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Basic Concepts & Terms of Sociology

The basic premise of sociology is that human behavior is largely shaped by the groups to which people belong and by the social interaction that takes place within those groups. The main focus of sociology is the group not the individual. The sociologist is mainly interested in the interaction between the people - the ways in which people act towards respond and influence each other. Sociology is characterized by its approach to phenomena (the approach to science) and by its subject matter (human interaction). It is rightly defined as scientific study of human interaction. Sociology is about society, its constituent institutions, their inter relationship and the actors. Sociologists study the patterns in social interactions.

According to Bogardus sociology has a long past but only a short history. The earliest attempts at systematic thought regarding social life in the west may be said to have begun with the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and his disciple Aristotle. Plato's Republic is an analysis of the city community in all its aspects and in Aristotle's Ethics and Politics the first major attempt to deal systematically with the law, the society and the state. In 16th century writers like Hobbes and Machiavelli provided more clear distinctions between state and society. 'The Prince' of Machiavelli is an objective discussion of the state that he formulated on the basis of historical data. Sir Thomas Moore who in his book Utopia published in 1515 tried to deal with every day social problems by means of depicting an ideal social order out what really meant for emulation. Italian writer Vico and French writer Montesquieu contributed towards the scientific investigation of social phenomenon. Vico in his book The New Science contended that society was subject to definite laws that can be observed through objective observation and study. Montesquieu in his famous book The Spirit of Laws had analyzed the role that external factors especially climate play in the life of human society.

Sociology emerged in the context of the sweeping changes that the Industrial Revolution brought to Europe. Two other factors operating at the time also encouraged the development of sociology. The example of natural sciences if there methods could make so much sense of the physical world could they not be applied successfully to the social world. The second factor was the exposure of Europe to the radically different societies that their colonial empires had taken over. Information about the contrasting social practices of these societies raised fresh questions about society in general. Auguste Comte (1798-1857) holds the title of Father of Sociology who established two specific problems for sociological investigation - social statics and social dynamics. Social statics refers to the problem of order and stability and social dynamics refers to the problem of social change. He believed that a science of sociology should be based on systematic observation and classification. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) applied the theory of organic evolution to human society and developed theory of social evolution. Karl Marx (1818-1883) saw social conflict and inevitability of revolution as part of the society. Durkheim emphasized the basic needs of the society comparing it to a living organism. Max Weber stressed the regular patterns of action that can be discerned and result from particular beliefs. All these men were reacting to the crisis brought about in society by the flood of ideas upon which the revolutions were borne. Each searched for the dynamics that would explain the underlying causes of social change and in doing so they were also searching for the basis of social order.

We have explained in details the various terms and concepts used in Sociology. Check out the alphatically listed terms of sociology for your reference. If there are any terms commonly used in Sociology and that have not been explained in out list of Sociology Terms, please write to us and we will add it to the list of terms of sociology for your benefit. After all it is the basic concepts of any subject that requires clarity and if your basic concepts of Sociology is not clear you are bound to remain unclear with many topics and underperform in your examination.

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