A First Look at Sociology

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SOCIOLOGY A First Look at Sociology What is Sociology? Sociology is the scientific study of human behaviour in groups and of the social forces that influence that behaviour. Sociology focuses on the belief that a scientific analysis of the factors in the social world is one of the most effective and interesting ways to understand human behaviour. Sociology can examine any social issues involving groups of all sizes as well as all phases of people’s lives. Sociologists do not simply declare their beliefs indisputable truths – they do research to determine whether those beliefs are correct. Their investigations are rooted in the scientific method that distinguishes the sociological perspective from “commonsense” interpretations of the world. The sociological perspective emphasizes that people’s thoughts and action are strongly influenced by the groups to which they belong as well as by impinging social factors such as beliefs, values, practices and institutions. From birth to death individuals are imbedded within and influenced by groups and larger structures. As sociologists our main goal is to understand social situations and look for repeating patterns in society. Sociologists are engaged in rigorous scientific endeavour which requires objectivity and detachment. The main focus of sociology is the group and not the individual. Sociologists attempt to understand the forces that mold individuals, shape their behaviour and thus determine social events. Through a variety of experiences we develop a set of ideas about the world and how it operates. This point of view influences how we look at the world and guides our attempts to understand the actions and reactions of others. A sociologist would note that this personalized approach does not give enough accurate information to develop an understanding of the broader social picture.
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