Essay Sample on Perspective in Sociology

Published: 2023-01-03
Essay Sample on Perspective in Sociology
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Race History Inspiration Sculpture Community Social change
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 584 words
5 min read

The National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C. is showcasing a traveling exhibition titled Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths. It showcases over 200 pieces of African artwork drawn from the 19th and early 20th centuries and highlights how blacksmiths developed their skills over the years. It provides insight into the role of African blacksmiths in shaping power and how society perceived value and power through objects of symbolism. The assigned qualities from the artworks cemented the different social structures that held the image of the community. Some of the areas of societal structure include medicine and commerce. As such, some symbols related to herbalism while others were currencies, and items of trade. The showcased items exhibit great aesthetic beauty and quality and come in different shapes and sizes. They also show the difference in advancement levels for different regions.

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The exhibits include wooden sculptures with elements of iron and different sizes and shape of iron currencies. There are also many types of musical instruments made from iron and other materials. Body ornamentations were also showcased in addition to tools used to perform certain rituals and rites. Another relevant category of the tools showcased are those used for hunter-gathering activities, subsistence farming, and weapons to protect them against aggression from their enemies and animals. The iron tools highlight the way of life of the people within the period. They also help to capture the slow pace of civilization for the people considering the limited capability of the tools to enable large scale production and distribution of resources. However, they also capture the social structure and the advanced level of governance and centers of power which existed as well as the distribution of labor and specialization.

The exhibited artifacts bring to context the sociological perspective symbolic interactionism. It is a micro-level perspective of viewing the interpersonal relationships between individuals within a society (Carter & Fuller, 2015). The symbols used are assign meaning in the communication process between different players within a society. For instance, there are iron currencies which assigned value and helped in trade. So, an amount of product that had an equivalent value as the currency would be traded. Body ornaments determined the perception of beauty and also symbolized gender roles within society. According to the symbolic interactionism, humans interact with each other and with objects based on the meaning ascribed to them. This approach is relevant to the exhibits, in particular considering that there were artifacts associated with religious beliefs and symbols of authority.

Based on the symbols, it is possible to decipher the patterns of interactions exhibited by the people who used the particular symbols. The various tools, for instance, capture the different divisions of labor. From such divisions, it is possible to picture interactions between farmers and gatherers. Symbolic interactionism relies on qualitative approaches such as the use of observations and assigned meanings based on the interpretation of the role of symbols within society. An essential aspect of symbolic interactionism which is evident in the tools and symbols exhibited is constructivism. It is noteworthy that humans develop their social constructs per their interactions with other humans. The constructs that have the most significant impact and meaning are always those that are widely accepted. As regards the symbols at the exhibition, for an iron currency to be considered valuable, there had to be shared trust in it. The same approach applied to religious symbols and symbols of authority.


Carter, M. J., & Fuller, C. (2015). Symbolic interactionism. Sociopedia. isa, 1, 1-17. doi: 10.1177/205684601561

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