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Sociology and its sub-fields

Updated on April 11, 2012

The scope of sociology is the whole of human society, the activities and relationships within it, the reasons for them and their consequences. It stretches to the rules and regulations by which society is organized and controlled, to all the numerous and infinitely varied aspects of the behavior of people in society. The enterprise of taking a study of this magnitude is obviously overwhelming. The task is quite enormous and appears too difficult to complete by any sociologist because of its encyclopedic proportion. To be of value and manageable therefore the scope of sociology has been limited although the focal purpose of studying human society has been retained.

Sociology has therefore been divided into various sub-fields which allows for specialization within the general field. The sub=fields include: social theory, sociology of education, sociology of religion, sociology of the family, sociology of the industry, political sociology, demography, deviance and criminology, sociology of medicines, social structures and institutions, urban sociology, Rural sociology, sociology of development, social statistics, social research methods e.t.c. These sub-fields focus on different aspects of society for instance, Demography is the study of human populations in terms of size, structure, distribution and factors associated with population change which includes fertility, mortality and migration. Urban and rural sociology, study the characteristics of urban and rural communities and relationships within them as well as peculiar social problems associated with each of them. social theory is the study of various principles governing human behavior as propounded by various sociologists and social theorists.

The sociology of industry studies members of society in their interaction in the economic environment of society. It studies the various levels of production and distribution of goods and services and the social interactions and relations within the industry. The influence of society on industry and vice verse. Political sociology studies the social issues that have political consequences for society. Emphasis is laid on such issues like tribalism, ethnicity, race, nationalism, religion e.t.c. and their implication for political behavior and other aspects of the political institutions of society. Deviance and criminology is the science of crime and deviant behavior. It is mutually to note however that these sub-fields of sociology are not mutually exclusive events, since it is an established fact that different aspects of society are interconnected to each other. A change in an aspect of sociology does have a corresponding effect on others. Thus sociology covers all aspects of human society.

Uses Of Sociology

The question here is why study sociology/ there are three main answers to this question namely- conservative, revolutionary and pragmatic. Sociology came into existence as an essentially conservative answer to the problems of revolution and changes at the beginning of the nineteenth century. for both conte and Spencer, society was a natural system with own laws of evolution and change. Any attempt at social amelioration for example would interfere with the laws of natural selection and the survival of the fittest, and would threaten the health of the social organism. sociology is an attempt to understand social dynamics as a way of preserving social order. Much of contemporary American sociology is basically conservative and anti-revolutionary, or at least stems from implicit value commitments to the American concept of democracy.

on the other hand sociology has assumed a more radical revolutionary posture, seeking inspiration in the works of karl marx and committed to radical change in the social structure of society. Its preference is for involvement with the fundamental problems of war, peace, exploitation, oppression and the concern with the broad drift of capitalist society towards exploitation and oppression. It is committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the social structure of the capitalist system for a more equitable egalitarian social structure.

sociology seeks to find answers to social problems. This is exemplified by studies of poverty, factory and prison conditions, urban problems and health conditions. The investigation of these social problems are aimed at a better understanding of them in order to proffer scientific solutions to them. Pragmatic sociology has assumed both academic and practical importance in modern societies.

From the backdrop of the foregoing, we can see that in all three areas, the major issue is the pursuit of knowledge. knowledge we know is power and power is the ability and basis for action. The task of the university is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge. What unites scholars of sociology is the attempt to a vigorous, objective pursuit of knowledge. what people do with sociology is of course a matter of their own concern. In most countries, an overwhelming percentage of sociologist are teachers and researchers, most of them go into the civil service as cultural officers, administrative officers, labor officers, trade and industrial promotion officers, information officers e.t.c. In the private sector, they become personnel officers, industrial relation officers, social welfare officers e.t.c. In the Universities and Research institutes, they constitute teachers and researchers in various fields of academic pursuit.


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