Sociology Module Study Notes

Sociology Module Study Notes

The subject matter of sociology is not strange to any of us. Since the discipline deals with human social life, we are exposed to sociological experiences on a lily basis. Sociology examines aspects of social life that might otherwise be overlooked or taken for granted. Defining Sociology Augusta Comet, who, is said to have been the founding father of the subject, coined the term ‘sociology. The term “Sociology” is said to have its roots in the Greek words ‘socio’ meaning ‘society’ and ‘logos’ meaning knowledge.

In explaining what is sociology, different sociologists have differing explanations due to the fact that there are many theories in sociology. There is no one set or correct definition of what sociology is. Some sociologists define sociology as the study of the structures in society, while others define it as the study of individuals in society. Thus the focus is on certain parts of society; a general definition therefore is ‘the study of human society and human social behavior. To better understand sociology, one needs to examine the nature of sociology.

The Nature of Sociology Sociology is the scientific and systematic study of society. It involves the study of human social life, groups and societies. Sociologists observe social phenomena and look for recurrent patterns of behavior since hey believe behavioral patterns tend to repeat themselves and are fairly predictable. They also look at how a society develops and maintains its culture and how groups and institutions influence human social behavior. Sociology involves gaining knowledge about the social world from a sociological point of view.

The sociological view of society is special because sociologists, unlike laypersons, tend to kick at things from a holistic perspective, that is, they look at all aspects of the phenomenon being studied. The layperson, on the other hand, views society from an individualistic session or what we call common sense knowledge. Sociologists possess the sociological imagination, which makes their view different from that of the layperson because they are objective and look at the whole of society and not just a certain viewpoint. The Sociological Imagination This term “Sociological Imagination” was coined in 1 959 by sociologist C.

Wright Mills. The concept describes the ability to see the impact Of social forces on our lives. It IS a special type of awareness of the relationship between an individual and the wider society. It requires us to view our own society as an outsider would, devoid of biases, prejudices, cultural values and attitudes. It is an awareness that enables a person to see beyond what is apparent, (everyday occurrences) to see the links between their immediate circumstances and other parts of the world (countries, groups, societies), external forces, that help to shape what takes place in that micro- environment.

Traditional structures or institutions such as the family, religion, education and politics were being broken down and replaced by new ones and the influence of the church was declining. The social thinkers of the time were concerned with these changes, which, to hem, fostered chaos and instability in society. Along with these changes, however, major discoveries in the natural sciences were taking place, which gave social thinkers hope for society. The natural sciences made advances such as Newton’s Theory which unraveled the mysteries of the natural world.

Social thinkers, therefore, believed that the mysteries of the social world could also be unraveled. They believed that the laws of the social world could be discovered and, once they were found, order and stability would be restored to society. Thus, the changes which occurred in Europe along with he discoveries in the physical and natural sciences, led to a new way of thinking about the social world, and scholars turned to science to provide answers to the issues of the day. This resulted in a new discipline called sociology.

Early Sociologists Augusta comet (1798-1857) Comet is considered the founding father of sociology and he outlined ‘A. ‘Vat a science of society should b?’. He stressed that sociology should be scientific, much like the natural sciences. He felt that sociology should be rooted in positivism, that is, knowledge should be derived from observable facts, rather Han from superstition, fantasy, or other non-empirical (unverifiable) sources. He believed that the social world was governed by a set of laws, which made it possible for the study of society to be scientific in nature.

He felt that by studying society in this way, sociology would help correct the ills of society. Thus sociology was seen as “the queen of all sciences” and sociologists as belonging to a “priesthood of humanity’, by Comet, because sociology and sociologists would be able to restore order in society. Comet’s work laid the groundwork for the development of Sociology as it is known today. Many of Comet’s doctrines were later adapted and developed by social philosophers, especially the Functionalists. Mile Druthers (1858-1917) Druthers is referred to as the first real “sociologist’ and he founded the first school of sociology in France in 1887.

Druthers, a functionalist, like Comet was concerned about the changes which occurred in Europe and the chaos and disorder it created in society. The major question that he sought to answer was “What makes social order in society”. Once one discovers the answer to this question then social disorder can be understood and prevented in society. The answer, according to Druthers, was the underlying set of moral rules, norms, beliefs and values that gives members of society the shared feeling of belonging and which holds society together in harmony and equilibrium.

Druthers is very important in the development of the discipline, first due to his focus on social facts, which he sees as influencing an individual’s thoughts and behavior in society. Druthers developed the idea of positivism to the study of social facts and carried out one of the first sociological studies, which utilized scientific methods to learn more about “Suicide”. Secondly, he established sociological methods in The Rules Of the Sociological Method (1895), which outlines methods to be used in studying the social sciences, and are used by many researchers even today.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) Marx, like Comet, was a well-known philosopher, social scientist and historian. However, unlike Comet, Marx was a revolutionary, which was reflected in his work. Marx also shared Deuterium’s interest in society and the changes that were taking place, but adopted a different approach. Marx felt that the Industrial Revolution was responsible for social conflict, inequality, ND social plantations into groups, which he identified as the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

Thus, he was of the view that social relation between these groups is characterized by conflict not harmony. Marx is important to the development of sociology, as the founder of what is known as the conflict perspective. Max Weber (1864-1920) Weber was a German economist and historian and, like Marx, was critical of capitalism and the social class system it produces. However, he thought Marxist thinking was centered on economic determinism. He agreed that economic factors drove society but he also placed importance on ideas and aloes in shaping society.

A major concept developed by Weber, Persistent, which means sympathetic understanding, formed the basis of an area of sociology known as Interpretive Sociology. This branch of Sociology is very wide and can be subdivided into many other perspectives. These focus upon the micro aspect of sociology, that is, the small-scale interactions between individuals. Unlike Comet and Druthers, Weber felt that sociologists can only understand the reality of social actors by seeing the world through other people’s eyes. The branches of interpretive sociology include symbolic interaction, ethnomusicology and phenomenology.

The sociologists discussed above have laid the traditional groundwork in the field of sociology. Today the study of sociology continues to be informed by these theorists, even though the work done may be of a more specialized nature. Sociology was based on the study of the industrial society; it has become very specialized/sophisticated in response to the growing complexity of human society. Sociology has branched out into many spheres among which are: 0 Environmental Sociology 0 Sociology of Crime L] Sociology of Education C] Sociology of Development

CLC Sociology of Sport 0 Industrial Sociology The Relationship between Sociology and the Other Social Sciences Sociology, sometimes referred to as “the queen of all sciences”, has something in common with all these other disciplines but it is also distinct in some aspects Sociology and Psychology Similarity: Both Sociology and Psychology are concerned with attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, emotions and interpersonal relationships of individuals in society. Difference: Psychology focuses more on the individual level of social behavior while sociology considers the individual al within the context of the eider social groups in society.

Sociology and Political Science Similarity: Both Sociology and Political Science are concerned with the government and the administration of society, distribution of power and peoples’ attitudes. Difference: Political scientists analyze the different forms of government and their underlying philosophies and study the political process, whereas a sociologist examines the interrelationship between political structure and behavior and other aspect of society, such as the economy, religious institutions, and the attitudes of various social groups. Sociology and Philosophy

Similarity: Both Sociology and Philosophy are concerned with beliefs about the nature of life. Difference: Philosophy is a system of abstract reasoning that follows specific rules of logic. Sociology is empirical; it seeks to discover information about the real world by gathering data about what people actually do. Sociology and Anthropology Similarity: Both Sociology and Anthropology are concerned with social life, including culture, beliefs, decision-making and relationships. Difference: Anthropology is more the study of the cultural characteristics of societies other than our own and a comparison of their characteristics cross- laterally.

Sociology is based on the scientific study of groups and institutions in society. Sociology and Economics Similarity: Both Sociology and Economics are concerned with how society produces and distributes goods and services. Difference: While the economist concentrates on the economy in its own right, sociologist are more likely to consider how the economy affects and is affected by other social processes and institutions. Development of Sociology in the Caribbean The Caribbean is a unique region, in that its population consists largely of persons who were rooted from their homelands and forced to remain in the egging against their will.

The original population, which consisted of Meridian tribes, were decimated by the effects Of colonization and African slaves replaced them. After Emancipation, East Indian and other indentured workers were imported to provide the much needed labor on the plantations. Early sociological theorizing in the Caribbean took the form mainly of social, political, and economic writings with historical underpinnings. The literature concentrated on the period from slavery onward through the period of independence in the 1 sass.

The issues, which were discussed, ranged from the legacy of slavery and alienation, development issues, migration, as well as the ‘brain drain’ that plagued many of the territories. There is a wealth of literature in these areas, which emanated from historians, economists, social workers, demographers and geographers, but there was an absence of sociologists. Today, in the Caribbean, much of these writings form the basis for Sociology theorizing. The work of renowned sociologists such as Augusta Comet, Karl Marx, Tailcoat Parsons and Mile Druthers, form the basic groundwork which informs Caribbean sociological theorizing.

Caribbean Sociology, like sociology in other arts of the world, is informed by functionalism, Marxism and symbolic interactions. More specific work, which could be applied distinctively to the Caribbean region, was usually informed by work done in other parts of the world. For example, M. G. Smith described the Caribbean as having a plural society. Smith drew from J. S. Furnisher’s work on plural societies, and applied the concept of plural societies to the Caribbean. R. T. Smith, in writing on family, used as the basic starting point for his analysis, the traditional family forms of European societies, mainly on the nuclear family.

To many writers, these traditional family forms are viewed as the norm, and any other family structures are seen as deviations from the norm or adaptations. The early works sought to explain the trends, as well as the reasons underlying the cohesiveness in Caribbean societies. Some of these works also sought to categories Caribbean societies or identify characteristics that distinguish Caribbean societies. Among other works, which have engaged the attention of sociologists in the Caribbean, is the manner in which the migrant populations sought to find solutions to the living conditions which were acetated to them.

Other works covered areas such as migration and the “brain drain” which many Caribbean sociologists view as a response to unemployment and harsh living conditions. In “My Mother Who Fathered Me”, Edith Clarke (1966) looks at migration from a rural Caribbean community. Clarke examines the implications of migration on the community, and the impact on the livelihood of the family members who were left behind. Family Land is an example of what many writers see as a response to living conditions. Many sociologists claim that family land was the ex-slaves’ answer to the problem of land scarcity.

Through this system, a person provided for those who came after him, by allowing the land to belong to none in particular, but by allowing all, even future generations, the use of the land. Hemi Rubberiest (1 987), sought to explain the existence of several families occupying the same plot of land. This was a practice that was not observed in European and Western societies. Other areas, which have been covered by Caribbean sociologists, include the topic of race and culture. Sociologists and others have been debating whether there has been retention of the culture of the major races, or whether there has been any diffusion.

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