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Sociology: The Study of Humanity Essay

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However new you are to sociology it is probable that you have an idea, however vague and general, regarding what sociology is supposed to be about. It may be that you have an idea that sociology is 'about' people. And you would be right to think so. We might start then by noting that sociology is one of the human sciences and as such it is a subject to be distinguished from the so-called 'physical sciences'. Sociology is the study of humanity.
However this description of sociology is only partially correct. To say that sociology is about people and humanity is not enough to distinguish it from the other subjects in the human sciences. For it is equally the case that Psychology, Social Policy, Economics and Social History, amongst others, are all in some sense about people and humanity. Thus the fact that sociology is about people and humanity gets us only part way along the road to a full definition of the subject.
We might also suggest that sociology is 'about' society. This helps in so far as it adds another component to our full definition.
But again it is not enough to fully define the subject. For all of the aforementioned human sciences are not only about people and humanity but about society too.
Sociology is also concerned with human culture. A provisional definition of culture used by sociologists is that of ' a way of life'. Sociology has always concerned itself with the study of culture and this would fit in with what we already know about sociology; namely it the study of people in society.
Many have suggested that we can define sociology as the subject that deals with and explains social interaction. Here sociology is characterised by the fact that it examines the informal and formal social relationships en...


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...ular beginnings and reflected particular sets of interests.
Point 1: We saw that sociology's beginnings were distinctly European. This has led to the criticism that sociology is ethnocentric. There were black writers in the 19th century such as W.B. Du Bois, but they are only now being accepted for their true value.
Point 2: Did you notice all the 'founding mothers'? No? Nor did I! Again there is a criticism that sociology is a male enterprise which has for a long time failed to give adequate consideration to women's needs and issues.
This has led to charges of it being ethnocentric. Furthermore it is significant that sociology is a male enterprise from its very beginnings.
So sociology had its beginnings as a white, male, middle-class and European enterprise. If you are going to study it is up to you to determine the extent to which it has 'mended it ways'.


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