Sociology Information

Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge and theory about human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structures.

Sociology is both topically and methodologically a very broad discipline. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification , religion, secularization, modernity, culture and deviance, and its approaches have included both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. As much of what humans do fits under the category of social structure and agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as medical, military and penal institutions, the internet, and even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. The range of social scientific methods has also broadly expanded. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-20th century led to increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, and philosophic approaches to the analysis of society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new mathematically and computationally rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modelling and social network analysis.

Sociological reasoning pre-dates the foundation of the discipline. Social analysis has origins in the common stock of Western knowledge and philosophy, and has been carried out from at least as early as the time of Plato. There is evidence of early sociology in medieval Islam. It may be said that the first sociologist was Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century Arab scholar from North Africa, whose Muqaddimah was the first work to advance social-scientific theories of social cohesion and social conflict.

Wikipedia, Sociology, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociology (as of Apr 10, 2010)

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