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Part 1-What is Sociology?
What Is Sociology?
In the simplest terms, Sociology is the study of human societies. It is usually classed as one of the social sciences alongside such subjects like Psychology and it was established as a subject in the late 18th century. However, the subject only really gained acceptance as an academic subject in the 20th century through the work of writers such as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Talcott Parsons, famous sociologists that most people have never heard of. However, most people have heard of Karl Marx the founder of modern Communism. Marx lived and wrote in the period 1818 to 1884 in a period before Sociology was established as an academic discipline.
While definitions of what Sociology is are not hard to come by, finding two definitions that precisely agree is another matter:
“Sociology may be defined as the study of society; that is of the web of human interactions and relationships”. Ginsberg (1939) “The Study of Society”
“Sociology is the objective study of human behaviour in so far as it is affected by the fact that people live in groups”. Sugarman (1968) “Sociology”
“The purpose of Sociology is the scientific study of human society through the investigation of people’s social behaviour”. Giner (1972) “Sociology”
“Sociology is the study of individuals in a social setting that includes groups, organisations, cultures and societies. Sociologists study the interrelationships between individuals, organisations, cultures and societies”. Ritzer (1979) “Sociology”
“Sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies. It is a dazzling and compelling enterprise, having as its subject matter our own behaviour as social beings. The scope of sociology is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of passing encounters between individuals in the street up to the investigation of world-wide social processes”. Giddens (1989) “Sociology"
Sociology therefore is the study of the social world. It involves studying human beings and their patterns of behavior. To do this, we focus on the way people form relationships and how these relationships, considered in their totality, are represented by the concept of a “society”.
In this respect, the focus of the sociologist’s attention is group behavior. That is, the effect that the groups people join or are born into (family, work, education and so forth) have upon people’s social behavior.
Therefore we can say that Sociology is a social science concerned with the study of human social relationships and the various ways these relationships are patterned in terms of social groups, organisations and societies.