The Field of Sociology
Have you ever wondered why individuals and societies are so varied? Do you ask what social forces have shaped different existences? The quest to understand society is urgent and important, for if we cannot understand the social world, we are more likely to be overwhelmed by it. We also need to understand social processes if we want to influence them. Sociology can help us to understand ourselves better, since it examines how the social world influences the way we think, feel, and act. It can also help with decision-making, both our own and that of larger organizations. Sociologists can gather systematic information from which to make a decision, provide insights into what is going on in a situation, and present alternatives.
Sociology is the scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture. The term sociology was first used by Frenchman Auguste Compte in the 1830s when he proposed a synthetic science uniting all knowledge about human activity. In the academic world, sociology is considered one of the social sciences.
 Dictionary of the Social Sciences,
Article: Sociology. Edited
by Craig Calhoun. 2002.
Sociologists study all things human, from the interactions between two people to the complex relationships between nations or multinational corporations. While sociology assumes that human actions are patterned, individuals still have room for choices. Becoming aware of the social processes that influence the way humans think, feel, and behave plus having the will to act can help individuals to shape the social forces they face.
Sociologists believe that our social surroundings
influence thought and action. For
example, the rise of the social sciences developed in response to social
changes. In the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, Europeans were exploring the world and voyagers returned
from Asia, the
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
The industrial revolution began in
Capitalism also grew in
Finally, there was enormous population growth worldwide in this period, due to longer life expectancy and major decreases in child death rates. These massive social changes lent new urgency to the deveopment of the social sciences, as early sociological thinkers struggled with the vast implications of economic, social and political revolutions. All the major figures in the early years of sociology thought about the “great transformation” from simple, preliterate societies to massive, complex, industrial societies.
Sociology was taught by that name for the first time at the University of Kansas in 1890 by Frank Blackmar, under the course title Elements of Sociology, where it remains the oldest continuing sociology course in the United States. The first academic 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.
|The first European department of sociology was
founded in 1895 at the
In 1919 a sociology departme nt was established in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich by Max Weber, and in 1920 by Florian Znaniecki.
International cooperation in sociology began in 1893 when René Worms founded the Institut International de Sociologie, which was later eclipsed by the much larger International Sociological Association (ISA), founded in 1949. In 1905, the American Sociological Association, the world's largest association of professional sociologists, was founded, and in 1909 the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Society for Sociology) was founded by Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber, among others.
is now taught and studied in all continents of the world. Examples from 48 countries in the world have
been collected at
Craig Calhoun (Editor). 2002. Dictionary of the Social Sciences. New York: Oxford University Press.
Giddens, Anthony. 1987. Sociology: A Brief but Critical Introduction. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Nisbet, Robert A. 1966. The Sociological Tradition. New York: Basic Books.
Persell, Caroline Hodges. 1990. Understanding Society: An Introduction to Sociology. Third Edition. New York: Harper & Row.
Wikipedia on-line Encyclopedia. 2008. Retrieved March 3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page .