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    • Abstract: LECTURE NOTESFor Health Science StudentsIntroduction to SociologyZerihun Doda, M.A.Debub UniversityIn collaboration with the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, The Carter Center,the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Education

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LECTURE NOTES
For Health Science Students
Introduction to Sociology
Zerihun Doda, M.A.
Debub University
In collaboration with the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, The Carter Center,
the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Education
June 2005
Funded under USAID Cooperative Agreement No. 663-A-00-00-0358-00.
Produced in collaboration with the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, The Carter
Center, the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Education.
Important Guidelines for Printing and Photocopying
Limited permission is granted free of charge to print or photocopy all pages of this
publication for educational, not-for-profit use by health care workers, students or
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©2005 by Zerihun Doda
All rights reserved. Except as expressly provided above, no part of this publication may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
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without written permission of the author or authors.
This material is intended for educational use only by practicing health care workers or
students and faculty in a health care field.
PREFACE
Sociology is a discipline that belongs to what
conventionally is called the social science. The
discipline plays a leading role in the social sciences. The
term sociology literally means the science of society; for
the term itself in its direct sense denotes that. Sociology
as an academic discipline arose in the first half of 19th
century (in 1837, to mention the exact year) as a special
science dedicated to unravel the fundamental laws
governing the societal phenomena and human social
relationship with primary interest in analyzing the
problems and societies of the modern, western world. It
has, thus, conventionally been accepted to associate
sociology with the study of the modern, industrialized
societies of western world.
Health science students learning this discipline have a
great advantage of gaining fresh insights and practical
benefits in their personal lives and professional
practices. Sociology along with other sisterly disciplines
such as anthropology, economics, social psychology,
human/ cultural geography, history and political
sciences has now become an essential component of
i
the health and medical sciences curricula in universities
and other training institutions abroad. Following this
example, similar institutions in Ethiopia have also
included this course in their curricula.
These lecture notes on introductory sociology are
prepared for the health and medical sciences students
in institutions of higher learning in Ethiopia. Its purpose
is to provide the students with basic ideas and
knowledge in the science of sociology. By learning the
materials presented in this lecture notes, it is believed
that students will be able to understand and appreciate
the basic issues, principles and approaches of
sociology. Students may also gain an indirect benefit of
appreciating the social, cultural, and behavioral
dimensions of health and disease.
Specifically, the main learning objective of introduction
to sociology is to familiarize the students with the basic
ideas, issues, concepts and principles of sociology.
Students will be able to describe the meaning, scope,
methods, history and importance of sociology, and its
relations to other disciplines. The students will also be
able to appreciate the relevance of sociology in their
ii
personal and future professional practice. A brief
discussion of the survey of social problems in
contemporary Ethiopian society will also help them
understand their nature, causes and types; and their
relations to health and disease.
The lecture notes are organized into seven chapters: the
First Chapter introduces important introductory issues
such as the definition, subject- matter, theories, history
importance and basic research methods of sociology,
and its relationship to other disciplines. Chapter Two
discusses the concepts of society and culture that are
central to sociology. In Chapter Three, the concept of
socialization is discussed. Here, the meaning, bases,
necessity, goals and types of socialization are important
issues of the chapter. Chapter Four deals with some
aspects of social organization and social interaction.
Three important dimensions of social processes,
namely, social stratification, social mobility and social
change will be discussed in Chapter Five, while an
overview of social pathologies (focusing on Ethiopia)
and methods of social action and intervention will be
dealt in the Sixth and Seventh Chapters, respectively.
iii
Each chapter begins with learning objectives, ends with
a chapter summary and has review questions. Inside the
text, there are illustrative boxes, tables and figures
which are meant to aid the students in utilizing the notes
more effectively. Throughout the text, key terms and
concepts are highlighted in bold and they are put in
glossary section for easy reference. Important
references used in preparing these lecture notes are
also cited in the text and they are put in bibliographical
section. However, it is advisable to use the lecture notes
as complementary materials. Students should refer to
the textbooks and other references for detailed and
richer knowledge.
The author wishes an enjoyable and fruitful reading for
the students.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
These lecture notes are prepared with the financial
assistance made by The Carter Center. I, thus, first
of all wish to thank The Caret Center. I also want to
thank the College of Health Sciences, Debub
University, for giving me the chance to participate in
preparing these lecture notes. My appreciation also
goes to Ato Alemante Amera, my colleague in the
College for his constructive comment on the
material, during the intra-institutional review
meeting. I also wish to extend my deepest thanks to
inter-institutional reviewers Ato Woubshet
Demewoz, Jimma University; Ato Abraraw Tesfaye,
Gondar University; Fasika Melesse, Defense
University College and Dr Mesfin Adissie, Addis
Ababa University, Medical Faculty. They have
constructively contributed to the lecture notes.
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Last but not least, I want to express my deep
gratitude to the national reviewers: Dr Gebre Yntiso
and Dr Teketel Abebe of the Department of
Sociology and Anthropology, who spared their
precious time to review these lecture notes. They
have made valuables comments I say, “thank you
very much!”
I finally want to assure all the reviewers who
contributed to this teaching material that all of your
relevant and precious comments are well taken and
incorporated into this final version.
Zerihun D. Doffana, MA, Social Anthropology
June 2005
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface ............................................................................. i
Acknowledgement............................................................. v
Table of Contents ............................................................. vii
List of Illustrative Boxes, List Tables and List of Figures . xiv
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 1
1.1. Definition and Subject Matter of Sociology ............... 2
1.1.1. What is Sociology? ................................... 2
1.1.2. Brief Historical Overview............................ 6
1.1.3. Subject Matter, Scope and Concerns of
Sociology.................................................... 14
1.1.4. Levels of Sociological Analysis and Fields of
Specializations in Sociology ...................... 16
1.1.5. Major Theoretical Perspectives ................. 20
1.2. The Significance of Learning Sociology ................... 34
1.3. Sociological Research Methods ................................ 38
1.3.1. The Scientific Method ................................ 38
1.3.2. Steps in Sociological Research ............... 41
1.4. The Relationship between Sociology and Other
Disciplines ................................................................ 55
1.5. Chapter Summary ..................................................... 57
Review Questions ........................................................... 60
vii
CHAPTER TWO: SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 61
2.1. The Concept of Society:............................................. 62
2.1.1. Definition .................................................... 62
2.1.2. Basic Features of Society .......................... 64
2.1.3. Conceptualizing Society at Various Levels 66
2.1.4. Types of Society......................................... 67
2.2 The Concept of Culture ............................................... 69
2.2.1 Definition ..................................................... 69
2.2.2. Basic Characteristics of Culture................. 72
2.2.3. Elements of Culture ................................... 76
2.2.4. Cultural Variability and Explanations ......... 83
2.2.5. Ethno-centrism and Cultural Relativism
and Culture Shock...................................... 86
2.2.6. Cultural Universals, Alternatives and
Specialties ................................................. 90
2.2.7. The Concepts of Culture Lag and Culture
Lead............................................................ 94
2.2.8. Global Culture an Cultural Imperialism ...... 95
2.3 Chapter Summary ...................................................... 96
Review Questions ............................................................ 98
viii
CHAPTER THREE: SOCIALIZATION
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 99
3.1. The Concept of Socialization: Definition and Necessity .... 100
3.2 Goals of Socialization.................................................. 102
3.3. Human Biological Bases of Socialization .................. 104
3.4. Modes of Social Learning .......................................... 107
3.5. Patterns of Socialization............................................. 110
3.6. Types of Socialization ............................................... 111
3.6.1. Primary or Childhood Socialization ........... 112
3.6.2. Secondary or Adult Socialization .............. 113
3.6.3. Re-socialization and De-socialization ....... 114
3.6.4. Anticipatory of Socialization ...................... 116
3.6.5. Reverse Socialization ............................... 116
3.7. Agents and Components of Socialization ................. 117
3.8. Multiple and Contradictory Influences of Socialization 120
3.9. Chapter Summary .................................................... 121
Review Questions ........................................................... 124
CHAPTER FOUR: SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND SOCIAL
INTERACTION
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 125
4.1. The Concept of Social Organization .......................... 126
4.2. Social Groups ............................................................ 128
4.2.1. Definition of a Social Group ....................... 128
4.2.2. Basic Features of Social Groups .............. 129
ix
4.2.3. Classification of Social Groups ................. 130
4.2.4. Quasi-Social Groups ................................. 134
4.3. Social Interaction and Relationship............................ 138
4.3.1. Social Status and Social Roles ................. 139
4.3.2. Social Interactions in Everyday Life ........... 142
4.4. Social Institutions ...................................................... 147
4.4.1. Definition and Main Features of Social
Institutions ................................................ 147
4.4.2. Major Types and Functions of Social
Institution .................................................. 148
4.5. The Concept of Social Control ................................... 154
4.5.1. Definition and Necessity ........................... 154
4.5.2. Types of Social Control ............................. 156
4.6. Chapter Summary ..................................................... 157
Review Questions ............................................................ 160
CHAPTER FIVE: SOCIAL PROCESSES
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 162
5.1. The Concept of Social Process ................................. 163
5.2. Modes of Social Processes ....................................... 164
5.2.1. Competition ............................................... 164
5.2.2. Cooperation ............................................... 165
5.2.3. Conflict ....................................................... 165
5.2.4. Accommodation ........................................ 166
5.2.5. Assimilation ............................................... 166
x
5.3. Social Stratification .................................................... 167
5.3.1. Definition ................................................... 167
5.3.2. The Importance of Studying Social
Stratification .............................................. 169
5.3.3. Theories of Social Stratification ................ 170
5.3.4. Forms of Social Stratification .................... 171
5.3.5. Consequences of Social Stratification on the
Lives of Individuals .................................... 176
5.4. Social Mobility ........................................................... 177
5.4.1. Definition of Social Mobility ....................... 177
5.4.2. Types of Social Mobility ............................ 179
5.4.3. Avenues to Social Mobility ........................ 181
5.4.4. Barriers to Social Mobility ......................... 183
5.5. Social Change .......................................................... 184
5.5.1. Definition and Basic Features ................... 184
5.5.2. Theories of Social Change ........................ 186
5.5.3. Factors That Facilitate and Hinder Positive
Social Change ........................................... 189
5.6. Chapter Summary ..................................................... 190
Review Questions ........................................................... 194
xi
CHAPTER SIX: AN OVERVIEW OF SOCIAL
PATHOLOGIES
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 196
6.1. The Concept of Social Pathology .............................. 197
6.2. The Universality and Locality of Some Social
Pathologies .............................................................. 199
6.3. The Concepts of Social Deviance and Crime ........... 200
6.4. A Survey of Social Pathologies in Ethiopia ............... 202
6.4.1. Vulnerability to Famine and the Problem of
Food Insecurity................................................ 203
6.4.2. Prostitution ...................................................... 205
6.4.3. Unemployment ............................................... 207
6.4.4. The Youth and Drug Addiction........................ 208
6.4.5. Rural to Urban Migration, the Refugee Problem
and Health ...................................................... 209
6.4.6. Population Explosions and Ecological
Degradation .................................................... 214
6.4.7. Growth of Urbanization, Urban Poverty,
Housing Problem, Homelessness & Begging . 215
6.5. Chapter Summary ..................................................... 218
Review Questions ............................................................ 220
xii
CHPATER SEVEN: METHODS OF SOCIAL ACTION AND
INTERVENTION
Learning Objectives ......................................................... 221
7.1 What Is Social Action? ................................................ 222
7.2. Methods of Social Work ............................................ 223
7.2.1. Main Concern of Social Work . .................. 223
7.2.2. Basic Principles.......................................... 225
7.2.3. Types of Methods of Social Work .............. 226
7.3 The Limitations and Challenges of Social
Welfare Programs ..................................................... 230
7.4. Planned Social Change, Client System and
Change Agents ........................................................ 232
7.5. The Role of Health Professionals as Change Agents 233
7.6. Chapter Summary ..................................................... 235
Review Questions ............................................................ 237
Glossary ............................................................................ 239
References ....................................................................... 268
xiii
LIST ILUSTRATIVE BOXES,
TABLES AND FIGURES
Illustrative Boxes
Box 1.1. A simple definition of sociology...................... 3
Box 1.2.Distinguishing between society and culture.... 4
Box 1.3. Pioneering founders of sociology................... 14
Box 1.4. Levels of analysis in sociology ...................... 17
Box 1.5. Inductive vs. deductive approaches............... 39
Box 2.1. Basic features of culture ............................... 76
Box 2.2. Elements of culture ....................................... 83
Box 3.1. The five human biological basis of socialization 107
Box 3.2. Major types of socialization............................ 117
Box 4.1. Major social institutions and their primary
functions ....................................................... 154
Box 5.1. Modes of social processes ............................ 167
Box 5.2. Types of social mobility.................................. 183
Box 6.1.Social problems in Ethiopia ............................ 217
Box 7.1. Three methods of social work........................ 229
xiv
Tables
Table 1.1. Summary of sociological theories ............... 32
Table 2.1.A list of some cultural universals.................. 91
Table 3.1. Two modes of socialization ....................... 111
Table 4.1. Types of social groups ................................ 136
Figures
Figure 1.1. Steps in sociological research ................... 54
Figure 2.1 A diagrammatic representation of social
norms ......................................................... 82
Figure 5.1. Castes of Hindu Society of India................ 174
xv
Introduction to Sociology
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Learning Objectives
At the end of this chapter, students will be able to:
• Define the term sociology;
• Describe the subject-matter, scope and basic
concerns of sociology;
• Understand how sociology emerged and
developed;
• Appreciate the personal and professional benefits
derived from learning sociology;
• Understand the methods and approaches of
sociology;
• Describe macro-sociology and micro-sociology;
• Appreciate the various views and concepts
formulated by the founding fathers of sociology;
• Describe the relationship of sociology with other
fields of study; and
• Appreciate the application of sociology in
addressing contemporary societal problems.
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Introduction to Sociology
1.1. Definition and Subject Matter of
Sociology
1.1.1. What is Sociology?
Before attempting to define what sociology is, les us
look at what the popular conceptions of the discipline
seem. As may be the case with other sciences,
sociology is often misconceived among the populace.
Though many may rightly and grossly surmise that
sociology is about people, some think that it is all about
“helping the unfortunate and doing welfare work, while
others think that sociology is the same as socialism and
is a means of bringing revolution to our schools and
colleges” (Nobbs, Hine and Flemming, 1978:1).
The first social scientist to use the term sociology was
a Frenchman by the name of Auguste Comte who lived
from 1798-1857. As coined by Comte, the term
sociology is a combination of two words. The first part of
the term is a Latin, socius- that may variously mean
society, association, togetherness or companionship.
The other word, logos, is of Greek origin. It literally
means to speak about or word. However, the term is
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Introduction to Sociology
generally understood as study or science (Indrani,
1998). Thus, the etymological, literal definition of
sociology is that it is the word or speaking about society.
A simple definition here is that it is the study of society
and culture.
Box 1.1. A simple definition of sociology
Sociology is the study of society
Although the term “sociology” was first used by the
French social philosopher august Comte, the discipline
was more firmly established by such theorists as Emile
Durkheim, Karl Marx and Max Weber (Nobbs, Hine and
Flemming, 1978).
Before going any further, let us note that the concepts
“society and “culture” are central in sociology. While
each concept shall be dealt with later in some detail, it
appears to be appropriate here to help students
differentiate between these two important concepts.
Society generally refers to the social world with all its
structures, institutions, organizations, etc around us, and
specifically to a group of people who live within some
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Introduction to Sociology
type of bounded territory and who share a common way
of life. This common way of life shared by a group of
people is termed as culture (Stockard, 1997).
Box 1.2. Distinguishing between society and culture
Society: a group of people who live within some
type of bounded territory and who share a
common way of life
Culture: is common way of life shared by a
society or a group.
Now, turning to the definitional issues, it is important that
in addition to this etymological definition of the term, we
need to have other substantive definitions. Thus,
sociology may be generally defined as a social science
that studies such kinds of phenomena as:
• The structure and function of society as a
system;
• The nature, complexity and contents of
human social behavior;
• The fundamentals of human social life;
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Introduction to Sociology
• Interaction of human beings with their
external environment;
• The indispensability of social interactions for
human development;
• How the social world affects us, etc.
A more formal definition of sociology may be that it is a
social science which studies the processes and patterns
of human individual and group interaction, the forms of
organization of social groups, the relationship among
them, and group influences on individual behavior, and
vice versa, and the interaction between one social group
and the other (Team of Experts, 2000).
Sociology is the scientific study of society, which is
interested in the study of social relationship between
people in group context. Sociology is interested in how
we as human beings interact with each other (the
pattern of social interaction); the laws and principles that
govern social relationship and interactions; the
/influence of the social world on the individuals, and vice
versa (Ibid.). It deals with a factually observable subject
matter, depends upon empirical research, and involves
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Introduction to Sociology
attempts to formulate theories and generalizations that
will make sense of facts (Giddens, 1982).
Regarding the detective and expository nature the
science, Soroka (1992:34) states that “Sociology is a
debunking science; that is, it looks for levels of reality
other than those presented in official interpretations of
society and people’s common sense explanations of the
social world. Sociologists are interested in
understanding what is and do not make value
judgments.”
1.1.2. Brief Historical Overview
Sociology and other social sciences emerged from a
common tradition of reflection of social phenomena;
interest in the nature of human social behavior and
society has probably always existed; however, most
people in most past societies saw their culture as a fixed
and god-given entity. This view gradually was replaced
by more rational explanations beginning from the 17th
century especially in Western Europe (Rosenberg,
1987). The sociological issues, questions and problems
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Introduction to Sociology
had been raised and discussed by the forerunners
starting from the ancient Greek and Roman
philosophers' and Hebrew prophets' times.
Sociology as an academic science was thus born in 19th
century (its formal establishment year being 1837) in
Great Britain and Western Europe, especially in France
and Germany, and it greatly advanced through out 19th
and 20th centuries.
The development of sociology and its current contexts
have to be grasped in the contexts of the major changes
that have created the modern world (Giddens, 1986).
Further, sociology originated in 18th century philosophy,
political economy and cultural history (Swingwood,
1991)
The major conditions, societal changes, upheavals and
social ferments that gave rise to the emergence and
development of sociology as an academic science
include the Industrial Revolution which began in Great
Britain, the French Political Revolution of 1789, the
Enlightenment and advances in natural sciences and
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Introduction to Sociology
technology. These revolutions had brought about
significant societal changes and disorders in the way
society lived in the aforementioned countries. Since
sociology was born amidst the great socio-political and
economic and technological changes of the western
world, it is said to be the science of modern society.
The pioneering sociologists were very much concerned
about the great changes that were taking place and they
felt that the exciting sciences could not help understand,
explain, analyze and interpret the fundamental laws that
govern the social phenomena. Thus sociology was born
out of these revolutionary contexts.
The founders or the pioneering sociologists are the
following (Henslin and Nelson, 1995; Giddens, 1996;
Macionis, 1997):
• Auguste Comte, French Social Philosopher
(1798- 1857)
Comte was the first social philosopher to coin and use
the term sociology (Nobbs, Hine and Flemming, 1978).
He was also the first to regard himself as a sociologist.
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Introduction to Sociology
He defined sociology as the scientific study of social
dynamics and social static. He argued that sociology
can and should study society and social phenomena
following the pattern and procedures of the natural
science. Comte believed that a theoretical science of
society and the systematic investigation of human
behavior were needed to improve society. He argued
that the new science of society could and should make a
critical contribution towards a new and improved human
society. Comte defined sociology as the study of social
dynamic and social static, the former signifying the
changing, progressing and developmental dimensions of
society, while the latter refers to the social order and
those elements of society and social phenomena which
tend to persist and relatively permanent, defying
change.
• Karl Marx (German, 1818-1883)
Marx was a world-renowned social philosopher,
sociologist and economic historian. He made
remarkable contributions to the development of various
social sciences including sociology. He contributed
greatly to sociological ideas. He introduced key
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Introduction to Sociology
concepts in sociology like social class, social class
conflict, social oppression, alienation, etc. Marx, like
Comte, argued that people should make active efforts to
bring about societal reforms. According to Marx,
economic forces are the keys to underestimating society
and social change. He believed that the history of
human society has been that of class conflict. He
dreamed of, and worked hard towards realizing, a
classless society, one in which there will be no
exploitation and oppression of one class by another, and
wherein all individuals will work according to their
abilities and receive according to their needs. Marx
introduced one of the major perspectives in sociology,
called social conflict theory (Macionis, 1997)
• Harriet Martineau, British Sociologist (1802-
1876)
At a time when women were greatly stereotyped and
denied access to influential socio-political and academic
arena, it is interesting to ha a female academic to be
numbered among the pioneering sociologists. Harriet
was interested in social issues and studied both in the
United States and England. She came across with the
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Introduction to Sociology
writings of Comte and read them. She was an active
advocate of the abolition of slavery and she wrote on
many crosscutting issues such as racial and gender
relations, and she traveled widely. She helped
popularize the ideas and writings of Comte by
translating them into English (Henslin and Nelson,
1995).
• Herbert Spencer, British Social Philosopher,
(1820-1903)
Spencer was a prominent social philosopher of the 19th
century. He was famous for the organic analogy of
human society. He viewed society as an organic system,
having its own structure and functioning in ways
analogous to the biological system. Spencer's ideas of
the evolution of human society from the lowest
("barbarism") to highest form ("civilized") according to
fixed laws were famous. It was called "Social
Darwinism", which is analogous to the biological
evolutionary model. Social Darwinism is the attempt to
apply by analogy the evolutionary theories of plant and
animal development to the explanation of human society
and social phenomena (Team of Experts, 2000).
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Introduction to Sociology
• Emile Durkheim, French Sociologist, (1858-
1917)
Durkehiem was the most influential scholar in the
academic and theoretical development of sociology. He
laid down some of the fundamental principles, methods,
concepts and theories of sociology; he defined sociology
as the study of social facts. According to him, there are
social facts, which are distinct from biological and
psychological facts. By social facts, he meant the
patterns of behavior that characterize a social group in a
given society. They should be studied objectively. The
job of a sociologist, therefore, is to uncover social facts
and then to explain them using other social facts. Some
regard Durkheim as the first sociologist to apply
statistical methods to the study of social phenomena
(Macionis, 1997; Clahoun, et al, 1994).
• Max Weber, German Sociologist (1864-1920)
Weber was another prominent social scientist.
According to him, sociology is the scientific study of
human social action. Social action refers to any “action
oriented to influence or influenced by another person or
persons. It is not necessary for more than one person to
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Introduction to Sociology
be physically present for action to be regarded as social
action….” (Team of Experts, 2000). It is concerned with
the interpretive understanding of human social action
and the meaning people attach to their own actions and
behaviors and those of others. Weber was a renowned
scholar who like Marx, wrote in several academic fields.
He agreed with much Marxian theses but did not accept
his idea that economic forces are central to social
change. Weber argues that we cannot understand
human behavior by just looking at statistics. Every
activity and behavior of people needs to be interpreted.
He argued that a sociologist must aim at what are called
subjective meanings, the ways in which people
interpret their own behavior or the meanings people
attach their own behavior (Henslin and Nelson, 1995;
Rosneberg, 1987).
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Introduction to Sociology
Box 1.3. Pioneering founders of sociology
August Comte, French, 1798-1857; key concepts:
social static and social dynamic
Karl Marx, German, (1818-1883), key concepts:
class conflict, alienation, historical materialism, etc
Emile Durkheim, French, 1858-1917; key concept:
social fact
Max Weber, German, 1864=1920; key concepts:
social action; subjective meanings
Herbert Spencer, British, 1820-1903; key concept:
social Darwinism
Harriet Martineau, British, 1802-1876; active
advocate of abolition of slavery and gender issues
1.1.3. Subject Matter, Scope and Concerns of
Sociology
The scope of sociology is extremely wide ranging, from
the analysis of passing encounter between individuals
on the street up to the investigation of global social
processes The discipline covers an extremely broad
range that includes every aspect of human social
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Introduction to Sociology
conditions; all types of human relationships and forms of
social behavior (Indrani, 1998). Sociologists are
primarily interested in human beings as they appear in
social interaction and the effects of this interaction on
human behavior. Such interaction can range from the
first physical contacts of the new born baby with its
mother to a philosophical discussion at an international
conference, from a casual passing on the street to the
most intimate of human relationships (World Book
Encyclopedia 1994. Vol. 18, PP. 564-567). Sociologists
are interested to know what processes lead to these
interactions, what exactly occurs when they take place,
and what their short run and long run consequences
are.
The major systems or units of interaction that interest
sociologists are social groups such as the family or peer
groups; social relationships, such as social roles and
dyadic relationships, and social organizations such as
governments, corporations and school systems to such
territorial organizations as communities and schools
(Broom and Selzinki, 1973).
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Introduction to Sociology
Sociologists are keen to understand, explain, and
analyze the effect of social world, social environment
and social interaction on our behavior, worldviews,
lifestyle, personality, attitudes, decisions, etc., as
creative, rational, intelligent members of society; and
how we as such create the social reality.
1.1.4. Levels of Sociological Analysis and Fields
of Specializations in Sociology
There are generally two levels of analysis in sociology,
which may also be regarded as branches of sociology:
micro-sociology and macro- sociology (Henslin and
Nelson, 1995). Micro-sociology is interested in small-
scale level of the structure and functioning of human
social groups; whereas macro-sociology studies the
large-scale aspects of society.
Macro-sociology focuses on the broad features of
society. The goal of macro-sociology is to examine the
large-scale social phenomena that determine how
social groups are organized and positioned within the
social structure. Micro-sociological level of analysis
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Introduction to Sociology
focuses on social interaction. It analyzes interpersonal
relationships, and on what people do and how they
behave when they interact. This level of analysis is
usually employed by symbolic interactionist
perspective.
Some writers also add a third level of analysis called
meso-level analysis, which analyzes human social
phenomena in between the micro- and macro-levels.
Reflecting their particular academic interest sociologists
may prefer one form of analysis to the other; but all
levels of analysis are useful and necessary for a fuller
understanding of social life in society.
Box 1.4. Levels of analysis in sociology
Micro-sociology: Analyzing small scale social
phenomena
Macro-sociology: analyzing large-scale social
phenomena
Meso-sociology: analysis of social phenomena in
between the micro- and macro- levels.
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Introduction to Sociology
Within these general frameworks, sociology may be
divided into specific sub-fields on the basis of certain
criteria. The most important fields of sociology can be
grouped into six areas (World Book Encyclopedia, 1994:
Vol. 18; Pp. 564-568).
• The Field of Social Organization and Theory
of Social Order: focuses on institutions and
groups, their formation and change, manner of
functioning, relation to individuals and to each
other.


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