understand the sociology – Sociology is defined as the science that studies humans as social beings. This means that the material object of sociology is a “social product”
In this sub-discussion of the definition of sociology, we will only briefly outline the definition. The understanding of sociology has been explained in detail in the previous discussion in several courses (Introduction to Sociology, classical Sociological Theory, and others).
Sociology is defined as the science that studies humans as social beings. This means that the material object of sociology is a “social product” produced by humans in their interactions. This interaction will result in social organization, community, social interaction, social solidarity, and others, which later become the concern of sociology.
How do we distinguish humans as individuals from humans as “social”?
Starting from the view that humans are social creatures, an indicator is needed of why humans become social creatures or how humans become “social.” As excerpted from Charon, 1980 in Sitorus & Nasdian (2015), there are at least four ways on how humans become social.
- First, humans are not instinctive creatures like animals but socialized creatures. This means that ideas, such as ideas, social organizations, interactions, behavior, language, habits, awareness, body (self), and mind (mind), are introduced by other people in their environment.
- Second humans are social actors who play their roles for each other. With this role, humans socialize, communicate, and make an impression on others.
- Third, humans form social patterns as a product of their interaction. This social pattern can be in organizations, groups, or social groups in society.
- Fourth: Four humans depend on each other to fulfill their needs.
Scientifically, sociology is part of the social science discipline, which means that sociology is a perspective to understanding humans as social beings in society in a methodological, structured, and directed manner.
Like scientists who study the physical world, sociologists also have scientific guidelines consisting of various theories and methods for collecting, processing, and understanding information to produce accurate conclusions and not just common sense (Stolley, 2005).
In another sense, sociology studies how individuals behave in groups and how their behavior is shaped by the groups in which they socialize. Not only that, but sociology also studies how groups are formed before finally influencing individual behavior and how the dynamics that maintain their existence lead to broader social change.
In short, the scope of sociology can be mapped as a theoretical study of social processes, social structures, and broader social systems. Why is that? Because society is broadly a connection of individuals (individuals) between structures (THORPE et al., 2015).
The relationship between the individual and society has given rise to several different perspectives and is the object of sociological study. Several figures have different perspectives on the individual-society relationship.
Spencer, Pareto, and Ward suggest that the individual has a dominant position compared to society. That is individuals with more influence on the dynamic processes in society. This dynamic is the object of sociological study.
Both Comte and Durkheim argued that society, with a set of social systems, has a dominant role in influencing individuals’ mindsets and ways of acting. The social system controls individuals in society.
So, individuals seem “forced” to behave, think, and act in their lives in society. In the third century, Sumner and Weber see a proportional dominance between the individual and society. According to him, the relationship between the two is interdependent and dependent on each other in maintaining the equilibrium of the social environment.
Regardless of the opinions and differences, the “social products” that arise due to these interactions become the object of sociological study. Humans become sociological studies when they are part of society, while humans become individuals who are separated from society, so the perspective to study it is the realm of psychology (Soekanto & Sulistyowati, 2015).
Now, the object of sociological study is becoming increasingly complex, along with the dynamics of society. The study of sociology develops following the direction of the development of social change, and in the end, sociology is transformed, entering into various parts of social dynamics and changes.
Sociology is closely related to other social science disciplines and even produces a new perspective when looking at social objects. The complexity of society’s social life requires social scientists to develop their study instruments starting from theories, paradigms, and perspectives to study them. Starting from here, then emerged the sociology of development (to study development from the sociological aspect), industrial sociology, economic sociology, cultural sociology, gender sociology, tourism sociology, and so on.
Sociology – Pure Science vs Applied Science
Based on one of its characteristics, sociology is pure science, meaning that research, analysis, and study results are aimed at developing and enriching the treasures of sociological knowledge itself, not for practical life (Subadi, 2008).
However, according to Soekanto and Sulistyowati (2015), Sociology is very useful in everyday life. For example, in the development stage, social data is needed to identify, plan, and evaluate development. Along with the need for sociological data in daily life, a discourse perspective emerges that sociology is not an absolute pure science under certain conditions, including applied science.
In the context of development, sociology is used for policy purposes to help think reflectively about what should be done. Freeman and Rosi (1984) in Borgatta & Montgomery (2000) state that the limitations of applied sociology can be seen from the central role in the actions of sociologists.
According to him, there are three central actions in applied sociology. The first is mapping and research indicators, the second is modeling social phenomena, and the third is evaluating of purposeful actions.