Sociology and Common Sense

Many people mistakenly believe that sociology is the study of the obvious. They claim that sociology is nothing but the application of common sense. But equating any science with simple common sense could not be further from the truth! Common sense is not always “common,” nor “sensible.” Statements like “Birds of a feather flock together” and “Opposites attract,” while supposedly based on common knowledge, contradict each other. Because common sense does not always accurately predict reality, people need something else.

Not every sociological finding is revolutionary; many findings do appear consistent with common sense. By systematically testing common sense beliefs against facts, sociologists can sort out which popular beliefs hold true and which do not. To accomplish this, sociologists use a variety of social science research designs and methods.

Sociology as a discipline is more than common sense. Sociology is a method of inquiry that requires the systematic testing of beliefs against evidence. Sociologists, therefore, make determining whether specific ideas are fact or fiction their job.