Q. 1. What is Society? Explain in detail.
What do you mean by Society? Explain its meaning with definitions. Also give its characteristics.
Ans. In simple language, meaning of the word society is generally taken from group of people. Many philosophers use this word in the same sense. In this way meaning of society can be taken from the group of persons not from their mutual relations. Sometimes meaning of society is taken from any institution such as Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj etc. In this way in the language of a layman, meaning of the word society has been taken in the same sense. But in Sociology its meaning is quite different from this meaning.
In Sociology meaning of the word ‘society’ is not the group of people but is taken by those laws which emerge out of the mutual relationships. Social relationships are very important among people. They are an integral part of a society. It is not a thing but is a process. The important thing in society is the mutual relationships and interactions among people with which they live with each other. When any Sociologist uses the word society, in general form, his meaning of society is by the web of social relationships and when he uses the word society in specific sense, his meaning is that society is the group of people in which specific type of relations exist.
Definitions of society given by different sociologists are given below :
1. According to MacIver, ‘‘Society is the system of usages and procedures, of authority and mutual aid, of many groupings and divisions of controls of human behaviour and of liberties. This ever-changing complex system we call society. It is the web of social relationship.’’
2. According to Giddings, ‘‘Society is the union itself, the organization is the sum of formal relations in which individuals are bound together.’’
3. According to Talcot Parsons, ‘‘Society may be defined as total complex of human relationships in so far as they grow out of action in terms of means and relationship intrinsic or symbolic.’’ After looking at these given definitions we can say that these definitions are of two types. First type are of functional definitions and second type are of structural definitions.
From functional aspect we can define society as the web of groups in which people have complimentary relations, which help the people to do their functions of life and will help the people to fulfil their wishes by living with them. From structural aspect society is a social heritage of customs, habits, institutions, wishes etc. In this way society has been defined from functional and structural aspect that it has been made by mutual relationships of humans and with that it is a system or web, not only the collection of people. In this way we can define society that it is an organization of human relations which is formed, regulated and changed by humans. In simple words, society is an abstract concept. It is not only the group of people but it is the system of social relationship.
Characteristics of Society
1. Society is based on relationships : According to MacIver and Page, ‘‘Society is the web of social relationships.’’ It means that society is based on social relationships. Why the word ‘Web’ is used here? Because thousands of relationships exist in society. Just in one family more than 15 types of relations exist. From this we can imagine that how many types of relations are there in society. Society is not just a collection of humans. For the formation of society some type of relations should be there.
2. Society depends upon similarities and differences : Society depends both upon similarities and differences. Without them, society cannot exist. Yet they both are opposite to each other but they cannot live without each other. Sometimes uniformity comes in society and sometimes differences come in society and that’s why they are complimentary to each other. Social relations can be established if there will be some type of uniformity among them because without this they cannot attract each other and society cannot be formed. Except this, differences are also necessary. For example society cannot move without the difference of male and female. In this way similarities and difference are necessary for society.
3. Interdependence : For the existence of society, interdependence is a necessary element. It is necessary for humans to keep relations with other persons to fulfil their needs because it is not possible for every person to do all of his works. He has to depend upon others. The way in which man grows, his dependence upon others also increases and his needs also start to increase. In this way interdependence is a necessary element of society.
4. Society is abstract : Society is abstract because it is the web of relationships. We neither can see these relations and nor can touch them. We can only feel them. Because we cannot touch them, that’s why they don’t have any concrete form and are abstract. Because relations are abstract, that’s why the society made by relations is also abstract.
Q. 2. What do you mean by Sociology? Explain its meaning and definitions.
Ans. In simple words, Sociology is the scientific study of society in which the mutual relations of humans are studied. Sociology studies the mutual actions of human behaviour. It also tries to understand that how different groups came into being, how they developed, how they come to an end and again came into being. In Sociology, different methods, customs, groups, traditions and institutions are studied.
If we will see the literal meaning of Sociology then we can say that it has been made by two words ‘Socio’ and ‘Logos’. Meaning of ‘Socio’ is society and the meaning of ‘Logos’ is science. ‘Socio’ word has been taken from Latin language and ‘Logos’ word has been taken from Greek language. In this way literal meaning of Sociology is ‘science of society’. The science which studies the relations of society is known as Sociology.
In this way we can say that every type of relation which exists in society, traditions, folkways and methods which tell us about social relations, are studied in Sociology.
Actually, Sociology tries to get systematic knowledge of all human relations, which can be called as social customs, traditions, associations and institutions. In this way the unit of analysis in Sociology is not one person but two or more than two persons.
Sociology studies the mutual relations among humans which are there in society.
The integrated form of social relations, which can be expressed as our traditions and customs, form our culture. Sociology also studies human culture. There are many forms of relations. Different institutions are developed to fulfil our basic needs and these institutions are connected in a definite pattern and these institutions always affects us.
Sociology also studies the mutual relations of these institutions.
Here we have tried to give meaning of Sociology but to clear its meaning let us see some of its definitions given by different Sociologists.
(1) According to Giddings, ‘‘Sociology is the systematic description and explanation of society viewed as a whole.’’
(2) According to MacIver and Page, ‘‘Sociology is about social relationship, the network of relationship we call society.”
(3) According to Durkheim, ‘‘Sociology is the science of social institutions, their genesis and development.’’
(4) According to Ginsberg, ‘‘Sociology is the study of human interaction and consequences.’’
(5) According to Max Weber, ‘‘Sociology is the science which attempts the interpretative understanding of social action.’’ From the above discussion it is clear that Sociology is the scientific study of society which is the web of social relationships. Humans behave differently from other animals.
There are different forms of community of humans. They develop their institutions, obey the social laws and produce values. Sociology tries to obtain credential knowledge to study different social relations and their forms by using scientific method.
Q. 3. Explain the nature of Sociology.
Ans. Nature of Sociology : Different writers have given different views about the nature of Sociology. But actually people have some wrong conceptions about the meaning of science. Word science has been used as by equating it with engineering and technology. Now first of all we will see that what is science.
Meaning of Science : Generally, when a layman talks about science, he believes that only physics and chemistry are science. But this is not correct because we include all those subject matters in science which are obtained by using scientific method.
For example if we want to make a table, we collect all the things required in making a table such as wood, nails, fevicol and different tools. But we can not say to these things as table unless it is made with a proper planning and until given a proper shape. This method is known as scientific method.
Actually, there is no relation of science with subject matter. Any subject matter can be a science if it is obtained with the help of scientific method. According to Hurton and Hunt, ‘‘Science is a study method with which the organized and systematic collection of knowledge can be attained.’’ From this it is clear that science is not the property of any particular subject matter. It means that any subject matter can be the subject matter of science and this subject matter should be studied with the help of scientific method.
Different sociologists have given different meanings of science. According to Gillin and Gillin, ‘‘The true sign of science is a certain type of approach towards the field which we wish to investigate.’’ According to Karl Pearson, ‘‘The unity of all sciences consists alone in its method, not in its material.
According to Huxley, ‘‘Science is systematic body of knowledge based on reason and evidence.’’ In this way scientific method is that method in which after taking one problem, review of literature, after making hypothesis, after planning research design, collection of data, after observation, recording, analysis and classification, results will be drawn.
If any subject matter is using all these steps, then it can be called as science.
After knowing about scientific method we can say about science that :
(i) It is that knowledge which studies ‘what is’.
(ii) Which can predict.
(iii) Which can tell about causal-effect relation.
(iv) Which can be verified by any fact.
(v) Which can be explained without any controversy.
(vi) Which can be re-examined.
Sociology as a Science
Here we have seen that what is science. After looking at this we can say that Sociology is a science but after the following discussion it will become clear that qualities of science exist in the nature of sociology.
1. Sociology uses scientific methods : Sociology uses scientific methods for the study of social facts. These methods are historical method, comparative method, case study method, experimental method, ideal type, Verstehen. These methods of Sociology have been made on the basis of scientific method. Sociology uses all the steps of scientific method to find facts like all the natural sciences are using. The base of all these methods is scientific and all these methods are used in Sociology. In modern age, except these methods, some other methods are also used in Sociology.
So in this way if we can use scientific methods in the study of Sociology then we can call it as a science.
2. Sociology explains the causal-effect relations : Sociology not only collect the facts, in fact it also tries to know their causal-effect relations. It not only tries to know that ‘why it is’ but it also tries to know about ‘Why’ and ‘How’. It means that it tries to know about reasons and results of different facts. For example if any Sociologist is studying the problem of unemployment or low status of women then he is just not limiting himself to the collection of data related with that problem but he also tries to know about why this problem came into being and what are its results.
It means that why and how this problem came into being. So on the basis of giving explanation of causal effect relations we can call it a science.
3. Sociology only explain ‘what is’. It does not explain about what it should be : Sociologist shows different social facts and phenomena in its original form, the form in which he saw them. It observes social facts with objectivity and does not accept any fact without reason. It explains subject in its real forms and explains ‘what is’. When Sociologist studies social phenomena then he does not accept any social fact without reason. He restricts himself only with the explanation of truth, the way in which physical sciences are doing while studying physical processes. In this way when Sociologist studies social processes, he studies and explains them without any other influence. In this way Sociology is also known as a positive science because in this we study any social phenomenon on the basis of facts. So that’s why we can call it as a science.
4. Sociology studies anything with objectivity : In Sociology any fact is observed without any bias. Sociologist tries to study facts and phenomena with objectivity and on the basis of reason. According to one’s nature, man can be biased.
His interests, habits, feelings can come in study but Sociologist studies everything with objectivity and does not bring his likings and dislikings in his study.
The study of any society by Sociology is always based on objectivity because sociologist tries to study on the basis of social facts. For example, if he is studying the problem of caste system he keeps his beliefs, thoughts and feelings away from his study. If he will not, it will then very difficult to find solution of any problem.
Sociologist tries to observe any problem with objectivity and on the basis of this we can call it a Science.
5. Sociology uses laws and concepts : Sociologist also uses scientific methods.
The laws and concepts of Sociology are universal but because of changes in society these also changed with the passage of time. But some concepts are there which are same everywhere in every time. If there will be no change in Society then these laws can be applicable in everytime. Except this, by using scientific methods we can also study different times with which we can come know about social reality. That’s why we can call it a science.
Q. 4. What do you know about scope of Sociology? Give in detail.
Ans. Scope of Sociology : Sociology studies society and society is the web of social relationships. Society is an unbreakable system. In its structure, many classes, groups, associations, schools, institutions, etc. are included. When we say Sociology studies society, it means that Sociologist studies all these groups, institutions, associations, etc. After analysing their origin and development, Sociology tells us how it will affect social organization and disorganization. The existence of society based on the fact that how different parts of society change themselves according to others. About this we can come to know about the study of interactions of group.
While studying society, Sociologists also study non-societal issues such as the effect of physical environment on society. In this way it also studies the relation of social and non-social issues. This list is very long that which things does it study. If we study the literature of Sociology, we can say that different Sociologists have different views about the scope of its subject matter. To express the subject matter of Sociology two different views are there. According to the thinkers of one view, Sociology is a special science but according to the thinkers of other view, Sociology is a simple or general science. It means that two opposite schools are there who have given the subject matter of Sociology in their own way. These are given below :
I. Formalistic School—Sociology is a special science.
II. Synthetic School—Sociology is a general science.
I. Formalistic School—Sociology is a special science : Supporters of Formalistic School are George Simmel, Tonnies, Richard, Von Weise, Vierkandt.
Max Weber etc. According to these sociologists, Sociology is also a special science like other social sciences. Supporters of this school are limiting the study of Sociology to the forms of social relationships and are calling it as a science. According to them no other social science studies the forms of social relationships. Only sociology is a type of science which studies the form of social relationships. That’s why it is a special science.
Criticism : (i) Supporters of this school are of the view that we can separate abstract and concrete relations but this is not possible. It is so because there is no separate identity of forms of social relations and that’s why relations could not be differentiated.
(ii) Sociology alone cannot study the social relationships but other social sciences also study social relationships.
(iii) George Simmal was of the view that the way in which Geometry is related with natural sciences, in that same way Sociology is related with other social sciences.
This view is not correct because the forms of Geometry are of definite size but there is no definite size of social relationships. That’s why they cannot be equated.
II. Synthetic School According to the thinkers of Synthetic School, Sociology is a general science.
According to them the scope of study of Sociology is very wide. That’s why different aspects of social life like political, cultural, psychological, economical are studied by different social sciences like Political Science, Anthropology, Psychology, Economics.
But except these special sciences which study a special aspect, we need a general social science which can tell us about the general conditions of social life on the basis of results given by special science. This school is totally different from Formalistic School because they give stress on the concrete form of social relationships. According to this school we cannot understand social relationship without the help of other social sciences. Main supporters of this school are Sorokin, Durkheim and Hobhouse.
Criticism This school has also been criticised on the following basis :
1. Sociology depends upon the findings of other sciences. It’s main function is to relate the findings of different social sciences. It borrows subject matter from other social sciences and attains knowledge without doing any hard work. By saying this the thinkers of this school have completely eliminated the different existence of Sociology.
2. This school has also been criticised on this base that thinkers of this school have not kept the scope of sociology in any limit. If the subject matter of other sciences will be included in this, it will become a mixture of subject matter of other social sciences and there will be no separate existence of Sociology. Whichever views are given here, with which Sociology is criticised, are not exactly correct because it’s not that Sociology takes the help of other social sciences but and in fact other social sciences are also dependent upon Sociology. From the above discussion it is clear that it studies every type of human interaction. That’s why it is a special science as well as a general science. Yet these both the schools are not directly related with each other but they are indirectly related with each other. We can not separate the form of social relationship of a group from its content because they are very much dependent upon each other. That’s why we can say that yet Sociology is a special science but we can not limit its scope within some boundries. Its scope is very wide which can be seen from its area of study such as Historical Sociology, Political Sociology, Urban Sociology, Rural Sociology, Educational Sociology, Political Sociology, Industrial Sociology of religion etc.
Q. 5. What is the relation of Sociology with History? Explain it with differences.
Ans. Relation of Sociology with History : History and Sociology both study human society. History prepares a description of main events from ancient times till present human society and describes it as a story in a proper sequence. Sociology and History both study human society. Actually, Sociology is originated from History.
In Sociology, historical method is used which has been taken from History.
History studies past time of human society. It prepares actual description of human society from ancient times till today. History does not explain only ‘what was’ but it also analyse ‘how it happened’. That’s why after studying history we can come to know that how society was originated and how relations, customs, institutions, etc. came in this. In this way history is related with our past times that what, why and how anything happened in our past times.
On contrary to this, Sociology studies present human society. It studies social relationships, their forms, customs traditions, institutions, etc. With this, Sociology also studies human culture and different forms of culture. In this way, Sociology studies different relationships and institutions of present society.
From this description it is clear that history studies every aspect of past society and Sociology does that same work in present society.
Contribution of History to Sociology : Sociology uses the material given by history. Human society is the web of social relationships which are coming from ancient times. We have to go to past to study and understand them. Origin of life, ways, every thing is the part of past. For their study, Sociology takes help of History because we can get knowledge of social facts only from History. That’s why to understand present we need the help of History.
In Sociology comparative method is used to compare different institutions. For this we need historical material. In the study of ‘social fact’, Durkheim has used information given by history. Actually, the help of history is required and Sociologists use comparative method in their study.
Different social institutions influence each other. Because of these effects, changes are coming in them. To see these changes we need to see the effect of other institutions.
Historical material helps us to understand this. In short to understand social conditions, Sociologist is completely dependent upon history. That’s why a new branch of Sociology—Historical Sociology has been developed.
Contribution of Sociology to History : History also uses the material of Sociology. Modern history has included some of the Sociological concepts in its subject matter. That’s why a new branch of ‘Social History’ has been developed. Social history is not the study of any king but is the study of evolution of any institution and the changes which came in this. In this way, History borrows that thing from Sociology which earlier it borrowed from Philosophy.