But, little is understood by many about the significance of studying and understanding of society and its elements. To keep informed and influence the people for a better and socially conscious life, a new branch of knowledge has evolved over the years known as Sociology, which is a part of Social Science. "The term 'sociology' was first coined by Canadian sociologist Talcott Parsons in the late seventeenth century to refer to any study into the systematic behavior of humans, animals or plants. The discipline became established in academic departments in the late 1950s, beginning at the University of New Orleans" (Fundamentals of Sociology). The Study of Sociology is important to understand social structures, social systems and social issues, which are peculiar to each society and country. Further, the need for a proper understanding is compounded since individual behavior is largely influenced and shaped by social elements and its interaction with him/her. The present essay is an attempt to review the fundamentals of sociology and to stress how relevant the study of sociology is in the practical life of individuals.
Meaning and Definition
In simple terms sociology refers to the study of human society. It involves the examination of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociology as a body of knowledge provides a critical and systematic understanding of the processes that structure the society in which we live. A sociologist looks an individual as a part of the group and the study of individual is always done in that perspective. Therefore, the study of sociology enables individuals to understand the nature of patterns in groups and collective life in which individuals are a part of, for example families, youth cultures, workplaces, ethnic communities or society as a whole. As a discipline, it tries to address questions like how society is made possible, how it functions, and what sustains it. To understand how society operates, one must study social elements such as the family, education, work, religion, and the state.
The term 'sociology' has been defined by many authors in different ways, some of which are discussed below:
1. Anthony Giddens (Defining Sociology) defines "Sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies. It is a dazzling and compelling enterprise, having as its subject matter our own behaviour as social beings. The scope of sociology is extremely wide, ranging from the analysis of passing encounters between individuals in the street up to the investigation of world-wide social processes".
2. In "The Complete A-Z Sociology Handbook" (1996) Tony Lawson and Joan Garrod - define sociology "is the study of individuals in groups and social formations in a systematic way, which grew out of the search for understanding associated with the industrial and scientific revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. It is now an established discipline in post-16 education and has offered generations of students' insights into the social world they inhabit. Often accused by the right of being left-wing, it includes individuals of every political opinion who are united by a commitment to search for knowledge and understanding through providing evidence for the theories and insights they offer".
3. American Sociological Association (Defining Sociology) defines Sociology "is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behaviour. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human behaviour is social, the subject matter of sociology