Nature of Sociology According to Robert Bierstedt:
Sociology is the branch of knowledge and it has its own characteristics. Sociology has different nature in society. It is different from other sciences in certain respects. The following are the main characteristics of sociology as enlisted by Robert Bierstedt in his book ” The Social Order” and they are as follows:-
1) Sociology is an independent science:- Sociology has now emerged into an independent science. It is not treated and studied as a branch of any other science, like philosophy or political philosophy, or history. As an independent science is has its own field of study, boundary and method.
2) Sociology is a social science not a physical science:- Sociology belongs to the family of social sciences, and not to the family of physical science. As a social science, it concentrates its attention on man, his social behaviors, social activities and social life. As a member of the family of social sciences it is intimately related to other social science like history, political science, economic, philosophy, anthropology etc. The fact that sociology deles with the social universe distinguishes it from astronomy, physics, Chemistry, Geology, Mathematics and others physical sciences.
3) Sociology is a categorical and not a normative discipline:- Sociology “confines itself to statements about what is, not what should be or ought to be”. As a science, sociology is necessary silent about question of value. It does not make any kind of value-judgment. Its approach is neither moral nor immoral, but amoral. It is ethically neutral, but does not mean that sociological knowledge is useless serves no purpose it only means that sociology as a discipline can’t deal with problems of good and evil, Right and wrong, and moral or immoral.
4) Sociology is a pure science and not an applied science: – A distinction is often made between pure sciences and applied sciences. The main aim of pure sciences is the acquisition of knowledge and it is not bothered whether the acquired knowledge is useful or can be put to use on the other hand, the aim of applied science is to apply the acquired knowledge into life and to put it to use. Each pure science may have its own applied field. For example Physics is a pure science and engineering is it’s applied field. Sociology as a pure science has its applied field. Such as administration diplomacy, social work etc. Each pure science may have more than one application. Sociology is a pure science, because the immediate aim of sociology is the acquisition of knowledge about human society, not the utilization of that knowledge.
5) Sociology is relatively an abstract science not a concrete science:- This does not mean that sociology is an art and not a science. Nor does it mean, it is unnecessarily complicated and unduly difficult. It only means that sociology is not interested in concrete manifestations of human events. It is more concerned with the form of human events and there patterns. For example sociology is not concerned with particular war and revolutions but with war and revolution in general, as social phenomena as types of social conflict. Similarly, Sociology does not confine itself to the study of this society that particular society, or social organization, or marriage, or religion, or group and so on. It is in this simple sense that sociology is an abstract not a concrete science.
6) Sociology is a generalizing and not a particularizing or Individualizing Science:- Sociology tries to find out the general laws or principles about human interaction or situation, about the nature, From, Content, and structure of human group of societies. It does not study each and every event that takes place in the society. It is not possible also. It tries to make generalization on the basic of the study of some selected events. For example, a sociologist makes generalizations about the nature of secondary groups. He may conclude that secondary groups are comparatively bigger in size, less stable, not necessarily specially limited and so on. This he does not by examine all the secondary group but by observing and studying a few.
7) Sociology is a general Science and not a special Social Science:- The area of inquiry of sociology is general and not specialize. It is concerned with human interaction and human life in general other social sciences like political Science, History, Economic etc, also study man and human interaction, but not all about human interaction. They concentrate their attention on certain aspects of human interaction and activities. Accordingly Economic specializes itself in the study of economic activities. Political science concentrates on political activities and so on. Sociology, of-course dose not investigate Economic, Religious, Political, Legal, Moral or any other special kind of phenomenal in relation to human life and activities as such. It only studies human activities in a general way.
8 ) Finally, Sociology is both a Rational and an Empirical Science:- There are two broad ways of approach to scientific knowledge. One, Known as Empiricism is the approach that Empiricists experience and the facts that result from observation and experimentation. The other, known as rationalism stresses reason and the theories that result from logical inference. The Empiricists collects fact; the rationalist co-ordinates and arranges them. Theories and facts are required in the construction of knowledge. In Sociological inquiry both are significant. As Immanual Kant said, “Theories without facts are empty, and facts without theories are blind”. All modern sciences, there-for avail them-self of both Empirical and Rational Sciences. Sociology is not an exception.
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