LUGARD IBHAFIDON SADOH
Efforts have been made by several scholars to define or describe the term Sociology. I shall however use the definitions given by two different authors. Schaeffer and Lamm (1997) defines Sociology as ‘’the systematic study of Social Behaviour and human groups. By this definition Sociology is been considered as a field in research study. Sociology is primarily concerned with the analysis and explanation of social phenomenon within a social context. It attempts to understand or explain relationships and the patterns of such relationships.
Prof. B.I.C. Ijomah (2008) says Sociology is seen as a logical discourse of the society or of people in interdependent relationships. The idea of logical discourse in the above description of Sociology is the disciplines reliance on observable social phenomenon. Sociology is interested in ‘what is’ and not ‘what aught to be’. To do the latter is to lay emphasis on morality at the expense of social reality.
Sociology is not restricted to individuals or family units it cuts across the family, politics, religion, economy and education. It can be viewed from individual patterns of relationships, family, kinship, formal organisations, groups, national entities and international communities. Sociology attempts to understand why things are the way they are. To put it this way, it studies social facts such as crime, prostitution, bribery, marriage, religion, fertility, population, migration, suicide, etc, etc. Sociology is not only concerned with what is it also seeks to know how the past has shaped the present and how the present can be studied to predict the future. This is what makes the field a veritable platform for proffering possible solutions to social or and sociological problems. Like other social sciences Sociology can help to create national development, international peace and harmony.
The study of sociology equips one with skills and techniques in the discovery and use of common sense ideas, notions and information in such a way that it will become an issue for national interest. Take the act of terrorism for example; you will discover that it now has a wider meaning than what it was during the 9 11 Bomb blast in the United State.
From the above it is imperative to attempt a workable definition of sociology. Sociology could be defined as the systematic study of social phenomenon that exists in social relationships.
Nature of Sociology in Social Analysis
The term social analysis is subjective in Sociology but it is generally accepted to carry the meaning of society. Sociology adopts the use of social analysis in its work to break down the society that it studies into smaller researchable parts for ease of analysis, comparism and interpretations. Using the example above, we may want to consider the effects of terrorism in international trade between Nigeria and Arab countries in the last ten years. At this stage social analysis is at international in nature
Sociology is concerned with the systematic analysis of human social activity, from everyday experience to complex relationships that cuts across time and geographical boundaries. Sociology focus on the whole aspect of society, sociology emphasizes complex relationships that exists in the whole of social life; politics, religion, family, education and economy. In doing these analyses sociology uses several theories as background for the explanation of social realities. Such theories are functionalism, structural-functionalism, maxism, neo-maxist, interactionist, conflict, amongst others.
Sociology as a discipline is known for its distinct modes of investigation in carrying out social research. It lays emphasis on sociality and culture in the pursuit of understanding the society or social. The ethnical neutrality of the sociologist is a very vital part is Sociology.
The nature of sociological in social analysis is also found in the nature of inquiry which is holistic in nature. Sociology attempts to study the whole society in bid to explain social actions and interactions. Sociology may study parts of a society but in doing so, it carries it inquiries in relationship to other parts that exists. To say it this way, it does not study a family, or social phenomenon in isolation of the larger society.
Its method of study. Sociology uses both quantitative and qualitative methods in its social analysis. Thus use of statistical data and all other forms of tests instruments in social analysis attests to this fact. For example in carrying out a study on the effect of education on fertility among women in Benin city, you will observed that such study will require the used of figures and the analysis of such figures to achieve a credible outcome. This in itself allows the used of quantitative data in social analysis in the field of sociology. Furthermore, if we were to carry out a study on the agents of examination malpractices in Nigerian universities, we would rely more on qualitative data than quantitative.
Sociology and its claim of being a scientific field of study is vividly displayed in its use of scientific methods and approaches in carrying out investigation and inquiry of social analysis. The use of empiricism and all its techniques in sociology tends to give credence to sociology as being scientific in nature in social analysis. Unlike the physical sciences sociology does not go into the laboratory but it sees the entire society as his laboratory. Information are not imagined but generated through systematic well tailored and structured questionnaires, observation; ethnographic methods, focus group discussion amongst others. It also has established instruments for the opertionalisation and analysis of the data generated. It’s used of deductive methods in science that allows for generalization also makes it a scientific. Sociology deals with social facts, so, investigations are carried out on what exists, empirical, verifiable social phenomenon.
Sociological inquiry is analytical and structural. Sociology is not based on the value of common sense understandings about society; rather, it seeks to investigate beneath the surface for the actual dynamics.
Sociologists do not all see the social the same way, but what is common however among all sociologist is the critic of what is. The various ways that sociologists view and interpret the social is hinged on their theoretical background and or perspectives. This perspectives or what we may call world view is what gives different dimensions and coloration to the field of sociology in carrying out social analysis. It is these perspectives that differentiate between the various schools of thoughts that exist in the field of sociology. Like I mentioned earlier the perspectives include but not limited to functionalism, conflict, social interactionist, epidemiology, ecologism etc, etc. In itself it helps to give a wider view or broader scope in the discourse of social phenomenon.
Objectivity is the hallmark of sociology. It is not biased in favour of or against any one on the basis of sex, colour, race, caste, status, ethnic groups, nations, states, religion, cultures just to mention a few. Sociology lays claim to the rule of objectivity because it helps the researcher to overcome personal biases.
Micro and Macro Analysis. Sociology can either adopt the use of micro analysis i,e, the study of smaller or parts of a whole. Micro analysis helps sociologists to study or investigate social phenomenon within a manageable size. A study of male prostitution among University of Benin undergraduate students residing in hall three falls under micro analysis. On the other hand sociologist can decide to carry out an investigation in a large scale; this is referred to as macro analysis. For example the impact of inflation on Nigerians in the last ten years. The two illustrations above show us that sociology can either be studied on the basis of micro or macro analysis.
Sociology as a field of study and research has its own distinct mode of social analysis. When properly equipped with this skill we will then be able to study society in proper perspective and help the generality to understand the social better.
Adelola, I.O.A.(2001) Perspectives in Sociology. Kaysee Publishers, Nigeria.
Ijomah B.I.C. (2008) Sociology and Society.Onitsha. Oluben Publishers.
Schaeffer, R.T. and Lamm, R.P. (1997) Sociology A Brief Introduction. New York The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.
Yomere, G.O. and Agbonifo, B.A. (1999) Reaearch Methodology in the Social Sciences and Education. Benin. Centrepiece Consultants Nigeria Limited
Burns, R.B. (2000) Introduction to Research Methods. London. Sage Publications Limited