Primary Source Archives
Gale Primary Sources contains full-text archives and collections that deliver firsthand content, including historical documents, archives, journals, and news articles that examine and analyze sociology.
Sociology is the scientific or systematic study of human society. Sociology aims to probe the world of people in an effort to understand and explain human behavior. Of all the social sciences, it is the broadest due to its extensive scope. The focus of sociology spans from individuals to expanding groups of people. The discipline of sociology continues to evolve in response to social transformations. The role of sociologists is contested as sociologists themselves debate their role as scientists versus advocates.
There are three major perspectives within sociology. The functionalist perspective approaches society as a complex system of parts working together to promote both solidarity and stability for society as a whole. The conflict paradigm examines how society is stratified along with class, race, ethnicity, gender, and age categories, and how these categories are linked to the unequal distribution of resources. The interactionist (or microsociology) perspective emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between the individual and society—how individuals define themselves based on how others see and interact with them.
Sociology is divided into many specialized fields. Some examples are applied sociology, comparative sociology, cultural sociology, human ecology, medical sociology, political sociology, sociology of religion, rural sociology, and urban sociology. Regardless of field, sociologists aim to collect repeated observations in controlled environments to find patterns across groups, communities, and societies. Research in sociology spans both quantitative methods, intending to predict and explain, and qualitative methods that seek to understand and interpret rather than predict.
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