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The Sociologist's EyeReflections on Social Life$
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Kai Erikson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300106671

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300106671.001.0001

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The Individual and the Social

The Individual and the Social

(p.21) The Individual and the Social
The Sociologist's Eye

Kai Erikson

Yale University Press

This chapter considers a second approach to the sociological perspective, which has to do with the effort to make clear that the social scene and the individual persons who compose it can be viewed as quite different entities. Sociologists know how to approach their subject matter as an assembly of parts. At the same time, they are cognizant of the fact that the social world, in essence, is a continuous field of force—a thing of drifts and tides and currents and flows. Human beings are all caught up in those drifts and flows, often without knowing that to be so. Autonomy is not a quality gained by asserting it to be so (“we believe in free will”). It is a quality to be gained by becoming aware of and coping with the social forces that make up the world in which we live.

Keywords:   social world, sociologists, autonomy, social forces, human beings, sociological perspective

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