Chapter 1- NATURE OF SOCIOLOGY
Lecturer: Mrs Ace Ordonez- Samaniego
Human being cannot escape from the effects of society.
Even unborn fetus inside his mother’s womb is affected by “social milieu”.
Human beings are born into and spend their entire lives within groups. As
such they can be described as “social animals” who depend on others for the
satisfaction of their needs. Through childhood and into adulthood, groups
give meaning and support to the individual.
Relationship between people and structure
The influence of society is the central question asked by sociologists when
they attempt to explain human behavior. People are social beings more than
they are individuals. Our thinking and motivation are largely shaped by our
life experiences as we interact with one another.
“Society profoundly shapes people’s behavior and attitudes." We exist within
social structure, which refers to patterns of social interaction and social
relationships. Social structure, in turn, has great influence on who we are as
individuals. It influences our behavior, our attitudes, and our life chances.
within the group
Sociology is not concerned with the study of human being as an isolated
individual, but with the study of people in the group or social context.
Sociology is defined as the scientific study of human interaction and the
products of such interaction.
Sociology is concerned with the ultimate question of how and why human
beings act the way they do.
The Origin of the word Sociology
The word sociology derives from the French word, sociologie, a hybrid coined
in 1830 by French philosopher Isidore Auguste Comte (1798-1857), from the
Latin: socius, meaning "companion"; and the suffix -ology, meaning "the
study of", from the Greek λόγος, lógos, "knowledge". The English word,
sociology, appeared in 1843.
Sociology is a science. In
attempt to understand
society and its problems,
sociologists use different
methods of studies. Ex.
“A sociologist is value-free.” This doesn’t
mean that a sociologist doesn’t have any
values but according to Max Weber, a
German sociologist; A sociologist should
have “objectivity”. In practicing sociology, a
sociologist should separate his personal
opinion, beliefs and values. These could be
hindrance in searching for truths from the
gathered information or data.
Any person can be a sociologist if he will only use his sociological point of view
and ways of analysis.
1. Auguste Comte
Considered the founder of sociology.
Raised in the shadow of French Revolution, he was
stimulated to investigate society by the momentous
social changes swirling around him.
The breakdown of traditional social pattern s disturbed
Comte, but he hoped that the scientific study would
improve the human condition.
Comte felt that sociology should use the method of
“POSITIVISM”- a path to understanding the world
based on science.
Posivitism emphasizes the techniques of observation,
comparison ( particularly historical comparison), and
experimentation in the development of knowledge
concerning the nature of society and human action.
2. Karl Marx –
German economist and philosopher
Marx saw the conflict between the bourgeoisie
( the owner of the production) and the proletariat (laboring
He believed that society should not only be studied but
should be changed because the status quo (existing state
of society) was resulting from the oppression of most
population by a small group of wealthy people.
Looking back in history … we find that no philosophers ever viewed
matters with sociological perspectives until quite recently. Before the
birth of sociology, philosophers and theologians concentrated their
energies on imagining the ‘ideal society”. None attempted to analyze “real
society”, as it actually was. In creating the discipline of sociology, pioneers
such as Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim reversed these priorities.
Although they were concerned with how human society can be improved,
the major goal of early sociologist s was to understand how society actually
Marx stressed that history is a continuous clash between
conflicting ideas and forces.
He believed that conflict especially class conflict is
necessary in order to produce social change and a better
3. Emile Durkheim
According to Durkheim the problem of society is anomie
or the breakdown of societal norms.
He believed that sociology should study the normal and
balance reality of the society.
Durkheim was against socialism. He did not believe in
• Perspectives might best be viewed as models:
• Each perspective makes assumptions about
• Each one attempts to integrate various kinds of
information about society.
• Models give meaning to what we see and
• Each perspective focuses on different aspects of
View of Society
• Society as a system of interrelated parts. All the parts act together
even though each part may be doing different things.
• Institutions, such as family, education, and religion are the parts of the
social system and they act to bring about order in society.
• Integration of the various parts is important. When all the "parts" of
the system work together, balance is maintained and the overall order
of the system is achieved.
• Social structures in society promote integration, stability, consensus,
• Conflict theorists see society less as a cohesive system and more as an
arena of conflict and power struggles. Instead of people working
together to further the goals of the "social system,"
• People are seen achieving their will at the expense of others.
• People compete against each other for scarce resources.
• Basic inequalities between various groups are a constant theme of
• Power, or the lack of it, is also a basic theme of conflict theory.
• Since some people benefit at the expense of others, those who benefit
use ideology to justify their unequal advantage in social relationships.
Conflict and Change
As a result of tension, hostility, competition, and disagreements over goals
and values, change is one of the basic features in society. In general,
change occurs because of inequality and the battle over scarce resources.
Conflict occurs because people want things (power, wealth, and prestige)
that are in short supply. One should realize that conflict is not
intrinsically bad. Conflict provides grounds where people unite in order
that they may act on their common interests. Conflict is the motor for
• Like the functionalists, conflict theorists recognize the existence of
social structures, but instead of structures existing for the good of the
whole system, social structures (institutions) serve the interests of the
powerful. One should also recognize the flip side of this coin.
Structures that serve the powerful also are designed to keep other
groups in society in their place for the privilege of others.
• Instead of following the functionalist path of addressing dysfunction
(i.e. something that doesn't work) conflict theorists would ask "Who
• Example: Acid rain
Acid rain is not "bad" for everyone. The powerful people who control
polluting industries stand to make huge profits by not providing proper
• Interactionists focus on the subjective aspects of social life, rather than
on objective. Interactionists prefer to explore the interaction of
individuals or groups of individuals
• One reason for this focus is that interactionists base their theoretical
perspective on their image of humans, rather than on their image of
society (as the functionalists do).
• For interactionists, humans are pragmatic actors who continually
must adjust their behavior to the actions of other actors.
• We can adjust to these actions only because we are able to interpret
them, i.e., to denote them symbolically and treat the actions and those
who perform them as symbolic objects.
• Thus, the interactionist theorist sees humans as active, creative
participants who construct their social world, not as passive,
conforming objects of socialization.
• For the interactionist, society consists of organized and patterned
interactions among individuals. Thus, research by interactionists
focuses on easily observable face-to-face interactions rather than on
macro-level structural relationships involving social institutions.
How does Interactionist view change?
• Society is dynamic.
• Change occurs as a result of interaction between individuals.
• Continuous change, not stable patterns, characterizes the real nature
of society. This kind of change is much less deterministic than change
associated with the conflict perspective. Marxists look for change that
is determined by characteristics in the social structure. Change from
the Interactionist perspective is free-form.
Lectured by: Mrs Ace Ordonez Samaniego