Scope of the Subject and Comparison with other Social Sciences | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

Scope of the Subject and Comparison with other Social Sciences

(Relevant for Sociology optional for UPSC CSE)
Paper-1 ,Unit-1 : Scope of the Subject and Comparison with other Social Sciences

Scope of the Subject and Comparison with other Social Sciences

The scope of sociological study is extremely wideIt can focus its analysis on interactions between teachers and students, between two friends or family members etc. It can likewise focus on national issues such as unemployment or caste conflict or the effect of state policies on forest rights of the tribal population or rural indebtedness. Or examine global social processes such as: the impact of new flexible labour regulations on the working class; or that of the electronic media on the young: or the entry of foreign universities on the education system of the country. What defines the discipline of sociology is not just what it studies (i.e. family or trade unions or villages) but how it studies a chosen field. There has been a great deal of controversy regarding the subject matter of sociology. Sociologists of different schools differ in their views.

Specialistic or Formalistic School: As has been said before, according to the formalistic school the subject matter of Sociology consists of forms of social relationships. These sociologists want to keep the scope of sociology distinct from other social sciences. They regard sociology as pure and independent.

  • According to George Simmel sociology should confine its study to formal behavior instead of studying actual bahaviour. Sociology stands in such a relation with other sciences as is the relation holding between the physical sciences and geometry. Geometry studies the spatial forms and relations of objects, not their content. In the same way sociology, too, in its scope comprehends the forms of social relationships and activities, not the relationships themselves. Sociology is a specific social science which describes, classifies, analyses and delineates the forms of social relationships, the process of socialization and social organization, etc. In this way, the scope of sociology apprehends the forms of human relationships or forms of social processes. Simmel has mentioned some subtle forms in these various form e.g. competition, domination, imitation, division of labour, subordination, etc.
  • Small’s opinion: According to Small, Sociology does not undertake to study all the activities of society. Every science has a delimited scope. The scope of sociology is the study of the genetic forms of social relationships, bahaviour and activities, etc.
  • Vier Kandt’s opinion: it has been said by Vier Kandt that sociology can be a definite science only when it abstains from a historic study of concrete societies. According to him sociology studies the irreducible categories of science. These irreducible categories are the ultimate forms of mental relationships like love, hatred, cooperation, competition, etc. In this way the scope of sociology is the study of the ultimate forms of mental or psychic relationships.
  • Max Weber’s contention: According to Max Weber the scope of sociology consists in the interpretation of social behavior. Social behavior is that which is related, by the intention of interpreter, to the bahaviour of others and is determined by it. Sociological laws are those empirically established generalizations of social behavior whose meaning can be determined or which can be obtained.
  • The View of Von Wiese: According to Von Wiese, the scope of sociology is the study of forms of social relationships.
  • Tonnies’ opinion: Tonnies has supported the idea of pure sociology. He has differentiated between society and community on the basis of forms of relationships. In this way, according to the specialistic school, sociology studies one specific aspect of social relationships and bahaviour, viz. their forms, and its scope is limited to them.

Criticism of Formalistic School.

In criticism the following arguments have been advanced against Formalistic School:

  • Other Sciences also study forms of Social Relationships: It does not appear to be an altogether correct assertion when sociologists belonging to the formalistic school contend that sociology alone studies the forms of social relationships. Sociology is not the only science which studies the forms of social relationships. The study of International law includes, of necessity, the study of such social relationships as conflict, war, opposition, agreement, contact etc. Political science delineates sovereignty and other social relationships.
  • The conception of Pure Sociology is impractical: The specialistic or formalistic school has conceived of pure sociology and has also much literature concerning it but none of the sociologists has been able to make any pure sociology. Actually, no science can be studied in complete isolation from the other sciences. The conception of a pure sociology is not practical.
  • Forms of Social Relationships differ from the forms of Geometry: According to the formalistic school, the relation which sociology bears to other sciences is comparable to the relation between geometry and physics. But in making this comparison, sight has been lost of the incongruity between the forms of geometry and those of social relationships. The forms of geometry have a definite spatial shape but the social relationships are devoid of any such shape.
  • Separated from the Concrete RelationsAbstract forms cannot be studied: The formalistic school of thought has made an absolute distinction between abstract forms and concrete contents and has limited the study of sociology to merely abstract forms. But actually abstract forms cannot be studied in complete separation from concrete contents. In concrete life, how can competition, conflict, hatred and love, etc, be studied without knowing their concrete contents? Actually, social forms cannot be abstracted from the content at all, since social forms keep on changing as the contents change, and the contents are continuously changing. In the words of Sorokin, “We may fill a glass with wine, water or sugar without changing its form, but we cannot conceive of a social institution whose form would not change when its members change.”
  • Formalistic School has extremely Narrowed the scope of Sociology: When the forms cannot be studied in abstraction from the concrete relationships sociology will have to widen its scope to apprehend concrete relationships, bahaviour and activities. The formalistic school has extremely narrowed and confined the scope of sociology. Besides studying the general forms of social relationships, sociology will have also to study the contents in social life.

Synthetic School

  • As against the Formalistic school the synthetic school wants to make sociology a synthesis of the social sciences or a general science. Modern sociologists, among them Durkheim, Hobhouse and Sorokin, subscribe to this point of view. According to this opinion, sociology is the science of sciences and all the sciences are included in its scope, it synthesizes all of them. In this way, according to the synthetic school, the scope of sociology is encyclopedic and synoptic. According to this contention, all the aspects of social life are inter-related; hence the study of one aspect cannot suffice to understand the entire fact. Without studying the principles in concrete social life, their study becomes dull and purposeless.
  • For this reason sociology should symmetrically study social life as a whole. This opinion contributes to the creation of a general and systematic sociology.
  • Pointing to the ill effects of the specialistic viewpoint, which are reflected in geographical, biological and economic determinism, these sociologists have advised to make sociology comprehensive and wide. In the words of Motwani, “Sociology thus seeks to see life full and see it whole.”

There is Unity of Data but difference in View point among different social sciences:

  • Society is the subject matter of all social sciences but they all study it from different view points and in specific areas. In economics, the study from the economic view point concerns men’s activities pertaining to economic welfare and wealth. In political science, authority, government, etc., are studied from the political view point. Social psychology studies man’s behavior in groups.
  • The scope of sociology differs from each of these sciences because it studies social relationships. But the study in this sphere necessitates a study of all these sciences. In studying any social phenomenon, it is necessary to contemplate upon all its aspects. Suppose that you want to analyse and study the causes of family disorganization from the sociological view point, and then you will have to seek the assistance of economics, history, psychology and other sciences. In this way, the scope of sociology includes the subject matter of all other sciences and it is studied from the sociological view point with the help of the other special sciences. The scope of sociology is further distinguished from other sciences in respect of its different viewpoints. In the words of Green, “The focus of attention upon social relationships makes sociology a distinctive field, however clearly allied to certain others it may seem to be.” To quote Bennett and Tumin“no other discipline states or claims that its primary datum is that of the social aggregation of men.”

Comparison of Sociology with other social sciences

  • Sociology is one of a group of social sciences, which also includes anthropology, economics, political science and history. The divisions among the various social sciences are not clear cut, and all share a certain range of common interests, concepts and methods. It is therefore very important to understand that the distinctions of the disciplines are to some extent arbitrary and should not be seen in a straitjacket fashion. To differentiate the social sciences would be to exaggerate the differences and gloss over the similarities. Furthermore feminist theories have also shown the greater need of interdisciplinary approach. For instance how would a political scientist or economist study gender roles and their implications for politics or the economy without sociology of the family or gender division of labour.

Sociology and Economics

  • Economics is the study of production and distribution of goods and services. The classical economic approach dealt almost exclusively with the inter-relations of pure economic variables: the relations of price demand and supply, money flows, output and input ratios, and the like.
  • The focus of traditional economics has been on a narrow understanding of ‘economic activity’, namely the allocation of scarce goods and services within a society.
  • Economists who are influenced by a political economy approach seek to understand economic activity in a broader framework of ownership of and relationship to means of production. The objective of the dominant trend in economic analysis was however to formulate precise laws of economic behavior:
  • The sociological approach looks at economic behavior in a broader context of social norms, values, practices and interests. The corporate sector managers are aware of this. The large investment in the advertisement industry is directly linked to the need to reshape lifestyles and consumption patterns. Trends within economics such as feminist economics seek to broaden the focus, drawing in gender as a central organizing principle of society. For instance they would look at how work in the home is linked to productivity outside.
  • The defined scope of economics has helped in facilitating its development as a highly focused, coherent discipline. Sociologists often envy the economists for the precision of their terminology and the exactness of their measures. And the ability to translate the results of their theoretical work into practical suggestions having major implications for public policy.
  • Yet economist’s predictive abilities often suffer precisely because of their neglect of individual behavior, cultural norms and institutional resistance which sociologists study. Pierre Bourdieu wrote in 1998, “A true economic science would look at all the costs of the economy not only at the costs that corporations are concerned with, but also at crimes, suicides, and so on. We need to put forward an economics of happiness, which would take note of all the profits, individual and collective, material and symbolic, associated with activity (such as security), and also the material and symbolic costs associated with inactivity or precarious employment (for example consumption of medicines: France holds the world record for the use of tranquilizers)”.
  • Sociology unlike economics usually does not provide technical solutions. But it encourages a questioning and critical perspective. This helps questioning of basic assumptions. And thereby facilitates a discussion of not just the technical means towards a given goal, but also about the social desirability of a goal itself. Recent trends have seen a resurgence of economic sociology perhaps because of both this wider and critical perspective of sociology.
  • Sociology provides clearer or more adequate understanding of a social situation than existed before. This can be either on the level of factual knowledge, or through gaining an improved grasp of why something is happening (in other words, by means of theoretical understanding).
  • However, attempts have been made to link the two disciplines with each other. One extreme position has been adopted by Marxists. According to whom the understanding of the super structure consisting of various social institutions can never be complete, unless seen in the context of economic substructure. Thus economic behavior of man is viewed as a key to understand social behavior of man or economics is given precedence over sociology. On the other hand sociologists have criticized the economic theory as being reductionist in nature and according to them the economist’s conception of man ignores the role of various social factors which influence the economic behavior.
  • Various sociologists have tried of show that economics cannot be an entirely autonomous science. For e.g. A. Lowie in his book ‘Economics and Sociology’ has examined the lists of pure economics and discovers two sociological principles which underline a classical laws of the market: ‘The economic man” and “competition or mobility of the factors of production”. Similarly, Max Weber’s ‘Wirtscharaft and Gesellschaft’ is the classical attempt to bring some of the concepts of economic theory within the frame work of general sociology. The recent work by Talcott Parsons and N.J. Smelser attempts on Weberian lines but, in a more ambitious way, to show economic theory as a part of general sociological theory. In fact, according to Parsons economic behavior can never be understood adequately if it is divorced from the social milieu.
  • Of late, the interactions between two disciplines have been on the increase. For example, numerous sociological studies have directly concerned themselves with problems of economic theory; the recent example is Barbara Cotton’s book “The social Foundations of Wage Policy” which attempts a sociological analysis of the determinants of wags and salary differentials in Britain. Other such examples are to be found in the works of Thorstein Veblen and J.K. Galbraith. Further, there are sociological works concerned with general features of economic systems. This is particularly so in the study of problems of economic development in the developing countries. One of the famous works of this kind has been that of ‘dependency theorists’. Thus it can be said that increasingly the two disciplines are coming closer.

Sociology and Political science

As in the case of economics, there is an increased interaction of methods and approaches between sociology and political science.

  • Conventional political science was focused primarily on two elements: political theory and government administration. Neither branch involves extensive contact with political behavior. The theory part usually focuses on the ideas about government from Plato to Marx while courses on administration generally deal with the formal structure of government rather than its actual operation.
  • Sociology is devoted to the study of all aspects of society, whereas conventional political science restricted itself mainly to the study of power as embodied in formal organization.
  • Sociology stresses the interrelationships between sets of institutions including government, whereas political science tends to turn attention towards the processes within the government.

However, sociology long shared similar interests of research with political science.

  • Sociologists like Max Weber worked in what can be termed as political sociology. The focus of political sociology has been increasingly on the actual study of political behavior.
  • Even in the recent Indian elections one has seen the extensive study of political patterns of voting. Studies have also been conducted in membership of political organizations, process of decision-making in organizations, sociological reasons for support of political parties, the role of gender in politics, etc.
  • According to Marx, political institutions and behavior are closely linked with the economic system and social classes. Provoked by this thinking some thinkers, by the end of the 19th century, pursued the matter in more details like studies of political parties, elite voting behavior, bureaucracy and political ideologies, as in the political sociology of Michels, Weber and Pareto.

By then, another development occurred in America Known as the behavioural approach to political
phenomena. This was initiated by the University of Chicago. In the thirties, attempts were made by various scholars to create a scientific discipline of behavioural politics although now a day this attempt stands discredited.

In one more area, however, there has become a close relationship between these social sciences is the field of explanatory schemes and models. Both functionalism and social system have been adopted into politics. It is interesting to note that there is a renewal of interest in Marxist sociological ideas because of revolutions in developing countries, as can be seen. The forces at work and the changes that are taking place in peasant tribal or caste societies belong more to the sphere of sociologists and anthropologists rather than to that of the political scientist. Moreover, the fields into which Michels, Max Weber and Pareto led Sociology by the end of the 19th century are still being pursued. A new feature of these studies is that they are comparative.


It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish political science form political sociology. There are a number of Marxist studies having Marxist-socialist ideas as their hypothesis. Also as modern state is increasingly getting involved in providing welfare amenities, sociological slant to political activity and political thinking is gaining more and more acceptance.

Sociology and History

“Sociology without History is rootless and History without Sociology is fruitless”

  1. Historians almost as a rule study the past, sociologists are more interested in the contemporary or recent past.
  2. Historians earlier were content to delineate the actual events, to establish how things actually happened, while in sociology the focus was to seek to establish causal relationships.
  3. History studies concrete details while the sociologists are more likely to abstract from concrete reality, categorise and generalize. Historians today are equally involved in doing sociological methods and concepts in their analysis i.e. Social History.
  4. Conventional history has been about the history of kings and war. The history of less glamorous or exciting events as changes in land relations or gender relations within the family have traditionally been less studied by historians but formed the core area of the sociologist’s interest.
  5. According to Radcliff Brown “sociology is nomothetic, while history is idiographic”. In other words, sociologists produce generalizations while historians describe unique events. This distinction hold true for traditional narrative history, but is only partly true for modern historiography. There are works for serious historians which abound in generalizations while sometimes sociologists have concerned themselves with the study of unique event. An example of the former is R.H. Tawny’s work “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism”, Weber’s thesis “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”. “The Polish Peasant” by Thomas and Zelencki consist of mere description of a peasant family, and therefore, is idiographic as any historical study can be.
  6. Further, historical accounts for phenomena like industrial revolution are quite general in nature and have served as source of data for sociological studies.
  7. Inspite of those similarities the differences remain. History is primarily concerned with the past and essentially tries to account for change over time while the main focus of sociology, continues to be to search for recruitment patterns and to build generalizations. However, given such works like Weber’s ‘Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’ and Pitrim Sorokin’s ‘Social and Cultural Dynamics’, the line for demarcation between history and sociology is becoming increasingly blurred. Yet H.R. Trevor-Roper has tried to make a weak distinction by stating that historian is concerned with the interplay between personality and massive social forces and that the sociologist is largely concerned with these social forces themselves. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that historiography and sociology cannot be radically separated. They deal with the same subject matter; viz. men living in societies sometimes from the same point of view and the trends indicate that the two shall continue to borrow from each other extensively.

Today, however, history is far more sociological and social history is the stuff of history. It looks at social patterns, gender relations, mores, customs and important institutions other than the acts of rulers, wars and monarchy. It has been well said that “Sociology without History is rootless and History without Sociology is fruitless”

Sociology and Psychology

  1. Psychology is often defined as the science of behavior. It involves itself primarily with the individual. It is interested in her/his intelligence and learning, motivations and memory nervous system and reaction time, hopes and fears.
  2. Social psychology, which serves as a bridge between psychology and sociology, maintains a primary interest in the individual but concerns itself with the way in which the individual behaves in social groups collectively with other individuals.
  3. Sociology attempts to understand behavior as it is organized in society that is the way in which personality is shaped by different aspects of society. For instance, economic and political system, their family and kinship structure, their culture, norms and values. It is interesting to recall that Durkheim who sought to establish a clear scope and method for sociology in his well-known study of suicide left out individual intentions of those who commit or try to commit suicide in favour of statistics concerning various social characteristics of these individuals.
  4. J.S. Mill believed that a general social science could not be considered firmly established, until its inductively established generalizations, can be shown to be also logically deducible from laws of mind. Thus, he clearly sought to establish primacy of psychology over all other social sciences. Durkheim on the other hand, made a radical distinction between the phenomena studied by sociology and psychology respectively. Sociology was to study social facts defined as being external to individual mind and exercising the coercive action upon them. The explanation of social facts could only be in terms of other social facts, not in terms of psychological facts. “Society is not simply an aggregate of individuals; it is a system formed by their association and represents a specific level of reality possessing its own characteristics”. Thus sociology and psychology are totally separate disciplines. Though, an extreme interpretation of Durkheim might lead to the conclusion that most psychology is social psychology.
  5. Thus the views of Mill and Durkheim represent two extreme vies. Most sociologists however have adopted various intermediate positions. According to Ginsberg, “many sociological generalizations can be more firmly established by being related to general psychological laws. Similarly S. F. Nadal argued that some problems posed by social enquiry can be illuminated by a move to lower levels of analysis, viz psychology and biology. German scholars like Dilthey and Max Weber etc., came to believe that sociological explanations can be further enriched if an attempt is made to understand social behavior in terms of underlying meanings. Such understanding was conceived in terms of ‘common senses psychology but neither Dilthey nor Weber was opposed to the development of a scientific psychology in the broad sense and Weber was even sympathetic to some of Freud’s ideas.
  6. Similarly the interdependence of sociology and psychology for the study of human behavior has also been emphasized in the work psychologists belonging to post Freudian School especially Karen Horney and Erich Fromm. The influence of society in moulding individual behavior is given still greater prominence. Fromm’s concept of social character is intended precisely to relate individual psychological characterization to the characteristics of a particular social group of social system. Inspite of such recognition of complementarities between sociology and psychology, divergence persists between the two. The divergence between sociology and psychology can be illustrated from various studies. In the study of conflict and war there have been mutually exclusive sociological and psychological explanations. Similarly in the studies of social stratification and political behavior the two disciplines have remained divergent.
  7. According to Bottomore, in almost every field of enquiry it can be shown that psychology and sociology continue for the most part and two separate universes of study. However, some attempts have been made to bring them together in one of the most valuable works is of Gerth and Mills. According to them, the study of social psychology is an inter-play between individual character and social structure and it can be approached wither from the side of sociology or from the side for biology. They have even suggested the concept of role to bridge the gap between the two sciences. Social role represents a meeting point of the individual organism and the social structure and it is used as a central concept and social structure in the same terms.


Yet, inspite of these efforts sociology and psychology continue to offer alternate accounts for behavior, and if they are to be brought closer together, it will be necessary to work out more rigorously the conceptual and theoretical links between them.

Sociology and Philosophy

  1. Modern philosophy and sociology came into existence during one time period to explain the social crisis of Europe in the 19th century. Sociology aimed, to begin with, to provide a social doctrine that would guide social policy. This aim has now been abandoned. Even then some links exist between sociology and philosophy. First, there is a philosophy of sociology in the same sense as a philosophy of science: that is an examination of the methods, concepts and arguments used in sociology.
  2. There is a close relationship between sociology and moral & social philosophy. The subject-matter of sociology is human social behavior as guided by values. Moral and social philosophy studies values and the sociologists study values and human valuation as facts. On occasions, the sociologist is made to distinguish between fact and value. It is only by some training that social philosophy becomes competent to distinguish between fact and value.
  3. it can be said that the study of sociology leads to philosophical quest. Durkheim thought that sociology has to necessarily contribute to a renewal of philosophical questions. This made him indulge in some epistemological discussions, a branch of philosophy. Karl Mannheim argued that sociology of knowledge had implications for philosophy. Both of them thought that sociology can make a direct contribution to philosophy. But this is an incorrect approach. Philosophy is the basis of the sociology of knowledge not vice versa.
  4. It can also be said here that while sociology leads on to philosophical reflections, much of it also begins there. Sociological research will become trivial if it ignores the larger problems of social life which are coordinated in philosophical world-views and in social doctrines. The stimulating character of early Marxism in social research was to a great extent due to the fact the Marxism was not only a sociological theory but also philosophical base was helpful for social research. Active participation in social movement and commitment to a social doctrine helped Beatrice Webb in her social research.


In brief, although each social science, including philosophy, has its own specific area of study, there is a growing collaboration and faster cross fertilization among them. The unity of social science is best conceived as a unity of methods and of conceptual segments but not as a universal history.

Sociology and Social Anthropology

Anthropology in most countries incorporates archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural history, many branches of linguistics and the study of all aspects of life in “simple societies”.

  1. Our concern here is with social anthropology and cultural anthropology for it is that which is close to the study of sociology. Sociology is deemed to be the study of modern, complex societies while social anthropology was deemed to be the study of simple societies.
  2. As we saw earlier, each discipline has its own history or biography. Social anthropology developed in the west at a time when western-trained social anthropologists studied non-European societies often thought of as exotic, barbaric and uncivilized. This unequal relationship between those who studied and those who were studied, remarked upon too often earlier. But times have changed and we have the erstwhile ‘natives’ be they Indians or Sudanese, Nagas or Santhals, who now speak and write about their own societies.
  3. In terms of the method of study, social anthropologists developed a preference of functionalist approach and filed work as the main technique of data collection. Functionalist approach proved suitable for social anthropologists because the tribal and agrarian societies of Asia and Africa hardly underwent any social change. Field work as a method of data collection was considerable because most of these societies lacked historical records and could be directly observed as functioning whole due to their small size.
  4. On the other hand sociology continues to be dominated by the historical approach, as can be seen in the works of L.T. Hobhouse, Max Weber and even Marxian scholars. However, the post-colonial period witnessed a new trend towards the convergence of the two disciplines. One major factor responsible for this approchment between sociology and social anthropology has been the rise of new nation states which, as a result of the process of nation building have acquired a dualistic character. They have come to acquire the features of both modern industrial societies as well as traditional small scale societies. Therefore the study of these “Developing Societies” requires the use of both sociological as well as social anthropological approach.
  5. The anthropologists of the past documented the details of simple societies apparently in a neutral scientific fashion. In practice they were constantly comparing those societies with the model of the western modern societies as a benchmark.
  6. Other changes have also redefined the nature of sociology and social anthropology. Modernity as we saw led to a process whereby the smallest village was impacted by global processes. The most obvious example is colonialism. The most remote village of India under British colonialism saw its land laws and administration change, its revenue extraction alters, its manufacturing industries collapsed. Contemporary global processes have further accentuated this shrinking of the globe. The assumption of studying a simple society was that it was bounded. We know this is not so today.
  7. The traditional study of simple, non-literate societies by social anthropology had a pervasive influence on the content and the subject matter of the discipline. Social anthropology tended to study society (simple societies) in all their aspects, as wholes. In so far as they specialized, it was on the basis of area as for example the Andaman Islands, the Nuers or Melanesia.
  8. Sociologists study complex societies and would therefore often focus on parts of society like the bureaucracy or religion or caste or a process such as social mobility.
  9. Social anthropology was characterized by long field work tradition, living in the community studied and using ethnographic research methods. Sociologists have often relied on survey method and quantitative data using statistics and the questionnaire mode.
  10. Today the distinction between a simple society and a complex one itself needs major rethinking. India itself is a complex mix of tradition and modernity, of the village and the city, of caste and tribe, of class and community. Villages exists in the heart of the capital city of Delhi. Call centres serve European and American clients from different towns of the country.
  11. Indian sociology has been far more eclectic in borrowing from both traditions. Indian sociologists often studied Indian societies that were both part of and not of one’s own culture. It could also be dealing with both complex differentiated societies of urban modern India as well as the study of tribes in a holistic fashion.
  12. It had been feared that with the decline of simple societies, social anthropology would lose its specificity and merge with sociology. However, there have been fruitful interchanges between the two disciplines and today often methods and techniques are drawn from both. There have been anthropological studies of the state and globalization, which are very different from the traditional subject matter of social anthropology. On the other hand, sociology too has been using quantitative and qualitative techniques, macro and micro approaches for studying the complexities of modern societies. For in India, sociology and social anthropology have had a very close relationship.
  13. Besides this, the diffusion of Marxist approach in social anthropology, as a result of the works of Block, Sodden and Godlier, etc. have acted as a bridge between the disciplines. On the other hand even sociologists working modern industrial societies like America have increasingly started to rely upon the methods of social anthropology. For example, the works of Talcott Parsons and R.K. Merton are attempts towards an adaptation of functionalist approach to study industrial societies and William Whyte has adopted participant observation for the study of modern industrial society. Thus the disciplines are increasingly merging into each other.

Importance Of Sociology

  1. Sociology makes a scientific study of society: Prior to the emergence of sociology the study of society was carried on in an unscientific manner and society had never been the central concern of any science. It is through the study of sociology that the truly scientific study of the society has been possible. Sociology because of its bearing upon many of the problems of the present world has assumed such a great importance that it is considered to be the best approach to all the social sciences.
  2. Sociology studies role of the institutions in the development of the individuals: It is through
    sociology that scientific study of the great social institutions and the relation of the individual to each is being made. The home and family ,the school and educaton,the church and religion, the state and government ,industry and work ,the community and association, these are institutions through which society functions. Sociology studies these institutions and their role in the development of the individual and suggests suitable measures for restrengthening them with a view to enable them to serve the individual better.
  3. Study of sociology is indispensable for understanding and planning of society: Society is a complex phenomenon with a multitude of intricacies. It is impossible to understand and solve its numerous problems without support of sociology. It is rightly said that we cannot understand and mend society without any knowledge of its mechanism and construction. Without the investigation carried out by sociology no real effective social planning would be possible. It helps us to determine the most efficient means for reaching the goals agreed upon. A certain amount of knowledge about society is necessary before any social policies can be carried out.
  4. Sociology is of great importance in the solution of social problems: The present world is suffering from many problems which can be solved through scientific study of the society. It is the task of sociology to study the social problems through the methods of scientific research and to find out solution to them. The scientific study of human affairs will ultimately provide the body of knowledge and principles that will enable us to control the conditions of social life and improve them.
  5. Sociology has drawn our attention to the intrinsic worth and dignity of man: Sociology has been instrumental in changing our attitude towards human beings. In a specialized society we are all limited as to the amount of the whole organization and culture that we can experience directly. We can hardly know the people of other areas intimately. In order to have insight into and appreciation of the motives by which others live and the conditions under which they exist a knowledge of sociology is essential.
  6. Sociology has changed our outlook with regard to the problems of crime etc:It is through the study of sociology that our whole outlook on various aspects of crime has change. The criminals are now treated as human beings suffering from mental deficiencies and efforts are accordingly made to rehabilitate them as useful members of the society.
  7. Sociology has made great contribution to enrich human culture: Human culture has been made richer by the contribution of sociology. The social phenomenon is now understood in the light of scientific knowledge and enquiry. According to Lowie most of us harbor the comfortable delusion that our way of doing things is the only sensible if not only possible one. Sociology has given us training to have rational approach to questions concerning oneself, one’s religion,customs,morals and institutions. It has further taught us to be objective, critical and dispassionate. It enables man to have better understanding both of himself and of others. By comparative study of societies and groups other than his existence ,his life becomes richer and fuller than it would otherwise be. Sociology also impresses upon us the necessity of overcoming narrow personal prejudices, ambitions and class hatred.
  8. Sociology is of great importance in the solution of international problems: The progress made by
    physical sciences has brought the nations of the world nearer to each other. But in the social field the world has been left behind by the revolutionary progress of the science. The world is divided politically giving rise to stress and conflict. Men have failed to bring in peace. Sociology can help us in understanding the underlying causes and tensions.
  9. The value of sociology lies in the fact that it keeps us update on modern situations: It contributes
    to making good citizens and finding solutions to the community problems. It adds to the knowledge of the society. It helps the individual find his relation to society. The study of social phenomena and of the ways and means of promoting what Giddens calls social adequacy is one of the most urgent needs of the modern society. Sociology has a strong appeal to all types of mind through its direct bearing upon many of the initial problems of the present world.

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