Lecture sheet-1, What is sociology? “ It ain’t the things we don’t know that gets us in trouble. It’s the things we know that ain’t so”.-Artemus Ward
What is Society? • A group of sentient beings • A group of physically interested individuals (Ell Good) • Society is a state of quality of mind (MackIver) • An association of individuals organized, for given ends (Bushee) • Society is the system of social relationships in and through which we live
What is the definition of science? • An objective, logical and systematic method of analysis of phenomena devised to permit the accumulation of reliable knowledge. • Knowledge achieved through research.
What is Sociology?
No concrete definition of sociology because each & every sociologist view society, people, events & changes from different perspective.
• “Sociology is the scientific study of society”-(Parato).
• According to Kenrick Thompson, “Sociology is the study of the groups and societies that people create and of how these, in turn, affect the people who create and maintain them.” He also argued that sociology seeks to explain patterns of human behavior. • According to Max Weber, “Sociology is a science which attempts the interpretative understanding of social action in order thereby to arrive at a causal explanation of its causes and effects.” • According to Morris Ginsberg, “In the broadest sense, sociology is the study of human interaction and interrelations, their conditions and consequences.” • James W. vander Zanden, “Scientific study of social interaction and organization.” • T.B.Bottomore argued that “The fundamental conception or directing idea, in sociology, is the social structure.” • Study of social rules & processes that bind, and separate people-not only as individuals, but as members of groups, associates & institutions. • David dressler: Scientific study of human interactions. • Emile Durkheim, Science of institutions. • The systematic study of developing models that can help to predict social changes, and how people will respond to social changes.
Sociology is concerned /interested in our behavior as social beings-thus the field of sociology ranges from the Analysis of short contacts between anonymous people on the street to the study of global social process.
Evolution of Sociology:
Sociology was born out of the French Revolution. It was a time of social and economic changes, also the industrial revolution in England brought about displacement of peasants, who were replaced with wage laborers.
~ the scientific study of human interactions (David Dressler)
~ the science of social actions (Max Weber)
~ the science of institutions (Émile Durkheim)
Watch out the word ‘science’ in all definitions. Can you say why it is a science??
~ The systematic study of the development, structure, interaction, and collective behavior of organized groups of human beings.
The Gradual Development of Sociology:
Founder ( emphasized that the study of society must be scientific ( urged sociologists to employ systematic observation, experimentation, and comparative historical analysis as their methods
Feminist and Methodologist ( wrote the first book on social research methods and was among the first to do systematic, scientifically based, social research ( her comparative analysis of slavery and the position of women in the Western world showed the way for feminist scholarship and the further study of gender equality
Social Darwinist–i.e. promoter of the Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest to the social world ( depicted society as a system, a whole made up of interrelated parts.
class conflict theorist ( believed that society is divided into those who own the means of producing wealth and those who do not, giving rise to class conflict ( focused his search for the basic principles of history on the economic environments in which societies develop
Advocate of social integration and social facts ( was especially concerned with social solidarity ( contended that the distinctive subject matter of sociology should be the study of social facts
Highlighted that a critical aspect of the sociological enterprise is the study of the intentions, values, beliefs, and attitudes that underlie people’s behavior.
In USA, sociology and the modern university system arose together. The first department of sociology was established at the University of Chicago in 1893, and Chicago served as a ‘social laboratory’ at the beginning of the century ( Mid century sociologists crafted survey techniques and refined models of society ( “New breed” sociologists in the 1960s and 1970s refined Marxism and established new research approaches and perspectives.
Contemporary movements in sociology include critical theories, feminism, modernity, and postmodern social theories.
Why do we consider sociology a science?
Science means performing test, experiment, observation and analysis. Sociology does the same thing. Sociologists apply all kinds of scientific methods/structures for observation & analysis of events.
Myth/Public belief/value has no science basis.
Like all scientists, sociologists follow five basic principles for establishing and explaining facts:
1. Sociology relies on evidence gathered through systematic observation; sociologists demand proof. In everyday conversation, we often rely on hearsay and beliefs because they seem obvious or logical. Scientists are professional skeptics: They demand empirical or factual evidence.
2. Sociology is concerned with minimizing error and bias. Sociologists use a variety of techniques (e.g. controls, randomization, etc.) in order to minimize bias and error. These strategies must be used rigorously in order to be scientific.
3. Sociology is a public venture. Open discussion and examination of research gives sociology a self-correcting mechanism. Conclusions are never taken as final and absolute, but are always open to question, testing, and revision. No theory or finding, however famous, is accepted uncritically.
4. In everyday discussions, we often use a single, vivid illustration to make a point. But a single case may be the exception to the rule. Sociology is concerned with generalizations. Scientists study particular cases in order to arrive at generalizations.
5. Sociology seeks to relate facts to one another and to underlying principles in order to produce theory; sociologists pursue not only descriptions, but also explanations. Theory helps sociologists to predict, understand, and explain events.
Sociology and common sense
On occasion, sociological findings and common sense do overlap, but often, sociology challenges popular wisdom. Common sense holds that ‘seeing is believing’. Sociologists found that the reverse is also true: what we believe often determines what we see; our perceptions are filtered through the lens of our previous experiences, attitudes, and beliefs.
Subjectivity and objectivity:
Subjective: An attitude toward a situation in which cultural/personal variations are permitted to affect observation & judgment.
Objective: An attitude toward a situation in which cultural/group evaluations and personal bias/interest are absent/controlled/reduced to minimum.
The promise of sociology:
Society is changing rapidly. Perhaps the most immediate task of sociology is to provide a framework for understanding such changes, in both our public and private lives.
I. Sociology can make people aware of the different ways in which social arrangements shape their lives. The discipline can enlighten the general public concerning the nature and the effects of such social arrangements. II. Sociology permits the user to examine the assumptions underlying conventional wisdom, and to correct popular ideas that are incorrect. III. Sociology permits the identification of problems that the public has not yet recognized IV. Sociologists can design and evaluate alternative solutions to social problems. V. Sociology can help people better understand their own experiences, problems, and prospects. Sociological imagination helps people see that personal failings and personal failures are often the result of social forces and permits their personal problems to be seen in perspective.
The subject matter of sociology: 1. Social Interaction 2. Social institutions 3. Social fact (Science of social phenomenon) 4. Social action 5. Social change 6. Social control 7. Social customs 8. Social mobility 9. Social problem 10. Objective of united life. 11. Social evolution.
Specialized areas of sociology: ❖ Economic sociology ❖ Sociology of family ❖ Environmental sociology ❖ Industrial sociology ❖ Medical sociology ❖ Political sociology ❖ Urban sociology ❖ Rural sociology ❖ Historical sociology ❖ Sociology of religion ❖ Sociology of education ❖ Sociology of law ❖ Sociology of disaster ❖ Social change ❖ Social psychology ❖ Social statistics ❖ Demography. ❖ Economic development ❖ Human ecology ❖ Program evaluation ❖ Micro, Macro, Pure, Empirical &Applied Sociology
Importance of the study of Sociology ➢ Study about society, man, social class and class structure, social fact, social rule, social change, social structure, social activities and customs, political facts. ➢ To solve social problems ➢ To drive social action ➢ Realizing development strategy ➢ Study economic function in society