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The Scope and Areas of Sociology and the Sociological Researches

What are the areas of sociology?
a. Social organization is the study of the various institutions, social groups, social stratification, social mobility, bureaucracy, ethnic groups and relations, and other similar subjects like family, education, politics, religion, economy, and so on and so forth.
b. Social psychology is the study of human nature as an outcome of group life, social attitudes, collective behavior, and personality formation. It deals with group life and the individual's traits, attitudes, beliefs as influenced by group life, and it views man with reference to group life.
c. Social change and disorganization is the study of the change in culture and social relations and the disruption that may occur in society, and it deals with the study of such current problems in society such as juvenile delinquency, criminality, drug addiction, family conflicts, divorce, population problems, and other similar subjects.
d. Human ecology deals with the nature and behavior of a given population and its relationships to the group's present social institutions. For instance, studies of this kind have shown the prevalence of mental illness, criminality, delinquencies, prostitution, and drug addiction in urban centers and other highly developed places.
e. Population or demography is the study of population number, composition, change, and quality as they influence the economic, political, and social system.
Sociological theory and method is concerned with the applicability and usefulness of the principles and theories of group life as bases for the regulation of man's environment, and includes theory building and testing as bases for the prediction and control of man's social environment.
f. Applied sociology utilizes the findings of pure sociological research in various fields such as criminology, social work, community development, education, industrial relations, marriage, ethnic relations, family counseling, and other aspects and problems of daily life.

What are some of the ‘scope and topics’ in Sociology as a study?
a. Culture
For Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history".
Cultural sociology is seldom empirical, preferring instead the hermeneutic analysis of words, artifacts and symbols. The field is closely allied with critical theory.
Cultural Studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture (such as white working class youth in London) would consider the social practices of the group as they relate to the dominant class.

b. Criminality, deviance, law and punishment
Criminologists analyze the nature, causes, and control of criminal activity, drawing upon methods across sociology, psychology, and the behavioural sciences. The sociology of deviance focuses on actions or behaviors that violate norms, including both formally enacted rules (e.g., crime) and informal violations of cultural norms. It is the remit of sociologists to study why these norms exist; how they change over time; and how they are enforced.
The study of law played a significant role in the formation of classical sociology. Durkheim famously described law as the "visible symbol" of social solidarity. Sociology of law examines the interaction of law with other aspects of society, such as the development of legal institutions and the effect of laws on social change and vice versa. For example, an influential recent work in the field relies on statistical analyses to argue that the increase in incarceration in the US over the last 30 years is due to changes in law and policing and not to an increase in crime; and that this increase significantly contributes to maintaining racial stratification.

c. Economic sociology
The term "economic sociology" was first used by William Stanley Jevons in 1879. Economic sociology arose as a new approach to the analysis of economic phenomena, emphasizing class relations and modernity as a philosophical concept. The relationship between capitalism and modernity is one salient issue.

d. Environment
Environmental sociology is the study of human interactions with the natural environment, typically emphasizing human dimensions of environmental problems, social impacts of those problems, and efforts to resolve them. As with other subfields of sociology, scholarship in environmental sociology may be at one or multiple levels of analysis, from global (e.g. world-systems) to local, societal to individual. Attention is paid also to the processes by which environmental problems become defined and known to humans.

f. Education
The sociology of education is the study of how educational institutions determine social structures, experiences, and other outcomes. It is particularly concerned with the schooling systems of modern industrial societies. A classic 1966 study in this field by James Coleman, known as the "Coleman Report", analyzed the performance of over 150,000 students and found that student background and socioeconomic status are much more important in determining educational outcomes than are measured differences in school resources (i.e. per pupil spending). 

g. Family, gender, and sexuality
The sociology of the family examines the family, as an institution and unit of socialization, with special concern for the comparatively modern historical emergence of the nuclear family and its distinct gender roles. The notion of "childhood" is also significant.
Feminist sociology, on the other hand, is a normative subfield that observes and critiques the cultural categories of gender and sexuality, particularly with respect to power and inequality. The primary concern of feminist theory is the patriarchy and the systematic oppression of women apparent in many societies, both at the level of small-scale interaction and in terms of the broader social structure.
Social psychology of gender, on the other hand, uses experimental methods to uncover the microprocesses of gender stratification. For example, one recent study has shown that resume evaluators penalize women for motherhood while giving a boost to men for fatherhood. Another set of experiments showed that men whose sexuality is questioned compensate by expressing a greater desire for military intervention and sport utility vehicles as well as a greater opposition to gay marriage.

h. Health and illness
The sociology of health and illness focuses on the social effects of, and public attitudes toward, illnessesdiseasesdisabilities and the aging process. Medical sociology, by contrast, focuses on the inner-workings of medical organizations and clinical institutions.

i. Internet
The sociology of the Internet in the broad sense regards the analysis of online communities (e.g. newsgroups, social networking sites) and virtual worlds. Online communities may be studied statistically through network analysis or interpreted qualitatively through virtual ethnography. Organizational change is catalyzed through new media, thereby influencing social change at-large, perhaps forming the framework for a transformation from an industrial to an informational society.

j. Knowledge and science
The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies.
The sociology of science involves the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."

k. Media
Sociology of media involves analyses of socialising factors, such as ideological effects and audience reception. Thus the 'sociology of the media' is not a subdiscipline per se, but the media is a common and often-indispensable topic.

l. Political sociology
Historically political sociology concerned the relations between political organization and society. A typical research question in this area might be: "Why do so few American citizens choose to vote?" 

m. Race and ethnic relations
The sociology of race and of ethnic relations is the area of the discipline that studies the social, political, and economic relations between races and ethnicities at all levels of society. This area encompasses the study of racismresidential segregation, and other complex social processes between different racial and ethnic groups. This research frequently interacts with other areas of sociology such as stratification and social psychology, as well as with postcolonial theory. At the level of political policy, ethnic relations are discussed in terms of either assimilationism or multiculturalismAnti-racism forms another style of policy, particularly popular in the 1960s and 70s.

n. Religion
The sociology of religion concerns the practices, historical backgrounds, developments, universal themes and roles of religion in society. There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. The sociology of religion is distinguished from the philosophy of religion in that sociologists do not set out to assess the validity of religious truth-claims. Contemporary debates often center on topics such as secularizationcivil religion, and the role of religion in a context of globalization and multiculturalism.

o. Social networks
A social network is a social structure composed of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes", which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendshipkinship, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige. Social networks operate on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals.
Rather than treating individuals (persons, organizations, states) as discrete units of analysis, it focuses on how the structure of ties affects individuals and their relationships. In contrast to analyses that assume that socialization into norms determines behavior, network analysis looks to see the extent to which the structure and composition of ties affect norms.

p. Social psychology
Sociological social psychology focuses on micro-scale social actions. This area may be described as adhering to "sociological miniaturism", examining whole societies through the study of individual thoughts and emotions as well as behavior of small groups. Of special concern to psychological sociologists is how to explain a variety of demographic, social, and cultural facts in terms of human social interaction. Some of the major topics in this field are social inequality, group dynamics, prejudice, aggression, social perception, group behavior, social change, nonverbal behavior, socialization, conformity, leadership, and social identity.

q. Stratification
Social stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of individuals into social classes, castes, and divisions within a society. Modern Western societies stratification traditionally relates to cultural and economic classes arranged in three main layers: upper classmiddle class, and lower class, but each class may be further subdivided into smaller classes (e.g. occupational).
Karl Marx distinguished social classes by their connection to the means of production in the capitalist system: the bourgeoisie own the means, but this effectively includes the proletariat itself as the workers can only sell their own labour power (forming the material base of the cultural superstructure). Max Weber critiqued Marxist economic determinism, arguing that social stratification is not based purely on economic inequalities, but on other status and power differentials (e.g. patriarchy). According to Weber, stratification may occur amongst at least three complex variables: (1) Property (class): A person's economic position in a society, based on birth and individual achievement. Weber differs from Marx in that he does not see this as the supreme factor in stratification. Weber noted how managers of corporations or industries control firms they do not own; Marx would have placed such a person in the proletariat. (2) Prestige (status): A person's prestige, or popularity in a society. This could be determined by the kind of job this person does or wealth. and (3) Power (political party): A person's ability to get their way despite the resistance of others. For example, individuals in state jobs, such as an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or a member of the United States Congress, may hold little property or status but they still hold immense power.

r. Urban and rural sociology
Urban sociology involves the analysis of social life and human interaction in metropolitan areas. It is a discipline seeking to provide advice for planning and policy making. After the industrial revolution, works such as Georg Simmel's The Metropolis and Mental Life (1903) focused on urbanization and the effect it had on alienation and anonymity. In the 1920s and 1930s The Chicago School produced a major body of theory on the nature of the city, important to both urban sociology and criminology, utilizing symbolic interactionism as a method of field research. Contemporary research is commonly placed in a context of globalization, for instance, in Saskia Sassen's study of the "Global city".Rural sociology, by contrast, is the analysis of non-metropolitan areas.

s. Work and industry
The sociology of work, or industrial sociology, examines "the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization, labor markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations to the extent to which these trends are intimately related to changing patterns of inequality in modern societies and to the changing experiences of individuals and families the ways in which workers challenge, resist and make their own contributions to the patterning of work and shaping of work institutions."

What is the so-called ‘structure’? What is ‘agency’ in sociology?
Structure and agency, form an enduring ontological debate in social theory: "Do social structures determine an individual's behavior or does human agency?" In this context 'agency' refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and make free choices, whereas 'structure' relates to factors which limit or affect the choices and actions of individuals (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, and so on).

What are the basic research methodologies in Sociology?
The quantitative and the qualitative designs.

What is quantitative design?
 Quantitative designs approach social phenomena through quantifiable evidence, and often rely on statistical analysis of many cases (or across intentionally designed treatments in an experiment) to create valid and reliable general claims.

What is qualitative design?
Qualitative designs emphasize understanding of social phenomena through direct observation, communication with participants, or analysis of texts, and may stress contextual and subjective accuracy over generality.

Compare and relate quantitative and qualitative designs.
While very different in many aspects, both qualitative and quantitative approaches involve a systematic interaction between theory and data. The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate. For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire to a representative sample population. By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individual's social actions may choose ethnographic participant observation or open-ended interviews. Studies will commonly combine, or 'triangulate', quantitative and qualitative methods as part of a 'multi-strategy' design. For instance, a quantitative study may be performed to gain statistical patterns or a target sample, and then combined with a qualitative interview to determine the play of agency.


What are some examples of research methods in Sociology?
a. Archival research or the Historical method: draws upon the secondary data located in historical archives and records, such as biographies, memoirs, journals, and so on.
b. Content analysis: The content of interviews and other texts is systematically analyzed. Often data is 'coded'.
c. Experimental research: The researcher isolates a single social process and reproduces it in a laboratory (for example, by creating a situation where unconscious sexist judgments are possible), seeking to determine whether or not certain social variables can cause, or depend upon, other variables (for instance, seeing if people's feelings about traditional gender roles can be manipulated by the activation of contrasting gender stereotypes). Participants are randomly assigned to different groups which either serve as controls—acting as reference points because they are tested with regard to the dependent variable, albeit without having been exposed to any independent variables of interest—or receive one or more treatments. Randomization allows the researcher to be sure that any resulting differences between groups are the result of the treatment.
d. Longitudinal study: An extensive examination of a specific person or group over a long period of time.
e. Observation: Using data from the senses, the researcher records information about social phenomenon or behavior. Observation techniques may or may not feature participation. In participant observation, the researcher goes into the field (such as a community or a place of work), and participates in the activities of the field for a prolonged period of time in order to acquire a deep understanding of it. Data acquired through these techniques may be analyzed either quantitatively or qualitatively.
f. Survey research: The researcher gathers data using interviews, questionnaires, or similar feedback from a set of people sampled from a particular population of interest. Survey items from an interview or questionnaire may be open-ended or closed-ended. Data from surveys is usually analyzed statistically on a computer.

What are the practical applications of social research?
Social research informs politicians and policy makerseducatorsplannerslawmakersadministratorsdevelopersbusiness magnates, managers, social workersnon-governmental organizationsnon-profit organizations, and people interested in resolving social issues in general. There is often a great deal of crossover between social research, market research, and other statistical fields.

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