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Sociology | Class 11 | Sociology and Society

What is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of human society as a whole. It also performs certain tasks in its field as a discipline:

  • One of sociology's tasks is to discover the link between a personal problem and a public issue.

  • Second, it examines how the modern individual belongs to more than one society. And how unequal societies are.

  • Third, it brings a systematic study of society, as opposed to philosophical and religious reflections, as well as our everyday common sense observation of society.

  • Fourth, we can better understand this distinct way of studying society by looking back in history at the intellectual ideas and material contexts in which sociology was born and later grew.

Introducing sociology

  • In a society, the institutions of the economy, politics, family, culture, and education are intertwined. The individual can somewhat alter it while also being somewhat restricted by it.

  • Sociology is the study of organisations, societies, and human social interactions. Its focus is on how people behave in social situations.

  • French philosopher and sociologist Auguste Comte is credited with coining the term "sociology" in 1839. As the first person to define the field of sociology as a discipline, he is referred to as the "Father of Sociology."

  • The Latin word "socius," which means "fellow or partner (society)," and the Greek word "logos," which means "study or science," are the roots of the word "sociology." The "science of society" is the etymological definition of "sociology."

  • It is a discipline that is interested in how actual societies' norms and values operate based on observations and data gathered.

The sociological imagination

  • C. Wright Mills' vision of the sociological imagination is established on the discovery of the relationship between the personal and the public.

  • The sociological imagination allows us to comprehend history and biography, as well as the relationships between these two within society.

  • Troubles arise within the individual's character and within the scope of his immediate relationships with others influencing the domain of his social interactions.

  • These Issues have to do with matters that transcend these local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life.

  • Without understanding both, neither an individual's life nor the origins of a society can be understood.

Pluralities and inequalities among societies

In the modern world, we can be said to be members of multiple "societies."

The phrase "our society" can refer to a group of people who share a common language, ethnicity, religion, caste, or tribal affiliation. This diversity makes it challenging to determine which "society" we are referring to.

We all have diverse perspectives on society because there are so many of them. Our individual experiences and the environment we live in shape these lenses. However, the issue of what to focus on and how to focus in society continues to be at the heart of sociology.

Sociology, Philosophy and religious thought

People have always observed and reflected upon societies and groups in which they live. This is clear from the writings of philosophers, religious leaders, and lawmakers across all cultures and historical periods.

Based on their observations and experiences, philosophical and theological thinking is concerned with the moral and immoral facets of human behaviour, the ideal way of living, about a good society, etc. These ideas are founded on the values and norms that should prevail in society. It involves illustrating a good society and establishing its differences from a bad one.

Since its inception, sociology has recognised itself as a science. Sociology is constrained by the rules of scientific methodology, in contrast to commonsense observations, philosophical comments, or theological commentary.

Sociology as a discipline makes observations and holds notions about "society" that are distinct from both common sense and philosophical considerations.

Sociologists' work often includes the empirical study of societies. This does not imply, however, that sociology is not interested in values. It simply means that a sociologist studying a culture is willing to watch and gather data, even if it doesn't align with her or his personal preferences.

Sociology and knowledge of common sense

  • Our "naturalistic" and "individualist" explanation is the foundation of our common sense.

  • Common sense does not consider its own sources, it is not reflective. Or to put it another way, it does not ponder the question "Why do I hold this view?" No matter how deeply held a belief may be, the sociologist must be prepared to challenge it by asking, "Is this actually so?"

  • It is learned from a certain perspective, which is the perspective of the social group and the social setting that we are socialised into. This information comes from our personal social experience.

  • Regardless of how poorly they are coordinated, sociology has a set of concepts, techniques, and data. Common sense cannot be used to replace this.

  • The systematic and inquisitive methods of sociology come from a longer history of scientific inquiry.

The intellectual ideas that went into the making of sociology

  • Sociologists and social anthropologists tried to discern between different types of societies and different periods of social evolution. These characteristics recur in the writings of early sociologists including Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, and Herbert Spencer in the 19th century.

  • On such premise, efforts were made to categorise various society types, for example: such as pastoral and agrarian, agrarian and pre-industrial civilizations, and hunter-gatherer communities. several modern society types, including industrialised societies.

  • Early sociological theory was heavily influenced by Darwin's theories of organic evolution. It was common to relate society to living things, and efforts were made to follow its development through stages similar to those of biological life. The study of social institutions like the family or the school and structures like stratification were affected by this perspective of society as a system of components, each element performing a certain purpose.

  • Additionally, there was a significant increase in scientific understanding and a rising belief that the natural sciences' approaches should be used to investigate human problems. For instance, poverty, formerly thought of as a "natural phenomenon," started to be viewed as a "social problem" brought on by ignorance or exploitation of humans.

  • Early modern thinkers believed that scientific advancement would lead to the eradication of all societal evils. For instance, French scientist Auguste Comte (1789–1857), who is regarded as the father of sociology, thought sociology would advance human wellbeing.

What are the essential concerns involved in the making of sociology?

Agriculture and textiles were the main industries in Britain prior to industrialization. Village life was the norm. The status and class positions of different people were clearly defined because the society was hierarchical. It shared tight relationships with other members of the community like other traditional civilizations.

Each of these attributes altered as a result of industrialization. The foundation of the Industrial Revolution was capitalism, a brand-new, dynamic economic system. The expansion of industrial manufacturing was fueled by this form of capitalism. With capitalism came new mindsets and structures.

The main tool of productive existence was the market. And as a result, products, services, and labour all became commodities with rational calculation determining their utilisation. The old economy was fully supplanted by the new economy. At its epicentre was England during the Industrial Revolution.

The removal of employment from the protective settings of the guild, town, and family was one of the most essential components of the new system. Urban areas grew and expanded. Not that there weren't any cities before. It was distinguished by the squalor, filth, and smoke of the industries, by the congested slums of the new industrial working class, and by poor hygienic conditions. New forms of social interactions were another characteristic of it.

Many people believed that the factory and its mechanical division of labour was a conscious effort to eliminate the artisan and peasant, as well as the family and local community. Marx and others found the workplace to be oppressive. however could be freeing. Workers learned both group functioning and coordinated attempts for better conditions here.

Why should we study european sociology's foundation and development?

The solution is fairly straightforward. For our past, as Indians is closely linked to the history of British capitalism and colonialism. The old established order was overthrown by capitalism and industrialization, which emerged in Europe.

These developments also gave rise to other problems like urbanisation and factory production, which are relevant in various ways to all modern societies. The unequal change of societies has been attributed to the worldwide effects of capitalism.

Studying the development of sociology as a field in Europe is important for every sociology student. This is because sociology is a field that deals with problems and difficulties that have arisen under the new global order.

Emergence of Sociology in India

Modern capitalism and industrialization were not possible without colonialism. The British officials who ruled India at this time came to understand how crucial it was for efficient administration that they get familiar with Indian society and culture. As a result, sociology was founded in India.

Indian society was occasionally misrepresented in Western sociological writings. For instance, the perception and depiction of the Indian hamlet remained same. Thus, a lot of Indian academics turned to sociological research to fill in these gaps.

The diversity of Indian society—in terms of area, language, religion, ethnicity, caste, etc.—also contributed to the discipline of social anthropology's development in India. In contrast to western nations, where both disciplines have been maintained apart from one another, this is a distinctive aspect.

In addition, social anthropology in India gradually shifted from focusing on the study of "primitive people" to studying peasants, ethnic groups, social classes, traits and characteristics of historical civilisations, and contemporary industrial civilizations.

Sociology's Scope and relationship to other social science disciplines

The three following categories can be used to roughly classify sociology's application and analysis areas:

  • The scope of the study may concentrate its examination on interactions between two people in different social contexts, such as between a shopkeeper and his or her customers or between friends and family.

  • Analysis of national concerns or issues affecting the general populace could, for example, centre on social phenomena like unemployment, caste conflicts, rural debt, the impact of forestry policy on tribal rights, etc. These are problems unique to a certain society or country.

  • The bigger human population is impacted by global social processes. Sociologists may analyse the effects of flexible labour laws, cultural globalisation, the entry of foreign universities into the nation's educational system, etc. while researching such occurrences.

Economics and Sociology

Economics is the study of how goods and services are produced and distributed. The traditional economic approach focused primarily on the relationships between basic economic variables, such as those between pricing, demand, and supply, money flows, output and input ratios, and the like.

In a broader context of social norms, beliefs, practises, and interests, the sociological approach examines economic behaviour.

The need to alter consuming habits and lifestyles is closely related to the significant investment made in the advertising sector.

The narrow focus and coherence of economics have been made possible by its clearly defined field of study. However, economists' prognostication skills frequently deteriorate because to their disregard for the institutional opposition, cultural norms, and human behaviour that sociologists research.

Contrary to economics, sociology typically does not offer technical solutions. But it promotes a critical and inquisitive outlook. This encourages challenging fundamental presumptions. And does so by making it easier to talk about a goal's social desirability as well as its technological ways of achieving it.

Political science as well as sociology

Political theory and government administration were the main topics of traditional political science. Neither branch has a lot of interaction with politics.

Sociology is committed to studying every facet of society, in contrast to traditional political science, which focused primarily on the study of power as it was manifested in formal organisations. Political science typically focuses on the processes within the government, but sociology emphasises the interactions between many sets of institutions, including the government.

Max Weber and other sociologists contributed to what can be called political sociology. Political sociology has increasingly emphasised the study of political behaviour itself. Even in the most recent elections in India, one could observe the thorough analysis of political voting trends.

History and Sociology

Sociologists are more interested in the present or recent past while historians almost always focus on the past.

History focuses on specifics, whereas sociologists are more prone to abstract from specifics, classify, and generalise. Today's historians use social concepts and tools in their analysis on an equal basis.

However, history today is far more sociological, and social history is what makes history. In addition to rulers' actions, wars, and monarchies, it examines fundamental institutions such as social patterns, gender relations, mores, and customs.

Social science and psychology

The definition of psychology as the study of behaviour is common. It is mostly concerned with the person.

It's fascinating to consider how Durkheim, who aimed to define the scope and methodology of sociology, chose to focus on statistics about different social traits of these people rather than the intentions of those who attempt or commit suicide.

Social anthropology and Sociology

Social scientists interested in understanding the human condition, both past and present, anthropologists and sociologists are skilled in building rapport in strange settings, gathering and analysing quantitative and qualitative data, thinking analytically at the macro and micro levels, and effectively communicating both orally and in writing. The focus of these fields' specialisations, however, varies.

Anthropology conducts comprehensive, impartial scientific study of all facets of life in "simple communities." The use of ethnographic study techniques, long-term fieldwork, and living in a community are some of the characteristics that define anthropology.

On the other hand, sociology focuses on specific aspects of complex societies, such as bureaucracy, religion, or social dynamics like social mobility. Statistics and questionnaire-based quantitative data are frequently used in sociology.