Common Misconceptions about Society
Part of the Sociology For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Many people are absolutely convinced of the truth of some things about society that are not entirely true. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions about society, proven false by sociology.
Social inequality is deserved. Although it’s true that people with many resources in society (saved wealth, good jobs, happy families) have worked hard to earn those resources, it’s not necessarily true that people who lack such resources are lacking them because it’s somehow their fault.
Social disadvantages generally compound one another, meaning that when you’re in a disadvantaged position in society — for whatever reason — it’s much more difficult to climb out of that position than people in advantaged positions may realize.
Race and gender don’t matter any more. Physical characteristics have always affected the way people regard one another in society, and they always will. Although many societies have seen a welcome decline in the most destructive forms of racism and sexism, it’s flatly false to say that physical characteristics — skin color, sex, height, weight, you name it — no longer matter.
Society prevents us from being our true selves. From a sociological perspective, humans are fundamentally social beings. From the moment you were born, the people around you have been at the heart of your life and your idea of who you are. This is one of the most important reasons to study sociology: If you don’t understand your society, you can’t truly understand yourself.