Common sense and sociology

  • by Dr. Surendra Singh

In an around the world people make assumptions about the way the world is, and about the world in which they live connoting the perspective of common sense that people attribute and think that what they know is true. In other words common sense are ideas which people claim that they know and they consider it to be true, they see it as if it is true.

Common sense has a very long history and right since the emergence of man in groups, society they have wondered about the world in which they live, resulting into the emergence of certain assumptions which people held true. For example in the ancient civilization when people wondered over the different ways and happenings of the universe, they developed the idea of power higher than them resulting into the idea of God, and looked it in such a way that it was believed to be true. It means the perspective of common sense developed to describe the connectionsin detail which was considered right. Even different behavioral patterns that developed entailed within it the perspective of common sense. For eg.foot binding of females in ancient China was supported by the belief that men are highly aroused by seeing small feet, even thought men never saw naked foot. However Fred C Black argues that if they might had been repulsed because the beet was U-Shaped and often decayed and covered with dead skin. This description reveals that the assumptions in common sense may not be true. Hence whether they are true or not?requires empirical evidence and sociology as a scientific discipline of society steps into testify the held assumptions. Sociology looks for reasons and thus its evidence sometimes challenge our common sense, any held assumption, for its validity requires scientific research, since science cannot be equated with common sense. The scientific nature of sociology generated the knowledge that cannot simply be considered as a statement of obvious, it is more than common sense.Sociological thinking helps us to see everyday social life in a new light, it questions the actions and ideas that most people take for granted. Though it is also true that sociologists being a part of society not only lives in it, participate in it but also become a part of creating and sustaining values, meanings, reflecting the perspective of obviousness.He describes certain behaviors or events in the manner of commonality since either he knows it or might have gone through it being a part of that society. In this sense sociology was also accused of being the study of obvious.  However Peter Berger highlights on the process of ‘debunking’ that is looking behind the facades of everyday life. It is an unmasking tendency in sociology requiring not only the critical mind but also the critical distance, it requires to relinquishingof taking things for granted. But we should not forget that debunking is easy when the sociologists are studying the different society or different culture. It becomes difficult for a sociologist to account the unsettling facts from his own society or culture. But one of the pre-requisite of scientific evidence is to maintain an enough critical distance that would help avoid being taken in by the group’s definition of the situation, though being near enough to understand group’s experience.