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Introduction to Sociology

What is Sociology?
The scientific study of human life, social groups, whole societies and the human world as such (Giddens, 2009).
s the systematic study of social !eha"ior and human groups. t focuses primarily on the influence of social
relationships upon peoples attitudes and !eha"iour and on how societies are esta!lished and change. (#chaefer,
#ociology, (then) is an attempt to understand the social world !y situating social e"ents in their corresponding
en"ironment (i.e., social structure, culture, history) and trying to understand social phenomena !y collecting and
analy'ing empirical data. ((erger, $9&))
Simply stated, Sociology is
*oo+s at how societies, social groups, social institutions, etc. interact with each other.
*oo+s at how different social conditions shape different social relationships, particularly how people in different
milieu, act.
-ses the principle of scientific in.uiry in e,plaining social phenomenon.
Sociology vs. Common Sense
The poor are poor because of individual factors, such as laziness, lack of thrift, poor money management skills, or
lack of effort or talent.
Men are from Mars and women are from Venus that is, their roles in society are naturally une!ual because of
biological differences.
"eople who commit suicide are those who are mentally unstable.
/ sociological perspecti"e helps you to see how the e"ents and pro!lems that preoccupy us today are timeless00 it
is a result of the interwea"ing of historical factors and actions of large0scale forces.
t is a connection !etween biography and history.
Why is there a need for a discipline such as Sociology?
Societies Before Sociology
#ocio 0 historical conditions that ga"e !irth to the discipline1
o 2ise of industriali'ation
o #eculari'ation
o 3/ge of 2eason4 5nlightenment6
o 7olitical 2e"olutions
#$th and #%th century philosophers tried to understand the relationship of the individual and society.
8ohn *oc+e ($&)2 0 $90:)
o &ociety is formed via &ocial 'ontract. &ociety facilitates the free movement of goods, making life
easier and predictable.
8ean08ac.ues 2osseau ($9$2 0 $9%%)
o Man is naturally good but he is corrupted by private property. (ence, private property creates
social ine!uality.
)deas of *ocke and +osseau gave way to an emphasis on individual liberty and freedom. These ideas
discovery of the individual and its relationship to society, and ther regulation of individual freedom by
governments were the central themes in the ,uropean ideology in the eve of the #-th century.
uguste Comte !"#$%&"%'#(
;oined the term &ociologie
o #ocius 0 companion
o *ogos 0 +nowledge
#ociology was an offspring of the transition of societies from pre 0 modern to modern
t was a science that aimed to encompass other social sciences such as history, economics, and psychology
What )uestions are posted *y Sociology?
o Structure
o <hat is the structure of this particular society as a whole=
o <hat are its essential components, and how are they related to one another=
o >ow does it differ from other "arieties of social order=
o <ithin it, what is the meaning of any particular feature for its continuance and for its change=
o +istory
o <here does this society stand in human history=
o <hat are the mechanics !y which it is changing=
o <hat is its place within and its meaning for the de"elopment of humanity as a whole=
o >ow does any particular feature we are e,amining affect, and how is it affected !y,the historical
period in which it mo"es=
o /nd this period 0 what are its essential features= >ow does it differ from other periods= <hat are its
characteristic ways of history0ma+ing=
o Culture
o <hat "arieties of men and women now pre"ail in this society and in this period= /nd what "arieties
are coming to pre"ail=
o n what ways are they selected and formed, li!erated and repressed, made sensiti"e and !lunted=
o <hat +inds of ?human nature? are re"ealed in the conduct and character we o!ser"e in this societ"
in this period=
o /nd what is the meaning for ?human nature? of each and e"en@ feature of the society we are
What is a Sociologist? What does he do?
Sociologist and the Social Wor,er
&ocial work is a certain practice in society. &ociology is not a practice but an attempt to understand. 0 7eter *.
(erger in .n )nvitation to &ociology/ . (umanist "erspective
The #ocial wor+er deri"es his methodical approach from modern psychology.
The #ocial wor+er inter"enes and mediates in social pro!lems. >e does immediate actions and creates upright
solutions to respond to the current needs of a particular community. The sociologist on the other hand, loo+s
at the root of a particular social phenomenon and he puts it on a socio A historical conte,t to create an
o!Becti"e and scientific analysis for long term solutions.
Sociologist and the -ournalist
01hen a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. 2ut if a man bites a dog, that is news. 0
/lfred >armsworth ($92$)
The Bournalist, li+e the sociologist, creates an ela!orate in"estigation on social e"ents and occurrences.
The difference !etween them is that, the Bournalist, though also interested in e,plaining social phenomenon,
highlights on spectacular e"ents and things that would capti"ate and awe the readers. The sociologist on the
other hand loo+s for the mundane, the esoteric, and the typical. >e e,plains how things came to !e, and
loo+s for the natural patterns of e"eryday life.
The Bournalist loo+s for and writes a!out the story. The sociologist will try unra"eling the story !ehind the
Sociologist and the Statistician
&tatistics can be very useful in answering certain sociological !uestions. 2ut statistics does not constitute sociology.
7eter *. (erger in .n )nvitation to &ociology/ . (umanist "erspective
(oth the sociologist and statistician use statistics to e,plain the characteristics of a particular demography,
population, or a group. The difference is that the sociologist uses statistics as a methodical tool to ha"e a
scientific !asis for his sociological analysis.
The statistician and sociologist !oth need data, !ut the sociologist applies a sociological perspecti"e4 theory
to interpret the data in order for it to !e useful in e,plaining social phenomenon.
.he Sociologist then, is someone
<ho sees through social relationships. >e +nows the story !ehind the story
<ho is "alue 0 free. >e loo+s at social phenomenon without !iases and neutral. (ut as a human !eing, the
sociologist is "alue0!ound.
<ho sees matters in a relati"e way. >e +nows that social actions deri"ed from morals and ethics "ary in
particular social space and positions.