What is Sociology?
To define what sociology is, it may be easier to look at what sociology is not. Sociology is not social work or social policy, though it is used in both professions, and both are affected by it. It is not about making the world a better place, though its findings can be used to do that. Sociology is the academic study of the ways in which individuals and groups live in societies. It raises fundamental questions about how people shape society by the way they live and how it affects and influences us. There are two strands of sociology, theoretical and empirical. The theoretical covers a range of theories which have different views on how societies operate, how they influence us as individuals and groups within society and how we as individuals and groups influence society. Some theories are based on the assumption that people live together in society to benefit from the advantages of co-operating with one another rather than it being every person for themself.one of these theorists that promote this view are the functionalists such as, Emile Durkheim and Robert K. Merton. In these theories society is based on mutual benefit. Durkheim was interested in a scientific approach to society. Durkheim found humanistic studies uninteresting, turning his attention from psychology and philosophy to ethics and eventually, sociology. Durkheim introduced the concept of "anomie", or the breakdown of the influence of social norms on individuals within a society. Merton was very passionate about the sociology of science and was interested in the interactions and importance between social and cultural structures and science.
Other theories propose that society is characterised by the conflict of those who have and those who have not. This is the Marxist theory, written by Karl Marx and explained in The Communist Manifesto in 1848. Marx said, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” Marxist theories look at the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document