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1: An Introduction to Sociology

  • Page ID
    557
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    Sociology is the study of social behavior or society, including its origins, development, organization, networks, and institutions. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, disorder, and change. Many sociologists aim to conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, while 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.

    • 1.1: Introduction to Sociology
      We all belong to many groups; you’re a member of your sociology class, and you're a member of your family; you may belong to a political party, sports team, or the crowd watching a sporting event; you’re a citizen of your country, and you're a part of a generation. You may have a somewhat different role in each group and feel differently in each.  Groups vary in their sizes and formalities, as well as in the levels of attachment between group members, among other things.
    • 1.2: What Is Sociology?
      Sociology is the study of groups and group interactions, societies and social interactions, from small and personal groups to very large groups. A group of people who live in a defined geographic area, who interact with one another, and who share a common culture is what sociologists call a society. Sociologists working from the micro-level study small groups and individual interactions, while those using macro-level analysis look at trends among large groups and societies.
    • 1.3: The History of Sociology
      Since ancient times, people have been fascinated by the relationship between individuals and the societies to which they belong. Many topics studied in modern sociology were also studied by ancient philosophers in their desire to describe an ideal society, including theories of social conflict, economics, social cohesion, and power.
    • 1.4: Theoretical Perspectives
      Sociologists study social events, interactions, and patterns, and they develop a theory in an attempt to explain why things work as they do. In sociology, a theory is a way to explain different aspects of social interactions and to create a testable proposition, called a hypothesis, about society.
    • 1.5: Why Study Sociology?
      Many people interested in sociology have been driven by the scholarly desire to contribute knowledge to this field. Others have seen it as way not only to study society, but also to improve it. Besides desegregation, sociology has played a role in many important social reforms, such as equal opportunity for women in the workplace, improved treatment and accessibility for individuals with learning disabilities and physical handicaps, and rights of native populations to preserve their culture.

    Thumbnail: Inside view of Ruca Che arena in Neuquén, Argentina, during a rock concert. (Public domain; Diegoluciano)


    1: An Introduction to Sociology is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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