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Old Wednesday, December 13, 2006
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Arrow Social Studies an overview

Social policy:

Social policy relates to guidelines for the changing, maintenance or creation of living conditions that are conducive to human welfare. Thus social policy is that part of public policy that has to do with social issues such as public access to social programs. Social policy aims to improve human welfare and to meet human needs for education, health, housing and social security. In an academic environment, social policy refers to the study of the welfare state and the range of responses to social need.
In United Statespolitics, social policies are those which regulate and govern human behavior in areas such as sexuality and general morality. Social policies are in contrast to other, more traditional forms of political policy, such as foreign policy and economic policy. Modern-day social policies may deal with the following issues:Social policy may be influenced by religion and the religious beliefs of politicians. Political conservatives as a whole generally favor a more traditionalist approach that favors individual initiative and private enterprise in social policy. Political liberals, on the other hand favor the guarantee of equal rights and entitlements to all people and tend to favor state regulation or insurance to support this.
In Europe and Canada, social policy usually refers to policies affecting the social conditions under which people live. Important areas of social policy in these countries are:In most European countries, those types of insurance are made mandatory by law. As a result, for example, the number of people without health insurance is very small, other than in the US. However, those policies are facing additional challenges in recent years, as the population is aging and the number of contributors dwindling, while there are more and more beneficiaries. Social policy is thus becoming an important challenge for politicians and policymakers.
Social policy often deals with issues which Rittle & Webber (1973) called wicked problems

13. Sociology:

Sociology is the study of society and human social action. It generally concerns itself with the social rules and processes that bind and separate people not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups, and institutions, and includes the examination of the organization and development of human social life. The sociological field of interest ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. Most sociologists work in one or more specialties or subfields (listed below).
The meaning of the word comes from the suffix "-ology" which means "study of," derived from Greek, and the stem "soci-" which is from the Latin word socius, meaning member, friend, or ally, thus referring to people in general. It is a social science involving the study of the sociallives of people, groups, and societies, sometimes defined as the study of social interactions. It is a relatively new academic discipline which evolved in the early 19th century.
Because sociology is such a broad discipline, it can be difficult to define, even for professional sociologists. One useful way to describe the discipline is as a cluster of sub-fields that examine different dimensions of society. For example, social stratification studies inequality and class structure; demography studies changes in a population size or type; criminology examines criminal behavior and deviance; political sociology studies government and laws; and the sociology of race and sociology of gender examine society's racial and gender cleavages.
New sociological sub-fields continue to appear - such as economic sociology and network analysis - many of which are cross-disciplanary in nature.
Since the late 1970s, many sociologists have tried to make the discipline useful for non-academic purposes. The results of sociological research aid educators, lawmakers, administrators, developers, and others interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy, through subdisciplinary areas such as survey research, evaluation research, methodological assessment, and public sociology.
Sociological methods, theories, and concepts compel the sociologist to explore the origins of commonly accepted rules governing human behavior. This specific approach to reality is known as the sociological perspective. Sociology is methodologically diverse using both qualitative and quantitative methods, including case studies, survey research, statistical analysis, and model building among others.
History of sociology

Auguste Comte
Sociology is a relatively new academic discipline among other social sciences including economics, political science, anthropology, history, and psychology. The ideas behind it, however, have a long history and can trace their origins to a mixture of common human knowledge and philosophy.
Sociology as a scientific discipline emerged in the early 19th century as an academic response to the challenge of modernity: as the world was becoming smaller and more integrated, people's experience of the world was increasingly atomized and dispersed. Sociologists hoped not only to understand what held social groups together, but also to develop an antidote to social disintegration.
The term was coined by Auguste Comte in 1838 from Latin Socius (companion, associate) and Greek lógos (speech). Comte hoped to unify all studies of humankind--including history, psychology and economics. His own sociological scheme was typical of the 19th century; he believed all human life had passed through the same distinct historical stages (theology, metaphysics, positive science) and that, if one could grasp this progress, one could prescribe the remedies for social ills. Sociology was to be the 'queen of sciences'.
Herbert Spencer
The first book with the term 'sociology' in its title was The Study of Sociology (1874) by the English philosopher Herbert Spencer. In the United States, Lester Frank Ward, described by some as the father of American sociology, published Dynamic Sociology in 1883 and the discipline was taught by its own name for the first time at the University of Kansas, Lawrence in 1890 under the course title Elements of Sociology (the oldest continuing sociology course in America). The Department of History and Sociology at the University of Kansas was established in 1891 [1],[2], and the first full fledged independent university department of sociology was established in 1892 at the University of Chicago by Albion W. Small, who in 1895 founded the American Journal of Sociology[3]. The first European department of sociology was founded in 1895 at the University of Bordeaux by Émile Durkheim, founder of L'Année Sociologique (1896). The first sociology department to be established in the United Kingdom was at the London School of Economics and Political Science (home of the British Journal of Sociology) [4] in 1904. In 1919 a sociology department was established in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich by Max Weber and in 1920 in Poland by Florian Znaniecki.
Karl Marx
International cooperation in sociology began in 1893 when René Worms founded the small Institut International de Sociologie that was eclipsed by the much larger International Sociological Association[5] starting in 1949 (ISA). In 1905 the American Sociological Association, the world's largest association of professional sociologists, was founded.
Other "classical" theorists of sociology from the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Karl Marx, Ferdinand Tönnies, Émile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, and Max Weber. Like Comte, these figures did not consider themselves only "sociologists". Their works addressed religion, education, economics, law, psychology, ethics, philosophy, and theology, and their theories have been applied in a variety of academic diciplines. Their most enduring influence, however, has been on sociology, (with the exception of Marx, who is a central figure in the field of economics as well) and it is in this field that their theories are still considered most applicable.
Lester Ward
One shift in the discipline away from scientific explanation had philosophical roots. Early theorists' approach to sociology, led by Comte, was to treat it in the same manner as natural science, applying the same methods and methodology used in the natural sciences to study social phenomena. The emphasis on empiricism and the scientific method sought to provide an incontestable foundation for any sociological claims or findings, and to distinguish sociology from less empirical fields like philosophy. This methodological approach, called positivism, became a source of contention between sociologists and other scientists, and eventually a point of divergence within the field itself. Thus, while most sciences evolved from deterministic, Newtonian models to probabilistic models which accept and even incorporate uncertainty, sociology began to cleave into those who believed in a deterministic approach (attributing variation to structure, interactions, or other forces) and those who rejected the very possibility of explanation and prediction.
Max Weber
A second push away from scientific explanation was cultural, even sociological, itself. As early as the 19th century, positivist and naturalist approaches to studying social life were questioned by scientists like Wilhelm Dilthey and Heinrich Rickert, who argued that the natural world differs from the social world due to unique aspects of human society such as meanings, symbols, rules, norms, and values. These elements of society both result in and generate human cultures. This view was further developed by Max Weber, who introduced antipositivism (humanistic sociology). According to this view, which is closely related to antinaturalism, sociological research must concentrate on humans' cultural values. This has led to some controversy on how one can draw the line between subjective and objective research and has also influenced hermeneutical studies. Similar disputes, especially in the era of the Internet, have led to variations in sociology such as public sociology, which emphasizes the usefulness of sociological expertise to abstracted audiences.
Social theory

Social theory refers to the use of abstract and often complex theoretical frameworks to explain and analyze social patterns and macrosocial structures in social life, rather than explaining patterns of social life. Social theory always had an uneasy relationship to the more classic academic disciplines; many of its key thinkers never held a university position. While social theory is sometimes considered a branch of sociology, it is inherently interdisciplinary, as it deals with multiple fields including anthropology, economics, theology, history, philosophy, and many others. First social theories developed almost simultaneously with the birth of the sociology science itself. Auguste Comte, known as 'father of sociology', also laid the groundwork for one of the first social theories - social evolutionism. In the 19th century three great, classical theories of social and historical change were created: the social evolutionism theory (of which social darwinism is a part of), the social cycle theory and the Marxisthistorical materialism theory. Although the majority of 19th century social theories are now considered obsolete they have spawned new, modern social theories. Modern social theories represent some advanced version of the classical theories, like Multilineal theories of evolution (neoevolutionism, sociobiology, theory of modernisation, theory of post-industrial society) or the general historical sociology and the theory of subjectivity and creation of the society.
Unlike disciplines within the natural sciences -- such as physics or chemistry -- social theorists may be less committed to use the scientific method to vindicate their theories. Instead, they tackle very large-scale social trends and structures using hypotheses that cannot be easily proved, except by historical and psychological interpretation, which is often the basis of criticism from opponents of social theories. Extremely critical theorists, such as deconstructionists or postmodernists, may argue that any systematic type of research or method is inherently flawed. Many times, however, "social theory" is defined without reference to science because the social reality it describes is so overarching as to be unprovable. The social theories of modernity or anarchy might be two examples of this.
However, social theories are a major part of the science of sociology. Objective science-based research can often provide support for explanations given by social theorists. Statistical research grounded in the scientific method, for instance, that finds a severe income disparity between women and men performing the same occupation can complement the underlying premise of the complex social theories of feminism or patriarchy. In general, and particularly among adherents to pure sociology, social theory has an appeal because it takes the focus away from the individual (which is how most humans look at the world) and focuses it on the society itself and the social forces which control our lives. This sociological insight (or sociological imagination) has through the years appealed to students and others dissatisfied with the status quo because it carries the assumption that societal structures and patterns are either random, arbitrary or controlled by specific powerful groups -- thus implying the possibility of change. This has a particular appeal to champions of the underdog, the dispossessed, and/or those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder because it implies that their position in society is undeserved and/or the result of oppression.
The science and mathematics of sociology

Sociologists study society and social behavior by examining the groups and social institutions people form, as well as various social, religious, political, and business organizations. They also study the behaviour of, and social interaction among, groups, trace their origin and growth, and analyze the influence of group activities on individual members. Sociologists are concerned with the characteristics of social groups, organizations, and institutions; the ways individuals are affected by each other and by the groups to which they belong; and the effect of social traits such as sex, age, or race on a person’s daily life. The results of sociological research aid educators, lawmakers, administrators, and others interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy. Most sociologists work in one or more specialties, such as social organization, social stratification, and social mobility; racial and ethnic relations; education; family; social psychology; urban, rural, political, and comparative sociology; sex roles and relationships; demography; gerontology; criminology; and sociological practice.
Although sociology emerged in large part from Comte's conviction that sociology eventually would subsume all other areas of scientific inquiry, in the end, sociology did not replace the other sciences. Instead, sociology came to be identified with the other social sciences (psychology, economics, etc.). Today, sociology studies humankind's organizations, social institutions and their social interactions, largely employing a comparative method. The discipline has concentrated particularly on the organization of complex industrial societies. Recent sociologists, taking cues from anthropologists, have noted the "Western emphasis" of the field. In response, many sociology departments around the world are encouraging multi-cultural and multi-national studies.
Today, sociologists research micro-structures that organize society, such as race or ethnicity, social class, gender roles, and institutions such as the family; social processes that represent deviation from, or the breakdown of, these structures, including crime and divorce; and micro-processes such as interpersonal interactions and the socialization of individuals.
Sociologists often rely on quantitative methods of social research to describe large patterns in social relationships and in order to develop models that can help predict social change. Other branches of sociology believe that qualitative methods - such as focused interviews, group discussions and ethnographic methods - allow for a better understanding of social processes. Some sociologists argue for a middle ground that sees quantitative and qualitative approaches as complementary. Results from one approach can fill gaps in the other approach. For example, quantitative methods could describe large or general patterns while qualitative approaches could help to understand how individuals understand those patterns.
Social research methods

There are several main methods that sociologists use to gather empirical evidence, which include questionnaires, interviews, participant observation, and statistical research.
The problem with all of these approaches is that they are all based on what theoretical position the researcher adopts to explain and understand the society the researcher sees in front of themselves. If one is a functionalist like Émile Durkheim, one is likely to interpret everything in terms of large-scale social structures. A symbolic interactionist is likely to concentrate on the way people understand one another. A researcher who is a Marxist or a neo-Marxist is likely to interpret everything through the grid of class struggle and economics. Phenomenologists tend to think that there is only the way in which people construct their meanings of reality, and nothing else. One of the real problems is that many sociologists argue that only one theoretical approach is the "right" one, and it is theirs. In practice, sociologists often tend to mix and match different approaches and methods, since each method produces particular types of data.
The Internet is of interest for sociologists in three ways: as a tool for research, for example, in using onlinequestionnaires instead of paper ones, as a discussion platform, and as a research topic. Sociology of the Internet in the last sense includes analysis of online communities (e.g. as found in newsgroups), virtual communities and virtual worlds, organisational change catalysed through new media like the Internet, and societal change at-large in the transformation from industrial to informational society (or to information society).
Sociology and other social sciences

In the early 20th century, sociologists and psychologists who conducted research in industrial societies contributed to the development of anthropology. Anthropologists also conducted research in industrial societies. Today sociology and anthropology are better contrasted according to different theoretical concerns and methods rather than objects of study.
Sociobiology is a relatively new field to branch from both the sociology and biology disciplines. Although the field once rapidly gained acceptance, it has remained highly controversial as it attempts to find ways in which social behavior and structures can be explained by evolutionary and biological processes. Sociobiologists are often criticized by sociologists for depending too greatly on the effects of genes in defining behavior. Sociobiologists often respond, however, by citing a complex relationship between nature and nurture. In this regard, sociobiology is closely related to physical anthropology, zoology, evolutionary psychology, human behavioral ecology, and dual inheritance theory. Nonetheless, for most in the discipline, its ideas are unacceptable. Some sociobiologists, such as Richard Machalek, call for the field of sociology to encompass the study of non-human societies along with human beings.
Sociology has some links with social psychology, but the former is more interested in social structures and the latter in social behaviors. A distinction should be made between these and forensic studies within these disciplines, particularly where anatomy is involved. These latter studies might be better named as Forensic psychology. As shown by the work of Marx and others, economics has influenced sociological theories.
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good work,
can you mention the source of this work, it will be helpfull for all member, by the thanks chandio sahib
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