Lecture 2 Week 2 – JSB171 notes
‘Thinking Differently About Society’
Three disciplinary tools that will predominately be used in order to help us achieve different
ways of thinking about society during this lecture:
History of the present
We may believe we understand in great depth our lives and the society we all live in,
however we are actually only aware of a very small portion of the world and the
things that take place in it. Our lives are the small ‘bubble’ of existence that actually
makes up the ‘bigger picture’.
We often just accept our lives for what they are, as we are used to the way we live
and take it as being the ‘norm’. we very rarely look at our own lives in a critical light.
Sociological imagination connects our lives to a much broader spectrum and larger
patterns of history and social processes.
Through the process of using sociological imagination, we disengage our
commonsense understandings of the world, in favour of more open-minded views
and thinking in ways we have not before.
e.g. In our society, we have in place very commonsense understanding of the
concept of childhood. We believe that children differ from adults in a number
of ways and are generally perceived as innocent, and unable to understand
adult concepts etc. However, through using our sociological imagination, we
are able to disengage these commonsense notions and examine a broader
construct of childhood; we can do so by looking at the way childhood has
been perceived in the past and also in other cultures. Thus, we understand
that the way we treat and perceive childhood is in fact not universal, but
specific to our time and culture.
Based on medieval notions of childhood, in which children were considered no
different to adults and were treated the same with the same rights etc from the age
of seven, it can be deduced that our modern western society has, in fact, created the
notion of childhood.
Social Construction of Childhood
Childhood did not always exist as we know it now. Children worked, drank, and
dressed the same way that adults did, and sex was not viewed as exclusive to
adulthood. At the age of seven, children were able to be betrothed. In pubs, children
drank alongside adults. Often in cases of poverty, a single bedroom was shared by
adults and children alike and sex was not seen as a particularly private event.
Today, we strive to protect the ‘innocence’ of children and usually withhold
information regarding sex, alcohol, etc. We also do not allow them to work until a
certain age. Essentially we construct the notion of childhood and reason that they
are ‘too young’ to deal with topics they have in the past been considered old enough
for. Social Construction of Gender
Commonsense notions that be