Saturday, June 15, 2024

A brief description of Sociology and its origin


Definitions and Meaning

The term ‘Sociology’ springs from the Latin word- ‘societus’- meaning Society and Greek word- ‘logos’- meaning Study. French Philosopher Auguste Comte coined this term in 1839 and is known as the Father of Sociology.

It is the science that studies society, the social behavior of humans, patterns of social relationships, culture, social groups, and social interaction in daily life.

Let us look at the various definitions of sociology given by prominent sociologists:

  1. Sociology is the science of society or social phenomena— LF Ward.
  2. Sociology is the study of human interaction and interrelation, their conditions and consequences—M Ginsberg.
  3. Sociology is the study of the relationships between man, and his human environment—HP Fairchild.
  4. “The chief interest of sociology is the people, the ideas, the customs, the other distinctively human phenomenon which surrounds the man and influence him, and which are, therefore, part of his environment. Sociology also devotes some attention to certain aspects of the geographical environment and some natural as contrasted with human phenomena, but this interest is secondary to its preoccupation with human beings and the products of human life in an association. Our field of study is man as he is related to other men and to the creation of other men which surround him”—ME Jones.
  5. “Sociology seeks to find the principles of cohesion and order within the social system, how it roots and grows within an environment, the moving equilibrium of changing structure and changing environment, the important trends of the incessant change, the forces which determine its direction at any time, the harmonies and conflicts, the adjustments and maladjustments within the structure as they are revealed in the light of human desires, and thus the practical application of means to end in the creative activities of social man”—McIver.

In a nutshell, Sociology is concerned with the study of:

  • Society
  • Social life
  • Social relationships and their types
  • Human behavior in social groups
  • Social actions
  • Social groups or systems
  • Sociology and its Relationship with other Fields

Sociology and Anthropology

Anthropology literally means- the study of man. However, it is a wide field of study concerned with the development of the human race, humanity, human biology, behavior, cultures, and societies in both present and past aspects.

Anthropology has three divisions:

  1. Physical Anthropology– focuses on physical characteristics of early man and primitive contemporaries
  2. Cultural Anthropology– studies about cultural variations in humans
  3. Social Anthropology– studies human relationships from past and present

Anthropology mainly focuses on the study of a man concerning the past, however, sociology studies the same phenomena in the present scenario. This study depends very much on anthropology as the human behavior, development, and culture we observe today are substantially influenced by the past.

Similarly study of human behaviors and culture in the present has helped anthropologists draw many conclusions regarding the behaviors exhibited in primitive times.

Sociology and Psychology

Psychology (link- Introduction to Psychology article) is the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes and they are affected by the organism’s physical and mental states and external environment.

It is clear that human behavior is influenced both by heredity and environment thus to understand the subject completely, the study of both internal and external aspects is essential.

Human actions are the apparent expression of their instincts, desires, motives, and impulses all of which are internal stimuli. At the same time, these actions are also regulated or modified by external stimuli. While psychology is concerned with the study of these internal stimuli and processes, sociology studies the external stimuli- both are required to analyze and understand human behavior.
Psychology studies humans as individual beings whereas sociology is a social science that deals with group life.

Sociology and Social Psychology

Social psychology studies the mental processes of man as considering a social being. It is concerned with how a particular group influences individual development and conversely how an individual mind affects a group and the mental development of groups within themselves and in relation to other groups. Whereas, sociology studies the different groups making up society.

Both the field- Sociology and Social Psychology aid each other. Social psychology depends on sociology to study human nature as sociology gives information about the structure, organization, and culture of societies to which humans belong.

No matter whether the goal is to study about the individual in interaction with others, it is the social life that Is important since such interactions can only occur there. Thus sociology is also equally dependent on social psychology to draw conclusions.

Let us now see some important points of difference between these two fields-

  • Sociology is the study of society whereas social psychology is only concerned with the individual as a member of the group
  • Social psychology analyses the mental processes of an individual in a group situation, and sociology studies social processes.
  • It is compared to the science of mechanics as it considers masses of matter and properties of matter in mass. Social psychology on the other hand is compared to molecular physics.
  • It studies society from a community point of view, while social psychology studies social life from the viewpoint of involved psychological factors.


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