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--------------------Aditya Mongra @ Professors Classes-------------------Sociology and Common Sense

To many people, sociology appears to be a labourious study of the obvious,


an expensive way to discover what everybody already knows. To these people,
sociology is merely common sense. But sociology is more than common sense
because it is based largely on scientific evidence. Often ideas or beliefs derived
from common sense turn out to be false, contradicted by facts from sociological
research.
Sociological findings such as those that contradict commonly held myths
may surprise you. Of course, not every finding in sociology is surprising. In fact,
some confirm what you have known all along. You should not be surprised,
therefore, to learn from sociology that there is more joblessness among Blacks than
among Whites or that there are more poor people than rich people in prison. But
many other commonsense ideas have turned out to be false. By systematically
checking commonsense ideas against reliable facts, sociology can tell us which
popular beliefs are myths and which are realities. For thousands of years, peoples
common sense told them that the earth was flat, that big objects fell faster than
small ones, and that character was revealed in facial features; yet today we know
none of these is true. Today, science is replacing common sense as a source of
dependable knowledge.
When we do not know where our ideas come from or that they are based on,
we sometimes call them common sense. If we call them common sense, we do
not have to prove they are true, for then others will join us in the collective selfdeception of assuming they have already been proved. If one presses for proof, one
is told that the idea has been proved by experience. The term common sense puts
a respectable front on all sorts of ideas for which there is no systematic body of
evidence that can be cited. What often passes for common sense consists of a
groups accumulation of collective guesses, hunches, and haphazard trial-and-error
learnings. Many common sense propositions are sound, earthy, useful bits of
knowledge. A soft answer turneth away wrath, and birds of a feather flock
together, are practical observations on social life. But many common-sense
conclusions are based on ignorance, prejudice, and mistaken interpretation. When
medieval Europeans noticed that feverish patients were free of lice while most
healthy people were lousy, they made the common sense conclusion that lice
would cure fever and therefore sprinkled lice over feverish patients. You may have
heard the encouraging message that Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but
you may still remember the discouraging warning Out of sight, out of mind.
When facing such conflicting commonsense ideas, how can we tell which are
correct and which are false? We can get the answer from sociological research. It
has shown, for example, that the effect of one persons absence on another depends
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--------------------Aditya Mongra @ Professors Classes-------------------on the strength of the initial relationship. If two people have loved each other
deeply, like Romeo and Juliet, absence will make their hearts grow fonder, but a
high school romance tends to disintegrate because such relationships are usually
not deep or serious enough to begin with. Common sense thus preserves both folk
wisdom and folk non-sense, and to sort out one from the other is a task for science.
Only within the past two or three hundred years has the scientific method
become a common way of seeking answers about the natural world. Science has
become a source of knowledge about our social world even more recently; yet in
the brief period since we began to use the scientific method, we have learned more
about our world than had been learned in the preceding ten thousand years. The
spectacular explosion of knowledge in the modern world parallels our use of the
scientific method. You will learn more about scientific method in the section
Science, scientific method and critique.
In sum, it is not true that sociology is only common sense. If it were, we
wouldnt bother to study sociology. Why would we spend our time learning
something we already know? Common sense requires only a willingness to believe
what it tells us. It cannot tell us whether those beliefs have any basis in fact. But
sociology can. This is one of the reasons that sociology is exciting. It enables us to
see that what has long been familiar - or just common sense - may turn out to be
unfamiliar or uncommon. While common sense gives us familiar and untested
ideas, sociology offers factually supported ideas as well as the excitement of
discovering something new about ourselves.

--------------------Aditya Mongra @ Professors Classes--------------------

Dear Candidate, after completing a given topic and preparing your notes in
pointer form, you must attempt questions asked so far in previous years and get
them evaluated. As I have discussed before, what really counts here is how you are
articulating the learned knowledge in the given Time and Word Limit. Always
remember that Civil Services Examination is not about information, it is more
about analysis. So, you must practice by writing more and more answers and
getting them periodically evaluated.
All the best

--------------------Aditya Mongra @ Professors Classes--------------------