Chapter 1 Sociology and Society
Why is the study of the origin and growth of sociology important?
- The study of origin and growth of societies are important in sociology to understand several personal and social issues.
- England was the centre of industrial revolution. The understanding of how urbanisation or factory production influenced all modern societies is very important.
- Sociology of India reflects origin and growth of people, social institution and their problems. Indian history is full of imperialistic invasions. In India there has been a long past of feudalism, capitalism and colonalisation.
- Indian history related to political, social or cultural domains is written by foreigners and therefore it is far from truth.
Basically it is biased. Therefore Sociology of India is also biased. Presently Indian society can be understood in its complexity of tradition which are influenced by Turks, Mongols, Kushan, Afgans and Britishers and the influence of modem world. Indian sociology is a complex product of its history.
Therefore the study of the origin and growth of society is important for sociology.
Discuss the different aspects of the term ‘society’. How is it different from your common sense understanding?
- Society is the web of social relationship.
- Sociology is a system of usage and procedures of authority and mutual aid of many groupings and division of control of human behaviour and of liberties. (Maciver and Page).
- This definition of sociology emphasies that main features of society are usage, procedure, authority, mutual aid, group and division and liberties.
- Usage means accepted ways (norms) of the society.
- Procedure refers to social institutions like family or marriage which is important for social network.
- Authority means a system which controls the units of society (Individual) or maintains social web.
- Groups and division mean groups and subgroups in which the individual interacts and learn social norms.
- Control of human behaviour refers to social control and freedom to the individuals in the form of written or unwritten norms which are important for smooth functioning of social network.
- Above mentioned elements are different aspects of society and web of social relationship, according to Maciver and Page.
Very Short Answer Type Questions
What is Sociology?
- Sociology is a comprehensive study of whole society.
- Sociology is a descriptive and analytical discipline concerned with the structural aspects of human society.
- Sociology is the science of human relations.
What is society?
Society is a system of usage and procedures of authority and mutual aid, of many groupings and divisions, of controls of human behaviour and of liberties. It is the web of social relationship. It is always changing.
How human society is different from animal’s society? (HOTS)
The organism needs food, sex and security. Both human beings and animals are similar in security needs, reproduction, sensations, mental process, blood circulation and diseases. But both are different:
- Humans have their own culture comprising experiences with which animals are deprived.
- Human beings have a complex system of speech and communication. We can comprehend, can use hands whereas animals cannot.
State characteristics of society.
According to Harry M. Johnson, society has following characteristics:
- Definite territory: Society is a territorial group.
- Progeny: The members of a society came by means of human reproduction within the group of people.
- Culture: Society is always culturally sufficient.
- Independence: Society is permanent, self contained and an integrated group. The members of the group are interdependent.
Explain the concept of social facts.
There are ways of thinking, feeling and acting that are experienced by individuals as external and constraining and that are general throughout the social group. Emile Durkheim emphasised on social facts. He talked about individual and collective consciousness. All thoughts, ideas or inventions developed by individuals, when accepted and adopted by larger group became part of collective consciousness. He stated that society is external to man. It influences our entire life. We are part of society having our own specific place in the social system.
How society is a continuous process?
Society is a continuous process. It functions in a natural way. Society is not imposed upon people rather it is accepted by the members. The most important part in the functioning of society is negotiations. Due to social interaction society gets constituted and reconstituted.
How Sociology is a progressive science?
Sociology deals with modern society. It is a new science which came into existence in recent times. Latest concepts are included in sociology which keeps the subject up to date.
Sociology is the science that deals with social groups, their mode of organisation, the processes that tend to maintain or change these forms of organisation, and the relations between groups. Therefore, it is a progressive science.
What is Anthropology?
- Anthropology is the study of primitive society.
- It studies cultures which are small and static.
- It is the study of man and development of human race. There are four main branches: Physical anthropology, Social anthropology, Cultural anthropology and Applied anthropology.
What do you know about Formalistic School?
Formalistic School is a sociological approach to study society. It studies the forms of social relation or their socialisation. It emphasises on the study of forms. Main supporters of this school are Weber, Simmel and Ward.
What do you know about Synthetic School?
Sociology is a general science which studies society as a whole. This perspective does not consider speciality in sociology. Main supporters of the school are Durkheim, Hob house and Sorokin.
What is the meaning of social science?
Social science is a general label applied to the study of society and human relationship. Discipline boundaries are by no means always clear and the generic term ‘social science’ usually covers most of the disciplines including sociology, social psychology, political science and geography.
Discuss the pluralistic perspective of a society.
Society can be understood better as a group of people who are interacting, interdependent, have a structure and follow a similar cultural pattern. Each society is unique. Society includes similarities, diversities, inequalities because in the society each individual has his own personal values and ideals. Individuals live in a society.
State main features of Sociology.
- Sociology is a social science.
- It is a pure science, not an applied science.
- It is a categorical science, not a normative science .
- Sociology is a general science.
- It is both rational and empirical science.
- Culture, social organisation, social institution and social structure are the subject matters of sociology.
- Sociology is a science of generalisation rather than specialisation.
How Sociology and Anthropology are related to each other?
Anthropology is study of the primitive, simple and traditional men, illiterate society. Sociology is the study of complex, modem man that may be illiterate/literate men/ differentiated society.
- Developmental details of society in a systematic and clear manner is subject matter of anthropology whereas sociology records happenings in the present day society in a scientific manner.
Short Answer Type Questions
Is Sociology a science?
Sociology is a science as it involves objectives and systematic methods of investigation and evaluation of social reality in the light of empirical evidence and interpretation.
It is not a natural science because human behaviour is not exacting and varies from person to person.
Sociology is a categorical science because it relates to “what is”. It is a pure science because sociology collects the knowledge about human society only and not concerned with its application. Sociology is an abstract science because it studies the design and norms of the society. It is a science of generalisation. It provides understanding about groups, social actions, subject matter and structure. Sociology presents general principles related to social interaction so it is a general science. Sociology is a science because it uses scientific methodology. It uses method of observation and believes in theory of causation and objectivity.
What do you understand by Sociology? Discuss Sociology as a scientific discipline.
Sociology is a comprehensive study of the whole society. It is descriptive and analytical discipline concerned with the structural part of human society.
It is study of man and his human environment in their relation with each other. Sociology is the synthesising and generating science. It deals with the behaviour of men in groups.
Science goes with the method and not with subject matters. It is approach rather than content that is the test of science. From this perspective, Sociology is a science as it involves objective and systematic methods of investigation and evaluation of social reality in the light of empirical evidence and interpretation.
It cannot be directly modelled on the patterns of natural science, because human behaviour varies from person to person.
Sociology is a science because it uses scientific methods to collect facts related to problems and explains ‘What is’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of the social relationships. Sociology as a scientific discipline is primarily concerned with the systematic study of the development, organisation and operations of human society of various types.
What is society? Describe the main characteristics of society.
A society is a group of people who share a common culture, occupy a territorial area and are bound to each other by a common history.
According to Maciver and Page, ‘Society is a web of social relationships’.
It is the union itself, the organisation, the sum of formal relations in which associating individuals are bound together.
Society is not simply a group of people, it is a system of relationship that exists between the individual of the group.
A society is a group with certain characteristics:
- Definite territory: A society is a territorial group. Nomadic societies have much larger territory than the complex modern societies.
- Sexual reproduction: The members of a society came by means of progeny i.e. human reproduction.
- Comprehensive culture: Societies are culturally self-sufficient. They may have sub-culture as well. This common pattern of culture provides identity to the members.
- Independence: Society is permanent, self-sustained and an integrated group.
Society is based on social relationships, their members are interdependent and interact among one another and is abstract because it is the web of relationships.
The main aspects of any society are its culture, social organisation, social institutions and the social structure.
Discuss the relationship between Sociology and History.
Sociology tries to understand the social life of particular times only on the basis of historical influences whereas History is a compilation of the events of the past.
- History focuses on the study of the past, whereas Sociology shows interest in contemporary scene or recent past.
- History emphasises on the differences in the similar events but Sociology deals with the similarities in different events.
- Sociology takes help of history to understand modem society because sociologists can get social facts of ancient society from history.
Discuss relationship between Sociology and Economics.
- Sociology studies the different parts of society as a whole whereas Economics studies only the economic part of society.
- The view point of sociology is extensive while economics is a special science related to economic aspect of human being.
- The approach of sociology to study relationships is collectivistic whereas the perspective of economics is individualistic.
- Sociology uses quantitative and numeral methods whereas economics derives facts using inductive and deductive methods.
- Economic phenomena is constantly determined by all sort of social needs and activities and they are constantly redetermining, creating, shaping and transforming social need and activity of every kind.
What is the relationship between Sociology and Psychology?
Psychology is one of the closest subjects to sociology.
- Psychology focuses on the study of an individual’s mind, whereas sociology studies society.
- Psychology is the science of behaviour, mental processes, experience whereas Sociology is the study of social behaviour of man in society.
- Psychology is more interested in intelligence, learning, emotions, motivation, memory etc. Sociology is interested in relationships between family, marriage, kinship values and norms.
- Psychology studies about hopes and fears of individuals, sociology studies about social institutions in an organised way.
- Social psychology bridges the gap between two subjects and studies how individuals behave collectively in society.
Long Answer Type Questions
Describe the growth of Sociology in India.
The history of origin and development of Sociology in India is more than 4000 years old. The fundamental source of social ideology was religion. During Indian Vedic era, a systematic development of different social institutions of society was prevalent. Sociology in India has been influenced by various internal processes particularly the colonial regime which tried to prove their cultural superiority in comparison of Indian culture.
First of all, Sociology courses were taught at Calcutta University in the Department of Economics, Political Science, Human Geography and Anthropology. This was pioneered by philosopher Brajendra Nath Seal, Benoy Sarkar, anthropologist K.P. Chattopadhyay and human geographer Nirmal Bose.
In 1914, the Department of Sociology was started for PG students of economics.
As Sociology is defined today have been first of all introduced in India in Bombay University under the guidance of Prof. Patriels in 1919.
- In 1923, Mysore University introduced Sociology in BA course as a separate subject. Presently Sociology is being taught in most of the Indian universities as a BA pass or BA honours course and PG courses.
- Presently the premier institutes of India like JNU, Delhi School of Economics, Tata Institute of Social Science have special professional courses in Sociology.
- Indian sociologists who contributed significantly to make their subject flourish are Dr. Radha Kamal Mukherjee, Prof. P.N. Prabhu, Prof. Wadia, Prof. Shrinivas, Dr. R.N. Saxena, Prof. R.R. Shastri, Prof. Kapadia, Prof. N. Prasad, Prof. T.K. Oomen, Prof. S.C. Dubey, Prof Andrea.
How Sociology and Political Science are related to each other?
Political science studies political institution such as state governments and its branches like legislative, executive and judiciary.
- Sociology studies power in terms of social context e.g. during elections.
- Political Science is restricted to study of formal organisation and institutions whereas sociology is concerned with study of behaviour of the people in power.
- Sociology focuses on social stress on the interpersonal relationship between political institution.
- The main task of a political scientist is to study the political behaviour whereas main task of sociologist is to develop knowledge that would explain both social and political behaviour along with the consequences of this behaviour.
- There are several areas of social life that need both the approaches e.g. implementing a law and its effect on people.
How success of French Revolution and Industrial Revolution caused changes in social life of people universally?
Success of French and American Revolution
Enlightenment values of intellectual and political freedom found expressions in the French Revolution in 1789.
These revolutions popularised the nation that individuals possess alienable rights, monarchy was overthrown and democracy was brought in. Ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity put an end to the age of feudalism. Birth based privileges were abolished.
Industrial Revolution and Capitalism
Began in Britain in late 18th and early 19th centuries it had two major aspects.
(a) Systematic application of science and technology to industrial production: Invention of new machines, and harnessing of new sources of power revolutionised the production process. There was now factory production of goods on a large scale.
(b) Industrial revolution was based upon new, dynamic forms of economic activity. Capitalism revolutionised ways of organising labour and markets. Entrepreneurs were now engaged in the sustained, systematic pursuit of profit. Large scale production was geared towards distant markets, raw materials too were procured from all over the world.
These changes in production system led to many dramatic changes in social life too.
1. Before industrialisation, agriculture and textiles were the chief occupations of the British.
2. Most people lived in villages. Like in our own Indian villages, there were peasants and landlords, the blacksmith and leather workers, the weavers and the potters, the shepherds and the brewers.
3. Society was small. It was hierarchical, that is the status and class positions of different people were clearly defined. Like all traditional societies it was also, characterised by close interaction. With industrialisation each of these features changed.
4. One of the most fundamental aspects of the new order was the degradation of labour, the wrenching of work from the protective context of guild, village, and family. Both the radical and conservative thinkers were appalled at the decline of the status of the common labourer, not the skilled craftsmen.
5. Urban centres expanded and grew. It was not that there were no cities earlier. But their character prior to industrialisation was different. The industrial cities gave birth to a completely new kind of urban world. It was marked by the soot and grime of factories, by overcrowded slums of the new industrial working class, bad sanitation and general squalor. It was also marked by new kinds of social interactions.
Consequently many early sociologists like Karl Marx and Durkheim were concerned with the scientific analysis of the developments in industrial society.
Sociology was therefore bom as “Science of the new modem industrial society”.
What do you understand by Sociology?
Capitalism was the new economic system that emerged in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. This system became the driving force behind industrial growth. Karl Marx believed that capitalists were factory owners and entrepreneurs who were engaged in the systematic pursuit of profit and became rich at the expense of their workers who remained poor.
The key to capitalism as a social system was the complex relationship between factory owners, workers and the means of production i.e. factories, machinery and tools. Renaissance was a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries, which laid emphasis on reason, individualism and rational thought. The ideas of fraternity, equality and liberty became important and resulted in the French Revolution, which abolished the monarchy, ended feudalism and privileges based on birth. The central idea of Renaissance was that all men are born with certain rights that had to be respected.
Positivism was a theory developed by Auguste Comte, regarded as the “Father of Sociology.” Positivism is based on the theory that on the basis of verifiable facts it is possible to observe social life in a methodical way to establish reliable, valid knowledge which can be used to affect the course of social change and improve human conditions. Positivism has had little influence on contemporary sociology, however, because it is argued that it encourages a misleading emphasis on superficial facts without any attention to underlying mechanisms that cannot be observed.
In what ways did the Industrial Revolution lead to the birth of Sociology in Europe?
- The Industrial Revolution began in Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It marked the beginning of the scientific age and led to changes in social lives of people.
- Before industrialization the rural sector was important. The chief occupation was farming and weaving. Society was hierarchical, status and class conscious. People worked according to their needs, factors like daylight and deadlines.
- Industrialisation meant there was a systematic application of science and technology. Huge factories were set up for large-scale production of goods like textiles and iron and steel. New forms of economic activity gave rise to capitalism as the pursuit of profit was geared to markets in distant colonies.
- There was a dramatic change in social life as a new working class emerged. Farmers migrated to industrial cities, which were characterised by overcrowded housing, poor sanitation and general squalor.
- An indicator of this new society was the emergence of “clock time”. The tempo of work was set by the clock and calendar. Factory production meant that work began punctually and people worked in shifts for set hours and were paid according to what they produced.
- Karl Marx and Durkheim were appalled at the degradation of factory workers and became concerned with the scientific analysis of developments in industrial society. Sociology was bom as a result of this as it was based on the understanding of “science of a new modem industrial world”.
Discuss the revolutionary changes in 19th century Europe that led to the emergence of Sociology.
1. Sociology was born in 19th century Europe as a result of the revolutionary changes brought about by Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.
2. Medieval Europe was a feudal society. The church dominated all spheres of society including matters of state and the king was regarded to be divinely ordained to rule over his people as he deemed fit. Gradually people began to question every aspect of life including the authority of the church and the monarchy.
3. This led to the Age of Enlightenment, which laid great emphasis on reason and
rationality. There was a growing conviction that the methods of natural sciences could be extended to study affairs of human society. Eg. Poverty began to be seen not as a natural phenomenon but as a social problem caused by exploitation and human ignorance. Hence poverty could be redressed and resolved.
4. Enlightenment values of intellectual and political freedom found expression in the French Revolution of 1789. This revolution popularised the notion that all individuals possessed the right to liberty, equality and fraternity. The revolution ended monarchy and ushered in democracy. The age of feudalism ended and birth based privileges were abolished.
5. The Industrial Revolution began with the advancement of science and technology. It brought in capitalism as industry became economically very important. Farmers left their holdings to work in factories in the industrial cities of Britain. The features of society changed and the working class became important. Once again society was transformed as a new social order emerged.
6. People like Comte, Marx and Durkheim tried to make sense of these revolutionary changes and restore order to chaos. Their efforts helped the emergence of Sociology, as they believed that the scientific study of Sociology would help in the reconstruction and reorganization of a strong and healthy society.
Discuss relationship between Sociology and History.
Sociology and the other social sciences have much in common. Recently there has been a gradual coming together of various social sciences. Pioneers of Indian sociology like DP Mukerji have stressed on an inter-disciplinary approach within the field of Sociology.
While there are many similarities between other social sciences. They are different in focus, orientation and emphasis.
Differences between Sociology and History:
History is concerned with the description of the past of the society while Sociology is primarily concerned with the present of society and to some extent its future too. Historians try to narrate historical events in their chronological order. Primary interest of sociology is to discover the general laws of society and to establish causal relationships between social phenomenon.
Conventional history has been more about the history of kings and war. The history of less glamorous events such as gender relations within the family have traditionally been less studied by historians but formed a core area of the sociologist’s interest.
Convergence of History and Sociology:
However, recently history and sociology are beginning to converge. This is because the present of society cannot be understood without looking at its past. Sociologists therefore, very often use historical records and refer to the works of historians for their own research.
Even history is often studied now from a sociological point of view. To quote G.E Howard, “History is past sociology and sociology is present history”. Historians today are using sociological methods and concepts in their analysis.
The coming of history and sociology together has led to the emergence of the specialization of historical sociology. It deals with social patterns, gender relations, customs other than the acts of rulers and wars.
Discuss relationship between Sociology and Economics.
Differences between Sociology and Economics:
- Economics is concerned with the study of production and distribution of goods and services in society. On the other hand, sociology is the systematic study of social relations and interactions.
- The classical approach in economics dealt almost exclusively with the interrelations of pure economic variables such as price, demand, supply, money flow etc. Focus of traditional economics has been on a narrow understanding of economic activities.
Convergence of Sociology and Economics:
- Despite the difference irTfocus economics and sociology share a two way relationship because the economic activities of human beings do not exist in a vacuum.
- Production, consumption and distribution of goods and services in a society are influenced by non-economic, socio-cultural considerations like traditions, social norms, consumer nationalities etc.
- The large investment in the advertising industry is directly linked to the need to reshape life styles and consumption pattern of consumers. In fact, a number of MNC’s often refine or change their products to suit local taste and culture.
Discuss relationship between Sociology and Political Science.
Differences between Sociology and Political Science:
- Sociology studies all aspects of society whereas conventional Political Science focused on the study of power embodied in formal institutions such as the state, government, political parties etc.
- Sociology stresses on the interrelationship between different social institutions like religion, education, politics etc whereas political science has tended to focus on the processes within the government.
Convergence of Sociology and Political Science:
- Despite these differences there are similar interests of researchers as well as increased interaction of methods and approaches between sociology and political science.
- The interface of political science and sociology is termed as political sociology. It acts as a bridge between the two subjects. For example, political sociology studies how religious and caste identities are used as vote banks.
How Sociology is related with Social Anthropology?
Relationship between Sociology and Social Anthropology:
1. Types of Society: Sociology emerged as the study of modem, industrial complex societies while Social Anthropology emerged as the study of primitive, simple and small scale societies.
The anthropologists of the past documented the details of simple societies apparently in a neutral scientific fashion. In practice, however, they were constantly comparing those societies with the model of the western modern societies as a benchmark.
2. Scale of study: Social anthropology tended to study society (simple societies) in all their aspects, as a whole. In so far, as they specialised, it was on the basis of area. For example, the Andaman Islands. Sociologists study complex societies and
would therefore often focus on parts of society like the bureaucracy or religion or caste or a process such as social mobility.
3. Methods of Study: Social Anthropology has been associated with the ethnographic methods of participant observation. It is characterised by long field work tradition, living in and with the community being studied for a long time and learning their language.
Sociologists have often relied on survey methods and quantitative data using statistics and the questionnaire mode.
Convergence of Sociology and Social Anthropology:
- Today the distinction between a simple society and a complex one itself needs major rethinking. India itself is a complex mix of tradition and modernity, of the village and the city, of caste and tribe, of class and community.
- Consequently, there is a coming together of sociology and social anthropology in India. There have been fruitful interchanges between the two disciplines and today often methods and techniques are drawn from both.
- On the other hand, Sociology too has been using quantitative and qualitative techniques, macro and micro approaches for studying the complexities of modem societies.
Discuss relationship between Sociology and Psychology.
Relationship between Sociology and Psychology:
Psychology is often defined as the science of behaviour. It involves itself primarily with the individual. It is interested in her/his intelligence and learning, motivations and memory, nervous system and reaction time, hopes and fears.
Sociology attempts to understand behaviour as it is organized in society, that is the way in which personality is shaped by different aspects of society. For instance, economic and political system, their family and kinship structure, their culture, norms and values.
It is interesting to recall that Durkheim who sought to establish a clear scope and method for sociology in his well-known study of suicide left out individual intentions of those who commit or try to commit suicide in favour of statistics concerning various social characteristics of these individuals.
Social psychology, which serves as a bridge between psychology and sociology, maintains a primary interest in the individual but concerns itself with the way in which the individual behaves in social groups, collectively with other individuals.