The sociological perspective is the view that human behavior is shaped by a sense of belonging to a group. Sociology is the study of social behavior, including social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. It is different from psychology, the study of individual behavior. Sociologists use the sociological perspective to examine and analyze the social behaviors that occur within groups, communities, and societies. They take a scientific approach to understanding society. Their work is grounded in the analysis of data. The sociological perspective reflects an attempt to view and analyze, rather than to judge, societies and social behavior.
Three central concepts within sociology are social interaction, social structure, and social change. Sociology began to develop as a field of study in the late-19th century. Theorists working to describe and understand the social and cultural impacts of the Industrial Revolution wanted to use a rational, scientific methodology. Sociologists continue to stress the importance of an empirical, evidence-based approach to understanding societies, social behavior, and social change.
At A Glance
- Sociology is the scientific study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
- Sociology examines examines social, not individual, behavior, and analyzes the structures and dynamics of societies, communities, and groups.
- The sociological perspective is an understanding of behavior as shaped by the groups people belong to and the interactions that occur within those groups.
- C. Wright Mills's concept of the sociological imagination encourages individuals to find and understand the links between their own lives and the broader scope of history and society.
- Sociology is an empirically based science, testing ideas about the social world by collecting and interpreting data.
- Sociologists study different levels of society: the macro level, the meso level, and the micro level.
- The central sociological concepts are social interaction, social structure, and social change.
- The field of sociology emerged alongside sweeping social changes linked to the Industrial Revolution and the development of modern capitalism.
- Influenced by Auguste Comte's positivism, sociology seeks to examine the world as it happens through empirical data.