This lesson provides information on macrosociology, discusses its usefulness within the field of sociology and provides examples of macrosociology research. After you’ve completed this lesson, test yourself with the quiz.
Definition of Macrosociology
Let’s say a young woman enters into an arranged marriage and begins her life as a wife and mother, while thousands of miles away another young woman who is the same age says goodbye to her parents as she begins her personal journey through college. The choices that these women make – that all humans make – at a personal level can be studied through the field of sociology.Yet, simply studying individuals is not enough.
One must also study the larger systems around the individuals in order to understand the context that behaviors are made in. In the field of sociology, the study of individuals is called microsociology, and the study of larger organizations, communities and societies that individuals live in, is called macrosociology. These different levels of analysis in sociology allow scientists to better understand the relationship between the larger systems and the individuals within them. Let’s now look a bit more closely on why this macrosociological knowledge is important.
Importance of Macrosociology
Macrosociology provides insight into the social canvas that is the background to an individual’s daily life. Sociologists can get a better idea of why people live the way they do and make the decisions they do by gaining a better understanding of the cultures and societies that influence them. Macrosociology helps to identify large-scale patterns and trends in society.
It also provides information that allows analysis on the similarities and differences between societies.With macrosociology, questions relate to larger groups or entities, such as why there are wealthy people and impoverished people or what relationship there is between ethnicities within a society. Additionally, macrosociology provides a framework in which to evaluate the stability and changes that occur within a society. If the focus was only on individuals, these trends and patterns could not be identified. By pulling back to a large-scale view, the interrelationships among large components of the society – as well as relationships between society and the individuals – can help sociologists to better understand an entire society and the people within in.
Examples of Macrosociology
The large social groups, organizations and social systems studied by macrosociology are varied.
Because macrosociology focuses on the society as a whole, it will include all subcultures and influential forces. Some examples of macrosociological entities are:
- Political systems
- Economic systems
- Religious institutions
- Modes of family life
- Education systems
Additionally, the relationships between these types of entities also falls under macrosociology. An example of this is the relationship between education and government; the government determines many key elements of the education system, from curriculum to the number of school hours that students must attend.Because macrosociology is at a larger scale and is looking for trends and patterns, it is often more easily quantifiable.
When looking at information about an individual, you will find many differences in comparing the information among individuals. This data is often more descriptive in nature because it deals with single numbers. However, at the macrosociological level, the data is less descriptive and often more easily counted and analyzed for a comparison.
The field of sociology relies on information at both a micro and macro level. While microsociology is the study of individuals in the context of the sociology field, macrosociology is used to gather data and information on larger entities within a society that will provide a clearer picture of that society that people live in as a whole. This can range from overall ethnic diversity to average household income to areas of widespread drug use.This information is then contrasted and evaluated with information about the individuals within the society to identify commonality, stability and social change. Macrosociology allows sociologists to investigate the interdependent social institutions, such as political, economic, education, religious, and family systems against one another and against historical data, in order to better understand the social influences of a society on the people who live within it.