a little greater than the work they do. Marx would say that this clash of interests of both parties would lead to conflict. The functionalists would look at how the workplace would affect the other institutions. They would most likely consider how the workplace would affect other institutions like the family. They would most likely say that a change in the economic institution would cause a ripple effect on other institutions. For example, a father that fends for his family economically is retrenched from his place of work, there would be no money coming into the family which would affect any form of offering they would give at Church. At that point power relations would drop too.
Scientific Management Theory talks about how it’s the human nature to be lazy and due to that, man must be forced to work. The proponent of this theory, Fredrick Taylor, then changed his orientation that man should be motivated financially for greater output. To him, man could be enslaved by buying his time. Isn’t that sort of happening today? Almost everyone is blinded by money. These days, people are working overtime just for extra pay.
We could analyse how sociology is practically, but, unintentionally practised in the family.
There’s a concept in sociology; POWER. In old African societies, power relations ran from the top to the bottom in this order; father – mother – children. Even among the wives, the Yorubas would call them Ìyále, power was patterned by both age and time of marriage, that’s why we have the first wife; who wields the highest respect and then, down the line. But, things are changing, capitalism and globalisation has stopped large family systems and now, we have the nuclear family system where it’s a man to his wife and their children and now that we have working mothers, power relations seems to be shifting from a one-sided view to a balanced view. Also, the duties of parents and children are changing.. Fathers used to be seen, in the past, as the heavy duty men and then, boys would imitate their fathers. Now, we have female presidents, female political aspirants, female doctors and other so called “male jobs” done by females, while we also have so called “female jobs” done by men, like these days, a man could be a midwife.
What about marriage? Gone are the days when a marriage was seen as the union between a man and a woman. These days, marriage is the union of two people; man to man, woman to woman, man to woman, etc.
The list is inexhaustible.
Sociology spreads across a lot of facets. Daily, sociological researchers research on persistent problems and try to find solutions to them.