What Are Patterns in Sociology?

Imagine a mother of four. She wakes up early, prepares her husband for work and her kids for school, does shopping, does laundry, does cleaning, takes the kids back from school, etc. Mother here is a social unit, and her actions, worldview and system of values are determined by the social pattern of an American mother she follows in her everyday life.

Imagine a web-designer. He wakes up late and stays awake till late night. He sprouts a goatee beard, wears hipster-looking apparel, smokes a lot and undergoes binge coffee drinking. A web-designer surfs the web for hours every day, attends brainstorms with colleagues, has a knack for geek stuff and sometimes acts a bit weird. That’s how the society thinks of web-designers, and if one wants to fit in, he has to act according to that very sociology pattern.

Now, imagine an average American Middle school pupil. He hates waking up early, he hates school, he likes playing computer games, and he likes hanging out with friends. Studying makes him nauseous, parent’s criticism makes him even more rebellious. He eats too much junk food and can’t stand vegetables. That is a sociological behavioral pattern of a middle school pupil, which is the subject of sociology in general.

The importance of finding a pattern (and how to do it)

As a matter of fact, sociology uses empirical, critical and analytical methods of investigation to look for patterns in either individuals or groups, of communities, or humankind in general. Knowledge on behavioral patterns and social order helps understanding of reasons behind why people do things they do, and why people act the way they act.

Humans are social creatures, right? That’s why unraveling social patterns leads to comprehension of motives and driving forces behind people’s actions. It also helps improving social conditions and overall social welfare at the level of an individual, community or nation.

Today, to study social and behavioral patterns you might apply one of the following methods:

  • Archival/Historical method – Relies upon secondary data taken from journals, memoirs, diaries, records, etc
  • Content analysis – Deals with complex systematic analyses of interviews and personal correspondence to allocate subliminal messages, encoded texts, etc
  • Experiment – Used to isolate a certain social process or pattern and study it in the framework of different variables to determine whether it depends on certain conditions or events, for example,
  • Observation – A researcher aims to become a member of a group or directly access the subject to carry out observation over daily routine in order to compile a profile for further study
  • Survey – A researcher gathers miscellaneous data taken from on the scene interviews and questionnaires needed for further computer analysis

If you look at social patterns from the bird’s eye panorama, you’ll notice it has much in common with cause and effect essays. There are certain life conditions, circumstances and personal values that predetermine certain behavioral patterns to be triggered. Found a cause, found a pattern, now can find a solution.