|Subfields and other major theories|
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the discipline of sociology:
An outline, also called a hierarchical outline, is a list arranged to show hierarchical relationships and is a type of tree structure. An outline is used to present the main points or topics (terms) of a given subject. Each item in an outline may be divided into additional sub-items. If an organizational level in an outline is to be sub-divided, it shall have at least two subcategories, as advised by major style manuals in current use. An outline may be used as a drafting tool of a document, or as a summary of the content of a document or of the knowledge in an entire field. It is not to be confused with the general context of the term "outline", which a summary or overview of a subject, presented verbally or written in prose. The outlines described in this article are lists, and come in several varieties.
Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
Sociology – the study of society using various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to understand human social activity, from the micro level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structure.
A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.
Microsociology is one of the main levels of analysis of sociology, concerning the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency on a small scale: face to face. Microsociology is based on interpretative analysis rather than statistical or empirical observation, and shares close association with the philosophy of phenomenology. Methods include symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology; ethnomethodology in particular has led to many academic sub-divisions and studies such as microlinguistical research and other related aspects of human social behaviour. Macrosociology, by contrast, concerns the social structure and broader systems.
In social science, agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, structure is those factors of influence that determine or limit an agent and their decisions. The relative difference in influences from structure and agency is debated—it is unclear to what extent a person's actions are constrained by social systems.
Sociology can be described as all of the following:
Social science is a category of academic disciplines, concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. Social science as a whole has many branches. These social sciences include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, history, musicology, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. For a more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences see: Outline of social science.
Positivism is a philosophical theory stating that certain ("positive") knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all certain knowledge. Positivism holds that valid knowledge is found only in this a posteriori knowledge.
In social science, antipositivism is a theoretical stance that proposes that the social realm cannot be studied with the scientific method of investigation applied to Nature and that investigation of the social realm requires a different epistemology. Fundamental to that antipositivist epistemology is the belief that the concepts and language that researchers use in their researches shape their perceptions of the social world they are investigating, studying, and defining.
Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is "a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability".
Analytical sociology is a strategy for understanding the social world. It is concerned with explaining important macro-level facts such as the diffusion of various social practices, patterns of segregation, network structures, typical beliefs, and common ways of acting. It explains such facts not merely by relating them to other macro-level facts, but by detailing in clear and precise ways the mechanisms through which they were brought about. This is accomplished by a detailed focus on individuals’ actions and interactions, and the use of state-of-the-art simulation techniques to derive the macro-level outcomes that such actions and interactions are likely to bring about. Analytical sociology can be seen as contemporary incarnation of Robert K. Merton's well-known notion of middle-range theory.
The expression collective behavior was first used by Franklin Henry Giddings (1908) and employed later by Robert E. Park and Burgess (1921), Herbert Blumer (1939), Ralph Turner and Lewis Killian (1957), and Neil Smelser (1962) to refer to social processes and events which do not reflect existing social structure, but which emerge in a "spontaneous" way. Use of the term has been expanded to include reference to cells, social animals like birds and fish, and insects including ants. Collective behavior takes many forms but generally violates societal norms. Collective behavior can be tremendously destructive, as with riots or mob violence, silly, as with fads, or anywhere in between. Collective behavior is always driven by group dynamics, encouraging people to engage in acts they might consider unthinkable under typical social circumstances.
Comparative sociology involves comparison of the social processes between nation states, or across different types of society. There are two main approaches to comparative sociology: some seek similarity across different countries and cultures whereas others seek variance. For example, structural Marxists have attempted to use comparative methods to discover the general processes that underlie apparently different social orderings in different societies. The danger of this approach is that the different social contexts are overlooked in the search for supposed universal structures.
Ibn Khaldun was a leading Tunisian Arab historiographer and historian. He is widely considered as a forerunner of the modern disciplines of historiography, sociology, economics, and demography.
The following outline is provided as an overview of an topical guide to academic disciplines:
Conflict theories are perspectives in sociology and social psychology that emphasize a materialist interpretation of history, dialectical method of analysis, a critical stance toward existing social arrangements, and political program of revolution or, at least, reform. Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast historically dominant ideologies. It is therefore a macro-level analysis of society.
Social theories are analytical frameworks, or paradigms, that are used to study and interpret social phenomena. A tool used by social scientists, social theories relate to historical debates over the validity and reliability of different methodologies, the primacy of either structure or agency, as well as the relationship between contingency and necessity. Social theory in an informal nature, or authorship based outside of academic social and political science, may be referred to as "social criticism" or "social commentary", or "cultural criticism" and may be associated both with formal cultural and literary scholarship, as well as other non-academic or journalistic forms of writing.
A cultural system, is the interaction of different elements in culture. While a cultural system is very different from a social system, sometimes both systems together are referred to as the sociocultural system.
This is an index of sociology articles. For a shorter list, see List of basic sociology topics.
Sociology as a scholarly discipline emerged primarily out of the Enlightenment thought, shortly after the French Revolution, as a positivist science of society. Its genesis owed to various key movements in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of knowledge. Social analysis in a broader sense, however, has origins in the common stock of philosophy and necessarily pre-dates the field. Modern academic sociology arose as a reaction to modernity, capitalism, urbanization, rationalization, secularization, colonization and imperialism. Late-19th-century sociology demonstrated a particularly strong interest in the emergence of the modern nation state; its constituent institutions, its units of socialization, and its means of surveillance. An emphasis on the concept of modernity, rather than the Enlightenment, often distinguishes sociological discourse from that of classical political philosophy.
The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic, methods, and foundations of social sciences such as psychology, economics, and political science. Philosophers of social science are concerned with the differences and similarities between the social and the natural sciences, causal relationships between social phenomena, the possible existence of social laws, and the ontological significance of structure and agency.
Humanistic sociology is a domain of sociology which originated mainly from the work of the University of Chicago Polish philosopher-turned-sociologist, Florian Znaniecki. It is a methodology which treats its objects of study and its students, that is, humans, as composites of values and systems of values. In certain contexts, the term is related to other sociological domains such as antipositivism. Humanistic sociology seeks to shed light on questions such as, "What is the relationship between a man of principle and a man of opportunism?"
The history of the social sciences has origin in the common stock of Western philosophy and shares various precursors, but began most intentionally in the early 19th century with the positivist philosophy of science. Since the mid-20th century, the term "social science" has come to refer more generally, not just to sociology, but to all those disciplines which analyse society and culture; from anthropology to linguistics to media studies.
The Muqaddimah, also known as the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun or Ibn Khaldun's Prolegomena, is a book written by the Arab historian Ibn Khaldun in 1377 which records an early view of universal history. Some modern thinkers view it as the first work dealing with the social sciences of sociology, demography, and cultural history. The Muqaddimah also deals with Islamic theology, historiography, social Darwinism, Darwinism, the philosophy of history, economics, political theory, and ecology.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to anthropology:
In sociology, action theory is the theory of social action presented by the American theorist Talcott Parsons.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to social science: