Sociology

Sociology

Overview
Sociology is the study of society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists the goal is to conduct research which may be applied directly to social policy
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

 and welfare, whilst others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes.
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Quotations

Obviously something is wrong with the entire argument of "obviousness".

Paul Lazarsfeld, 1949, about the interpretation of results in social science as obvious.

"Myth does not set out to give lessons in natural science any more than in morals or sociology."

François-Bernard Mâche (1983, 1992). Music, Myth and Nature, or The Dolphins of Arion (Musique, mythe, nature, ou les Dauphins d'Arion, trans. Susan Delaney). Harwood Academic Publishers. ISBN 3718653214

"Men were often called "breadwinners" because their income put food on the table... Although women were not usually called "breadservers," that was their role."

Leonard Beeghley paraphrasing Max Weber. Page 70 in The Structure of Social Stratification in the United States. 2008. ISBN: 978-0-205-53052-6 (not necessarily a famous sociologist, but a good quote)
Encyclopedia
Sociology is the study of society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity. For many sociologists the goal is to conduct research which may be applied directly to social policy
Social policy
Social policy primarily refers to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare. Thus, social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues...

 and welfare, whilst others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro
Microsociology
Microsociology is one of the main branches of sociology, concerning the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency on a small scale. Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than statistical or empirical observation, and shares close association with the philosophy of...

 level of individual agency
Agency (sociology)
In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to the factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions...

 and interaction to the macro
Macrosociology
Macrosociology is an approach to the discipline which emphasizes the analysis of social systems and populations on a large scale, at the level of social structure, and often at a necessarily high level of theoretical abstraction. Microsociology, by contrast, focuses on the individual social agency...

 level of systems and the social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

.

Sociology is a very broad discipline. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

, social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

, social mobility
Social mobility
Social mobility refers to the movement of people in a population from one social class or economic level to another. It typically refers to vertical mobility -- movement of individuals or groups up from one socio-economic level to another, often by changing jobs or marrying; but can also refer to...

, religion
Sociology of religion
The sociology of religion concerns the role of religion in society: practices, historical backgrounds, developments and universal themes. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history...

, secularisation, law
Sociology of law
The sociology of law is often described as a sub-discipline of sociology or an interdisciplinary approach within legal studies...

, and deviance
Deviance (sociology)
Deviance in a sociological context describes actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms including formally-enacted rules as well as informal violations of social norms...

. As all spheres of human activity are sculpted by social structure and individual agency
Structure and agency
The question over the primacy of either structure or agency in human behavior is a central debate in the social sciences. In this context, "agency" refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. "Structure", by contrast, refers to the recurrent...

, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as health, medical
Medical sociology
Medical sociology is the sociological analysis of medical organizations and institutions; the production of knowledges and selection of methods, the actions and interactions of healthcare professionals, and the social or cultural effects of medical practice...

, military
Military sociology
Military sociology aims toward the systematic study of the military as a social group rather than as an organization. It is a highly specialized subfield which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action based on shared interests linked to...

 and penal
Sociology of punishment
The sociology of punishment seeks to understand why and how we punish; the general justifying aim of punishment and the principle of distribution. Punishment involves the intentional infliction of pain and/or the deprivation of rights and liberties...

 institutions, the Internet
Sociology of the Internet
The sociology of the Internet involves the application of sociological theory and method to the Internet as a source of information and communication...

, and even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge
Sociology of scientific knowledge
The sociology of scientific knowledge ' is the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."...

.

The range of social scientific methods has also broadly expanded. Social research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

ers draw upon a variety of qualitative
Qualitative research
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such...

 and quantitative
Quantitative research
In the social sciences, quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to...

 techniques. The linguistic
Linguistic turn
The linguistic turn was a major development in Western philosophy during the 20th century, the most important characteristic of which is the focusing of philosophy and the other humanities primarily on the relationship between philosophy and language....

 and cultural turn
Cultural turn
The cultural turn was a movement among scholars in the social sciences to look at culture differently. The cultural turn has been described by one of its most prominent historiographers as a “wide array of new theoretical impulses coming from fields formerly peripheral to the social sciences,”...

s of the mid-twentieth century led to increasingly interpretative
Verstehen
Verstehen is an ordinary German word with exactly the same meaning as the English word "understand". However, since the late 19th century in the context of German philosophy and social sciences, it has also been used in the special sense of "interpretive or participatory examination" of social...

, hermeneutic, and philosophic approaches to the analysis of society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new analytically
Analytical sociology
Analytical sociology is a strategy for understanding the social world. It is concerned with explaining important macro-level facts such as the diffusion of various social practices, patterns of segregation, network structures, typical beliefs, and common ways of acting...

, mathematically
Mathematical sociology
Mathematical sociology is the usage of mathematics to construct social theories. Mathematical sociology aims to take sociological theory, which is strong in intuitive content but weak from a formal point of view, and to express it in formal terms...

 and computationally
Computational sociology
Computational sociology is a branch of sociology that uses computationally intensive methods to analyze and model social phenomena. Using computer simulations, artificial intelligence, complex statistical methods, and new analytic approaches like social network analysis, computational sociology...

 rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modelling and social network analysis
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

. Sociology should not be confused with various general social studies
Social studies
Social studies is the "integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence," as defined by the American National Council for the Social Studies...

 courses which bear little relation to sociological theory or social science research methodology.

Origins


Sociological reasoning predates the foundation of the discipline. Social analysis has origins in the common stock of Western knowledge
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, and has been carried out from at least as early as the time of Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

. The origin of the survey
Statistical survey
Survey methodology is the field that studies surveys, that is, the sample of individuals from a population with a view towards making statistical inferences about the population using the sample. Polls about public opinion, such as political beliefs, are reported in the news media in democracies....

, i.e., the collection of information from a sample of individuals, can be traced back at least early as the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

 in 1086, while ancient philosophers such as Confucius
Confucius
Confucius , literally "Master Kong", was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period....

 wrote on the importance of social roles. There is evidence of early sociology in medieval Islam. Some consider Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

, a 14th century Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Islamic scholar from North Africa, to have been the first sociologist; his Muqaddimah
Muqaddimah
The Muqaddimah , also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun or the Prolegomena , is a book written by the Maghrebian Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history...

was perhaps the first work to advance social-scientific reasoning on social cohesion
Social cohesion
Social cohesion is a term used in social policy, sociology and political science to describe the bonds or "glue" that bring people together in society, particularly in the context of cultural diversity. Social cohesion is a multi-faceted notion covering many different kinds of social phenomena...

 and social conflict
Social conflict
Social conflict is the struggle for agency or power in society.Social conflict or group conflict occurs when two or more actors oppose each other in social interaction,reciprocally exerting social power in an effort to attain scarce or incompatible goals and prevent the opponent from attaining them...

.

The word sociology (or "sociologie") is derived from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

: socius, "companion"; -ology, "the study of", and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 λόγος, lógos, "word", "knowledge". It was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748–1836) in an unpublished manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

. Sociology was later defined independently by the French philosopher of science, Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

 (1798–1857), in 1838. Comte had earlier used the term "social physics", but that had subsequently been appropriated by others, most notably the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet
Adolphe Quetelet
Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet was a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist. He founded and directed the Brussels Observatory and was influential in introducing statistical methods to the social sciences...

. Comte endeavoured to unify history, psychology and economics through the scientific understanding of the social realm. Writing shortly after the malaise of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, he proposed that social ills could be remedied through sociological positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

, an epistemological approach outlined in The Course in Positive Philosophy
The Course in Positive Philosophy
The Course in Positivist Philosophy was a series of texts written by the French philosopher of science and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte, between 1830 and 1842. Within it he unveiled the epistemological perspective of positivism...

[1830–1842] and A General View of Positivism
A General View of Positivism
A General View of Positivism was an 1848 book by the French philosopher Auguste Comte, first published in English in 1865...

(1848). Comte believed a positivist stage
Law of three stages
The Law of Three Stages is an idea developed by Auguste Comte. It states that society as a whole, and each particular science, develops through three mentally conceived stages: the theological stage, the metaphysical stage, and the positive stage....

 would mark the final era, after conjectural theological and metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 phases, in the progression of human understanding. In observing the circular dependence of theory and observation in science, and having classified the sciences, Comte may be regarded as the first philosopher of science in the modern sense of the term.




Both Comte and Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 (1818–1883) set out to develop scientifically justified systems in the wake of European industrialisation
Industrialisation
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

 and secularisation, informed by various key movements in the philosophies of history
Philosophy of history
The term philosophy of history refers to the theoretical aspect of history, in two senses. It is customary to distinguish critical philosophy of history from speculative philosophy of history...

 and science
Philosophy of science
The philosophy of science is concerned with the assumptions, foundations, methods and implications of science. It is also concerned with the use and merit of science and sometimes overlaps metaphysics and epistemology by exploring whether scientific results are actually a study of truth...

. Marx rejected Comtean positivism but in attempting to develop a science of society nevertheless came to be recognized as a founder of sociology as the word gained wider meaning. For Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin OM, FBA was a British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas of Russian-Jewish origin, regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century and a dominant liberal scholar of his generation...

, Marx may be regarded as the "true father" of modern sociology, "in so far as anyone can claim the title."

Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

 (27 April 1820 – 8 December 1903) was one of the most popular and influential 19th century sociologists. It is estimated that he sold one million books in his lifetime, far more than any other sociologist at the time. So strong was his influence that many other 19th century thinkers, including Émile Durkheim
Émile Durkheim
David Émile Durkheim was a French sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science and father of sociology.Much of Durkheim's work was concerned with how societies could maintain...

, defined their ideas in relation to his. Durkheim’s Division of Labour in Society is to a large extent an extended debate with Spencer from whose sociology, many commentators now agree, Durkheim borrowed extensively. Also a notable biologist
Biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

, Spencer coined the term "survival of the fittest
Survival of the fittest
"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase originating in evolutionary theory, as an alternative description of Natural selection. The phrase is today commonly used in contexts that are incompatible with the original meaning as intended by its first two proponents: British polymath philosopher Herbert...

". Whilst Marxian ideas defined one strand of sociology, Spencer was a critic of socialism as well as strong advocate for a laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

 style of government. His ideas were highly observed by conservative political circles, especially in the United States and England.

Foundations of the academic discipline




Formal academic sociology was established by Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), who developed positivism as a foundation to practical social research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

. While Durkheim rejected much of the detail of Comte's philosophy, he retained and refined its method, maintaining that the social sciences are a logical continuation of the natural ones into the realm of human activity, and insisting that they may retain the same objectivity, rationalism, and approach to causality. Durkheim set up the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux
University of Bordeaux is an association of higher education institutions in and around Bordeaux, France. Its current incarnation was established 21 March 2007. The group is the largest system of higher education schools in southwestern France. It is part of the Academy of Bordeaux.There are seven...

 in 1895, publishing his Rules of the Sociological Method
Rules of the Sociological Method
The Rules of Sociological Method is a book by Émile Durkheim, first published in 1895. It is recognized as being the direct result of Durkheim's own project of establishing sociology as a positivist social science. Durkheim is seen as one of the fathers of sociology, and this work, his manifesto...

(1895). For Durkheim, sociology could be described as the "science of institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

s, their genesis and their functioning".

Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide
Suicide (book)
Suicide was one of the groundbreaking books in the field of sociology. Written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim and published in 1897 it was a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time which provided an example of what the sociological...

(1897), a case study of suicide rates amongst Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 and Protestant populations, distinguished sociological analysis from psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

 or philosophy. It also marked a major contribution to the theoretical concept of structural functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

. By carefully examining suicide statistics in different police districts, he attempted to demonstrate that Catholic communities have a lower suicide rate than that of Protestants, something he attributed to social (as opposed to individual or psychological) causes. He developed the notion of objective suis generis "social facts" to delineate a unique empirical object for the science of sociology to study. Through such studies he posited that sociology would be able to determine whether any given society is 'healthy' or 'pathological', and seek social reform to negate organic breakdown or "social anomie
Anomie
Anomie is a term meaning "without Law" to describe a lack of social norms; "normlessness". It describes the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community ties, with fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values. It was popularized by French...

".

Sociology quickly evolved as an academic response to the perceived challenges of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, such as industrialization, urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

, secularization
Secularization
Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions...

, and the process of "rationalization
Rationalization (sociology)
Rationalization is a term used in sociology to refer to a process in which an increasing number of social actions become based on considerations of teleological efficiency or calculation rather than on motivations derived from morality, emotion, custom, or tradition...

". The field predominated in continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

, with British anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and statistics
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

 generally following on a separate trajectory. By the turn of the 20th century, however, many theorists were active in the Anglo-Saxon world. Few early sociologists were confined strictly to the subject, interacting also with economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, jurisprudence
Jurisprudence
Jurisprudence is the theory and philosophy of law. Scholars of jurisprudence, or legal theorists , hope to obtain a deeper understanding of the nature of law, of legal reasoning, legal systems and of legal institutions...

, psychology and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, with theories being appropriated in a variety of different fields. Since its inception, sociological epistemologies, methods, and frames of enquiry, have significantly expanded and diverged.

Durkheim, Marx, and the German theorist Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 are typically cited as the three principal architects of social science. Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

, William Graham Sumner
William Graham Sumner
William Graham Sumner was an American academic and "held the first professorship in sociology" at Yale College. For many years he had a reputation as one of the most influential teachers there. He was a polymath with numerous books and essays on American history, economic history, political...

, Lester F. Ward, Vilfredo Pareto
Vilfredo Pareto
Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto , born Wilfried Fritz Pareto, was an Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist and philosopher. He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals' choices....

, Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

, Werner Sombart
Werner Sombart
Werner Sombart was a German economist and sociologist, the head of the “Youngest Historical School” and one of the leading Continental European social scientists during the first quarter of the 20th century....

, Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Veblen
Thorstein Bunde Veblen, born Torsten Bunde Veblen was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement...

, Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, best known for his distinction between two types of social groups, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...

, Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel was a major German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?',...

 and Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim , or Károly Mannheim in the original writing of his name, was a Jewish Hungarian-born sociologist, influential in the first half of the 20th century and one of the founding fathers of classical sociology and a founder of the sociology of knowledge.-Life:Mannheim studied in Budapest,...

 are occasionally included on academic curricula as founding theorists. Each key figure is associated with a particular theoretical perspective and orientation.

Other developments



The first college course entitled "Sociology" was taught in the United States at Yale
YALE
RapidMiner, formerly YALE , is an environment for machine learning, data mining, text mining, predictive analytics, and business analytics. It is used for research, education, training, rapid prototyping, application development, and industrial applications...

 in 1875 by William Graham Sumner
William Graham Sumner
William Graham Sumner was an American academic and "held the first professorship in sociology" at Yale College. For many years he had a reputation as one of the most influential teachers there. He was a polymath with numerous books and essays on American history, economic history, political...

. In 1883 Lester F. Ward, the first president of the American Sociological Association, published Dynamic Sociology—Or Applied social science as based upon statical sociology and the less complex sciences and attacked the laissez-faire sociology of Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

 and Sumner. Ward's 1200 page book was used as core material in many early American sociology courses. In 1890, the oldest continuing American course in the modern tradition began at the University of Kansas
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas is a public research university and the largest university in the state of Kansas. KU campuses are located in Lawrence, Wichita, Overland Park, and Kansas City, Kansas with the main campus being located in Lawrence on Mount Oread, the highest point in Lawrence. The...

, lectured by Frank W. Blackmar
Frank W. Blackmar
Frank Wilson Blackmar was an American sociologist, historian and educator. He served as the 9th President of the American Sociological Society .Before earning a Ph.D...

. The Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 was established in 1892 by Albion Small, who also published the first sociology textbook: An introduction to the study of society 1894. George Herbert Mead
George Herbert Mead
George Herbert Mead was an American philosopher, sociologist and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he was one of several distinguished pragmatists. He is regarded as one of the founders of social psychology and the American sociological tradition in general.-...

 and Charles Cooley
Charles Cooley
Charles Horton Cooley was an American sociologist and the son of Thomas M. Cooley. He studied and went on to teach economics and sociology at the University of Michigan, and he was a founding member and the eighth president of the American Sociological Association...

, who had met at the University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

 in 1891 (along with John Dewey
John Dewey
John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey was an important early developer of the philosophy of pragmatism and one of the founders of functional psychology...

), would move to Chicago in 1894. Their influence gave rise to social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

 and the symbolic interactionism
Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic Interaction, also known as interactionism, is a sociological theory that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction to provide subjective meaning in human behavior, the social process and pragmatism.-History:...

 of the modern Chicago School
Chicago school (sociology)
In sociology and later criminology, the Chicago School was the first major body of works emerging during the 1920s and 1930s specialising in urban sociology, and the research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Chicago, now applied elsewhere...

. The American Journal of Sociology
American Journal of Sociology
The American Journal of Sociology was established in 1895 by Albion Small and is the oldest academic journal of sociology in the United States. The journal is attached to the University of Chicago's sociology department and it is published bimonthly by The University of Chicago Press. Its...

was founded in 1895, followed by the American Sociological Association
American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association , founded in 1905 as the American Sociological Society , is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discipline and profession of sociology by serving sociologists in their work and promoting their contributions to serve society.The ASA holds its...

(ASA) in 1905. The sociological "canon of classics" with Durkheim and Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 at the top owes in part to Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

, who is largely credited with introducing both to American audiences. Parsons consolidated the sociological tradition and set the agenda for American sociology at the point of its fastest disciplinary growth. Sociology in the United States was less historically influenced by Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 than its European counterpart, and to this day broadly remains more statistical in its approach.

The first sociology department to be established in the United Kingdom was at the London School of Economics and Political Science
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 (home of the British Journal of Sociology
British Journal of Sociology
The British Journal of Sociology is an academic journal, founded in 1950 at the London School of Economics. The main founders were the sociologists Morris Ginsberg and Thomas Humphrey Marshall. Their intended title, "The London Journal of Sociology", seems to have been changed by the publisher...

) in 1904. Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse
Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse
Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse was a British liberal politician and sociologist, who has been considered one of the leading and earliest proponents of social liberalism. His works, alongside that of writers such as T.H. Green and John A. Hobson, occupy a seminal position within the canon of New...

 became a lecturer in the discipline at the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

 in 1907. Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau
Harriet Martineau was an English social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist....

, an English translator of Comte, has been cited as the first female sociologist. In 1909 the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Sociological Association) was founded by Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, best known for his distinction between two types of social groups, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...

 and Max Weber, among others. Weber established the first department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 1919, having presented an influential new antipositivist sociology. In 1920, Florian Znaniecki
Florian Znaniecki
Florian Witold Znaniecki was a Polish sociologist. He taught and wrote in Poland and the United States. He was the 44th President of the American Sociological Association and the founder of academic sociology studies in Poland...

 set up the first department in Poland
Sociology in Poland
Sociology in Poland has been developing, as has sociology throughout Europe, since the mid-19th century. Polish sociology is today a vibrant science, with its own experts and currents of thought...

. The Institute for Social Research
Institute for Social Research
The Institute for Social Research is a research organization for sociology and continental philosophy, best known as the institutional home of the Frankfurt School and critical theory....

at the University of Frankfurt (later to become the Frankfurt School
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

 of critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

) was founded in 1923. International co-operation in sociology began in 1893, when René Worms
René Worms
René Worms was a French auditor of the council of state, son of professor of political economics Émile Worms....

 founded the Institut International de Sociologie, an institution later eclipsed by the much larger International Sociological Association
International Sociological Association
International Sociological Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to scientific purposes in the field of sociology and social sciences...

 (ISA), founded in 1949.

Positivism



The overarching methodological
Methodology
Methodology is generally a guideline for solving a problem, with specificcomponents such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools . It can be defined also as follows:...

 principle of positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

 is to conduct sociology in broadly the same manner as natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

. An emphasis on empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 and the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 is sought to provide a tested foundation for sociological research, based on the assumption that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can only arrive by positive affirmation through scientific methodology.
The term has long since ceased to carry this meaning; there are no fewer than twelve distinct epistemologies that are referred to as positivism. Many of these approaches do not self-identify as "positivist", some because they themselves arose in opposition to older forms of positivism, and some because the label has over time become a term of abuse by being mistakenly linked with atheoretical empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

. The extent of antipositivist criticism has also diverged, with many rejecting the scientifically driven social epistemology and others only seeking to amend it to reflect 20th century developments in the philosophy of science. However, positivism (broadly understood as a scientific approach to the study of society) remains dominant in contemporary sociology, especially in the United States.

Loic Wacquant
Loïc Wacquant
Loïc Wacquant is a sociologist, specializing in urban sociology, urban poverty, racial inequality, the body, social theory and ethnography....

 distinguishes three major strains of positivism: Durkheimian, Logical and Instrumental. None of these are the same as that set forth by Comte, who was unique amongst sociologists in advocating a formulation with such a restrictive epistemology and grandiose teleology. While Émile Durkheim rejected much of the detail of Comte's philosophy, he retained and refined its method. Durkheim maintained that the social sciences are a logical continuation of the natural ones into the realm of human activity, and insisted that they should retain the same objectivity, rationalism, and approach to causality. He developed the notion of objective sui generis "social facts" to delineate a unique empirical object for the science of sociology to study.

The variety of positivism that remains dominant today is termed instrumental positivism. This approach eschews epistemological and metaphysical concerns (such as the nature of social facts) in favor of methodological debates concerning clarity, replicability, reliability
Reliabilism
Reliabilism, a category of theories in the philosophical discipline of epistemology, has been advanced both as a theory of knowledge and of justified belief...

 and validity
Validity
In logic, argument is valid if and only if its conclusion is entailed by its premises, a formula is valid if and only if it is true under every interpretation, and an argument form is valid if and only if every argument of that logical form is valid....

. This positivism is more or less synonymous with quantitative research
Quantitative research
In the social sciences, quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of social phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories and/or hypotheses pertaining to...

, and thus only resembles older positivist stances in practice: since it carries no explicit philosophical commitment, its practitioners may have any of a variety of viewpoints, including postpositivism
Postpositivism
In philosophy and models of scientific inquiry, postpositivism is a metatheoretical stance that critiques and amends positivism. Postpositivists believe that human knowledge is based not on unchallengeable, rock-solid foundations, but rather upon human conjectures...

 and antipositivism
Antipositivism
Antipositivism is the view in social science that the social realm may not be subject to the same methods of investigation as the natural world; that academics must reject empiricism and the scientific method in the conduct of research...

. The institutionalization of this kind of sociology is often credited to Paul Lazarsfeld
Paul Lazarsfeld
Paul Felix Lazarsfeld was one of the major figures in 20th-century American sociology. The founder of Columbia University's Bureau of Applied Social Research, he exerted a tremendous influence over the techniques and the organization of social research...

, who pioneered large-scale survey studies and developed statistical techniques for analyzing them. This approach lends itself to what Robert K. Merton
Robert K. Merton
Robert King Merton was a distinguished American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor...

 called middle-range theory
Middle range theory (sociology)
Middle range theory, developed by Robert K. Merton, is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research. It is currently the de-facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States...

: abstract statements that generalize from segregated hypotheses and empirical regularities rather than starting with an abstract idea of a social whole.

Antipositivism



Reactions against social empiricism began when German philosopher Hegel voiced opposition to both empiricism, which he rejected as uncritical, and determinism, which he viewed as overly mechanistic. Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

's methodology borrowed from Hegelian dialecticism but also a rejection of positivism in favour of critical analysis, seeking to supplement the empirical acquisition of "facts" with the elimination of illusions. He maintained that appearances need to be critiqued rather than simply documented. Early hermeneuticians such as Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey
Wilhelm Dilthey was a German historian, psychologist, sociologist and hermeneutic philosopher, who held Hegel's Chair in Philosophy at the University of Berlin. As a polymathic philosopher, working in a modern research university, Dilthey's research interests revolved around questions of...

 pioneered the distinction between natural and social science ('Geisteswissenschaft
Geisteswissenschaft
Geisteswissenschaft is a traditional division of faculty in German universities that included subjects such as Philosophy, History, Philology, social sciences, sometimes even Theology, and Jurisprudence...

'). Various neo-Kantian philosophers, phenomenologists and human scientists
Human Science
Human science refers to the investigation of human life and activities via a phenomenological methodology that acknowledges the validity of both sensory and psychological experience...

 further theorized how the analysis of the social world
Social reality
Social reality is distinct from biological reality or individual cognitive reality, and has been defined as 'a level of phenomena that emerges through social interactions and that cannot be reduced to the intentions of individuals'....

 differs to that of the natural world
Natural World
Natural World is the longest-running nature documentary series on British television. 2008 marked the series' 25th anniversary under its present title, though its origins can be traced back to its predecessor The World About Us which began over 40 years ago...

 due to the irreducibly complex aspects of human society, culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, and being
Being
Being , is an English word used for conceptualizing subjective and objective aspects of reality, including those fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with terms like "existence" and "living".In its objective usage —as in "a being," or "[a] human being" —it...

.

At the turn of the 20th century the first generation of German sociologists formally introduced methodological antipositivism
Antipositivism
Antipositivism is the view in social science that the social realm may not be subject to the same methods of investigation as the natural world; that academics must reject empiricism and the scientific method in the conduct of research...

, proposing that research should concentrate on human cultural norm
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

s, values
Value (personal and cultural)
A personal or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based...

, symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s, and social processes viewed from a resolutely subjective
Subject (philosophy)
In philosophy, a subject is a being that has subjective experiences, subjective consciousness or a relationship with another entity . A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed...

 perspective. Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 argued that sociology may be loosely described as a science as it is able to identify causal relationships
Causality
Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....

 of human "social action"—especially among "ideal type
Ideal type
Ideal type , also known as pure type, is a typological term most closely associated with antipositivist sociologist Max Weber . For Weber, the conduct of social science depends upon the construction of hypothetical concepts in the abstract...

s", or hypothetical simplifications of complex social phenomena. As a nonpositivist, however, Weber sought relationships that are not as "ahistorical, invariant, or generalizable" as those pursued by natural scientists. Fellow German sociologist, Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies
Ferdinand Tönnies was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, best known for his distinction between two types of social groups, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...

, theorized on two crucial abstract concepts with his work on "Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft are sociological categories introduced by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies for two normal types of human association...

" (lit. community and society). Tönnies marked a sharp line between the realm of concepts and the reality of social action: the first must be treated axiomatically and in a deductive way ("pure sociology"), whereas the second empirically and inductively ("applied sociology").


Both Weber and Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel was a major German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?',...

 pioneered the "Verstehen
Verstehen
Verstehen is an ordinary German word with exactly the same meaning as the English word "understand". However, since the late 19th century in the context of German philosophy and social sciences, it has also been used in the special sense of "interpretive or participatory examination" of social...

" (or 'interpretative') method in social science; a systematic process by which an outside observer attempts to relate to a particular cultural group, or indigenous people, on their own terms and from their own point-of-view. Through the work of Simmel, in particular, sociology acquired a possible character beyond positivist data-collection or grand, deterministic systems of structural law. Relatively isolated from the sociological academy throughout his lifetime, Simmel presented idiosyncratic analyses of modernity more reminiscent of the phenomenological and existential
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

 writers than of Comte or Durkheim, paying particular concern to the forms of, and possibilities for, social individuality. His sociology engaged in a neo-Kantian enquiry into the limits of perception, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?'



Theoretical frameworks



The contemporary discipline of sociology is theoretically multi-paradigmatic. Modern sociological theory descends from the historical foundations of functionalist (Durkheim) and conflict-centered (Marx) accounts of social structure, as well as the micro-scale structural (Simmel
Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel was a major German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?',...

) and pragmatist
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

 (Mead
George Herbert Mead
George Herbert Mead was an American philosopher, sociologist and psychologist, primarily affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he was one of several distinguished pragmatists. He is regarded as one of the founders of social psychology and the American sociological tradition in general.-...

) theories of social interaction. Contemporary sociological theory retains traces of these approaches.

Presently, sociological theories lack a single overarching foundation, and there is little consensus about what such a framework should consist of. However, a number of broad paradigms cover much present sociological theorizing. In the humanistic parts of the discipline, these paradigms are referred to as social theory, and are often shared with the humanities. The discipline's dominant scientifically-orientated areas generally focus on a different set of theoretical perspectives, which by contrast are generally referred to as sociological theory. These include new institutionalism
New institutionalism
New institutionalism or neoinstitutionalism is a theory that focuses on developing a sociological view of institutions--the way they interact and the way they affect society...

, social network
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

s, social identity
Social identity
A social identity is the portion of an individual's self-concept derived from perceived membership in a relevant social group. As originally formulated by Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s and 80s, social identity theory introduced the concept of a social identity as a way in which to...

, social
Social capital
Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently...

 and cultural capital
Cultural capital
The term cultural capital refers to non-financial social assets; they may be educational or intellectual, which might promote social mobility beyond economic means....

, toolkit and cognitive
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

 theories of culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, and resource mobilization
Resource mobilization
Resource mobilization is a major sociological theory in the study of social movements which emerged in the 1970s. It stresses the ability of movement's members to 1) acquire resources and to 2) mobilize people towards accomplishing the movement's goals...

. Analytical sociology
Analytical sociology
Analytical sociology is a strategy for understanding the social world. It is concerned with explaining important macro-level facts such as the diffusion of various social practices, patterns of segregation, network structures, typical beliefs, and common ways of acting...

 is an ongoing effort to systematize many of these middle-range theories
Middle range theory (sociology)
Middle range theory, developed by Robert K. Merton, is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research. It is currently the de-facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States...

.

Functionalism



A broad historical paradigm in both sociology and anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, functionalism addresses the social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 as a whole and in terms of the necessary function of its constituent elements. A common analogy (popularized by Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer was an English philosopher, biologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era....

) is to regard norm
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

s and institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

s as 'organs' that work toward the proper-functioning of the entire 'body' of society. The perspective was implicit in the original sociological positivism of Comte, but was theorized in full by Durkheim, again with respect to observable, structural laws. Functionalism also has an anthropological basis in the work of theorists such as Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology...

, Bronisław Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown. It is in Radcliffe-Brown's specific usage that the prefix 'structural' emerged. Classical functionalist theory is generally united by its tendency towards biological analogy and notions of social evolutionism. As Giddens
Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

 states: "Functionalist thought, from Comte onwards, has looked particularly towards biology as the science providing the closest and most compatible model for social science. Biology has been taken to provide a guide to conceptualizing the structure and the function of social systems and to analysing processes of evolution via mechanisms of adaptation ... functionalism strongly emphasises the pre-eminence of the social world over its individual parts (i.e. its constituent actors, human subjects)."

Conflict theory



Functionalism aims only toward a general perspective from which to conduct social science. Methodologically, its principles generally contrast those approaches that emphasise the "micro"
Microsociology
Microsociology is one of the main branches of sociology, concerning the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency on a small scale. Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than statistical or empirical observation, and shares close association with the philosophy of...

, such as interpretivism
Verstehen
Verstehen is an ordinary German word with exactly the same meaning as the English word "understand". However, since the late 19th century in the context of German philosophy and social sciences, it has also been used in the special sense of "interpretive or participatory examination" of social...

 or symbolic interactionism
Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic Interaction, also known as interactionism, is a sociological theory that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction to provide subjective meaning in human behavior, the social process and pragmatism.-History:...

. Its emphasis on "cohesive systems", however, also holds political ramifications. Functionalist theories are often therefore contrasted with "conflict theories" which critique the overarching socio-political system or emphasize the inequality of particular groups. The works of Durkheim and Marx epitomize the political, as well as theoretical, disparities, between functionalist and conflict thought respectively:

20th century social theory



The functionalist movement reached its crescendo in the 1940s and 1950s, and by the 1960s was in rapid decline. By the 1980s, functionalism in Europe had broadly been replaced by conflict
Conflict theory
Conflict theories are perspectives in social science that emphasize the social, political or material inequality of a social group, that critique the broad socio-political system, or that otherwise detract from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism...

-oriented approaches. While some of the critical approaches also gained popularity in the United States, the mainstream of the discipline instead shifted to a variety of empirically-oriented middle-range theories
Middle range theory (sociology)
Middle range theory, developed by Robert K. Merton, is an approach to sociological theorizing aimed at integrating theory and empirical research. It is currently the de-facto dominant approach to sociological theory construction, especially in the United States...

 with no single overarching theoretical orientation. To many in the discipline, functionalism is now considered "as dead as a dodo."

As the influence of both functionalism and Marxism in the 1960s began to wane, the linguistic
Linguistic turn
The linguistic turn was a major development in Western philosophy during the 20th century, the most important characteristic of which is the focusing of philosophy and the other humanities primarily on the relationship between philosophy and language....

 and cultural turn
Cultural turn
The cultural turn was a movement among scholars in the social sciences to look at culture differently. The cultural turn has been described by one of its most prominent historiographers as a “wide array of new theoretical impulses coming from fields formerly peripheral to the social sciences,”...

s led to myriad new movements in the social sciences: "According to Giddens, the orthodox consensus terminated in the late 1960s and 1970s as the middle ground shared by otherwise competing perspectives gave way and was replaced by a baffling variety of competing perspectives. This third 'generation' of social theory includes phenomenologically inspired approaches, critical theory, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, structuralism, post-structuralism, and theories written in the tradition of hermeneutics and ordinary language philosophy."

The structuralist
Structural Linguistics
Structural linguistics is an approach to linguistics originating from the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. De Saussure's Course in General Linguistics, published posthumously in 1916, stressed examining language as a static system of interconnected units...

 movement originated from the linguistic
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 theory of Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 and was later expanded to the social sciences by theorists such Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

. In this context, 'structure' refers not to 'social structure' but to the semiotic understanding of human culture as a system of signs
Sign (semiotics)
A sign is understood as a discrete unit of meaning in semiotics. It is defined as "something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity" It includes words, images, gestures, scents, tastes, textures, sounds – essentially all of the ways in which information can be...

. One may delineate four central tenets of structuralism: First, structure is what determines the structure of a whole. Second, structuralists believe that every system has a structure. Third, structuralists are interested in 'structural' laws that deal with coexistence rather than changes. Finally, structures are the 'real things' beneath the surface or the appearance of meaning.

Post-structuralist thought has tended to reject 'humanist' assumptions
Antihumanism
Antihumanism is a term referring to a number of perspectives that are opposed to the project of philosophical anthropology...

 in the conduct of social theory. Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 provides a potent critique in his archaeology of the human sciences
The Order of Things
The Order of Things is a book by Michel Foucault first published in 1966. The full title is Les Mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines...

, though Habermas
Habermas
People with the surname Habermas include:*German sociologist and philosopher, Jürgen Habermas*American philosophical theologian, Gary Habermas...

 and Rorty
Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

 have both argued that Foucault merely replaces one such system of thought with another. The dialogue between these intellectuals highlights a trend in recent years for certain schools of sociology and philosophy to intersect. The anti-humanist position has been associated with "postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the...

," a term used in specific contexts to describe an era or phenomena, but occasionally construed as a method.

Structure and agency



Structure and agency forms an enduring ontological debate in social theory: "Do social structures determine an individual's behaviour or does human agency?" In this context 'agency
Agency (sociology)
In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to the factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions...

' refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and make free choices, whereas 'structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

' refers to factors which limit or affect the choices and actions of individuals (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, and so on). Discussions over the primacy of either structure and agency relate to the core of sociological epistemology ("What is the social world made of?", "What is a cause in the social world, and what is an effect?"). A general outcome of incredulity toward structural or agential thought has been the development of multidimensional theories, most notably the action theory
Action theory (sociology)
In sociology, action theory refers to the theory of social action presented by the American theorist Talcott Parsons.Parsons established action theory in order to integrate the study of social order with the structural and voluntaristic aspects of macro and micro factors...

 of Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons
Talcott Parsons was an American sociologist who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1927 to 1973....

 and Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

's theory of structuration.

Research methodology



Sociological research methods may be divided into two broad categories:
  • Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases (or across intentionally designed treatments in an experiment) to create valid and reliable general claims
  • Qualitative designs
    Qualitative research
    Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such...

     emphasize understanding of social phenomena through direct observation, communication with participants, or analysis of texts, and may stress contextual and subjective accuracy over generality


Sociologists are divided into camps of support for particular research techniques. These disputes relate to the epistemological debates at the historical core of social theory. While very different in many aspects, both qualitative and quantitative approaches involve a systematic interaction between theory
Social theory
Social theories are theoretical frameworks which are used to study and interpret social phenomena within a particular school of thought. An essential tool used by social scientists, theories relate to historical debates over the most valid and reliable methodologies , as well as the primacy of...

 and data. Quantitative methodologies hold the dominant position in sociology, especially in the United States. In the discipline's two most cited journals, quantitative articles have historically outnumbered qualitative ones by a factor of two. (Most articles published in the largest British journal, on the other hand, are qualitative
Qualitative research
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such...

.) Most textbooks on the methodology of social research are written from the quantitative perspective, and the very term "methodology" is often used synonymously with "statistics
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

." Practically all sociology PhD program in the United States require training in statistical methods. The work produced by quantitative researchers is also deemed more 'trustworthy' and 'unbiased' by the greater public, though this judgment continues to be challenged by antipositivists.

The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate. For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire
Survey research
Survey research a research method involving the use of questionnaires and/or statistical surveys to gather data about people and their thoughts and behaviours. This method was pioneered in the 1930s and 1940s by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. The initial use of the method was to examine the effects...

 to a representative sample population. By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individuals' social actions
Social actions
In sociology, social action refers to an act which takes into account the actions and reactions of individuals .According to Max Weber, "an Action is 'social' if the acting individual takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course" .- Social action and Max Weber :The...

 may choose ethnographic participant observation
Participant observation
Participant observation is a type of research strategy. It is a widely used methodology in many disciplines, particularly, cultural anthropology, but also sociology, communication studies, and social psychology...

 or open-ended interviews. Studies will commonly combine, or 'triangulate'
Triangulation (social science)
In the social sciences, triangulation is often used to indicate that more than two methods are used in a study with a view to double checking results. This is also called "cross examination"....

, quantitative and qualitative methods as part of a 'multi-strategy' design. For instance, a quantitative study may be performed to gain statistical patterns or a target sample, and then combined with a qualitative interview to determine the play of agency
Agency (sociology)
In the social sciences, agency refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, "Structure" refers to the factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and his or her decisions...

.

Sampling



Quantitative methods are often used to ask questions about a population that is very large, making a census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 or a complete enumeration
Enumeration
In mathematics and theoretical computer science, the broadest and most abstract definition of an enumeration of a set is an exact listing of all of its elements . The restrictions imposed on the type of list used depend on the branch of mathematics and the context in which one is working...

 of all the members in that population infeasible. A 'sample' then forms a manageable subset
Subset
In mathematics, especially in set theory, a set A is a subset of a set B if A is "contained" inside B. A and B may coincide. The relationship of one set being a subset of another is called inclusion or sometimes containment...

 of a population
Statistical population
A statistical population is a set of entities concerning which statistical inferences are to be drawn, often based on a random sample taken from the population. For example, if we were interested in generalizations about crows, then we would describe the set of crows that is of interest...

. In quantitative research, statistics are used to draw inference
Inference
Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true. The conclusion drawn is also called an idiomatic. The laws of valid inference are studied in the field of logic.Human inference Inference is the act or process of deriving logical conclusions...

s from this sample regarding the population as a whole. The process of selecting a sample is referred to as 'sampling'
Sampling (statistics)
In statistics and survey methodology, sampling is concerned with the selection of a subset of individuals from within a population to estimate characteristics of the whole population....

. While it is usually best to sample randomly, concern with differences between specific subpopulations sometimes calls for stratified sampling
Stratified sampling
In statistics, stratified sampling is a method of sampling from a population.In statistical surveys, when subpopulations within an overall population vary, it is advantageous to sample each subpopulation independently. Stratification is the process of dividing members of the population into...

. Conversely, the impossibility of random sampling sometimes necessitates nonprobability sampling
Nonprobability sampling
Sampling is the use of a subset of the population to represent the whole population. Probability sampling, or random sampling, is a sampling technique in which the probability of getting any particular sample may be calculated. Nonprobability sampling does not meet this criterion and should be...

, such as convenience sampling or snowball sampling
Snowball sampling
In sociology and statistics research, snowball sampling is a non-probability sampling technique where existing study subjects recruit future subjects from among their acquaintances. Thus the sample group appears to grow like a rolling snowball...

.

Methods


The following list of research methods is neither exclusive nor exhaustive:
  • Archival research
    Archival research
    -Basic Definition:An archive is a way of sorting and organizing older documents, whether it be digitally or manually . Archiving is one part of the curating process which is typically carried out by a curator...

     or the Historical method
    Historical method
    Historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then to write histories in the form of accounts of the past. The question of the nature, and even the possibility, of a sound historical method is raised in the...

    : draws upon the secondary data
    Secondary data
    Secondary data is data collected by someone other than the user. Common sources of secondary data for social science include censuses, surveys, organizational records and data collected through qualitative methodologies or qualitative research...

     located in historical archives and records, such as biographies, memoirs, journals, and so on.
  • Content analysis
    Content analysis
    Content analysis or textual analysis is a methodology in the social sciences for studying the content of communication. Earl Babbie defines it as "the study of recorded human communications, such as books, websites, paintings and laws."According to Dr...

    : The content of interviews and other texts is systematically analysed. Often data is 'coded' as a part of the 'grounded theory
    Grounded theory
    Grounded theory is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the generation of theory from data. It is mainly used in qualitative research, but is also applicable to quantitative data....

    ' approach using qualitative data analysis (QDA) software, such as NVivo
    NVivo
    NVivo is a qualitative data analysis computer software package produced by QSR International. It has been designed for qualitative researchers working with very rich text-based and/or multimedia information, where deep levels of analysis on small or large volumes of data are required.NVivo is...

    .
  • Experimental research: The researcher isolates a single social process and reproduces it in a laboratory (for example, by creating a situation where unconscious sexist judgments are possible), seeking to determine whether or not certain social variables
    Dependent and independent variables
    The terms "dependent variable" and "independent variable" are used in similar but subtly different ways in mathematics and statistics as part of the standard terminology in those subjects...

     can cause, or depend upon, other variables (for instance, seeing if people's feelings about traditional gender roles can be manipulated by the activation of contrasting gender stereotype
    Stereotype
    A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

    s). Participants are randomly assigned
    Random assignment
    Random assignment or random placement is an experimental technique for assigning subjects to different treatments . The thinking behind random assignment is that by randomizing treatment assignment, then the group attributes for the different treatments will be roughly equivalent and therefore any...

     to different groups which either serve as controls
    Scientific control
    Scientific control allows for comparisons of concepts. It is a part of the scientific method. Scientific control is often used in discussion of natural experiments. For instance, during drug testing, scientists will try to control two groups to keep them as identical and normal as possible, then...

    —acting as reference points because they are tested with regard to the dependent variable, albeit without having been exposed to any independent variables of interest—or receive one or more treatments. Randomization allows the researcher to be sure that any resulting differences between groups are the result of the treatment.
  • Longitudinal study
    Longitudinal study
    A longitudinal study is a correlational research study that involves repeated observations of the same variables over long periods of time — often many decades. It is a type of observational study. Longitudinal studies are often used in psychology to study developmental trends across the...

    : An extensive examination of a specific person or group over a long period of time.
  • Observation
    Observation
    Observation is either an activity of a living being, such as a human, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during this activity...

    : Using data from the senses, the researcher records information about social phenomenon or behavior. Observation techniques may or may not feature participation. In participant observation
    Participant observation
    Participant observation is a type of research strategy. It is a widely used methodology in many disciplines, particularly, cultural anthropology, but also sociology, communication studies, and social psychology...

    , the researcher goes into the field (such as a community or a place of work), and participates in the activities of the field for a prolonged period of time in order to acquire a deep understanding of it. Data acquired through these techniques may be analyzed either quantitatively or qualitatively.
  • Survey research
    Survey research
    Survey research a research method involving the use of questionnaires and/or statistical surveys to gather data about people and their thoughts and behaviours. This method was pioneered in the 1930s and 1940s by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. The initial use of the method was to examine the effects...

    : The researcher gathers data using interviews, questionnaires, or similar feedback from a set of people sampled from a particular population of interest. Survey items from an interview or questionnaire may be open-ended or closed-ended. Data from surveys is usually analyzed statistically on a computer.

Computational sociology




Sociologists increasingly draw upon computationally intensive methods to analyze and model social phenomena. Using computer simulation
Computer simulation
A computer simulation, a computer model, or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system...

s, artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

, complex statistical methods, and new analytic approaches like social network
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 analysis, computational sociology develops and tests theories of complex social processes through bottom-up modeling of social interactions. Although the subject matter and methodologies in social science differ from those in natural science or computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation originated from fields such as physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and artificial intelligence. By the same token, some of the approaches that originated in computational sociology have been imported into the natural sciences, such as measures of network centrality
Centrality
Within graph theory and network analysis, there are various measures of the centrality of a vertex within a graph that determine the relative importance of a vertex within the graph...

 from the fields of social network analysis and network science
Network science
Network science is a new and emerging scientific discipline that examines the interconnections among diverse physical or engineered networks, information networks, biological networks, cognitive and semantic networks, and social networks. This field of science seeks to discover common principles,...

. In relevant literature, computational sociology is often related to the study of social complexity
Social complexity
In the discipline of sociology, social complexity is a theoretical construct useful in the analysis of society.- Overview :Contemporary definitions of complexity in the sciences are found in relation to systems theory, where a phenomenon under study has many parts and many possible arrangements of...

. Social complexity concepts such as complex systems
Complex systems
Complex systems present problems in mathematical modelling.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered...

, non-linear interconnection among macro and micro process, and emergence
Emergence
In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems....

, have entered the vocabulary of computational sociology. A practical and well-known example is the construction of a computational model in the form of an "artificial society
Artificial society
Artificial Society is the specific agent based computational model for computer simulation in social analysis. It is mostly connected to the theme in complex system, emergence, Monte Carlo Method, computational sociology, multi-agent system, and evolutionary programming. The concept itself is...

", by which researchers can analyze the structure of a social system.

Practical applications of social research


Social research informs politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

s and policy makers
Public policy
Public policy as government action is generally the principled guide to action taken by the administrative or executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and...

, educators
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, planners
Urban planner
An urban planner or city planner is a professional who works in the field of urban planning/land use planning for the purpose of optimizing the effectiveness of a community's land use and infrastructure. They formulate plans for the development and management of urban and suburban areas, typically...

, lawmakers, administrators
Public administration
Public Administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal.....

, developers
Real estate development
Real estate development, or Property Development, is a multifaceted business, encompassing activities that range from the renovation and re-lease of existing buildings to the purchase of raw land and the sale of improved land or parcels to others...

, business magnate
Business magnate
A business magnate, sometimes referred to as a capitalist, czar, mogul, tycoon, baron, oligarch, or industrialist, is an informal term used to refer to an entrepreneur who has reached prominence and derived a notable amount of wealth from a particular industry .-Etymology:The word magnate itself...

s, managers, social workers, non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s, non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

s, and people interested in resolving social issues
Social issues
Social issues are controversial issues which relate to people's personal lives and interactions. Social issues are distinguished from economic issues...

 in general. There is often a great deal of crossover between social research, market research
Market research
Market research is any organized effort to gather information about markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy...

, and other statistical fields.

Areas of Sociology

  • Social organization is the study of the various institutions, social groups, social stratification, social mobility, bureaucracy, ethnic groups and relations, and other similar subjects like family, education, politics, religion, economy, and so on and so forth.
  • Social psychology is the study of human nature as an outcome of group life, social attitudes, collective behavior, and personality formation. It deals with group life and the individual's traits, attitudes, beliefs as influenced by group life, and it views man with reference to group life.
  • Social change and disorganization is the study of the change in culture and social relations and the disruption that may occur in society, and it deals with the study of such current problems in society such as juvenile delinquency, criminality, drug addiction, family conflicts, divorce, population problems, and other similar subjects.
  • Human ecology deals with the nature and behavior of a given population and its relationships to the group's present social institutions. For instance, studies of this kind have shown the prevalence of mental illness, criminality, delinquencies, prostitution, and drug addiction in urban centers and other highly developed places.
  • Population or demography is the study of population number, composition, change, and quality as they influence the economic, political, and social system.
  • Sociological theory and method is concerned with the applicability and usefulness of the principles and theories of group life as bases for the regulation of man's environment, and includes theory building and testing as bases for the prediction and control of man's social environment.
  • Applied sociology utilizes the findings of pure sociological research in various fields such as criminology, social work, community development, education, industrial relations, marriage, ethnic relations, family counseling, and other aspects and problems of daily life.

Culture




For Simmel
Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel was a major German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?',...

, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history". Whilst early theorists such as Durkheim and Mauss
Marcel Mauss
Marcel Mauss was a French sociologist. The nephew of Émile Durkheim, Mauss' academic work traversed the boundaries between sociology and anthropology...

 were influential in cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans, collecting data about the impact of global economic and political processes on local cultural realities. Anthropologists use a variety of methods, including participant observation,...

, sociologists of culture are generally distinguished by their concern for modern (rather than primitive or ancient) society. Cultural sociology is seldom empirical, preferring instead the hermeneutic analysis of words, artifacts and symbols. The field is closely allied with critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 in the vein of Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno
Theodor W. Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher, and musicologist known for his critical theory of society....

, Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist, translator, radio broadcaster and essayist...

, and other members of the Frankfurt School
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

. Loosely distinct to sociology is the field of cultural studies
Cultural studies
Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

. Birmingham School
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was a research centre at the University of Birmingham, England. It was founded in 1964 by Richard Hoggart, its first director...

 theorists such as Richard Hoggart
Richard Hoggart
Herbert Richard Hoggart is a British academic and public figure, whose career has covered the fields of sociology, English literature and cultural studies, with a special concern for British popular culture.-Career:...

 and Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall (cultural theorist)
Stuart Hall is a cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1951. Hall, along with Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies or The Birmingham School of...

 questioned the division between "producers" and "consumers" evident in earlier theory, emphasizing the reciprocity in the production of texts. Cultural Studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture
Subculture
In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong.- Definition :...

 (such as white working class youth in London) would consider the social practices of the group as they relate to the dominant class. The "cultural turn
Cultural turn
The cultural turn was a movement among scholars in the social sciences to look at culture differently. The cultural turn has been described by one of its most prominent historiographers as a “wide array of new theoretical impulses coming from fields formerly peripheral to the social sciences,”...

" of the 1960s ushered in structuralist
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

 and so-called postmodern
Postmodern philosophy
Postmodern philosophy is a philosophical direction which is critical of the foundational assumptions and structures of philosophy. Beginning as a critique of Continental philosophy, it was heavily influenced by phenomenology, structuralism and existentialism, including writings of Georg Wilhelm...

 approaches to social science.

Criminality, deviance, law and punishment



Criminologists analyse the nature, causes, and control of criminal activity, drawing upon methods across sociology, psychology
Psychology
Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

, and the behavioural sciences
Behavioural sciences
The term behavioural sciences encompasses all the disciplines that explore the activities of and interactions among organisms in the natural world. It involves the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic observation, and disciplined...

. The sociology of deviance focuses on actions or behaviors that violate norm
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

s, including both formally enacted rules (e.g., crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

) and informal violations of cultural norms. It is the remit of sociologists to study why these norms exist; how they change over time; and how they are enforced. The concept of deviance is central in contemporary structural functionalism and systems theory. Robert K. Merton
Robert K. Merton
Robert King Merton was a distinguished American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor...

 produced a typology of deviance, and also established the terms "role model
Role model
The term role model generally means any "person who serves as an example, whose behaviour is emulated by others".The term first appeared in Robert K. Merton's socialization research of medical students...

", "unintended consequences", and "self-fulfilling prophecy
Self-fulfilling prophecy
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and...

".

The study of law played a significant role in the formation of classical sociology. Durkheim famously described law as the "visible symbol" of social solidarity. The sociology of law refers to both a sub-discipline of sociology and an approach within the field of legal studies. Sociology of law is a diverse field of study which examines the interaction of law with other aspects of society, such as the development of legal institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

s and the effect of laws on social change and vice versa. For example, an influential recent work in the field relies on statistical analyses to argue that the increase in incarceration in the US over the last 30 years is due to changes in law and policing and not to an increase in crime; and that this increase significantly contributes to maintaining racial stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

.

Economic sociology



The term "economic sociology" was first used by William Stanley Jevons
William Stanley Jevons
William Stanley Jevons was a British economist and logician.Irving Fisher described his book The Theory of Political Economy as beginning the mathematical method in economics. It made the case that economics as a science concerned with quantities is necessarily mathematical...

 in 1879, later to be coined in the works of Durkheim, Weber and Simmel between 1890 and 1920. Economic sociology arose as a new approach to the analysis of economic phenomena, emphasising class relations and modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 as a philosophical concept. The relationship between capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 is a salient issue, perhaps best demonstrated in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by Talcott Parsons in 1930...

(1905) and Simmel's The Philosophy of Money
The Philosophy of Money
The Philosophy of Money is a book on economic sociology by the German sociologist and social philosopher, Georg Simmel.-Contents:Probably considered Simmel's greatest work...

(1900). The contemporary period of economic sociology, also known as new economic sociology, was consolidated by the 1985 work of Mark Granovetter
Mark Granovetter
Professor Mark Granovetter is an American sociologist at Stanford University who has created theories in modern sociology since the 1970s. He is best known for his work in social network theory and in economic sociology, particularly his theory on the spread of information in social networks known...

 titled "Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness". This work elaborated the concept of embeddedness
Embeddedness
Embeddedness is the degree to which individuals or firms are enmeshed in a social network. The concept was introduced by sociologist Mark Granovetter; the term embeddedness involves the overlap between social & economic ties within and between organizations .The term embeddedness makes reference...

, which states that economic relations between individuals or firms take place within existing social relations (and are thus structured by these relations as well as the greater social structures of which those relations are a part). Social network analysis
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 has been the primary methodology for studying this phenomenon. Granovetter's theory of the strength of weak ties and Ronald Burt's concept of structural holes are two best known theoretical contributions of this field.

Environment



Environmental sociology is the study of societal-environmental interactions, typically placing emphasis on the social factors that cause environmental problems, the impacts of these problems on society, and the efforts to resolve them. Attention is also paid to the processes by which environmental conditions become defined and known to a society.

Education



The sociology of education is the study of how educational institutions determine social structures, experiences, and other outcomes. It is particularly concerned with the schooling systems of modern industrial societies. A classic 1966 study in this field by James Coleman, known as the "Coleman Report", analyzed the performance of over 150,000 students and found that student background and socioeconomic status are much more important in determining educational outcomes than are measured differences in school resources (i.e. per pupil spending). The controversy over "school effects" ignited by that study has continued to this day. The study also found that socially disadvantaged black students profited from schooling in racially mixed classrooms, and thus served as a catalyst for desegregation busing
Desegregation busing
Desegregation busing in the United States is the practice of assigning and transporting students to schools in such a manner as to redress prior racial segregation of schools, or to overcome the effects of residential segregation on local school demographics.In 1954, the U.S...

 in American public schools.

Family, gender, and sexuality




Family, gender and sexuality form a broad area of inquiry studied in many subfields of sociology. The sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

 and unit of socialisation, with special concern for the comparatively modern historical emergence of the nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 and its distinct gender roles. The notion of "childhood
Childhood
Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of toddlerhood , early childhood , middle childhood , and adolescence .- Age ranges of childhood :The term childhood is non-specific and can imply a...

" is also significant. As one of the more basic institutions to which one may apply sociological perspectives, the sociology of the family is a common component on introductory academic curricula. Feminist sociology
Feminist sociology
Feminist sociology is a conflict theory and theoretical perspective which observes gender in its relation to power, both at the level of face-to-face interaction and reflexivity within a social structure at large...

, on the other hand, is a normative subfield that observes and critiques the cultural categories of gender and sexuality, particularly with respect to power and inequality. The primary concern of feminist theory is the patriarchy
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

 and the systematic oppression of women apparent in many societies, both at the level of small-scale interaction and in terms of the broader social structure. Social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

 of gender, on the other hand, uses experimental methods to uncover the microprocesses of gender stratification. For example, one recent study has shown that resume evaluators penalize women for motherhood while giving a boost to men for fatherhood. Another set of experiments showed that men whose sexuality is questioned compensate by expressing a greater desire for military intervention and sport utility vehicles as well as a greater opposition to gay marriage.

Health and illness



The sociology of health and illness focuses on the social effects of, and public attitudes toward, illness
Illness
Illness is a state of poor health. Illness is sometimes considered another word for disease. Others maintain that fine distinctions exist...

es, disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s, disabilities and the ageing
Ageing
Ageing or aging is the accumulation of changes in a person over time. Ageing in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological, and social change. Some dimensions of ageing grow and expand over time, while others decline...

 process. Medical sociology, by contrast, focuses on the inner-workings of medical organizations and clinical institutions. In Britain, sociology was introduced into the medical curriculum following the Goodenough Report (1944).

Internet



The Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 is of interest to sociologists in various ways; most practically as a tool for research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

 and as a discussion platform. The sociology of the Internet in the broad sense regards the analysis of online communities (e.g. newsgroup
Newsgroup
A usenet newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from many users in different locations. The term may be confusing to some, because it is usually a discussion group. Newsgroups are technically distinct from, but functionally similar to, discussion forums on...

s, social networking sites) and virtual world
Virtual world
A virtual world is an online community that takes the form of a computer-based simulated environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects. The term has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of...

s. Online communities may be studied statistically through network analysis
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 or interpreted qualitatively through virtual ethnography
Virtual ethnography
Online ethnography refers to a number of related online research methods that adapt ethnographic methods to the study of the communities and cultures created through computer-mediated social interaction...

. Organizational change is catalysed through new media
New media
New media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. For example, new media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community...

, thereby influencing social change at-large, perhaps forming the framework for a transformation from an industrial
Industrial society
In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the west in the period of time following the Industrial Revolution, and replaced...

 to an informational society. One notable text is Manuel Castells
Manuel Castells
Manuel Castells is a sociologist especially associated with information society and communication research....

' The Internet Galaxy
The Internet Galaxy
The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society is a book by Manuel Castells, Professor of Sociology and Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California. It was published by Oxford University Press in 2001. The title is a reference to The Gutenberg...

—the title of which forms an intertextual reference to Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuhan
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist...

's The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man is a book by Marshall McLuhan, in which he analyzes the effects of mass media, especially the printing press, on European culture and human consciousness...

.

Knowledge and science



The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. The term first came into widespread use in the 1920s, when a number of German-speaking theorists, most notably Max Scheler
Max Scheler
Max Scheler was a German philosopher known for his work in phenomenology, ethics, and philosophical anthropology...

, and Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim
Karl Mannheim , or Károly Mannheim in the original writing of his name, was a Jewish Hungarian-born sociologist, influential in the first half of the 20th century and one of the founding fathers of classical sociology and a founder of the sociology of knowledge.-Life:Mannheim studied in Budapest,...

, wrote extensively on it. With the dominance of functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

 through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought. It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the 1960s, particularly by Peter L. Berger
Peter L. Berger
Peter Ludwig Berger is an Austrian-born American sociologist well known for his work, co-authored with Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge .-Biography:...

 and Thomas Luckmann
Thomas Luckmann
Thomas Luckmann is a German sociologist of Slovene origin. His main areas of research are the sociology of communication, Sociology of knowledge, sociology of religion, and the philosophy of science.- Biography :...

 in The Social Construction of Reality
The Social Construction of Reality
The Social Construction of Reality is a book about the sociology of knowledge written by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann and published in 1966....

(1966) and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society (compare socially constructed reality). The "archaeological" and "genealogical" studies of Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 are of considerable contemporary influence.

The sociology of science involves the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity." Important theorists in the sociology of science include Robert K. Merton
Robert K. Merton
Robert King Merton was a distinguished American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor...

 and Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour is a French sociologist of science and anthropologist and an influential theorist in the field of Science and Technology Studies...

. These branches of sociology have contributed to the formation of science and technology studies
Science and technology studies
Science, technology and society is the study of how social, political, and cultural values affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture...

.

Media



As with cultural studies
Cultural studies
Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

, media studies is a distinct discipline which owes to the convergence of sociology and other social sciences and humanities, in particular, literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

 and critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

. Though the production process or the critique of aesthetic forms is not in the remit of sociologists, analyses of socialising factors, such as ideological effects
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 and audience reception
Audience reception
Also known as reception analysis, audience reception theory has come to be widely used as a way of characterizing the wave of audience research which occurred within communications and cultural studies during the 1980s and 1990s...

, stem from sociological theory and method. Thus the 'sociology of the media' is not a subdiscipline per se, but the media is a common and often-indispensable topic.

Military



Military sociology aims toward the systematic study of the military as a social group rather than as an organization
Military organization
Military organization is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer military capability required by the national defence policy. In some countries paramilitary forces are included in a nation's armed forces...

. It is a highly specialized subfield which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action
Collective action
Collective action is the pursuit of a goal or set of goals by more than one person. It is a term which has formulations and theories in many areas of the social sciences.-In sociology:...

 based on shared interests
Advocacy group
Advocacy groups use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems...

 linked to survival in vocation
Vocation
A vocation , is a term for an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.-Senses:...

 and combat
Combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

, with purposes and values
Value (personal and cultural)
A personal or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based...

 that are more defined and narrow than within civil society. Military sociology also concerns civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

-military relations and interactions between other groups or governmental agencies. Topics include the dominant assumptions held by those in the military, changes in military members' willingness to fight, military unionization, military professionalism, the increased utilization of women, the military industrial-academic complex, the military's dependence on research, and the institutional and organizational structure of military.

Political sociology




Historically political sociology concerned the relations between political organization and society. A typical research question in this area might be: "Why do so few American citizens choose to vote?" In this respect questions of political opinion formation brought about some of the pioneering uses of statistical survey research
Survey research
Survey research a research method involving the use of questionnaires and/or statistical surveys to gather data about people and their thoughts and behaviours. This method was pioneered in the 1930s and 1940s by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. The initial use of the method was to examine the effects...

 by Paul Lazarsfeld
Paul Lazarsfeld
Paul Felix Lazarsfeld was one of the major figures in 20th-century American sociology. The founder of Columbia University's Bureau of Applied Social Research, he exerted a tremendous influence over the techniques and the organization of social research...

. A major subfield of political sociolgy developed in relation to such questions, which draws on comparative history to analyze socio-political trends. The field developed from the work of Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 and Moisey Ostrogorsky
Moisey Ostrogorsky
Moisey Ostrogorsky was a Belarusian political scientist, historian, jurist and sociologist. Alongside with Max Weber and Robert Michels, he is considered one of the founders of political sociology, especially in the field of theories about Party Systems and political parties...

,.

Contemporary political sociology includes these areas of research, but it has been opened up to wider questions of power and politics. Today political sociologists are as likely to be concerned with how identities are formed that contribute to structural domination by one group over another; the politics of who knows how and with what authority; and questions of how power is contested in social interactions in such a way as to bring about widespread cultural and social change. Such questions are more likely to be studied qualitatively. The study of social movements and their effects has been especially important in relation to these wider definitions of politics and power.

Race and ethnic relations



The sociology of race and of ethnic relations is the area of the discipline that studies the social
Social relation
In social science, a social relation or social interaction refers to a relationship between two , three or more individuals . Social relations, derived from individual agency, form the basis of the social structure. To this extent social relations are always the basic object of analysis for social...

, political, and economic relations between races and ethnicities at all levels of society. This area encompasses the study of racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

, residential segregation
Residential Segregation
Residential segregation is the physical separation of cultural groups based on residence and housing, or a form of segregation that "sorts population groups into various neighborhood contexts and shapes the living environment at the neighborhood level."...

, and other complex social processes between different racial and ethnic groups. This research frequently interacts with other areas of sociology such as stratification
Social stratification
In sociology the social stratification is a concept of class, involving the "classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions ... a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions."...

 and social psychology
Social psychology (sociology)
Social psychology , known as sociological social psychology, and sometimes as psychological sociology, is an area of sociology that focuses on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind with social structure and culture...

, as well as with postcolonial theory. At the level of political policy, ethnic relations is discussed in terms of either assimilationism or multiculturalism
Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

. Anti-racism
Anti-racism
Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. In general, anti-racism is intended to promote an egalitarian society in which people do not face discrimination on the basis of their race, however defined...

 forms another style of policy, particularly popular in the 1960s and 70s.

Religion



The sociology of religion concerns the practices, historical backgrounds, developments, universal themes and roles of religion in society. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science...

 in that sociologists do not set out to assess the validity of religious truth-claims, instead assuming what Peter L. Berger
Peter L. Berger
Peter Ludwig Berger is an Austrian-born American sociologist well known for his work, co-authored with Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge .-Biography:...

 has described as a position of "methodological atheism". It may be said that the modern formal discipline of sociology began with the analysis of religion in Durkheim's 1897 study of suicide
Suicide (book)
Suicide was one of the groundbreaking books in the field of sociology. Written by French sociologist Émile Durkheim and published in 1897 it was a case study of suicide, a publication unique for its time which provided an example of what the sociological...

 rates amongst Roman Catholic and Protestant populations. Max Weber published four major texts on religion in a context of economic sociology
Economic sociology
Economic sociology studies both the social effects and the social causes of various economic phenomena. The field can be broadly divided into a classical period and a contemporary one. The classical period was concerned particularly with modernity and its constituent aspects...

 and his rationalization thesis
Rationalization (sociology)
Rationalization is a term used in sociology to refer to a process in which an increasing number of social actions become based on considerations of teleological efficiency or calculation rather than on motivations derived from morality, emotion, custom, or tradition...

: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by Talcott Parsons in 1930...

(1905), The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism
The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism
The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism is a book written by Max Weber, a German economist and sociologist. It was first published in German under the title Konfuzianismus und Taoismus in 1915 and an adapted version appeared in 1920...

(1915), The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism
The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism
The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Butthism, also known as just The Religion of India, is a book on the sociology of religion written by Maximilian Weber, a German economist and sociologist of the early twentieth century. The original edition was in German...

(1915), and Ancient Judaism
Ancient Judaism (book)
Ancient Judaism, also known as Ancient Palestine: Society and Religion, is a book written by Max Weber, a German economist and sociologist, in early the 20th century. The original edition was in German - the essays on Ancient Judaism appeared originally in the 1917–1919 issues of the Archiv fur...

(1920). Contemporary debates often centre on topics such as secularisation, civil religion
Civil religion
The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

, and the role of religion in a context of globalisation and multiculturalism
Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

.

Social networks


A social network is a social structure
Social structure
Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements in society that are both emergent from and determinant of the actions of the individuals. The usage of the term "social structure" has changed over time and may reflect the various levels of analysis...

 composed of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes", which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship
Friendship
Friendship is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association are often thought of as spanning across the same continuum...

, kinship
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships
Sexual network
A sexual network is a social network that is defined by the sexual relationships within a set of individuals.-Studies and discoveries:Like other forms of social networks, sexual networks can be formally studied using the mathematics of graph theory and network theory.Recent epidemiological studies ...

, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige. Social networks operate on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals. Social network analysis makes no assumption that groups are the building blocks of society: the approach is open to studying less-bounded social systems, from nonlocal communities to networks of exchange. Rather than treating individuals (persons, organizations, states) as discrete units of analysis, it focuses on how the structure of ties affects individuals and their relationships. In contrast to analyses that assume that socialization into norms determines behavior, network analysis looks to see the extent to which the structure and composition of ties affect norms. Unlike most other areas of sociology, social network theory is usually defined in formal mathematics
Mathematical sociology
Mathematical sociology is the usage of mathematics to construct social theories. Mathematical sociology aims to take sociological theory, which is strong in intuitive content but weak from a formal point of view, and to express it in formal terms...

.

Social psychology



Sociological social psychology focuses on micro-scale social actions
Social actions
In sociology, social action refers to an act which takes into account the actions and reactions of individuals .According to Max Weber, "an Action is 'social' if the acting individual takes account of the behavior of others and is thereby oriented in its course" .- Social action and Max Weber :The...

. This area may be described as adhering to "sociological miniaturism", examining whole societies through the study of individual thoughts and emotions as well as behavior of small groups. Of special concern to psychological sociologists is how to explain a variety of demographic, social, and cultural facts in terms of human social interaction. Some of the major topics in this field are social inequality, group dynamics, prejudice, aggression, social perception, group behavior, social change, nonverbal behavior, socialization, conformity, leadership, and social identity. Social psychology may be taught with psychological emphasis. In sociology, researchers in this field are the most prominent users of the experimental method
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

 (however, unlike their psychological counterparts, they also frequently employ other methodologies). Social psychology looks at social influences, as well as social perception and social interaction.

Stratification



Social stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of individuals into social classes, caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

s, and divisions within a society. In modern Western societies
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 stratification traditionally relates to cultural and economic classes arranged in three main layers: upper class
Upper class
In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

, middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

, and lower class, but each class may be further subdivided into smaller classes (e.g. occupational
Occupational prestige
Occupational prestige refers to the consensual nature of rating a job based on the collective belief of its worthiness.-History:...

). Social stratification is interpreted in radically different ways within sociology. Proponents of structural functionalism
Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism is a broad perspective in sociology and anthropology which sets out to interpret society as a structure with interrelated parts. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions and institutions...

 suggest that, since the stratification of classes and castes is evident in all societies, hierarchy must be beneficial in stabilizing their existence. Conflict theorists
Conflict theory
Conflict theories are perspectives in social science that emphasize the social, political or material inequality of a social group, that critique the broad socio-political system, or that otherwise detract from structural functionalism and ideological conservativism...

, by contrast, critique the inaccessibility of resources and lack of social mobility
Social mobility
Social mobility refers to the movement of people in a population from one social class or economic level to another. It typically refers to vertical mobility -- movement of individuals or groups up from one socio-economic level to another, often by changing jobs or marrying; but can also refer to...

 in stratified societies.

Karl Marx distinguished social classes by their connection to the means of production
Means of production
Means of production refers to physical, non-human inputs used in production—the factories, machines, and tools used to produce wealth — along with both infrastructural capital and natural capital. This includes the classical factors of production minus financial capital and minus human capital...

 in the capitalist system: the bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 own the means, but this effectively includes the proletariat
Proletariat
The proletariat is a term used to identify a lower social class, usually the working class; a member of such a class is proletarian...

 itself as the workers can only sell their own labour power (forming the material base of the cultural superstructure
Base and superstructure
In Marxist theory, human society consists of two parts: the base and superstructure; the base comprehends the forces and relations of production — employer-employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations — into which people enter to produce the necessities and...

). Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 critiqued Marxist economic determinism
Economic determinism
Economic determinism is the theory which attributes primacy to the economic structure over politics in the development of human history. It is usually associated with the theories of Karl Marx, although many Marxist thinkers have dismissed plain and unilateral economic determinism as a form of...

, arguing that social stratification is not based purely on economic inequalities, but on other status and power differentials (e.g. patriarchy
Patriarchy
Patriarchy is a social system in which the role of the male as the primary authority figure is central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination...

). According to Weber, stratification may occur amongst at least three complex variables: (1) Property (class), (2) Prestige (status), and (3) Power (political party). Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher.Starting from the role of economic capital for social positioning, Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location,...

 provides a modern example in the concepts of cultural
Cultural capital
The term cultural capital refers to non-financial social assets; they may be educational or intellectual, which might promote social mobility beyond economic means....

 and symbolic capital
Symbolic capital
In sociology and anthropology, symbolic capital can be referred to as the resources available to an individual on the basis of honor, prestige or recognition, and functions as an authoritative embodiment of cultural value...

. Theorists such as Ralf Dahrendorf
Ralf Dahrendorf
Ralf Gustav Dahrendorf, Baron Dahrendorf, KBE, FBA was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, political scientist and liberal politician....

 have noted the tendency toward an enlarged middle-class in modern Western societies, particularly in relation to the necessity of an educated work force in technological or service-based economies. Perspectives concerning globalization, such as dependency theory
Dependency theory
Dependency theory or dependencia theory is a body of social science theories predicated on the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former...

, suggest this effect owes to the shift of workers to the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

.

Urban and rural sociology



Urban sociology involves the analysis of social life and human interaction in metropolitan areas. It is a normative
Normative
Normative has specialized contextual meanings in several academic disciplines. Generically, it means relating to an ideal standard or model. In practice, it has strong connotations of relating to a typical standard or model ....

 discipline, seeking to provide advice for planning and policy making. After the industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, works such as Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel
Georg Simmel was a major German sociologist, philosopher, and critic.Simmel was one of the first generation of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?',...

's The Metropolis and Mental Life
The Metropolis and Mental Life
The Metropolis and Mental Life is a 1903 essay by the German sociologist, Georg Simmel.-Simmel on the Metropolis:...

(1903) focused on urbanization and the effect it had on alienation and anonymity. In the 1920s and 1930s The Chicago School
Chicago school (sociology)
In sociology and later criminology, the Chicago School was the first major body of works emerging during the 1920s and 1930s specialising in urban sociology, and the research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Chicago, now applied elsewhere...

 produced a major body of theory on the nature of the city, important to both urban sociology and criminology, utilising symbolic interactionism
Symbolic interactionism
Symbolic Interaction, also known as interactionism, is a sociological theory that places emphasis on micro-scale social interaction to provide subjective meaning in human behavior, the social process and pragmatism.-History:...

 as a method of field research. Contemporary research is commonly placed in a context of globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, for instance, in Saskia Sassen
Saskia Sassen
Saskia Sassen is a Dutch sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is currently Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Centennial visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. Sassen coined the term global city...

's study of the "Global city
Global city
A global city is a city that is deemed to be an important node in the global economic system...

". Rural sociology, by contrast, is the analysis of non-metropolitan areas.

Work and industry



The sociology of work, or industrial sociology, examines "the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

, labour markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations
Division of labour
Division of labour is the specialisation of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and likeroles. Historically an increasingly complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialisation...

 to the extent to which these trends are intimately related to changing patterns of inequality in modern societies and to the changing experiences of individuals and families the ways in which workers challenge, resist and make their own contributions to the patterning of work and shaping of work institutions."

Sociology and the other academic disciplines


Sociology overlaps with a variety of disciplines that study society, in particular anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, and social philosophy
Social philosophy
Social philosophy is the philosophical study of questions about social behavior . Social philosophy addresses a wide range of subjects, from individual meanings to legitimacy of laws, from the social contract to criteria for revolution, from the functions of everyday actions to the effects of...

. Many comparatively new fields such as communication studies
Communication studies
Communication Studies is an academic field that deals with processes of communication, commonly defined as the sharing of symbols over distances in space and time. Hence, communication studies encompasses a wide range of topics and contexts ranging from face-to-face conversation to speeches to mass...

, cultural studies
Cultural studies
Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

, demography
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 and literary theory
Literary theory
Literary theory in a strict sense is the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature. However, literary scholarship since the 19th century often includes—in addition to, or even instead of literary theory in the strict sense—considerations of...

, draw upon methods that originated in sociology. The terms "social science" and "social research
Social research
Social research refers to research conducted by social scientists. Social research methods may be divided into two broad categories:* Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases to create valid and reliable...

" have both gained a degree of autonomy since their origination in classical sociology. The distinct field of social psychology
Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. By this definition, scientific refers to the empirical method of investigation. The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all...

 emerged from the many intersections of sociological and psychological interests, and is further distinguished in terms of sociological
Social psychology (sociology)
Social psychology , known as sociological social psychology, and sometimes as psychological sociology, is an area of sociology that focuses on social actions and on interrelations of personality, values, and mind with social structure and culture...

 or psychological emphasis.

Sociology and applied sociology are connected to the professional and academic discipline of social work
Social work
Social Work is a professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of an individual, group, or community by intervening through research, policy, community organizing, direct practice, and teaching on behalf of those afflicted with poverty or any real or...

. Both disciplines study social interactions, community and the effect of various systems (i.e. family, school, community, laws, political sphere) on the individual. However, social work is generally more focused on practical strategies to alleviate social dysfunctions; sociology in general provides a thorough examination of the root causes of these problems. For example, a sociologist might study why a community is plagued with poverty. The applied sociologist would be more focused on practical strategies on what needs to be done to alleviate this burden. The social worker would be focused on action; implementing theses strategies "directly" or "indirectly"
Community practice
Community Practice is a branch of social work in the United States that focuses on larger social systems and social change, and is tied to the historical roots of United States social work...

 by means of mental health therapy
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

, counseling, advocacy
Advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

, community organization
Community organization
Community organizations are civil society non-profits that operate within a single local community. They are essentially a subset of the wider group of nonprofits. Like other nonprofits they are often run on a voluntary basis and are self funded...

 or community mobilization
Community Mobilization
Community mobilization is an attempt to bring both human and non-human resources together to undertake developmental activities in order to achieve sustainable development.-Process:...

.

Social anthropology
Social anthropology
Social Anthropology is one of the four or five branches of anthropology that studies how contemporary human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology investigate, often through long-term, intensive field studies , the social organization of a particular person: customs,...

 is the branch of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 that studies how contemporary living human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology, like sociologists, investigate various facets of social organization. Traditionally, social anthropologists analysed non-industrial and non-Western societies, whereas sociologists focused on industrialized societies in the Western world. In recent years, however, social anthropology has expanded its focus to modern Western societies, meaning that the two disciplines increasingly converge.

Sociobiology
Sociobiology
Sociobiology is a field of scientific study which is based on the assumption that social behavior has resulted from evolution and attempts to explain and examine social behavior within that context. Often considered a branch of biology and sociology, it also draws from ethology, anthropology,...

 is the study of how social behavior
Social behavior
In physics, physiology and sociology, social behavior is behavior directed towards society, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social...

 and organization have been influenced by evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 and other biological process
Biological process
A biological process is a process of a living organism. Biological processes are made up of any number of chemical reactions or other events that results in a transformation....

. The field blends sociology with a number of other sciences, such as anthropology, biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, and zoology
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

. Sociobiology has generated controversy within the sociological academy for allegedly giving too much attention to gene expression over socialization and environmental factors in general (see 'nature versus nurture
Nature versus nurture
The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities versus personal experiences The nature versus nurture debate concerns the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities ("nature," i.e. nativism, or innatism) versus personal experiences...

'). Entomologist
Entomology
Entomology is the scientific study of insects, a branch of arthropodology...

 E. O. Wilson
E. O. Wilson
Edward Osborne Wilson is an American biologist, researcher , theorist , naturalist and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants....

 is credited as having originally developed and described Sociobiology.

Irving Louis Horowitz
Irving Louis Horowitz
Irving Louis Horowitz is an American sociologist, author and college professor who has written and lectured extensively in his field.-Personal Life:Horowitz was born in New York City on September 25, 1929, to Louis and Esther Tepper Horowitz...

, in his The Decomposition of Sociology (1994), has argued that the discipline, whilst arriving from a "distinguished lineage and tradition", is in decline due to deeply ideological theory and a lack of relevance to policy making: "The decomposition of sociology began when this great tradition became subject to ideological thinking, and an inferior tradition surfaced in the wake of totalitarian triumphs." Furthermore: "A problem yet unmentioned is that sociology's malaise has left all the social sciences vulnerable to pure positivism—to an empiricism lacking any theoretical basis. Talented individuals who might, in an earlier time, have gone into sociology are seeking intellectual stimulation in business, law, the natural sciences, and even creative writing; this drains sociology of much needed potential." Horowitz cites the lack of a 'core discipline' as exacerbating the problem. Randall Collins
Randall Collins
Randall Collins, Ph.D. is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History Journal. He is considered to be one of the leading non-Marxist conflict theorists in the United...

, the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

 and a member of the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History
Social Evolution & History
Social Evolution & History is a peer-reviewed academic journal focused on the development of human societies in the past, present and future. In addition to original research articles, Social Evolution & History includes critical notes and a book review section. It is published in English twice a...

 journal, has voiced similar sentiments: "we have lost all coherence as a discipline, we are breaking up into a conglomerate of specialities, each going on its own way and with none too high regard for each other."

In 2007, The Times Higher Education Guide published a list of 'The most cited authors of books in the Humanities' (including philosophy and psychology). Seven of the top ten are listed as sociologists: Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 (1), Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher.Starting from the role of economic capital for social positioning, Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location,...

 (2), Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

 (5), Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman
Erving Goffman was a Canadian-born sociologist and writer.The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that began with his 1959 book The Presentation of Self...

 (6), Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 (7), Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

 (8), and Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour is a French sociologist of science and anthropologist and an influential theorist in the field of Science and Technology Studies...

 (10).

Journals


The most highly ranked journals in the field of general sociology are the American Sociological Review
American Sociological Review
The American Sociological Review is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed academic journal covering all aspects of sociology, including new theoretical developments, results of research that advance the understanding of fundamental social processes, and methodological innovations. It is published by SAGE...

, the American Journal of Sociology
American Journal of Sociology
The American Journal of Sociology was established in 1895 by Albion Small and is the oldest academic journal of sociology in the United States. The journal is attached to the University of Chicago's sociology department and it is published bimonthly by The University of Chicago Press. Its...

, the British Journal of Sociology
British Journal of Sociology
The British Journal of Sociology is an academic journal, founded in 1950 at the London School of Economics. The main founders were the sociologists Morris Ginsberg and Thomas Humphrey Marshall. Their intended title, "The London Journal of Sociology", seems to have been changed by the publisher...

, and Sociology
Sociology (journal)
Sociology is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by SAGE Publications on behalf of the British Sociological Association. The journal's editors-in-chief are Amanda Jane Coffey, Sally Power , Tom Hall , and Amanda Robinson...

. Many more specialized journals also exist.

See also


  • History of social science
  • History of sociology
    History of sociology
    Sociology emerged from enlightenment thought, shortly after the French Revolution, as a positivist science of society. Its genesis owed to various key movements in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of knowledge. Social analysis in a broader sense, however, has origins in the common stock...

  • List of sociologists
  • List of sociology journals
  • Subfields of sociology
  • Timeline of sociology
    Timeline of sociology
    This is a timeline of sociology, listing especially important publications.* 1810s in sociology* 1820s in sociology* 1830s in sociology* 1840s in sociology* 1850s in sociology* 1860s in sociology* 1870s in sociology* 1880s in sociology...


Further reading


  • Aby, Stephen H. Sociology: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources, 3rd edn. Littleton, Colorado, Libraries Unlimited Inc., 2005, ISBN 1-56308-947-5
  • Babbie, Earl R.
    Earl Babbie
    Earl Robert Babbie , is an American sociologist who holds the position of Campbell Professor Emeritus in Behavioral Sciences at Chapman University...

    . 2003. The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition. Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc., ISBN 0-534-62029-9
  • Collins, Randall
    Randall Collins
    Randall Collins, Ph.D. is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Advisory Editors Council of the Social Evolution & History Journal. He is considered to be one of the leading non-Marxist conflict theorists in the United...

    . 1994. Four Sociological Traditions. Oxford, Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

     ISBN 0-19-508208-7
  • Coser, Lewis A.
    Lewis A. Coser
    Lewis Coser was an American sociologist. The 66th president of the American Sociological Association in 1975....

    , Masters of Sociological Thought : Ideas in Historical and Social Context, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971. ISBN 0-15-555128-0.
  • Giddens, Anthony
    Anthony Giddens
    Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

    . 2006. Sociology (5th edition), Polity, Cambridge. ISBN 0-7456-3378-1
  • Merton, Robert K.
    Robert K. Merton
    Robert King Merton was a distinguished American sociologist. He spent most of his career teaching at Columbia University, where he attained the rank of University Professor...

    . 1959. Social Theory and Social Structure. Toward the codification of theory and research, Glencoe: Ill. (Revised and enlarged edition)
  • Mills, C. Wright, The Sociological Imagination,1959
  • C. Wright Mills, Intellectual Craftsmanship Advices how to Work for young Sociologist
  • Nisbet, Robert A. 1967. The Sociological Tradition, London, Heinemann Educational Books. ISBN 1-56000-667-6
  • Ritzer, George
    George Ritzer
    George Ritzer is a sociologist who studies American patterns of consumption, globalization, metatheory, and modern and postmodern social theory...

     and Douglas J. Goodman. 2004. Sociological Theory, Sixth Edition. McGraw Hill
    McGraw-Hill
    The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., is a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Its primary areas of business are financial, education, publishing, broadcasting, and business services...

    . ISBN 0-07-281718-6
  • Scott, John & Marshall, Gordon (eds) A Dictionary of Sociology (3rd Ed). Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-19-860986-8,
  • Wallace, Ruth A. & Alison Wolf. 1995. Contemporary Sociological Theory: Continuing the Classical Tradition, 4th ed., Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-036245-X
  • White, Harrison C.
    Harrison White
    Harrison Colyar White is the emeritus Giddings Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. White is an influential scholar in the domain of social networks. He is credited with the development of a number of mathematical models of social structure including vacancy chains and blockmodels...

    . 2008. Identity and Control. How Social Formations Emerge. (2nd ed., Completely rev. ed.) Princeton, Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    . ISBN 978-0-691-13714-8
  • Willis, Evan. 1996. The Sociological Quest: An introduction to the study of social life, New Brunswick, New Jersey
    New Brunswick, New Jersey
    New Brunswick is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA. It is the county seat and the home of Rutgers University. The city is located on the Northeast Corridor rail line, southwest of Manhattan, on the southern bank of the Raritan River. At the 2010 United States Census, the population of...

    , Rutgers University Press
    Rutgers University Press
    Rutgers University Press is a nonprofit academic publishing house, operating in Piscataway, New Jersey under the auspices of Rutgers University.-History:...

    . ISBN 0-8135-2367-2


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