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Unit 1

Introduction to sociology
What is sociology? Or Meaning of Sociology

Sociology is the scientific, systematic and reliable study of society and relationship between
individual and society. Being a science of society, it deals with the social structure, social
relations, social behaviours, interaction, social groups, social institutions, social stratifications,
social processes, social problems etc.

Etymologically, the term Sociology is derived from Latin word ‘Socius’ means society and
Greek word ‘Logos’ means Study or science. Thus etymological meaning of sociology is the
Science of Society.

In conclusion, Sociology is the systematic study of human society, dedicated to the

understanding of social interaction as people form groups, communities and society.

Definitions of Sociology

Sociology is the study of human interaction and interrelations, their attitudes and
consequences”.---------------- Morris Ginsberg

“Sociology is the systematic study of social behaviour and human groups. It focuses on
social relationship; how those relationships influence people behaviour and how
societies, the sum total relationships, develop and change”------------- Richard T

“Sociology is the study of individuals in a social setting that includes groups,

organizations, cultures and societies. Sociologists study the interrelationships between
individuals, organizations, cultures and societies”…………….. George Ritzer

“Sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies”……Anthony Giddens

From the analysis of above definitions we conclude that

• Sociology is the study of human social behaviour especially it includes the study of the
origin and development of society.

• It is the scientific study of social institutions such as marriage, family, economy,

education, sports, music, religion etc as social components.

• It is the study of social processes such as enculturation, modernization, conflict,

cooperation, socialization etc.
Emergence of Sociology

Human beings have always been interested in knowing and thinking about their society from the
dawn of human civilization. Some sociologists trace the origin of sociology from the economics
of Kautilya and politics of Aristotle. For example the statement of Aristotle “Man is a political
(i.e. social) animal sowed the seeds of sociology. Sociology as a general social science emerged
in the 19th century. It means Sociology does not have long history but it has long past.

Actually, as a subject, Sociology was emerged after the French Revolution of 1789 A.D. The
long series of political revolutions carried out by the French revolution was the most immediate
factor for the emergence of sociology. The impact of these revolutions on many societies has
both negative and positive change. But scholars were disturbed by negative change which was
chaos and disorder of society. Many social thinkers were united to restore the order of society.
They searched the new basis of social order. This interest of social order was the major factor for
the emergence of sociology.

There are different scholar who contributed to the emergence and development of sociology who

Auguste Comte: -

Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857), a French philosopher who coined the term sociology as a hybrid
term in 1838 AD. He is of view that scientific knowledge can be used to improve people’s lives.
Cours de philosophie positive (positive philosophy), is the major work of Auguste Comte. He
developed the Law of three stages of human society which are Theological, Metaphysical and
positive stage.

1. Theological Stage: It is the first stage of development of society. In this stage every social
phenomena and social problems are explained in terms of religious belief in society.
2. Metaphysical stage: according to Auguste Comte it is the second stage of evolution of
human society. In this stage every social problems and phenomenon are explained in
terms of philosophy.
3. Positive stage: it is the third and last stage of evolution of human society. In this stage
every social problems and phenomenon are explained in terms scientific methods. It is
the scientific stage of human society.
Emile Durkheim
Emile Durkheim(1858-1917) Emile Durkheim is also French sociologist. Durkheim legitimized
sociology in France and his work ultimately became a dominant force in the development of
sociology. The division of Labour in society (1893), The Rules of Sociological Method (1895),
Suicide (1897) Elementary Form of Religious Life (1912 )etc. are the major contributions of

- Used scientific principles and methods to study social facts

- Mechanical and organic solidarity on the basis of division of labour.

- Mechanical solidarity comes from the less division of labour. Organic solidarity comes
from the Interdependence of society’s different parts and shared values

Karl Marx
Karl Marx (1818-83) is another social thinker who contributed a lot in the development of
sociology. The communist Manifesto (1848), Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
(1859) Capital (1867 Volume I) etc are the major works of Marx. In his materialist conception of
history, the driving force for social change and the source of conflict in society are economic.
Conflict brought on by the exploitation of the poor by the rich under capitalism will bring social

Max Weber
Max Weber (1864-1920) is the German sociologist. The Methodology of Social Sciences (1949),
The Religions of China (1951), The Religion of India (1958), etc are the Major contribution of
Weber. He is of view that Values and ideas drive social change in society.

 Protestant beliefs led to capitalism

• Bureaucracy—a type of organization marked by a clear hierarchy of authority and the
existence of written rules of procedure and staffed by full-time, salaried officials.

Nature of sociology

Nature of sociology indicates to the Qualities or characteristics of it. Sociology is a science of

society. As a science of society it has a social nature. There is still controversy among scholar
regarding to the nature of sociology. Some sociologists claim sociology as a science and critics are of
view that sociology cannot be regarded as a science. The followings are the main characteristics of
sociology show its pure nature.

• Sociology is an independent science: - It is an independent science. It is not studied as a

branch of other subjects. As an independent science, it has own separate field of study,
history, research methodology and scope.

• Sociology is a social science not a natural science:- Sociology is a social science. Being
a social science it studies human behavior in group, relations, social activities, social
problems and social life. Similarly, as a social science it is related with other social
sciences such as history, economics, political science etc.

• Sociology is a categorical science not a normative science: - Sociology is a positive or

categorical or descriptive science. It is related to the statement about what is, not what
should be or ought to be. It cannot say anything about the question of value. It is ethically
neutral and it cannot deals with the issues of good or bad, right or wrong and moral or
immoral. In other words, sociologists do not ask whether particular social actions are
good or bad, they seek merely to explain them.

• Sociology is a theoretical (pure) science not applied science: - Pure science is related to
the acquisition of knowledge where as applied science is related to the application of
acquired knowledge. But each pure science may have its own applied field. In this
context, sociology can be taken as theoretical or pure science because sociology is related
with acquisition of knowledge about human society and it has own applied field such as
social work, administration and diplomacy.

• Sociology is a generalizing science not a particularizing science: - Bierstedt is ofview

that sociology is a generalizing science. Sociology tries to find out the general laws about
society and social life from the particular cases. It tries to make generalizations on the
basis of conclusion drawn from the particular events.

• Sociology is both a rational and empirical science: - Sociological knowledge is based on

rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism is an approach to knowledge which is based on
the logic. Similarly, empiricism is an approach to knowledge which is based on
experience. The empiricists collect facts from experience and rationalists coordinate and
arrange them. Sociology is also depends on empiricism and rationalism. Thus, it is both
rational and empirical science.

• Sociology is an abstract science not a concrete science: - Sociology is a science of

society. Society is itself mental product. It is not interested in concrete manifestation of
human events. It only concerns only with the forms and patterns of society. Thus it is an
abstract science not a concrete science.

• Sociology is a general science not a particular science: - Sociology is a general social

science. It studies society in general. The area of it is not particularized. Other social
sciences such as economics, political science, history, culture etc. are concentrated their
attention on particular aspect of human society. But sociology studies human society in a
general way.