Both an applied and a basic science For about the first 40 years of the 20th century, most American sociologists emphasized the practical aspects of the field, especially in terms of initiating various social reforms. That is, they viewed sociology as an applied social science (applying their knowledge to create practical solutions to societal problems). Later, when sociologists became more interested in developing general theories of how society works, many viewed sociology as a basic social science, (seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge only). Along with the ideal of knowledge for its own sake came the notion that sociology should be “pure” and objective—without values, opinions, or agendas for social reform. As a result, between 1940 and 1960, sociologists developed and applied rigorous and sophisticated scientific methods to the study of social behavior and societies.
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