Sociology is referred to as the study of social causes, social change, social life as well as the consequences of human behavior. This study investigates the structure of groups, societies, organizations, and how individuals interact within these contexts (Merton 36). In short, sociology focuses on the understanding of social change, social interaction, social institutions, and social organization. Sociologists are interested in individual experiences that are shaped by social groups’ interactions as well as society as a whole. An article by Clare L. Stacey called “Empathy is hard”, is a perfect example of an article that addresses various topics in sociology. The topics addressed in this article are symbolism interactionism, which is an approach used by sociologists in the explanation of social life in sociology. The other topic is subcultures.
The author of the story explains empathy and personal experience about empathy. The author explains how empathy is not hard to grasp but it might be extremely difficult to practice it. This is because unlike how people view it, empathy does not lead to an individual connection. It is a skill rather than an individual’s trait or perhaps disposition. The author argues that empathy can be cultivated, and once people understand that then they can seek ways to practice empathy (Clare, line 210). Recognizing that empathy is not always harnessed for good, is the first step in empathy cultivation. However, the main idea of this article is the usage of sociological imagination while practicing empathy. Therefore, this story teaches about the usefulness of sociological imagination, which is allowing a better questioning and identification of various aspects of society and in our subgroups.
Throughout the article, an individual learns and understands the importance of using sociological imagination, in symbolic interactions as well as in subcultures they belong. Well, sociological imagination is an ability for a person to see the context that models their decision-making and decisions that are made by others (Garoutte, lines 150-155). For example, the author applied this concept in practicing empathy, which help in becomes more compassionate in viewing the friend’s decision in keeping the martial art studio open despite the COVID situation.
Symbolic interactionism focuses individual attention on how human interaction builds rules as well as meanings, which then fabricates further interactions.it provides a theoretical perspective, which assists in examining the relationship of individuals within their society. This perspective is centered on the concept that communication is how individuals make sense of their social worlds. This viewpoint views individuals as active in modeling their world, rather than as entities who are acted upon by society. This approach looks at individuals and society from a micro-level perspective (Quist-Adade, line 20). In relation to the article, this can be applied in the one-on-one interaction of the author and the friends. However, subculture can be referred to as a culture that originated from a small group of individuals, which differentiates itself from the culture of the parents to which the group belongs (Jensen, lines 419-420). According to the study, most individuals belong to at least a group that can be identified or classified as a subculture. In relation to the article, the author belonged to a particular group of friends, where they had their own routines and practices before COVID emerged. Well, a large group of family members or friends tend to develop their own subculture thus making the author’s group a subculture.
As such, subculture and symbolic interactionist influence as well as relationships with each other. Every person is involved in various activities, groups, roles, or relationships thus participating in a subculture. However, when an individual becomes a member of a particular subgroup, the members of the group usually become their first source of social interaction. The group members interact through having meaningful communication since they find a sense of belonging in each other.
Clare L. Stacey. Empathy is hard. What we need is (sociological) imagination. American Sociological Association. 20 October 2020. https://contexts.org/blog/empathy-is-hard-sociological-imagination/
Garoutte, Lisa. “The sociological imagination and community-based learning: Using an asset-based approach.” Teaching Sociology 46.2 (2018): 148-159.
Jensen, Sune Qvotrup. “Towards a neo-Birminghamian conception of subculture? History, challenges, and future potentials.” Journal of Youth Studies 21.4 (2018): 405-421.
Merton, Robert K. “The sociology of knowledge.” Society & Knowledge. Routledge, 2017. 35-66.
Quist-Adade, Charles. Symbolic interactionism: the basics. Vernon Press, 2019.