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Sociology is about the real world with its internal structures and social forces behind most of our decisions and thoughts. The ever-changing and sophisticated world of intersecting destinies and paths in which we shape the lives of others and live the lives that are shaped by others. The most pressing problems in our societies cannot be understood without looking for the roots of the respective phenomena. One of the highest emigration rates among EU member states cannot be explained solely by the wage gap between Eastern and Western Europe, one of the highest numbers of traffic fatalities in the whole of Europe cannot be explained solely by the fact that alcohol consumption in Lithuania is one of the highest on the continent, one of the highest prison rates in the EU cannot be explained solely by the fact that homicide rate in Lithuania is five times higher than the European average. One has to look deeper, look for the flaws in the country’s social mechanism and use one’s sociological imagination as much as possible to find a way to correct this mechanism. Every sensible social decision, whether economic or political, should therefore be based on sociological knowledge, and sociology forms the background for many other disciplines.

The world we live in is mapped in our minds every day as we look at the screens of TV, the maze of the internet or the newspapers sold on the next corner. It’ is quite natural that we take for granted what we’ are told. The media shape our image of the world and directly influence our decisions to act or not to act. This role of the media is even more important in Lithuania, the country that has spent half of the last century getting used to “the truth” pouring out of all available media, the country that is constantly under propaganda pressure from its eastern neighbours who portray the entire western world as perverse and aggressive. Media studies shows us why the world is portrayed in a certain way and enables us to develop some understanding of the reality portrayed. The media is mostly based on and supports stereotypes and prejudices to which we have become accustomed. In Lithuania’s post-agrarian, patriarchal society, centuries-old stereotypes and prejudices are widespread. Lithuania is often criticised in Europe for the level of xenophobia and related intolerance, including on gender issues. Although women occupy the most important positions in business and government, including the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament, and the European Institute for Gender Equality is the only EU institution based in Vilnius, the glass ceilings and sticky floors in the labour market and the drastic figures of domestic violence are still omnipresent. The problems facing Lithuanian society are addressed through a plethora of laws and policy decisions. But only sociological knowledge makes the background of the problems understandable and enables law and politics to find practicable solutions.