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Sociology studies the social rules and processes that bind, and separate,
people (not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups, and
Sociology emerged in the 19th century as an academic response to one of the
greatest paradoxes of modernity: as the world is becoming smaller and more
integrated, people's experience of the world is increasingly atomized and
dispersed. Sociologists hoped not only to understand what held social groups
together, but also to develop an "antidote" to social disintegration.
Today sociologists research macro-structures that organize society, such as
race or ethnicity, class and gender, 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. Sociologists often rely on quantitative methods
to describe large patterns in social relationships, and in order to develop
models that can help predict social change and how people will respond to
social change. Other branches of sociology believe that qualitative methods
-- such as focussed interviews, group discussions and ethnographic methods
-- allow for a better understanding of social processes.
Sociology is a relatively new study among other social science disciplines
including economics, political science, anthropology, psychology
The term was coined by Auguste Comte, who hoped to unify all studies of
humankind--including history, psychology and economics. His own sociological
scheme was typical of the 18th century; he believed all human life had
passed through the same distinct historical stages and that, if one could
grasp this progress, one could prescribe the remedies for social ills.
In the end, Sociology did not replace the other social sciences, but came to
be another of them, with its own particular emphases in terms of subject
matter and methods. Today, Sociology studies humankind's organizations and
social institutions, largely by a comparative method. It has concentrated
particularly on the organization of complex industrial societies.
* conflict theory
* interactionism or Social Action theory and symbolic-interactionism
* sociology of knowledge
* industrial sociology
* political sociology
* rural sociology
* Urban sociology
* sociology of religion
* systems theory
* medical sociology
Key Sociological Topics:
* justified irresponsibility
* role and role homogeneity
* gender role
* social structure
Sociology and the internet
The internet is of interest for sociologicans in three views at least: as a
tool for research, for example by using online questionaires instead of
paper ones, as a discussion plattform (see 'External links' section below),
and as a research topic. Sociology of the internet in the last sense
includes analysis of online communities (e.g. as found in newsgroups) and
virtual communities, organisational change catalysed through new media like
the internet as well as societal change at-large in the transformation from
industrial to informational society (or to information society).
* sociological perspective
* social fact
Methods: quantitative method, qualitative method, ethnography
Comparison to other Social Sciences
In the early 20th century, sociologists and psychologists who conducted
research in non-industrial societies contributed to the development of
anthropology. It should be noted, however, that 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.
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.
See also: criminology, disabilities, education, gender & sexuality, Marxism,
mass media, media studies, Milgram experiment, revolution, social
engineering, sociologist, political economy, race & ethnicity,social change,
social control, social movements, tautology, teleology, theory, sociological
imagination, socioeconomic systems, racism, social order, social structure,