Sherelle Ducksworth: Sociological Concept and Precursors of Approaching Criticism … | The trade
Over the past year I have read and heard many views and opinions about CRT. In an effort not to become redundant as the previous authors in this series have provided much information and thoughtful comments on CRT, I hope to contribute to the conversation not only as a Christian but also as a professional sociologist. My contribution will consist of two parts. Part I is a discussion of four precursors to sociological theory that one should know before approaching the CRT. Since CRT is arguably a sociological theory, understanding the sociological theory as we apply it might be helpful. Part II is a discussion of four precursors to Critical Theory to Know Before Approaching the CRT and a final admonition for Christians.
I was a sophomore at community college when I first heard about sociology. One day my teacher was sitting in class and caught my attention as she examined, analyzed, and explained the nuances of everyday social experiences that led to fascinating results. What I remember most is learning about socialization and how we as individuals have emerged from a variety of influences such as our families, the media, and even our neighborhoods. I was intrigued and this intrigue started my path as a sociologist. After graduation, I enrolled in a historically black university and studied sociology. There I learned social theory and how sociologists like Karl Marx and Max Weber understood society. Two years later, I enrolled at Mississippi State University for a Masters of Science degree in sociology with an emphasis on social stratification. Eventually I graduated and became a sociology teacher. I've studied sociology for the past 14 years, understood the discipline, and taught students at community colleges in Mississippi, Tennessee and now North Carolina for the past 7 years.
For the past 14 years of studying sociology, I've been into sociological theory. So, before diving into CRT, I suggest that you should know four things about sociological theories that may be helpful.
1. Sociological theories are suggestions on how to see the world.
Sociologists use theories to observe, describe and explain social patterns or phenomena (macionis). For example, if a sociologist finds that women have higher poverty rates, they may propose a theory to explain why more women have higher poverty rates. Theories are suggestions from sociologists trying to provide reasons for what we see in society. They provide possible explanations, but are not mandatory and can be refuted. Basic sociological theories neither command allegiance nor give authority to be obeyed and obeyed. Instead, a sociological theory is an option for understanding social patterns. While some sociologists communicate their theories as absolute truth and warrant your full devotion and dedication in support of their theories, sometimes it is more about the person than the theory.
2. Sociological theories show us what to look for.
Theories tell researchers what to look for. Some sociologists refer to sociological theories as kaleidoscopes. A theory can therefore be explained: “As a kind of kaleidoscope – by shifting the theoretical perspective, the examined world changes its shape … Theories are like the lenses of the kaleidoscope; If you put in different things that you couldn't see before, they suddenly become visible. Different patterns become sharper … The role of theory is precisely to make hidden things visible, to define some patterns and to give meaning to the observations that social researchers continuously make when studying society ”(Gilbert). So theories provide a way of seeing things that we might not otherwise notice.
3. Sociological theories turn into a variety of ideas and assertions.
There are three basic theories in sociology: structural function theory, symbolic interactionist theory, and the theory of social conflict. Over time, these theories have given rise to a number of other theories that multiply the possible explanations for social patterns. The nature of a theory is to develop. Theories acquire new meanings and identities, usually based on the applicant of the theory. This means that it is possible for two people to use a theory, but to both expand what the theory means and what the theory intends to assert.
4. Sociological theories are descriptive but are used with research orientations aimed at prescribing solutions.
The formation and use of the theory is an early step in understanding social patterns. However, the theories are followed by sociological research that usually includes three specific research orientations. One orientation that is relevant to our conversation about critical race theory is critical orientation or critical sociology. Critical sociology is the study of society that focuses on the need for social change ”(Macionis). This means two things. First, not all sociological theories are aimed at social change. In fact, many critical sociologists criticize other research orientations for accepting the status quo and not trying to change society. Second, sociological theories can include both a description and rules for social change, but we can choose not to accept their rules without discrediting the description.
Hopefully these precursors will help you as you think about studying sociological theory.
- Macionis, John J. Sociology, 15th Edition. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2014.
- Gilbert, Nigel, ed. Explore social life. California: New Sage, 1993.
- Poythress, Vern S. Cash in Sociology. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.
- Denzin, Norman K., ed. The values of social science. United States: Aldine. 1970.
- Royce, Edward. Classical social theory and modern society: Marx, Durkheim, Weber. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
- Kendall, Diana. Social problems in a diverse society. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012.