In another example of how sociology is useful for understanding events in the news, Kieran Healy looks at Hurricane Katrina from a sociologist’s perspective:

… natural disasters are never wholly natural, because some kinds of people will be more likely to suffer and die than others, depending on how life is organized when the disaster hits. As everyone knows, social order is under severe pressure in New Orleans at the moment, and the media coverage is slowly coming around to analyzing the differential impact of the disaster. The fact that those who have been left behind, or turned into refugees, are disproportionately Africian-American, poor, or elderly is simply impossible to ignore from the media coverage. Seeing pundits and commentators react to these facts is, in a way, a barometer of their sociological imagination—their ability to see the systematic relationship between social structure and individual experience.

Healy, who recently reviewed a book on the sociology of disasters, praises the sociological imagination of conservative columnist David Brooks, whose writings, including this one, often suggest he knows more than a bit about sociology.