Welcome to SociologyStyle.com, where you can find out what your “sociological style” is. We will ask you a series of questions about how you see society. There are no right or wrong answers, this is a tool for self-reflection and learning, not a test!
Each question builds off of ideas in classic and mainstream sociology. Once you see your results you will know more about the types of sociologists you are most likely to agree and disagree with. It will also help you better understand how different streams of sociological thought and literature differ.
Take this before you take that Soc 101 or Sociological Theory course! It will make those courses much easier to understand. Have fun, and enjoy learning something new about yourself and society.
Or read on to learn more about how the assessment is designed.
This assessment it built on some basic ideas, primarily that a certain set a fundamental questions have persisted in the field, with more than one sociological tradition answering those fundamental questions differently.
First is the question, what is the basic unit of society that sociologists study? Just as biologists study cells and economists study markets, what do sociologists study at the most basic level? You might be tempted to say “people”, which is true, but so do psychologists, anthropologists, historians, and political scientists. What aspect of people do sociologists study? You might say “society” –after all isn’t that what ‘sociologist’ is named after? True again, but this takes us to the primary question, which is:
What is the fundamental unit that society is made of?
On this question, three main traditions in sociology answer differently. The three main sociological traditions see society as made up primarily of:
One stream sees society as a type of organism, with integrated systems building it up. Just as a human body has a respiratory system, skeletal system, muscular system, and so forth; societies similarly have familial systems, economic systems, political systems, and so on.
Another stream sees society as a type of theater, with sets of symbols that give meaning to actors. Just as when watching a play, there are character types, roles, scripts, costumes, and props –the society we live in has it’s own version of these things that shape human behavior.
The third stream sees society as a type of battlefield, with groups in ongoing struggle for social and economic advantages. These struggles fall along several lines, such as tensions between groups based on class, gender, race, religion, sexuality, nation, political parties, and more.
How do you see society, is it more like an organism, a theater, or a battlefield?
Each of these three ways of viewing society–what we’ll call the systems, symbols, and struggle traditions–each wrestle with another set of questions that further distinguish them from one another. Below are the three questions and the tension between them. Click on each one to understand more about the tension among them.
The Sociological Style Assessment will ask you a series of questions that will help you identify where you land on these tensions and how you most dominantly view society. This will help you approach your sociology courses with more confidence and awareness of key underlying ideas, and your position on them.