What is the importance of studying sociology

Study of Sociology

Sociology is a scientific discipline developed in the 19th century, the aim of which is to explain social processes. In a famous definition, Max Weber says: “Sociology ... should mean: a science which interprets social action and wants to explain its course and effects causally. ... 'Social' action, however, should mean such action, which, according to the meaning intended by the agent, is related to the behavior of others and is based on this in its course. "

In sociology, an attempt is made to break down social processes into meaningful individual elements (in the form of actions) to gain explanations and interpretations of social structures. In contrast to everyday language usage, the term “social” in the term social action is not given a rating, it is only about the interaction, sometimes the cooperation, of actors. Torturers as well as an association of saints and an internet community would also act “socially” in the sense of this definition. A second main concept in sociology besides the concept of action are institutions. Societies have often set up social structures, so-called institutions, which create regularities in action through norms, values ​​and sanctions. Most of the time their validity is recognized by large parts of a society over longer historical periods by consciously or unconsciously following these rules.

Sociology is an empirical science that aims to obtain true statements about the regularities and probabilities of social processes through methodically controlled observations. Since people are free in their actions (unlike mere physical bodies), most of the general relationships between empirical regularities that have been found in sociology have a probabilistic nature, i.e. their occurrence can be predicted with a high degree of probability, but not necessarily. Statistical methods therefore play an important role in quantitative research methods in sociology. Since people (unlike mere physical bodies) can also report on their actions and their goals, meaningful interpretation processes are also important in the methodology of sociology.

A brief example should explain the approach of sociology: After the fall of the Wall, there was a decline in the birth rate in East Germany. Why? By reconstructing the motives for action, empirical studies show that a different social link between institutions (employment system, family) resulted in a different logic of action: Unlike in GDR times, for example, it is more risky for employment, children during studies or at the beginning of employment to get. Since many people changed their courses of action at the same time, families were founded at a later age after the fall of the Wall, and the birth rate fell suddenly and only gradually rose again. The decline in the birth rate, in turn, has consequences for many functional areas of society. The exact consequences of this will be the subject of future research projects (including new generations of students) ...

Since the subject area of ​​sociology is society, there is a multitude of specific fields of investigation and practice: sociology of work, family, organization, university, crime, the city, education, architecture, gender, social structure , sport, leisure, advertising, youth, age, the environment, values, political sociology, economic sociology, life course sociology, etc. These various “special sociologies” are linked through general sociological theories and sociological methods used in the are used in various sub-areas.

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Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg
Institute for Sociology
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