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What Is Morality? A Sociological Perspective 

What is morality? This is a question that has been pondered as long as communities and societies have existed. In any form, when people interact with one another, it is a social interaction. And, social interactions come with rules for behavior. When these rules become institutionalized into our society and integrated into our culture, they can become morals. In this article I will delve into what morality is, the relationship between morality and sociology, and present a new perspective of ethics.

What is Morality?

Morality is a structure that allows us to categorize intentions, decisions and actions into categories of proper and improper.

What this means is that morality deals with a particular system of values and principles of conduct. Further, these principles become a set of ethics in any given society. Morality is said to be a choice but every reasonable member of a given society must try to abide by its norms for him to be accepted in his community. If he acts otherwise, his people will create a kind of distance for him. They will not want to relate with him, they believe that he could affect them by their anti-social behaviours. This is testified by an aphorism from the Yoruba beliefs which has it that people will be addressed by the way they dress.  

A theoretical physicist and scholar, Albert Einstein once said and I quote,

“…the most important human endeavour is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.”

Albert Einstein

By these words, Einstein means that morality is an unavoidable fact that should be part of our life and that we should therefore make sure that it is shown in our daily activities. Einstein tried to convince his targeted audience by arguing that morality would not only beautify our deeds in life, but also serve as a tunnel that allows dignity to flow freely into it.

What is Morality and Sociology

Relying on collective conscience (a term which refers to a set of shared beliefs that are common to a group of people), Emile Durkheim that the real issues in every given society can be evaluated either by empirical method, extensive observation or scientific experimentation since they are not abstract concepts. He maintains that these issues such as high crime waves, racial inequality, terrorism among others started from the family whether they are seen as cultural norm, value or behavior.  

sociology quotes - emile durkheim; What Is Morality? A Sociological Perspective 

To achieve a mechanical solidarity in the approach of how things are done, sociologists need to first understand these issues which plagued a geographical entity. When confirmed that it is moral indecency, theories of morality that have been in place for centuries should then be used. A person who behaves badly might be suffering from egoistic suicide, a critical condition in which lack of familial bonds makes a person to feel so disconnected from his actual community.

Sociologists could craft ideas that will paint the picture of the new world for him in a different way, it is possible that he would see the bitter truth realities and go back to where he felt neglected before.

A New Perspective: Ethics Unwrapped

Being the basis of every nation, morality in the lens of sociology is a pivotal pillar that defines the manners by which things are done. People believe that what mankind displays at different scenes is what he has actually learnt from the root (society) that he is coming from. This means that there will be a kind of stain on our personalities if we act in accordance with our thinking faculties.

As morality is normative and persuasive, it should also be value free according to this research. This will create an enabling environment of access as people will face not any kind of hindrance. In the study of cognitive psychologists and some other neuroscientists, they examined some factors affecting the processes of interactions in selected societies as well as how these spring to affect moral behavior by running controlled tests but some moral matters could only be checked.

Final Considerations: What is Morality and Sociology?

I will recommend that sociologists should look at new ways to better project moral values for the evolution of progress. When there are good values in a society, the citizens would willingly abide by the law of the state. Thomas Hobbes says the state will degenerate into a ‘poor, nasty, brutish and solitary’ life, a total level of anarchy and blind lawlessness which will allow disorderliness to flow without any check from any superior authority.

Morality is a kind of ethics unwrapped, a display of expected goodness but it is a painful story that has gone the wrong way. A collective effort would bring morality back into its normal life.

Mohammed Taoheed

Mohammed Taoheed is a freelance journalist and legal researcher based in Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria. His reporting is at the intersection of social justice, climate change, education and sociology and has been published by different outlets in his country.