What is Sociology?

  • G. C. Kinloch
Chapter

Abstract

There must be as many differing definitions of sociology as there are sociologists. However, let us consider just a few:

…sociology is the study of social order, meaning thereby the underlying regularity of human social behaviour. The concept of order includes the efforts to attain it and departures from it. Sociology seeks to define the units of human social action and to discover the pattern in the relation of these units — that is, to learn how they are organised as systems of action.1

… they (societies) all exhibit common elements and constant features. These are the elements that give to society its form and shape, that constitute its structure and that, in a word, comprise the social order. It is the first task of a general sociology to discover these constants, to describe them with an economy of concepts, and to delineate their inter-relationships.2

… sociology is the scientific study of the process and forms of social organisation.3

… sociology represents an attempt to apply to the study of human society the same scientific method and approach that have been so dramatically successful in yielding an understanding of the physical world.4

Sociology is the systematic study of the relationships of men in groups and of groups in society, of how these relationships are patterned and how they change.5

The sociological approach is based on the assumption that much of human behaviour can be understood by an examination of the social situation in which it occurs.6

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Suggested Reading

  1. 1.
    P. Berger, Invitation to Sociology (New York, 1963).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Bierstedt, The Social Order (New York, 1963).Google Scholar
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    J. Biesanz and M. Biesanz, Modern Society, 3rd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, 1964).Google Scholar
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    L. Broom and P. Selznick, Sociology, A Text with Adapted Readings, 4th ed. (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
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    S. P. Cilliers, Maatskaplike Navorsing (Stellenbosch, 1965).Google Scholar
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    J. E. Goldthorpe, An Introduction to Sociology (London, 1968).Google Scholar
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    A. W. Green, Sociology, An Analysis of Life in Modern Society, 5th ed. (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
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    B. S. R. Green and E. A. Johns, An Introduction to Sociology (London, 1966).Google Scholar
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    P. B. Horton and C. L. Hunt, Sociology, 2nd ed. (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
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    A. Inkeles, What is Sociology? (Englewood Cliffs, 1965).Google Scholar
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    P. E. Mott, The Organisation of Society (Englewood Cliffs, 1965).Google Scholar
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    M. E. Olsen, The Process of Social Organisation (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    R. A. Peterson, ‘Sociology and Society: The Case of South Africa’ in Sociological Inquiry, 36 (1966), pp. 31 – 39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    H. P. Poliak, Sociology Post-Graduates of South African Universities (Durban, 1968).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    S. A. Stouffer, ‘Some Observations on Study Design’, in American Journal of Sociology, 55 (1950) pp. 355 – 361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© G. C. Kinloch 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. Kinloch
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Florida State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Formerly of the University of NatalSouth Africa

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