What is Sociology: Definition and 19 Discussions

Sociology is a social science that focuses on society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and aspects of culture associated with everyday life. It uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order and social change. Sociology can also be defined as the general science of society. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter can range from micro-level analyses of society (i.e., of individual interaction and agency) to macro-level analyses (i.e., of systems and the social structure).Traditional focuses of sociology include social stratification, social class, social mobility, religion, secularization, law, sexuality, gender, and deviance. As all spheres of human activity are affected by the interplay between social structure and individual agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to other subjects and institutions, such as health and the institution of medicine; economy; military; punishment and systems of control; the Internet; education; social capital; and the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge.
The range of social scientific methods has also expanded, as social researchers draw upon a variety of qualitative and quantitative techniques. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-20th century, especially, have led to increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, and philosophical approaches towards the analysis of society. Conversely, the turn of the 21st century has seen the rise of new analytically, mathematically, and computationally rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modelling and social network analysis.Social research has influence throughout various industries and sectors of life, such as among politicians, policy makers, and legislators; educators; planners; administrators; developers; business magnates and managers; social workers; non-governmental organizations; and non-profit organizations, as well as individuals interested in resolving social issues in general. As such, there is often a great deal of crossover between social research, market research, and other statistical fields.

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  1. sbrothy

    Where would you place anthropology on the index of "exact" sciences?

    I'm about to make a bunch of comments on a (rather old issue of an) anthropological essay which is apparently issued by The Univeristy of Copenhagen. My beef with it is personal, and what really annoys me about it is it's patronizing tone. I'd rather not go into too much detail as I'm sure that...
  2. J

    Anybody interested in the Philosophy / Sociology of Science?

    I'd really like to know. :) Typically, practitioners of science treat the concerns raised by these disciplines in a very defensive manner. I don't mean to use "Philosophy" and "Sociology" interchangeably here, although that wouldn't be entirely wrong. In short, I'm really only interested in...
  3. José Ricardo

    Suggestion Homework help suggestions: Human Sciences

    Could you guys put Philosophy, Sociology, History and Arts in the Homework sections? I would be very appreciated.
  4. ohwilleke

    I What false hints of new physics were most notable?

    Sometimes experimental or observational evidence from credible physicists points to new physics and then turns out to be wrong due to statistical flukes, experimental error or a theoretical analysis mistake. What cases of this happening do you find most notable, what showed that the hints were...
  5. OmneBonum

    Seriously Lapsed Sociologist turned Math and Physics Fanboy

    If I had a choice between meeting the Dalai Lama and meeting Andrew Wiles, I would choose the latter. So, here I am. I study math and physics basically as a hobby. I just want to know and understand more about reality, especially since discovering that reality is all there is! And it's...
  6. N

    Second Law of Thermodynamics and Sociology

    To the layman 2nd law of thermodynamics states that over time systems become more "disordered." You hear a lot of people trying to argue that Evolution contradicts the second law of thermodynamics, which we all know isn't the case. But, I find it interesting that while a species has managed to...
  7. P

    Studying for Psychology Compared to Biology, Kinesiology and Sociology

    I haven't taken any Biology, Kinesiology, or Sociology courses in university, but from what I've heard from my friends and other sources the studying methods for Psychology courses are very similar to Biology, Kinesiology, or Sociology. That's not because Psychology is an interdisciplinary field...
  8. P

    Sociology Dictionary Download Link Available

    Any body with a link i can download it,tanx.
  9. B

    Sociology: Organizational/Political Cycle

    ……Independence Family Clan Tribe Sovereignty Aristocracy Rebellion…… It seems to me that humans have repeated this same cycle of organization and disorganization throughout history. Would you agree? If so, do you think this cycle has...
  10. mugaliens

    The sociology behind inhumane treatment towards animals

    What is it about some humans that allows them to treat animals as if they were mindless pieces of flesh grown in a test tube? http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20101217/ts_yblog_thelookout/undercover-investigation-of-smithfield-foods-reveals-factory-farm-horrors" . Please bear in...
  11. J

    Sociology Question about functionalism/conflict theory

    I'm having trouble grasping my hands right around the ideas of functionalists view the politics of America? Politics I like, sociology I'm not convinced of yet. Also, how do their views differ, at all, from conflict theorists? I don't understand what their basis of thought is...
  12. marcus

    Sociology of Physics: comment and indices

    Theoretical physics presents what I think is potentially an interesting bunch of sociology-of-science case studies and examples. There is one guy (a string PhD named Ozzy Zapata) who is blogging specifically about this, has some fascinating comment: http://spinningthesuperweb.blogspot.com/...
  13. B

    Proposal: Sociology Threads Should Have Their Own Subforum

    In light of the many threads in this forum that discuss the sociolgy of physics, as opposed to the physics itself, I would like to propose that threads of the former type be separated from threads of the latter type, perhaps being moved to a different forum. PhysicsForums has a very admirable...
  14. E

    Do you think sociology professors are to the left, economics to the right on capitali

    Do you think sociology professors are to the left, economics to the right on capitalism? I do!
  15. CarlB

    The sociology of physics: Gravity's Shadow

    It's not everyday that I find an 864 page book hard to put down, but I've been really engrossed in Harry Collins' book on gravity waves (theory and experiment) titled "Gravity's Shadow": https://www.amazon.com/dp/0226113787/?tag=pfamazon01-20 Part of this is because I took two classes from...
  16. K

    Sociology Argument: Race= Valid Means of Classifying

    The last couple days in Sociology have been very argumentative. Here's why Why Race Exists As a Valid Means of Classification We humans have created a device to help classify and recognize the physical differences between living organisms. This identification system was created in order...
  17. G

    Unemployment in America - Sociology Paper

    I thought about putting this in College Homework, but I felt that I could get more people that know about sociology in here. If you feel tempted to move it to homework help, so be it. Recently, I was given the assignment to type up a six page report using quantitive data on a "social...
  18. marcus

    Lingusitics Is there a Sociology of Scientific Language?

    I'd guess the answer is obvious :smile: My nextdoor neighbor's field is Linguistics. She specializes in Sociolinguistics---what can you tell about society from the words people use, and avoid using. She can listen to the news coverage of an event and often get an essay out of the...
  19. J

    The Origins of Modern Sociology: Marxism, Freud, Boas, and General Liberalism

    Preface to the First Paperback Edition of The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements Originally published in 1998 by Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT © 2001 Kevin MacDonald Department of...