Meaning of sociology
According to Auguste Comte, "Sociology can be defined as the science of social phenomena subject to natural and invariable laws, the discovery of which is the object of investigation." Sociology is derived from the two Greek words 'Socieus' meaning associate and 'logos' meaning study.In simple words, sociology can be defined as the science of society. 'Auguste Comte' is traditionally considered to be the father of sociology. He coined the word 'Sociology' in his 'positive philosophy' published in 1938. Sociology studies the social behavior, social interaction, social structure and culture of the society. Sociology is also considered to be the branch of social science.Here are the definitions provided by some of the renowned theorists who contributed to the birth of sociology.
According to Alex Inkeles, "Sociology is the study of social action and of their interaction."
According to Ginsberg,"In the broadest sense, Sociology is the study of human interactions and interrelations, their conditions, and consequences.
Sociology is the social science which concerns with the scientific behavior of the human being or a group of life. Social interaction simply the response of individuals to each other is perhaps the basic sociological concept since such interaction is the elementary component of all the relationships and groups that make up human society. As society is a basic concept of Sociology, sociology comprehensively studies the social behavior, social interaction, social structure and the culture of the particular society. This makes us an easier way to distinguish between the human being from other animal.
Science, Common sense and Sociological Relevance
Common sense is one way of understanding the world of everyday life. Its importance can be clearly understood in people's everyday life.Common sense should be defined as the traditions or cultural practices and group or folk knowledge which forms the body of shared and the relatively standardized explanations or interpretations of the various phenomena, both social and natural phenomena. It is acquired and developed through people's day to day life experiences. Putting locally extracted herbal juice or any local medicine on the body part of the snake bite, practice of the shamanism to remove the evil spirit or to cure the diseases of the people are some of the examples of the application of the common sense knowledge.
Despite its importance in the people's daily life, common sense is inadequate in order to understand the truth of life completely and comprehensively. So science is needed. Science, on the other hand, could be defined as the approach to human knowledge and about the range of phenomena that is about the structure and also the behavior of natural and social world which is derived from the following systematic process and can be tested by any of the person.
- Empirical observation
- Generalization/ Conclusion
- Building up of theory
Classification of Science
Nature of sociology
Science is of two types: Physical and the Social Science. The study of the former branch can be carried out in more exact, precise and less ambiguous way. Physics, chemistry, Geology, Astronomy etc lie under the domain of physical or natural science. The latter branch deals with any kind of study which is concerned with the man and society. Since human beings are social, they interact with the other people to survive. It is widely argued that social nature of human being can be studied scientifically. However in contrast to cultural sciences, study of the social science is less exact and less precise. Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Psychology etc are the branches of social science. Due to the occurrence of past two great wars and happening of the number of social conflicts in the world, the need of the social science study, especially sociological study, has been increasingly realized as a part of understanding of and solution to the social problems.
Sociology is different from any other sciences.Its nature is given below.
- Sociology is considered to be an independent science
It has emerged as an independent social science in the first half of the 19th century and it is not treated and studied like the branch of any other of the sciences like philosophy or the history. As an independent science, it has developed its own field of the study, boundary as well as the method.
- Sociology is a social science which studies society, its people and their behavior
Sociology belongs to the family of the social sciences not to the family of the natural sciences. As a social science, it concentrates its attention on the man, his social behavior, social activities and the social problems.
- Sociology Generalizing and not a particularizing science
Sociology tries to find out the general laws or the principles of the human interaction, nature, form, content and the structure of human groups as well as the societies. It does not study each and every event that takes place in the society which is not possible too.
- Sociology is both Rational and the Empirical science
There are two broad ways to acquire the knowledge. One is known as empiricism that emphasizes experience and facts that result from the observation and the experimentation. The other is known as rationalism which stresses reason and theories that result from logical inference.
Besides the above point of the discussion on nature of sociology, it can be described differently and in more pragmatic way. Despite some of the early sociologists’ argument and their claim, sociology to be a scientific discipline, nature of the sociology can be discussed far and against its scientific attributes
- Sociology deserves a scientific character
For this argument, we have the following facts:
Sociology is an open laboratory: Like the natural sciences laboratory society functions as an open laboratory where a sociologist can study the society and the social problems of the various degree and nature. Due to this resemblance of the natural science to social science this discipline can be regarded as the scientific discipline.
Experimentation: In sociological study, too many experimentation may be the important factor to study the human affairs. Natural sciences experimentation is equally applicable to the study of the society.
Comparative method: It is primarily a pure science study method and is equally applicable to the study of two cultural groups.
- Sociology does not deserve a scientific character
For this argument, the following factors justify the non- scientific nature of sociology:
Open laboratory concept is less concrete and reliable since the human society is always changeable and dynamic, unlikely to create the universality in terms of time and space.
Experimentation in human society is ethically less applicable and can not be applied with the rigid scientific formulae as well as the principles.
Comparative study as applied in natural science is not so reliable and does not follow the particular principles of the comparisons, the ways to find out similarities and also the differences.
ReferencesRegmi, Rishikeshab Raj, Udbodh Bhandari and Santosh K Gurung. Sociology for Management. Kathmandu: Buddha, 2013
Henslin, James M. Adie Nelson (1995). Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. Canadian Edition. Scarborough, Ontario: Allyn and Bacon
Weber, Max (1962) Basic Concept in Sociology, London: Peter Owen
Macionis, John J. (2006), Sociology. Pearson Education