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Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 4
SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE
Science is knowledge but every kind of knowledge is not science. Science is a method for the discovery of
uniformities in this universe through the process of observation and re-observation; the results are
organized, systematized, and made part of the body of knowledge. In this way science is a logical system
that bases knowledge on direct, systematic observation. Following this method creates scientific knowledge,
which rests on empirical evidence, that is, information that we can verify with our senses.
Goals of Science
The goals of science can be:
To explain why something happens.
To make generalizations. Discovery of uniformities/principles/laws.
Look for patterns in the phenomenon under observation, or recurring characteristics.
To predict. To specify what will happen in the future in the light of current knowledge.
For the attainment of the stipulated goals the procedure followed is to collect information through sensory
experiences. Hence we call it observations and there is repetition of observations.
Researcher would like to be positive about his findings. Therefore he would like to be definite, factual, and
positively sure. Hence the researcher would develop clear observational criteria i.e. measuring indicators
for adequate explanations.  This approach is called Positivism. Auguste Comte coined the term
`positivism', which means knowledge based on sensory experience.
Characteristics of Scientific Method
Empirical The focus of attention is that phenomenon which is observable by using five senses
1.
by the human beings. If one person has observed others can also make that observation which
implies that it is repeatable as well as testable.
Verifiable Observations made by any one researcher could be open to confirmation or refutation
2.
by other observers. Others could also use their sensory experiences for the verification of the
previous findings. The replicability of the phenomenon is essential for repeating the observation.
In this way the intuitions and revelations are out of this process because these are having been the
privileges of special individuals.
3.
Cumulative The knowledge created by this method keeps on growing. The researchers try to
develop linkages between their findings and the findings of previous researchers. The new
findings may support the previous researches, refute them, or may modify but certainly there is an
addition to the existing body of knowledge. The new researchers need not start from scratch,
rather they have a rich reservoir of knowledge at their disposal and they try to further build on it.
Self-Correcting Possibility of error is always there but the good thing is its identification and
4.
correction. The research findings are shared with other professionals in seminars, conferences,
and by printing these in professional journals. The comments are received and errors, if any, are
corrected. Even the scientists are not categorical in their statements. They would usually make a
statement as is supported by the evidence available at the time. Hence the statement is open to
challenge by the availability of new evidence.
5.
Deterministic Through scientific method the scientists try to explain why things happen? There
could be number of factors producing a particular effect but the researchers try to find out the
contribution of each factor as well as of different combinations of the same factors. In this way
he tries to identify the factor or combination of factors that produce the maximum effect. In this
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
way he tries to locate the minimum number of causal factors that explain the variation in the
effect. This is the principle of parsimony. Such an exercise is an effort to determine cause-and-
effect relationship.
6.
Ethical and ideological neutrality Researchers are human beings who have values, beliefs,
ideologies, and norms. Effort is made that the personal values, beliefs, and ideologies do not
contaminate the research findings. If these influence then the purity of the information is
adulterated and the predictions made by the scientists will not hold true. Hence the scientific
work should objective and unbiased. Since the human beings are studying the human beings to
what extent they can be unbiased?
Statistical Generalization Statistics is a device for comparing what is observed and what is
7.
logically expected. They are subjecting information to statistical analysis.
8.
Rationalism The collected facts have to be interpreted with arguments. Therefore the scientists
try to employ rigorous rule of logic in their research work.
Any knowledge that is created by applying scientific method is to be called as science. Sociology uses
scientific method for the understanding, identifying the patterns, and predicting the human behavior.
Therefore, sociology is science of human social life.
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Table of Contents:
  1. THE ORIGINS OF SOCIOLOGY:Auguste Comte, The Fields of Sociology
  2. THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE:Society affects what we do
  3. THEORETICAL PARADIGMS:Salient Paradigms, Critical Evaluation
  4. SOCIOLOGY AS SCIENCE:Empirical, Verifiable, Cumulative, Self-Correcting
  5. STEPS IN SOCIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION:Exploration/Consultation
  6. SOCIAL INTERACTION:Social Status, ROLE, The Social Construction of Reality
  7. SOCIAL GROUPS:Primary and Secondary Groups, Reference Group, Networks
  8. ORGANIZATIONS:Utilitarian Organizations, Coercive Organizations
  9. CULTURE:Universality, Components of Culture, Symbols, Language
  10. CULTURE (continued):Beliefs, Norms, Cultural Diversity
  11. CULTURE (continued):Culture by social class, Multiculturalism, Cultural Lag
  12. SOCIALIZATION: HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATURE, Social Isolation
  13. UNDERSTANDING THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
  14. AGENTS OF SOCIALIZATION:The Family, The School, Peer Groups, The Mass Media
  15. SOCIALIZATION AND THE LIFE COURSE:CHILDHOOD, ADOLESCENCE
  16. SOCIAL CONTROL AND DEVIANCE:Crime, Deviants, Stigma, Labeling
  17. THE SOCIAL FOUNDATIONS OF DEVIANCE:Cultural relativity of deviance
  18. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME:Sociological explanations
  19. EXPLANATIONS OF CRIME -- CONTINUED:White-Collar Crime, Conflict Theory
  20. SOCIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CRIME: EXPLANATIONS, Gender and Crime
  21. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: INTRODUCTION AND SIGNIFICANCE
  22. THEORIES OF CLASS AND STRATIFICATION I:Critical evaluation
  23. THEORIES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND STRATIFICATION II
  24. THEORIES OF CLASS AND SOCIAL STRATIFICATION III
  25. SOCIAL CLASS AS SUBCULTURE
  26. SOCIAL MOBILITY:Structural factors, Individual factors, Costs
  27. THE FAMILY: GLOBAL VARIETY, Marriage Patterns, Patterns of Descent
  28. FUNCTIONS OF FAMILY:Reproduction, Social placement
  29. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE IN TRANSITION:Family is losing functions
  30. GENDER: A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, Gender socialization
  31. GENDER SOCIALIZATION:Role of family, Gender Stratification
  32. EXPLANATIONS OF GENDER INEQUALITY:Conflict Explanations, Feminism
  33. FUNCTIONS OF SCHOOLING:Cultural Innovation, School Tracking
  34. ISSUES IN EDUCATION:Low Enrollment, High Dropout, Gender Disparity
  35. POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE:Crude Birth Rate
  36. THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:Theory of Demographic Transition
  37. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN:World Population Growth
  38. POPULATION PROFILE OF PAKISTAN (Continued):Age Distribution, Sex Composition
  39. IMPLICAIONS OF POPULATION GOWTH:Additional GDP needed per year
  40. POPULATION POLICY:Goals of Population Policy, Objectives, Strategies
  41. ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY:Global Dimension, Historical Dimension
  42. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:Preserving Clean Water, Clearing the Air
  43. SOCIAL CHANGE:Social change is controversial.
  44. CAUSES OF SOCIAL CHANGE:Culture and Change, Conflict and Change, Modernization
  45. MODERNITY AND POST MODERNITY:Cultural Patterns, Post-modernity