What are social phenomena? Definition & Examples (Sociology)

We explain what social phenomena are and their characteristics. In addition, some examples of current social phenomena.

What are social phenomena?

In sociology, social phenomena are understood as all those events, trends, or reactions that take place within an established human society. They are evidenced through collective modifications of behavior.

In other words, a social phenomenon is a part of the conscious behavior of society, a specific way in which it organizes and structures its reactions. It is determined by the objective and subjective conditions of life in which people live.

Social phenomena, thus, can be of a different nature, and respond to specific interests, or even be the result of other types of factors, such as economic ones. However, being eminently social, they are limited in their perspective on the relationships between the individuals that constitute a community.

Sociology is the discipline that studies social phenomena, although these can also be analyzed from an economic, psychological, historical, or political perspective, and in those cases, the concept adapts to the specific needs of the approach.

Social phenomena are considered as including all behavior that influences or is influenced by organisms sufficiently alive to respond to one another. This includes influences from past generations.
Examples of social phenomena of all types include the existence and power of parties in governments, such as the Republicans and Democrats in the United States, and the commission of violent crimes or acts of war, which are both behavioral social phenomena.

Characteristics of social phenomena

social phenomenon occupation wall street
Social phenomena such as the “occupation” of Wall Street break into everyday life.

Social phenomena differ from other types of phenomena in that, having to do with the way people think and act within a society, they are subjective and relative in nature. In some cases, they even respond to characteristics of the collective imaginary.

There is talk of social phenomena in an attempt to understand in a systemic or contextual way the decisions taken by a collective. In other words, virtually everything can be a given social phenomenon.

However, it stands out that breaks with what is considered the “everyday” or “traditional” behavior of the society studied. Thus, what in a historical moment can be a striking social phenomenon, in another it can be little more than the established norm.

Examples of social phenomena

social consumption phenomenon
The forms of consumption are also social phenomena.

It is not difficult to find examples of social phenomena, although deciding on a specific case. In general, collective decisions are examples of social phenomena.

Among them are mass migrations, political rebellions, labor trends, consumer trends, criminal activities, poverty, or the expansion of religion within a given community.

Current social phenomena

social religion phenomenon
The rise of evangelical churches is a social phenomenon of the Third World.

At present, there are more or less widespread trends in social phenomena. They are attributable in one way or another to the “spirit of the age”, that is, to the collective unconscious of a specific cultural region, if not of the entire world.

For example, Venezuelan mass emigration in the last five years has been a social phenomenon (also political and economic) in the South American region. So has the political rise of ultraconservative parties in Eastern Europe in recent times.

In a more specific area such as American society, some polarization has been observed since President Donald Trump took office.

Another possible example is the rise of social media technology in the constitution of couples and romantic relationships in the West or even the rise of evangelical parishioners in the nations of the American Third World.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button