Introduction to Sociology: The Discipline
Sociology does not claim to be a potentially all-inclusive and all-sufficing science of society which might absorb the more specialized social sciences. The late origin of sociology does not mean that its standing as compared with other social sciences is very weak. Its scope has been clearly demarcated right from the early days. Its concepts, terms, typologies and generalizations leading to theories, emerged from the very beginning. Moreover, there are striking similarities between sociology and other social sciences: man as a principal ingredient of their subject matters, applications of some methodological tools like observation, comparative method, casual explanations, testing and modification of hypothesis etc.
When so much is common to sociology on the one hand and the other social sciences it is understandable that there is some amount of commonness in the studies as well as mutual borrowings in the form of data, methods, approaches, concepts and even vocabulary. In brief, sociology is a distinct social science, but it is not an isolated social science as the current trends indicate that every social science is depending more and more on inter-disciplinary approach, that is, historians and sociologists, for example, might even work together in curricular and search projects which would have been scarcely conceivable prior to about 1945, when each social science tendered to follow the course that emerged in the 19th century; to be confined to a single, distinguishable, though artificial, area of social reality.
* Human Evolution
* Development of Sociology
* Importance of Sociology
* Scope of Sociology
* Sociology and Social Anthropology
* Sociology and Political Science
* Sociology and Philosophy
* Sociology and History
* Sociology and Economics
* Sociology and Psychology
* Sociology As A Science
* Sociology As Interpretative Discipline
* Impact Of Revolutions On Sociology
* Fields of Sociology
* Career in Sociology
* The Roles of the Sociologist
* The use of concepts in sociology
* Pure and Applied Sociology
* Popular Sociology
In the simplest sense ,evolution means the slow process of change from a simple to a more complex structure. Evolution assumes that all living things are inter-related. Humans are supposed to have developed from some simpler forms. Most of the scientists today accept the basic principle of evolution but they have varying views regarding how evolution has taken place or how far it has gone.
The evolution of life began in the oceans. About four hundred million years ago the first land based creatures emerged. Some of these gradually evolved into the large reptiles who were later displaced by mammals. Mammals are warm-blooded creatures having greater capacity to learn from experience than other animals and this capacity has reached its highest development in the human species.
Our closest relatives are chimpanzee, gorilla and oranguatan. Though similarities between man and other animal forms were discovered by Linnaeus who grouped men ,the great ape and monkeys in a single order, primates, the three main theories are Lamarckism, Darwinism and Synthetic theory.
Lamarck is chiefly remembered for his belief in the inheritability of acquired character which is disputed. But he is credited in the history of evolutionary thought for recognizing and stating for the first time that evolution is a general fact covering all forms of life and it is a gradual process.
The scientific establishment of the theory of evolution was mainly the work of Charles Darwin. In his book 'The Origin of Species'1859 he showed that human evolution has occurred through the process of natural selection. The main points of this theory are:
* Struggle for existence
* Survival of the fittest
* Natural selection
Darwin's natural selection serves as the corner-stone of the modern synthesis, but the mutation theory,Mendelian genetics and the statistics of population dynamics are also very important components of its foundation.
The basic postulate of the synthetic theory is that evolution proceeds principally as a result of the interaction between five indispensable processes-
* Genetic recombination
* Changes in the chromosome number and structure
* Natural selection
* Reproductive isolation
This is also called Neo-Darwinism.
Stages in Human Evolution
During the Miocene epoch the family Hominoidea diverged into two sub-families the Pongidae (apes) and the Hominidae(humans).The exact point of divergence between the ape line and the human line is debatable. In general Dryopithecus is considered to be ancestor of both apes and humans.
Dryopithecus: This genus lived in Africa,China,India and Europe. The genetic title dryopithecus means oak wood apes because it is believed that the environmental conditions were such at that time with densely forested tropical lowlands and the members might have been predominantly herbivorous.
Ramapithecus: The first remains of Ramapithecus were discovered from Shivalik hills in Punjab and later discovered in Africa and SaudiArabia.The region where Ramapithecines lived was not merely forest but open grassland. A hominid status for them is claimed on two grounds: Fossil evidence indicating adaptation including robust jaws, thickened tooth enamel and shorter canines. Extrapolation regarding upright posture and the use of hands for food and defense.
Australopithecus: This genus is the immediate forerunner of the genus Homo.The first Australopithecine find was made in 1924 at Taung a limestone quarry site in South Africa by Raymond Dart. They walked erect, lived on the ground and probably used stones as weapons to hunt small animals. They weighed 60 to 90 pounds and were about 4 feet tall.
Home Erectus: The first evidence of the Homo species was discovered in Java by Eugene Dubois in 1891.He named his find as pithecanthropus erectus meaning the erect ape man. It is said to be the missing link. Another find was made in China ,south-west of Peking called Peking man. These had larger cranial capacity then Australopithecus lived in communal existence and used fire. The cranial capacity of Homo erectus which include Java man and Peking man varied from about 775 to nearly 1300 CC.The Acheulean tool tradition is associated with the Homo Erectus way of life. The stone tools were largely made of quartz. Bone tools and wooden tools like wooden spears have also been discovered. There is evidence of big game hunting which indicates that there must have been collective cooperative hunting. The Homo Erectus seem to be cave-dwellers. An important advancement is that there is evidence of the use of fire.
Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis : The Home erectus gradually evolved into the Homo Sapiens. In this transitional event two sub-species of the Homo sapiens have been identified. One the primitive man who has been labeled Homo sapien Neanderthal and two the modern man who is called Homo sapiens sapiens. Most of the evidences about the primitive man that have been unearthed are 75,000 years old. The first fossil that was found of the Neanderthal type was a skull cap found in Germany. The cranial capacity of Neanderthal exceeded that of the modern man.It ranged from 1200 to 1610 c.c.Their culture has come to known as Mousterian culture. A few small hand axes are also found. For the first time pointed stone flakes which seem certainly to be spearheads have also been found. There caves were made more comfortable for winter dwelling by placing a fire work with holes at the entrance of the cave and by covering it with stretched hide. The Neanderthals were capable of big game hunting, including elephants, rhino etc.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens: The first skeletal remains of Homo sapiens sapiens were found in Europe and were named Cro-Magnon. In the Homo sapiens sapiens there is final reduction of the jaws, the appearance of modern man's chin and of the rounded skull.Mean cranial capacity was about 1350 c.c.Modern man is very closely related to Cro-magnon.Their culture which dates back to 35,000 years is also called upper Paleolithic culture. Hunting and gathering seem to have been the primary methods of food gathering. The first appearance of art was during this time. The drawings on cave walls were mainly of animal figures.
Development of Sociology
Sociology is the youngest of the recognized social sciences.Auguste Comte in France coined the word 'sociology' in his Positive Philosophy published in 1838.He believed that a science of sociology should be based on systematic observation and classification not on authority and speculation. This was a relatively new idea at that time. Herbert Spencer in England published his Principles of Sociology in 1876. He applied the theory of organic evolution to human society and developed a grand theory of social evolution.
Lester F Ward an American published his Dynamic Sociology in 1883 calling for social progress through intelligent social action which sociologists should guide. All these founders of sociology were basically social philosophers. They proclaimed that sociologists should collect, organize and classify factual data and derive sound social theories from these facts. While they called for scientific investigation they did relatively little of it themselves.
Emile Durkheim gave the most notable early demonstration of scientific methodology in sociology. In his Rules of sociological Method published in 1895,he outlined the methodology which he pursued in his study 'Suicide' published in 1897.Instead of speculating upon the causes of suicide ,he first planned his research design and then collected a large mass of data on the characteristics of people who commit suicide and then derived a theory of suicide from these data.
Courses in sociology appeared in many universities in the 1890s.The American Journal of Sociology began publication in 1895 and the American Sociological Society was organized in 1905.Whereas most of the early European sociologists came from the fields of history, political economy or philosophy many of the early American sociologists had been social workers, ministers and nearly all were from rural backgrounds.
Urbanization and industrialization were creating grave social problems and these early sociologists were looking for scientific solutions. They saw sociology as a scientific guide to social progress. The early volumes of the American Journal of Sociology contained relatively few articles devoted to scientific description or research but carried many sermons filled with advice etc.
By 1930s the several sociological journals were well filled with research articles and scientific descriptions. Sociology was becoming a body of scientific knowledge with its theories based upon scientific observation rather than upon impressionistic observation.
Importance of Sociology
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
to be Continue ......
-Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
Chapter 1: Continue
Scope of Sociology
There are two schools of thought with different viewpoints regarding scope and subject matter of sociology- formal school and synthetic school. According to formal school sociology was conceived to be a social science with a specifically defined field. This school had George Simmel, Ferdinand Tonnies, Alfred Vierkandt and Leopord Von Wiese as its main advocates. On the other hand the synthetic school with Durkheim, Hobhouse and Sorokin advocated a synthesis in form of coordination among all social sciences.
Formal School of Sociology
Formal school argued in favor of giving sociology a definite subject matter to make it a distinct discipline. It emphasized upon the study of forms of social relationships and regarded sociology as independent. According to Simmel sociology is a specific social science which describes, classifies, analyses and delineates the forms of social relationships or in other words social interactions should be classified into various forms or types and analysed.Simmel argued that social interactions have various forms. He carried out studies of such formal relationships as cooperation, competition, sub and super ordinate relationships and so forth. He said however diverse the interests are that give rise to these sociations; the forms in which the interests are realized may yet be identical. He emphasized on the process of abstraction of these forms from human relationship which are common to diverse situations.Vierkandt maintained that sociology should be concerned with ultimate forms of mental or psychic relationship which knit the people together in a society. According to Von Wiese there are two kinds of fundamental social processes in human society. Firstly the associative process concerning contact, approach, adaptation etc and secondly disassociate processes like competition and conflict. Apart from these two processes a mixed form of the associative and disassociative also exists. Each of these processes has sub-classes which in totality give approximately 650 forms of human relationships. Sociology should confine itself to the discovery of the fundamental force of change and persistence and should abstain from a historical study of concrete societies. Tonnies divided societies into two categories namely Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (association) on the basis of degree of intimacy among the members of the society. He has on the basis of forms of relationship tried to differentiate between community and society.Max Weber also makes out a definite field for sociology. According to him the aim of sociology is to interpret or understand social behaviour.But social behavior does not cover the whole field of human relations. Indeed not all human interactions are social. Sociology is concerned with the analysis and classification of types of social relationships.
Criticism of formal School
Formal school has been criticized on the issue that it has emphasized on merely abstract forms and neglected the concrete contents of social life. Abstract forms separated from concrete relations cannot be studied. Ginsberg says that a study of social relationships would remain barren if it is conducted in the abstract without the full knowledge of the terms to which in concrete life they relate. Sociology doesn't alone study the forms of social relationship. Political science, International law also studies forms of social relationship. The conception of pure sociology is not practical as no social science can be studied in isolation from other social sciences.
Synthetic School of Sociology
Synthetic school wanted sociology to be synthesis of the social sciences and thus wanted to widen the scope of sociology. According to Durkheim, sociology has three principal divisions' namely-Social morphology, social physiology and general sociology. Social morphology is concerned with geographical or territorial basis of life of people such as population, its size, density and distribution etc.This can be done at two levels -analysis of size and quality of population which affects the quality of social relationship and social groups. Secondly the study of social structure or description of the main forms of social groups and institutions with their classification. Social physiology deals with the genesis and nature of various social institutions namely religion, morals, law and economic institutions etc.In general sociology the main aim is to formulate general social laws. Attempt is made to find out if there are links among various institutions which would be treated independently in social physiology and in the course to discover general social laws.Hobhouse perceived sociology as a science which has the whole social life of man as its sphere. Its relations with the other social sciences are considered to be one of mutual exchange and mutual stimulation. Karl Mannheim's divides sociology into two main sections-systematic and general sociology and historical sociology. Systematic sociology describes one by one the main factors of living together as far as they may be found in every kind of society. The historical sociology deals with the historical variety and actuality of the general forms of society. It falls into two sections-comparative sociology and social dynamics. Comparative sociology deals mainly with the historical variations of the same phenomenon and tries to find by comparison general features as separated from industrial features. Social dynamics deals with the interrelations between the various social factors and institutions in a certain given society for example in a primitive society. Ginsberg has summed up the chief functions of sociology as it seeks to provide a classification of types and forms of social relationships especially of those which have come to be defined institutions and associations. It tries to determine the relation between different parts of factors of social life for example the economic and political, the moral and the legal, the intellectual and the social elements. It endeavors to disentangle the fundamental conditions of social change and persistence and to discover sociological principles governing social life.
Thus on the basis of viewpoints of different sociologists we can get a general outline of the scope of sociology. Firstly the analysis of various institutions, associations and social groups which are results of social relationships of individuals should be the concern of sociology. Secondly the links among different parts of society should be studied. This objective is dealt with justice by functionalist school of sociology and Marxist school also gives importance to this viewpoint. Thus social structure should be given adequate importance in subject matter of sociology. Thirdly sociology addresses itself to the factors which contribute to social stability and social change. Fourthly sociology should also explain the trend of the changing pattern and the aftermath of the changes in the society.
Sociology and Social Anthropology
Sociology and social anthropology had quite different origins. Sociology originated from philosophy of history, political thought and positive sciences while anthropology has descended from biology. In the earlier periods of their periods of their growth the two disciplines grew up in close cooperation with each other in terms of the concepts used, areas of interest and their methods of study as can be seen in the works of founders which cannot easily be assigned exclusively to either one of the disciplines. The early convergence was followed by a period of extreme divergence in terms of their universe of study, areas of interest, methods of study and even the concepts employed. Social anthropologists tend to closely study small societies which are relatively unchanging and lacking in historical records such as Melanesia; on the other hand, sociologists often study parts of an existing society like family or social mobility. The methods employed by sociologists are loaded with values, and hence their conclusions are tinged with ethical considerations; on the other hand, social anthropologists describe and analyze in clinically neutral terms because they can place themselves as outsiders without being involved in values. For the social anthropologists the field is a small self-contained group of community; whereas, for the sociologists the field could be large-scale and impersonal organizations and processes.
Social anthropologists generally live in the community that they study in order to observe and record what they see. Their analysis is essentially qualitative and clinical. On the other hand, sociologists often rely on statistics and questionnaires and their analysis is often formal and quantitative. In spite of the obvious differences between the two in the 19th century, as stated above, there has been a good deal of convergence in modern times. The small units of study which the social anthropologists require are fast disappearing because of the influence of Western ideologies and technology. Placed in such a situation, both the social anthropologists and sociologists are concerned with the process of economic growth and social changes. Both the disciplines are equally useful in studying the African and Asian societies which are changing under the impact of the West. It is no longer the prerogative of sociologists to study advanced societies.
There is an increasing number of anthropological studies in advanced societies, like the studies of little community, kinship groups, etc. Some basic concepts such as structure, function, status, role, conflict, change and evaluation are used by both sociologists and social anthropologists. These feature differences indicate the interdependence of sociology and social anthropology in understanding social behavior. The works of Talcott Parsons and R.K Merton are attempts towards an adaptation of functionalist approach to study industrial societies and William White has adopted participant observation for the study of modern industrial society. Thus the disciplines are increasingly merging into each other.
Sociology and Political Science
The two distinct disciplines of social science sociology and political sciences do converge often as the subject matter is men and the convergence is on the increase. A beginning was made with the works of Marx. According to him 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 detail 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 behavioral approach to political phenomena. This was initiated by the University of Chicago. In the 30s attempts were made by various scholars to create a scientific discipline of behavioral politics.
In another area there is c lose relationship between the two. Both functionalism and social system have been adopted into politics. There is a renewal of interest in Marxist sociological ideas. It is interesting to note that there is a renewal of Marxist sociological ideas because of revolutions in developing countries, as studied by political scientists, sociologists and even anthropologists. 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 Michaels, 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 from 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 of acceptance.
Sociology and History
Both sociology and modern historiography had their origin in 19th century. The latter established the concept of historical periods and thus bequeathed to historiography theoretical ideas and concerns which were entirely absent from the work of earlier narrative historians and chroniclers. It bequeathed to modern sociology the notion of historical types of society and thus enabled the socialists to build classification of societies. The interaction between two disciplines can be found in their subject matter. Subject matter of sociology and history overlap to a considerable extent. The historian frequently provides the material which sociologist uses.Infact historical sociology depends upon the data which only a historian can supply. Even comparative method often requires historical data. But the dependence is two fold. Sociological research also provides the information which the historian's need.Infact the subject matter of social history overlaps to a very great extent with sociology in general and historical sociology in particular. There is evidence of cooperation by sociologists and social historians. Historian's account of social structure of 19th century towns and of the characteristics of the medieval peasantry or the 18th century nobility and sociologist's study of social history of a variety of professions. There is a point of difference between the two. Radcliffe- Brown provided a clear-cut though simplistic answer. According to him 'Sociology is nomothetic, while history is idiographic'. The historian describes unique events, while the sociologist derives generalizations.
Indeed, there are generalizations in history too, but a sociologist analyses sociological data with the help of generalizations. In other words, the historian examines particular sequences of events; whereas a sociologist tests a generalization by examining the sequence of events. To word this particular difference between history and sociology in a very simple language: the historian is concerned with the inter-play between personality and social forces; whereas, the sociologist is largely concerned with the social forces themselves. History is primarily concerned with the past and essentially tries to account for the 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 Spirit of Capitalism and Pitrin 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 that the two shall continue to borrow from each other extensively.
Sociology and Economics
The battle as to which should be given precedence, sociology or economics, is present in these two disciplines also. However attempts have been made to link the two disciplines .One extreme position has been adopted by Marxists. According to them 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. Thus various sociologists have tried to show that economics cannot be an entirely autonomous science.
A. Lowie considers that two sociological principles underlie the classical laws of the market: the economic man and the competition or mobility of the factors of production. A contemporary of Durkheim argues that since the first principles of economics are hypothesis they can be tested only by a sociological enquiry. In recent times Parsons and Smelser attempted to show that economic theory is a part of the general sociological theory. In actual practice there are a number of sociological studies which are concerned with problems of economic theory. Of late, the interaction between two disciplines has been on the increase. Barbara Cotton analyses the classical economic theory of Wages and presents a sociological analysis of the determinations of wages and salary differences based on British data. Sociologists have explored the aspects of economic behavior neglected or treated in a hurried manner by economists such as Marx, Max Weber and Hobson.
In recent times there are many studies in the same field like those of Schimpeter, Strachey, Galbraith, Gunnar Myrdal and Raymond Aron.Apart from this contribution; sociologists have also studied particular aspects of economic organization like the property system, the division of labor and the industrial organization. A branch of sociology called economic sociology deals with the social aspects of economic life. Economics would lay emphasis on relations of purely economic variables- relations of price and supply, money flows, input-output, etc. Whereas sociology would study the productive enterprises as a social organization the supply of labor as affected by values and preferences, influences of education on economic behavior; role of caste system in economic development and so on. Thus sociology and economics meet in a number of areas of knowledge. The factors that contributed for this convergence are two. Economists are no longer interested only in market mechanism but also in economic growth, national product and national income and also development in underdeveloped regions. In all these areas the economist has either to necessarily collaborate with the sociologist or he himself has to become a sociologist.
Sociology and Psychology
Sociology studies the social systems while psychology studies mental systems. The nature of relationship between sociology and psychology still remains controversial and the study of social psychology in relation to both is still unsettled. There are two extreme views: 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 deductible 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.
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 Nadel 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 Weber 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 Weber was not opposed to the development of a scientific psychology in broad sense and Weber was even sympathetic to some of the Freud's ideas. Similarly the interdependence of sociology and psychology for the study of human behavior is given still greater prominence.
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. In the studies of stratification and political behavior the two disciplines have remained divergent. 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. One of the most valuable works is of Gerth and Mills. According to them the study of social psychology is an interplay between individual character and social structure and it can be approached either from the side of sociology or from the side of 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 in spite 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.
-Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
Chapter 1: Continue
Sociology and Philosophy
Sociology means the study of society on a generalized or abstract level. In an empirical science the generalizations concerning a specified field of inquiry are drawn from facts observed in that field or in closely related fields these generalizations are drawn. Without assuming any knowledge on a level of higher abstraction concerning reality as a whole. All propositions that constitute an empirical science from a self-sufficient system. No propositions are allowed to play a role in the system if it contains knowledge which is not empirical. In other words it is not formulated under the limitations just stated.
On the contrary philosophy is primarily an attempt to understand reality in its totality. From a multitude of observed facts the philosopher proceeds to certain ultimate principles which have taken together attempt to explain reality as a whole. Thus whereas the sociologist explains society in terms of acts observed in society and eventually in related fields of empirical knowledge, the social philosopher explains society in terms of the explanation he gives to total reality. The latter can speak of the first causes, supreme values and ultimate ends the sociologist is not entitled to do so. 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 be in with to provide a social doctrine that would guide social policy. This aim has now been abandoned. There exist some links between sociology and philosophy. 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. There is a close relationship between sociology and moral and 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. 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 epistemology. Both of them thought that sociology can make a direct contribution to philosophy.
While sociology leads 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.
Sociology as a science
Science is a systemized body of knowledge. An essential feature of scientific knowledge is that it is base upon sensory observation of empirical data. The information acquired through sensory observation has to be made meaningful. Thus1 science tries to arrive at law like explanatory generalizations. For the purpose of acquiring empirical data and for processing them into law like statements science relies on method.
The basic elements of scientific method are:
Perspective of Sociology
It provides a broad view regarding the nature of reality out of which the subject matter is to be delineated.
Sociology:A Well Defined Subject Matter
It constitutes the domain of the science in which investigations have to be carried out.
Methodology of Sociology
It consists of a series of procedural steps for collection and analysis of data. The knowledge acquired with the help of the scientific method constitutes the scientific knowledge. An essential characteristic of scientific knowledge is that it is tentative in nature always subjected to empirical verification. The final test of the validity of scientific knowledge lies in its verifiability. The earliest sciences to grow were physical and natural sciences. Due to their success in exploring the physical and natural world and being able to arrive at near universal laws they came to be viewed as models for other sciences to emulate. These sciences followed methodology of observation which involved experimentation being the means for systematic and controlled observation. Comparison and classification by using the comparative method the observed data is systematically classified into different categories.
Generalizations when the data is analyzed to discover the patterns of interconnections which are presented in the form of law like one phenomenon in the preceding phenomena.
Sociology being a new subject on the horizon was also influenced and developed under the shadow of these positive sciences. The early sociologists, being under the spell of the reigning sciences of the day, took for granted that sociology was a science. According to Comte, society is created by natural laws that could be explained, just like the natural sciences. Besides, since society is an objective reality, it can be studied by applying the scientific methods, of observation, experimentation and comparison. Another 19th century sociologist, Herbert Spencer, treated sociology from the evolutionary viewpoint, that is, he was heavily indebted to the evolutionary theory of biology, a natural science. Emile Durkheim who clearly defined the field of sociology adopted a new approach. Society cannot be examined as individual entities, but as collectivities and their interactions, Social collectivity is a social fact and social facts must be regarded as things and they should be studied objectively just as in natural sciences. Moreover, Durkheim's study of society is based on statistical data, and from them he arrived at some sociological generalizations. Impressed by Durkheim, Radcliffe-Brown, a 20th century anthropologist freely advocated a natural science of society, having its own laws and explanations. It is also to be observed here that all the above thinkers adopted the evolutionary and organic analyses and concepts derived from biology.
There are some of the limitations: which come in the way of sociology being a positive science. Problem of experimentation: Experimentation is crucial in scientific observation to establish precise relationships between different variables. It is practically impossible to control human behaviour in a laboratory like situation.
Problem Of Quantification With Sociology
Although some aspects of sociological phenomena can be quantified using statistical methods. But a large part of its essentially qualitative in nature and hence are not amendable to quantitative techniques.
Problem Of Generalization With Sociology
Sociologists have not being successful in arriving at law-like generalizations through their studies. Human behavior does not follow recurrent patterns like physical objects. At best sociologists can establish statistical correlations. Problem of objectivity: Objectivity refers to a frame of mind whereby the personal prejudices and predilections of the scientists do not affect the collection and analysis of data. However it has been found that objectivity is nearly impossible in sociological research. A sociologist can only minimize subjectivity.
However certain sociologists like Max Weber have questioned the very idea that sociology can ever be a positive science. He has contended that there cannot be an objective science of society since social action must be understood in terms of the meaning man gives to it. In other words, value judgments are inevitable in sociology and we can never have completely objective science of sociology. In the same manner the 19th century sociologist of Germany, George Simmel, has argued that a society is essentially a psychic interaction between human beings both as individuals and groups. Logically, sociologists should deal with the processes of happenings, but not with substances just like natural sciences.
The present view of sociologists stands like this: The basic unit in the subject matter of sociology is human being and his behavior is volatile unlike the basic units of positive sciences which conform to the law of uniformity. Such being the basic unit of sociology, experimentation under controlled conditions is impossible to arrive at like establishing precise laws just as in physics and chemistry, or even to the same extent as in natural sciences like biology, geology and metrology. Secondly, sociology is as much rational as the other sciences are. The element of irrationality is to be found in other sciences too. Thirdly, to say that other sciences deal with hard facts ruling out the role of preconceptions and biases is also a wrong view. This contention is based on the premise that a fact like electricity is objective, but a family bond is subjective. This is a narrow approach, for, every idea of man is subjective as it emanates from a person and belongs to him. As a matter of fact when a geologist approaches his subject matter, he relies on his experience, argument and knowledge to get the best results. The human part of the geologist is definitely a subjective phenomenon. Fourthly, sociologists need not be apologetic about value judgments. No value judgment is absolutely personal. Say, the statement that alcoholism is a curse is a scientific judgment because it is based on hard facts collected by sociologists. It is confirmed by further surveys. Such value judgments, therefore, are equivalent to the hypothesis in other sciences. Fifthly, it is generally argued that sociology cannot attain a true scientific status as it studies only the unique happenings of society. This is an unfair argument since the so -called superior sciences, too, are concerned with the unique happenings like the Ice Age in geology, the birth of the universe in astro-physics, and the theory of evolution in biology. Sixthly, it is argued that sociology cannot ever master an understanding of billions of social acts occurring every day. But the very fact, that the world is not a bedlam or a total chaos, is a sufficient proof that sociology has the opportunity to play the role of science. Sociologists do study and find out reasonable approximations of order that are present in the billions of social acts that occur every day. Indeed, society has ceased to be simple; it has become bafflingly complex. If today's staggering complexity of social phenomena is difficult to be understood and formulated by sociologists, the answer in the future probably may lie in the modern tools of mathematics. Sociologists can take the assistance of computer. Seventhly, the argument that unlike other sciences, sociology lacks in the law of causality, is again a fallacious contention. Sociology can establish relationships between population and war, between criminality and nebulization, etc. This does not mean that causal relationships established by sociologists are guesses because they cannot be as precise as the other scientific equations. The causal relations as established by sociologists must be understood as partial statements that are subject to continuous revisions and modifications as and when more knowledge is gained.
The limitations that are encountered in the study of social phenomena are inherent in the very subject matter of sociology and do not represent epistemological failure. It is a science since it fulfill the basic requirements of the science i.e it has perspective, a consensus with regard to subject matter and a set of methods to explore the subject matter it may not be called a positive science but it is definitively a social science.
Sociology As Interpretative Discipline
The positivistic approach to sociology tends to assume that society can shape the behavior of its members almost completely through socialization. However there is a section of sociologist who regards the above view as an over-socialized conception of man. They do not accept the belief that an individual is simply the society writ small. According to them each individual's personality carries an imprint to his unique experience along with the socially transmitted world view. Also they draw attention to the mercurial nature of man and they see in the positivistic approach an attempt to reduce man to a passive being. But these sociologists have not altogether rejected the positivist approach rather they find it inadequate and seek to supplement it with new approaches which look for new data and adopt new methods. These sociologists see their discipline as somewhat akin to literature than to natural sciences in the sense that they seek to reflect the pattern of meaning in a set of observation they have made. However there is no total consensus among these critics of positivist approach. One aspect they share in common is that they all emphasize on the importance of underlying meanings in order to understand social behavior otherwise these critics differ significantly among themselves.
One extreme there exists anti-positivist approach like that of ethnomethodologists and on the other hand there are moderate critics of positivism like Max Weber whose approach tries to build a bridge between positivist approach and extreme form of interactionism.According to Weber social reality is characterized by the presence of geist or consciousness. Due to the presence of consciousness people ascribe meanings to the situation around them which include other people too. These meanings influence the subsequent behaviour.Consequently any attempt to understand social reality must take into account these meanings and motives. These meanings ascribed by the people are partly determined by cultural norms and partly shaped by the personal experiences of the individual actors. Thus an attempt to understand social behavior should not stop simply at observation from without instead it should involve interpretation of the underlying meanings and motives. This requires the use of new method through which an empathetic liaison can be established between the observer and the actor. Empathetic liaison means that the observer tries to place himself imaginatively in the actor's position. The sociologist should try to figure out meanings and motives given by the actor. In terms of these meanings and motives he then tries to rationally explain the actor's behavior. This is the essence of Verstehen Approach advocated by Max Weber.
Other interpretative sociologists those identified as Symbolic Interactionist are content to operate with a relatively simple set of assumption about how we come to know about social phenomena. They accept the meaning that the actors attribute to social phenomena at the face value and proceed to erect their systematic interpretations on these foundations. The term symbolic interactionist used because it is through symbols that meanings, motives and attributes are conveyed. Thus an understanding of symbols can help in understanding the meanings conveyed by actors involved in the interacting situation. For example a cross x may symbolize a barbarian method of execution or a religious movement. V-sign signifies victory where Winston Churchill elevated the gesture to a symbol of national aspiration. The assumptions underlying symbolic interactionism are
1. The individual and society are regarded, as inseparable for the individual can become a human being only in a social context.
2. Human beings are viewed as acting on the basis of meaning that they give to the objects and events rather than simply reacting either to external stimuli such as social forces or internal stimuli such as drives.
3. Meanings arise from the process of interaction rather than being simply present at the outset. To some degree meanings are created, modified, developed and changed within interactive situation rather than being fixed and preformed.
4. Meanings are the result of interpretative procedures employed by actors within interactions context by taking the role of others; actors interpret the meanings and intentions of others. By means of mechanism of self-interaction, individuals modify or change definitions of their situation rehearse alternative course of interactions and consider their possible consequences. These meanings that guide actions arise in the context of interaction via a series of complex interpretative procedures.
5.The methodology of symbolic interactionism as advocated by Herbert Blumer demands that the sociologist must immerse himself in the area of life that he seek to investigate. Rather than attempting to fill data into predefined categories, he must attempt to grasp the actor's view of social reality. Since action is directed by actor meanings the sociologist must catch the process of interpretation through which the actors construct their action. This means, he must take the role of the acting unit whose behavior he studies.
Another approach belonging to social anthropology that can also be categorized as an interpretive approach starts with a description of commonly accepted meanings that people attribute to social phenomena. Mere description of such meanings would simply amount to an ethnographic study of the people - an account of their culture. These sociologists are interested in understanding social phenomena in general terms. Accordingly they must move beyond to find meaning of the phenomena and try to discover patterns and regularities in these meanings that they can represent as cultural themes. Further patterns and regularities running through themes may in turn be represented as configuration of themes which taken together may be held to characterize the essential characteristics of a culture. In this way the social anthropologist Ruth Benedict characterizes the cultures of some American Indian People as Dionysian that is given to extreme and frenzied state of being and other as apollonian always seeking moderation in behavior and cultural expressions. She achieved this by tracing these features through wide range of their manifestation in the cultures of the people she examined. These interpretations of meanings at different levels of abstractions are all informed and guided by the ultimate motive establishing concepts that provide sociologist with a general way of understanding human activities and beliefs. There is yet another set of sociologists -those identified as Ethnomethodologists- who try to analyze the commonsense nature of social interactions.
The accumulated commonsense of generation results in pattern of behavioral topicalities. Social order is dependent upon people behaving in a commonsense way. Thus, social interaction must be interpreted in terms of these commonsense meanings, however for ethnomethodologist the basic problem of Sociology goes back even further than this. They begin with the assumption that society exists only in so far as members perceive its existence. So member's view of social reality must be understood. But sociologists must also be concerned with processes by which people come to establish meanings in social phenomena. They say that the aim of sociology should not be simply to identify and record the meanings that people have ascribed to situation but to understand the ways in which they generate those meanings in the first place. The idea that it is important to understand how the world looks to those who live in it is approved of by these sociologists, but they argue that the final emphasis should be on the ways in which the members of society come to see their world in the ways they do. Harold Garfinkel and Circourel are some of the important Ethnomethodologists.Since most meanings are transmitted through symbols, sociologists who want to study the interpreted procedures which members of the society use to attribute meaning typically focus their attention upon speech exchanges in which the participants are involve in making sense of each other talk. The emphasis is upon the study of ways in which people in actual situation of interaction come to see what the other person is meaning. Circourel's study of Juvenile Delinquency is an example where he traces the way in which young people come to be categorized as juvenile delinquents by the police, probationary officers and courts so on.
The account of information which interpretative sociologists require to substantiate their analysis is quite different from the information needed by positivistic sociologists. Therefore new sources of information are made use of however quite often even those methods of data collection which are used by positivist sociologist are also made use of by interpretative sociologist. For example Weber relied on official statistical records and historical documents in his study of 'The Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Capitalism' direct observation is also frequently used accompanied by extensive verbatim recording of conversational exchange among the actors involved. Sometimes laboratory techniques have also been used as in the well-known experiment by Garfinkel when students were asked to take part in an experiment with Psycho-therapeutic procedures. The other methods of data collection used by interpretative sociologists include the case-studies, use of life histories, personal diaries and correspondence and other biographical records to provide insights into the subjective dimension of the social behavior.
Impact Of Revolutions On Sociology
The beginning of tradition of social sciences has been one of the major developments of the 19th century. It is often said that social sciences are mostly understood as responses to the problem of order that was created in men's minds by the weakening of the old order under the blows of French Revolution and Industrial Revolution. The European society was hard hit by these revolutions. The old order that rested on kinship, land, social class, religion, local community and monarchy became very shaky. Thinkers were more concerned about finding ways and means of reconsolidating these elements of social order. Hence the history of 19th century politics, industry and trade is basically about the practical efforts of human beings to reconsolidate these elements. The history of 19th century meant new contents and meaning to the doctrine of sociology. A new wave of intellectual and philosophical thoughts was let loose in Europe. Intellectual currents in the form of socio-political ideologies were also witnessed. The ideologies of individualism, socialism, utilitarianism, and utopianism took birth. Thinkers and intellectuals floated new ideologies and spread novel ideas.
Impact Of Revolutions On Sociology
The beginning of tradition of social sciences has been one of the major developments of the 19th century. It is often said that social sciences are mostly understood as responses to the problem of order that was created in men's minds by the weakening of the old order under the blows of French Revolution and Industrial Revolution. The European society was hard hit by these revolutions. The old order that rested on kinship, land, social class, religion, local community and monarchy became very shaky. Thinkers were more concerned about finding ways and means of reconsolidating these elements of social order. Hence the history of 19th century politics, industry and trade is basically about the practical efforts of human beings to reconsolidate these elements. The history of 19th century meant new contents and meaning to the doctrine of sociology. A new wave of intellectual and philosophical thoughts was let loose in Europe.
Intellectual currents in the form of socio-political ideologies were also witnessed. The ideologies of individualism, socialism, utilitarianism, and utopianism took birth. Thinkers and intellectuals floated new ideologies and spread novel ideas.
Fields of Sociology
A sociologist is one who has earned advanced degrees or pursued other advanced studies in sociology and is engaged in teaching, research or other professional work in the field of sociology. The careless use of the term sociologist is very common.Magzine and newspaper writers, social workers, labor leaders, government officials, social critics etc may be described incorrectly as sociologist. Sociology concentrates its study upon the group life of human beings and the product of their group living. The sociologist is especially interested in customs, traditions and values which emerge from group living and in the way group living is in turn affected by these customs, traditions and values. Sociology is interested in the way groups interact with one another and in the processes and institutions which they develop.
Sociology is subdivided into many specialized fields of which some of are:
* Applied sociology
* Collective behaviour
* Comparative sociology
* Crime and delinquency
* Cultural sociology
* Deviant behaviour
* Formal and complex organizations
* Human ecology
* Industrial sociology
* Law and society
* Marriage and Family
* Medical sociology
* Military sociology
* Political sociology
* Sociology of Religion
* Urban sociology
* Social psychology
* Social control
* Rural sociology
* Sociological theory
* Sociology of Education
Sociology is only one of the social sciences and other disciplines share its interest in many topics. Its interest in communication and public opinion is shared by psychology and political science, criminology is shared with psychology, political science and law and police science. Sociology is especially close to psychology and anthropology and overlaps them constantly.
Career in Sociology
A student who becomes interested in a subject may wonder what possibilities it holds for a career. A combination of courses which constitutes an undergraduate minor or major in sociology is not in itself preparation for a professional career as a sociologist. Undergraduate majors and minors are useful mainly as background preparation for other careers. In social work the better jobs demand a graduate degree in social work and a strong post graduate degree in social work/sociology is usually recommended. In the professions like in medicine and law there is some scope for sociology as they give better perspective to the students. Secondary schools/colleges present some demand for sociology teachers.
Civil Service positions often include sociology as one of the subjects for sitting in the examination. Sociologists are employed in small numbers by industry, trade, associations, labour unions, foundations and in fairly large numbers by research organizations in wide variety of positions very often in the administration and conduct of research. Newly emergent careers in many sorts of action programs have developed in recent years like training programs, foreign aid programs and in Humanitarian Organizations like UN.
The Roles of the Sociologist
Like all scientists sociologists are concerned with both collecting and using knowledge. As a scientist the sociologist's foremost task is to discover and organize knowledge about social life. A number of full time research sociologists are employed by universities, government agencies, foundations or corporations and many sociologists divide their time between teaching and research. Another task of the sociologist as a scientist is to clear away the misinformation and superstition which clutters so much of our social thinking.
Sociologists have helped to clear doubts about hereditary, race, class, sex differences, deviation and nearly every other aspect of behaviour. By helping replace superstition and misinformation with accurate knowledge about human behaviour sociologists are performing their most important role. Sociologists make sociological predictions. Every policy decision is based upon certain assumptions about the present and future state of the society. Most social science prediction consists not of predicting specific developments as the astronomer predicts an eclipse but of forecasting the general pattern of trends and changes which seem most probable. All such predictions or forecasts should be offered with certain humility for no certainty attends them. Instead social scientists offer them as the best most informed guesses available upon which to base our policy decisions and expectations for the future. Sociological prediction can also help to estimate the probable effects of a social policy. Every social policy decision is a prediction. A policy is begun in the hope that it will produce a desired effect. Policies have often failed because they embodied unsound assumptions and predictions.
Sociologists can help to predict the effects of a policy and thus contribute to the selection of policies which achieve the intended purposes. For example what effect does dropping out of high school have upon a youth's future earnings? One of the greatest services any scholarly group can offer is to show the society what policies are most likely to work in achieving its objectives. Some sociologists are engaged in planning and conducting community action programmes advising on public relations, employee relations, working on human relations problems etc.Often these sociologists have specialized in social psychology, industrial sociology, urban or rural sociology or the sociology of complex organizations.
The term clinical sociologist has appeared to describe the work of the sociologist as technician. To some extent this is a new name for what sociologists have been doing for a long time but it also includes a considerable broadening of the range of sociologists' efforts to be useful in society. In such positions the sociologist is working as an applied scientist. He or she has been engaged to use scientific knowledge in pursuing certain values - a harmonious and efficient working force an attractive public image of the industry or an effective community action programme.
Teaching is the major career of many sociologists. In addition to the concerns and problems of teaching in any field, the problem of value neutrality versus value commitment is a particularly acute question. The ethics of university teaching have demanded that the teacher refrain from all conscious indoctrination but it is debatable. Scientists seek to discover knowledge but should they tell the society how this knowledge should be used? The basic question is whether science specifically sociology should be value-free. For example sociologists know some things about population growth, race relations, urban development and many other matters involving questions of public policy. Early sociologists gave support to all sorts of public policies they believed in. Between 1920 and 1940 many sociologists shifted to the view that sociology should be a more nearly pure science discovering knowledge but not attempting to decree how it should be used. They sought to build sociology on the model of physics as a value-free science. As such it should be committed to no values except those of free scientific inquiry.
Sociologists generally avoided involvement in controversial issues and sought the status of pure social scientists. This view has been challenged in both physical and social science. Many sociologists today believe that sociologists should claim a major role in making decisions about public policy and should involve themselves in the major issues of our society. They feel that not only do sociologists have a duty to say what society might do about problems of race conflict, population growth, birth control, drug addiction, divorce etc but the sociologists should say what society should do about such problems.
Sociologists have agreed upon some of the propositions: Sociologists should show the relationships between values. If we wish to clean up polluted rivers we must be prepared to spend a lot of tax money in doing so. Sociologists may clarify what value sacrifices must be made if we wish to attain certain other values. A sociologist as an individual may properly make value judgements, support causes and join reform movements like any other citizen. As a scientist the sociologist may not know whether television violence is harmful to children and therefore might not make public recommendations but as a parent will make a decision according to the personal beliefs and values. Beyond this there is no complete agreement among sociologists concerning what role they should assume. Most sociologists have some firm opinions on what policies society should follow and are in considerable agreement with one another upon many of these policies.
-Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
Chapter 1: Continue
The use of concepts in sociology
Every field of study makes the student memorize many words to which the field attaches special meanings. It is done because precise concepts are necessary. First we need carefully expressed concepts to carry on a scientific discussion. The sociological concepts are necessary for a clear discussion of social phenomena. The formulation of concepts leads to increased knowledge. Some accurate descriptive knowledge must be organized before a concept is framed. Then the analysis and criticism of this new concept point up the gaps and errors in present knowledge. Use of the concept often calls attention to the facts and relationships which may have been overlooked. While studying migration Park framed the concept of the marginal man who is on the fringes of two groups or two ways of life while fully belonging to neither.
The use of this concept quickly led to the recognition that there were many kinds of marginal persons- the persons of mixed racial ancestry who belongs clearly to neither race, the supervisor who is clearly either management or labour the ambitious climber no longer in the lower class yet not securely a middle class person and many others. Concepts like marginality lead to increased knowledge. Concepts are useful as verbal shorthand. The term control group replaces an entire sentence. Every discipline develops concepts as time savers. Most of the concepts of sociology are expressed in words which also have a popular meaning. Every science appropriates some common words and makes them into scientific concepts by giving them a specific definition and sociology is no exception.
Pure and Applied Sociology
A distinction between pure and applied science is drawn in every scientific field. Pure science is a search for knowledge, without primary concern for its practical use. Applied science is the search for ways of using scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. A sociologist making a study of the social structure of a slum neighbourhood is working as a pure scientist if this is followed by a study of how to prevent delinquency in a slum neighbourhood this is applied science.
Practical applications of sociological knowledge have become quite common. Sociologists are employed by corporations, government bureaus and social agencies often in evaluation research but sometimes in administration. Sociologists are often consulted by legislative committees in preparing new legislation. While the political clout of opposing interest groups may be the prime determinant of social policy decisions, the policy recommendations of social scientists are a significant factor in the legislative process.
A great deal of sociological material reaches print through people who are not sociologists. The popular magazines are full of articles on crime, family life, education and social class -practically every sociological topic. This is a popular sociology-treatment of sociological topics usually by writers without much formal sociological training and aimed at a popular audience. Popular sociology deals with the topics which are descriptively inaccurate with a total lack of the interpretative analysis which would fit the facts into a relevant social context.
At the opposite pole are many writers who do a good job of popularizing sociological findings. Pop Sociology often contains inaccuracies and instances of misplaced emphasis doubtful interpretation, oversimplification and too sweeping generalization. Yet it is likely that popular understanding of sociological topics has been increased by such writers. Sociologists write for the scholarly audience while journalists popularize sociology more or less accurately for the public.
The End of Chapter 1
-Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
Chapter 2: Automation and Society
Automation and Society
Automation and Societyt
Automation related with machines is the feature of modern industrial society which displaces rather than replaces human labour and skill to maintenance, planning, distribution and ancillary work. Nowdays computer has been added in the field of automation with all its qualities. With the aid of computers tool production task can be designed, constructed and redesigned quickly. Fast development has taken place in the design of industrial robots to perform large number of functions performed earlier by human beings. A lot of programmes have been developed in computers which make every kind of calculation easy. These programmes are the example of what is known as Artificial Intelligence –the programming of computers so that they behave in ways that we could call intelligence if they were people.
Automation will bring complexity in social life where social distance among the people would increase, isolation would become more intense and man would be likely lonely crowd. The roles of norms and values would decrease as interaction among the people would lessen creating problem in society. The facilities like INTERNET and satellite programmes have increased interaction among people sitting at distant places but at the same time helped in the increase of crime and pornography which are attacks on norms and values. More automation would bring complexity in human society which would bring changes in the cultural patterns and it will also widen gap between developed and developing societies.
Robert Blauner views that alienation is maximum with mass production industry based on mechanized assembly line technology. Alienation results in the growth of hostility between the workers and management and proliferation of trade unions.Blauner argue that automation of industries will eliminate such hostilities and all forms of alienation. Coercive control of the management will be gone and cooperation and consultation will take its place. Trade Unions will become loyal to the management. The workers will increasingly become white collar workers. Serge Mallet criticized Blauner’s views although he says that integration of workers in the factory will take place with the onslaught of automation. Mallet argues that this will not result in the integration of workers into the capitalist society. Since the workers in automated industry have greater control over the forces of production, they will tend to question the authority of the management which will result in the conflict of interest between them. This will strengthen trade union activities and make ways for a class struggle.
* Industrialization and Environment
* Important Terms
o Urban concentration
o Urban decentralization
o Urban Succession
o Urban ecological processes
o Gravity model
o Rank size rule
o Urban renewal
Industrialization and Environment
The most severe impact is left on environment by the process of industrialization. Environment has been defined as the aggregate of all the external conditions and influences affecting organism. Every animal or plant species is the product of a lengthy process of evolution that makes the organism uniquely adapted to the environment that supports it. The environmental costs of industrialization are mind boggling. The huge quantities of pollutants solids, liquids and gaseous which are being let out in the air, water, land are investing the relationships between man and the nature with new complexities. Some of the statistics pertaining to environmental scenario are quite revealing. At present nearly 70% of the available water is polluted. Over 73 million days are lost annually due to water related diseases. About half a hectare of land is consumed every second. Life support systems inbuilt in the eco-system are being strained almost to the point of new return.
The drive for economic development has resulted in ecological harm. Extraction of minerals can be destructive as streams and rivers were diverted so that miners can pan the riverbeds for minerals. Fish and other resources are destroyed and erosion increase gently. Energy production can create other kinds of damage as well. Oil spills destroy marine life. Power plants burning coal and gas produce pollution along with electricity. A number of hazards are posed by nuclear power. Nuclear power plants raise the temperature of nearby rivers. Concern about the dangers of nuclear energy has focused public attention on the general problem of radiation as they are harmful to human beings.
Radiation can also alter the structure of genes in the human bodies. Exhaustion of natural resources is another problem faced by the industrialized societies. We are using up natural resources at an uneven pace. US alone consume a third of the world’s energy more than 60% of the natural gas, more than 40% of the aluminium and coal,1/3 of the Petroleum,copper,quarter of gold,iron,lead,silver and zinc.
* Important Terms
o Urban concentration
o Urban decentralization
o Urban Succession
o Urban ecological processes
o Gravity model
o Rank size rule
o Urban renewal
Industrialization and Environment Important Terms
Urban concentration: Tendency of people and activities to cluster together
Urban decentralization: Flight of people and activities from the centre of the city.
Urban Succession: Completed replacement of one kind of people or activity by another.
Metropolis: An urban area including a city and its surrounding suburbs.
Urban ecological processes: It is process whereby spatial distribution of people and activities change.
Gravity model: The number of migrants or other persons attracted to a place is directly related to the population size of the destination and inversely related to the distance between the origin and destination
Region: The area that is remarkably different from other areas in terms of some specific criteria.
Rank size rule: The regularity in the population sizes of cities in a country or region such that the largest city is twice the size of second largest city, three times to the third largest city, four times to the fourth largest urban centre and so on. This rule was given by Zipf.
Urban renewal: The projects for the removal of deteriorated sections from the city to make it more attractive for business activities are called urban renewal. It includes removal of the poor, slum dwellers on racial and class lines. The new housing is out of the financial reach of the poor. Urban renewal therefore is often unfair irrespective of whatever the measures undertaken for the rehabilitation of the displaced people.
-Better an ounce of luck than a pound of gold.
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