What is sociology?
Sociology can be defined as a study of society or social life, of group interaction and of
Concept of Society and Culture – Society comprises of large group of people who maintain direct and indirect contact through a culture.
Culture on the other hand is a shared language, belief, goal, artefact and experiences that combine together to form a unique pattern. i.e. culture is a way of society.
Social groups – The characteristics of the social groups
i) A group of persons (two or more);
ii) A patterned interaction (i.e., there is a regularity in the social relations, based on
Shared beliefs, values and norms); and
iii) The interaction is sustained over a period of time.
The main reason for the formation of groups is to satisfy the individual needs that are family and survival as individual alone can not satisfy all the needs so the person has to live in the groups.
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
Ferdinand Tonnies (1855- 1936), a noted German sociologist, while examining
Different kinds of societies found that there were two kinds of social groups,
Similar to the concepts of primary and secondary groups found in all societies.
He found that in small homogeneous societies members interacted with one
Another on face to face, informal basis. In these groups tradition dictated social
behaviour. Tonnies called this kind of society a Gemeinschaft, which. when
translated means broadly "a communal, or traditional society".
In comparison, societies that are large and heterogeneous, such as the modern
industrial societies, relationships among members are impersonal, formal,
functional and specialised. According to Tonnies these societies have often
contractual relationships which are on the basis of clear cut, legal contracts
rather than being governed by traditions. Tennies calls these societies Gesellschaft,
or "associational societies"
Kinds of social groups – primary and secondary groups.
Primary group is where members have very close and intimate relationships and it is this group which is chiefly responsible for the nurture of persons social ideas eg. family, play group and community. And primary group also act as a link between individual and larger societies.
In contrast in the secondary group the relationship between the persons is formal, impersonal and purposeful such the students of the college or the workers in a factory.
Sociology and other disciplines
Sociology as a science- Sociology is considered as a science only in its approach towards the society not as a subject matter because the approach consists of observation and verification of social phenomena.
The systematic approach consists of:
i) defining a problem for study;
ii) collecting data on the problem defined;
iii) analysing and organising the data; which would help in formulation of hypothesis;
iv) further testing of the hypothesis and on the basis of this, develop new concepts
If we look at sociology from the point of view of its approach to the study of society,
then sociology can be considered to be a science.
Social Psychology and Sociology
Social psychology is the study of social and cultural influences on the individual. It
focuses on the behaviour of a single person and hence, differs from sociology, which is
more concerned with relations among groups.
Sociology and Anthropology
There are many fields in anthropology, namely; archaeology, linguistics, physical
anthropology and social anthropology. Although, anthropology has been regarded as
the study of early (primitive) cultures, and sociology ofthe more contemporary society.
This distinction is no longer valid. Many ofthe early village studies in India have been
done by social anthropologists. The tribal communities in India have, by and large,
been studied by anthropologists, in both their physical and social aspects. There is,
hence, some overlap between the areas of study of sociology and anthropology,
particularly, social anthropology. Culture and social organisations are concepts studied
in both these disciplines.
Sociology and Economics
Sociology and economics both study industry but do so differently. Economics would
study economic factors of industry, productivity, labour, industrial policy, marketing,
etc., whereas a sociologist would study the impact of industrialisation on society.
Basic and Applied Sociology
Sociologists are interested in conducting research studies in the area of social life and
developing theories with regard to human social behaviour. The purpose is to build a
body ofreliable knowledge through which various aspects of social life can be understood
artd explained. While this is important, it is necessary to make use of this knowledge
in various aspects of human affairs. There are many factors, which have an impact on
social relations. Increased use of technology is one such area. Sociologists could1
anticipate as to how people will receive and react to new technology and changes it
might bring about in social relations. There are many programmes of development
that are launched. Sociologist can indicate what care needs to be taken in introducing;
changes without affecting their way of life so that suggested programmes can be
accepted. The reactions towards the innovations - acceptance, resistance or nonacceptance
should be noted, when studies could also provide further insight into social
values and social behaviour.