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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.