Sociology: Imagining the Social

Page 1 of 6

Sociology: Imagining the Social

By | May 2008
Page 1 of 6
The answer to the question of ‘What is sociology?’ is quite complex and I will start by saying that sociology is a human science, a study of humanity. However this description of sociology is partial, because it does not distinguish sociology from psychology, economics, history and other human sciences. It is important to mention that sociology studies society, as well as that it is concerned with human culture. Furthermore, many sociologists have suggested that we can define sociology as the subject that deals with and explains social interaction, which means that it examines the informal and formal social relationships engaged in by social groups. This means that sociology places individuals in a social context as members of social groups, organizations and institutions (like the place where they work or their place within a family).

However, if we look at the objectives of sociology dating back to the 19th century, we realize that sociology is also a study of social order. Sociology is made up of a number of competing theories (such as Positivism, Marxism, etc) which all try to understand how the components of society - the social relationships and institutions, contribute to the existence of 'society', which in turn includes social conflict, social change and many other aspects.

A sociologist is a person who wants to see the world in a new light and who wants to understand society in a disciplined way. The sociologist realizes that things are not what they seem, and that social reality has many levels of meaning, of which each level gives us a new picture of the whole. Sociologists are not afraid to make shocking discoveries and do not take the world for granted – they feel curious about how society and it’s members function. Sociologists understand social inequality, patterns of behavior, forces for social change and resistance, and how social systems work. As Anthony Giddens stated, sociologists view sociology as a way of using the imagination in...