The broad aim of the, Sociologic, is simple: to study society and culture. But could you also think of anything more complicated to achieve?
To begin with, we must think about what exactly do we mean when we use the word ‘society’? Although it is commonly used in everyday language, ‘society’ describes something very complex.
To understand its complexity, we need to examine the various structures that make up a society, and consider how these different parts work together. Do societies materialise and progress ‘naturally’, or are they the result of specific processes? In this context, we must also consider the many different types of ‘culture’ that can be found in societies.
This word, too, carries great complexity.
In everyday language, the word ‘culture’ might refer to the artefacts of a specific society, such as the language, or the arts and music.
In studying sociology and cultural studies, however, we look beyond the rich variety of words and meaning, beautiful objects, music and theatre and dance, to the ‘culture of the everyday’.
Everyday culture may be invisible at first, but it makes our society function. Here, we are talking about the way we greet each other, or how close we stand to one another when talking, or how to address people of different ages and in different relationships to ourselves and the rest of society. It can also be about the different expectations that men and women carry, what is expected of ‘young people’, our attitudes to sexuality and so on.
In this chapter, our journey begins by reflecting on how a society and its everyday culture change across time and place—throughout history and in every corner of the planet.
How do we understand how people organise shared spaces, whether it is cyberspace or a neighbourhood or a global city? The variations across time and place, in different parts of the world and also different generations, are enormous. Can you imagine a society without mobile phones or the internet? How much more complicated would it be to organise seeing a movie with your friends? How did your grandparents manage it?
Ultimately this chapter will challenge you to reflect on many common words and phrases… and to unpack exactly what they mean! Even words like ‘progress’ have layers that most of us have not thought about.
Additional blogs that can help in this journey include:
- The complexity of progress (available here)