SW1C1 -SOCIOLOGY AND ECONOMICS FOR SOCIAL WORK
Introduction to Sociology
In the family of social sciences, Sociology is comparatively a new entrant. But because of its dealing with social problems, social relationships and social interactions the importance of the study of this subject has considerably increased. It has considerably developed in methodology, scope and approach. Sociology is the systematic study of social behavior and human groups. It focuses primarily on the influence of social relationships upon people’s attitudes and behavior and on how societies are established and change. Sociology emerged at the end of the 19th century through the work of sociologists such as Augste Comte, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Robert E. Park and Albion Small. According to Jonathan H. Turner 1982, Max Weber defines sociology, as a “science, which aims at the interpretative understanding of social behaviour in order to gain an explanation of its causes, its course and its effects”.
The term sociology is a combination of two words. The first part of the term is a Latin, socius- that may variously mean society, association, togetherness or companionship. The other word, logos, is of Greek origin and the term is generally understood as study or science. Thus, the etymological, literal definition of sociology is that it is the word or speaking about society. A simple definition here is that it is the study of society and culture. Sociology is the study of man’s behavior in groups or of the interaction among human beings of social relationships and the processes by which human group activity takes place. Sociology can be defined as, “the systematic study of human society”. More technically, sociology is the analysis of the structure of social relationships as constituted by social interaction. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) the French philosopher and sociologist is considered as the ‘Father of Sociology’ Sociology is being defined differently by sociologists
Auguste Comte defines Sociology “as the science of social phenomena subject to natural and invariable laws, the discovery of which is the object of investigation." According to L.F. Ward, “Sociology is the science of society or of social phenomena”. George Simmel opines that it is a subject which studies human inter-relationship. According to W.F. Ogburn, Sociology is a body of learning about Society. It is a description of of ways to make society better. It is social ethics, a social philosophy. Generally, however, it is defined as a science of society Max Weber has viewed sociology as “Science which attempts the interpretative understanding of social action”. From all these definitions it becomes clear that sociology is concerned with social relationships and studies society, human interactions, inter-personal and intra-personal relations. It tries to study scientifically social institutions, organizations and systems.
To summarise this section, therefore:
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.
1.3 Development of Sociology
Sociology is a relatively new academic discipline among other social sciences including economics, political science, anthropology, history, and psychology. The ideas behind it, however, have a long history and can trace their origins to a mixture of common human knowledge and philosophy. Auguste Comte coined the word 'sociology' in his “Positive Philosophy” published in 1838. He believed that a science of sociology should be based on systematic observation and classification, not on authority and speculation. This was a relatively new idea at that time. Herbert Spencer in England published his Principles of Sociology in 1876. He applied the theory of organic evolution to human society and developed a grand theory of social...
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