Sociology is the youngest science but it has a long past along with the existence of human society and its function. Major concern of sociology is society. So, sociology studies the nature and character of human society, its origin, structure, function and its development. It tries to determine the relationship and interdependence between different elements of social life.
The term ‘Sociology’ was coined at first by a French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838 in his famous book 'Course De Philosophic Positive' so, it is known as the science of society. But in short period, this emphasis was completely reversed. Hence, the study of society became more scientific than philosophical.
Sociology is the youngest social science but it has a long past along with the existence of human society and its function. The major concern of sociology is society. So, sociology studies the nature and character of human society, its origin, structure, functions and its development. The credit for having established modern sociology as an independent science and to obtain for sociology a respectable position in the family of social sciences goes to Auguste Comte and Herbert Spenser who championed the cause of sociology.
Nature of Sociology
Sociology is an independent science: It is not treated and studied as a branch of any other science like philosophy or political philosophy or history. As an independent science, it has its own field of study, boundary and method.
Sociologyis a social science and not a physical science: Sociology belongs to the family of social sciences, not to the family of physical sciences.
Sociology is categorical and not a normative discipline: As a science sociology is necessarily silent about questions of value. It does not make any kind of value judgments. It is ethically neutral. It can’t decide the directions in which sociology ought to go.
Sociology is a pure science, not an applied science: Each pure science may have its own applied field. It is the process of getting practical knowledge for the use in the specific field.
Sociology is relatively an abstract science and not a concrete science: This does not mean that sociology is an art, not a science. Nor does it mean, it is unnecessarily complicated and unduly difficult. It is more concerned with the form of human events and their patterns.
Sociology is generalizing and not particularizing science: Sociology tries to find out the general laws of principles about human interactions and association about the nature, form, context and structure of human groups and societies.
Sociology is a general science and not a special science: The area inquiry of sociology is general and not special. It only studies human activities in a general way. This does not, however, mean that sociology is the basic social science nor does it imply sociology is the general social science.
Sociology is both a rational and an empirical science: There are two broad ways of approach to scientific knowledge. The empiricist collects facts; the rationalists coordinate and arrange them. Theories and facts are required in the construction of knowledge. In sociological inquiry both are insignificant. A theory on substantiated by hard, solid facts is nothing more than an opinion.
Scope of sociology
As sociology is a general social science, it studies human society in general but it must have a limitation of the field of study. Every science has a certain boundary on its scope but there is no single view regarding the sociology among the sociologists. Mainly there are two schools of thought regarding the scope of sociology.
The Formalistic or Specialist School of Thought
Sociology should be confining itself to the study of certain aspects of human relationship only.
Sociology aims to interpret social behavior which does not cover the whole field of human relations.
It should refrain itself from making a historical study of concrete societies.
The Synthetic or General School of Thought
It studies the territorial basis of the life of people and also the problem of population.
General sociology deals with the general character of the facts and formulation of general social laws.
It studies formal and informal means of social control.
It focuses its study on the regulating agencies of society.
It tries to make formal study different modes of interaction such as cooperation, competition, integration, assimilation, conflict, development and so on.
It studies social maladjustment and disturbances to the social groups.
Sub-division of Sociology
Rural Sociology: Rural sociology studies about the rural society. The way of life kinship pattern, behavior and beliefs of the rural people are studied in rural sociology. It is a special branch of sociology that studies the rural life and society.
Urban Sociology: Urban sociology especially studies about urbanization that includes urban communities. It focuses on the study of cities and city life of people.
Political Sociology: The political sociology is the study of how political phenomena influence and get influenced by the rest of the social structure and culture. It is concerned with the distribution of power and the factors affecting its distribution.
Industrial Sociology: It studies the pattern of human relation and the way of their economic life. It is mainly concerned with how industrial activity affects the human lifestyle. It also examines the various industrial organization and institutions and their relation to human economic activities.
Economic Sociology: It is related to the production, distribution, exchange and conjunction of goals and services in the societies. It is a concern with how people get what other people have. It is a concern with changing society due to economic activities.
Relationship between Sociology and other science
Sociology and Anthropology
Sociology and anthropology mainly study about human activity. It is the study of human beings and their society. Society cannot function or exist without the presence of human beings. As a result both science studies about human experience in the society.
Sociology concerns with family, its structure and origin; which are also the concern of anthropology.
Sociology depends on the past and present society about the information which is also the essence of anthropology.
Both have the concern with functions and structure of this society group and community.
Sociology studies small as well as large society whereas anthropology prefers small society.
Sociology uses observation, interviews and social survey as research methods whereas anthropology prefers observation and direct interview.
Sociology is related to practical and present whereas anthropology is related to pure and past.
Sociology and History
History provides information to sociology about the different stages of human life, modes of living and social institution.
Sociology is the concern with present society but it can be understood more from past society.
Sociology depends on history for its materials, data, and facts.
Sociology provides the social background for the study of history.
Sociology studies the present society but history deals with the past event and society.
Sociology is abstract in nature whereas history is concrete in nature.
Sociology is concerned with general knowledge whereas history is concerned with specific knowledge.
Sociology uses questionnaire, interview, and observation as a research method whereas history uses data for study.
Sociology and Political science
Sociology science deals with the principle of organization and government of human society.
Both subjects refer same research methodologies like interview, questionnaire and case study.
Political science should concern about the social logical knowledge for their study.
Social life is influenced by political activities.
Sociology deals with the society whereas political science deals with the state and government.
Sociology studies about social being whereas political science study about organized society.
Sociology is younger than political science.
Sociology is general whereas political science is particular.