Read and Remember
“Social Physics “was the first name of sociology. Comte invented the term sociology, first publicly used in the fourth volume of his Positive Philosophy (1838). (Penguin Dictionary) p75
The credit for introducing new science, a science promising to studying human society on scientific lines (as group) goes to a French man- August Comte commonly known as father of sociology.
There is no consensus among sociologists on the definition of sociology. According to Auguste Comte sociology is “subject to natural and invariable laws, the discovery of which is object of investigation”. Other than Comtes’s definition C. N Shaker Rao, mentioned thirteen definitions of sociology given by different sociologist. The definitions identified are as follows:
1. Alex Inkeles, defined sociology “the study of systems of social actions and of their inter-relations”
2. Emile Durkhiem said Sociology as the “science of social institutions”
3. Franklin Henry Giddings defined sociology as “the science of social phenomenon”.
4. Harry M Johnson said “sociology is a science that deals with social groups”
5. Henry Fairchild, defined sociology as “the study of man and his human environment in their relations to each other”.
6. To Kingsley Davis, “sociology is a general science of society”
7. Kimball Young and Raymond called sociology “the scientific study of the social aspects of human life”
8. Marshal Jones, defined sociology “the study of man-in relationship to men”
9. Max Weber defined sociology “the science which attempts the interpretative understanding of social action in order thereby to arrive at a casual explanation of its course and effects”.
10. Morris Ginsberg said, “In the broadest sense sociology is the study of human interactions and inter-relations, their conditions and consequences”.
11. Ogburn and Nimkoff, defined sociology “ the scientific study of social life”.
12. Park said sociology “the science of collective behavior”
13. Small defined sociology “the science of social relationships”.
The different definitions and interpretations of sociology create confusions among the students of sociology especially to beginners.
Moreover, few definitions mentioned above create room for controversies and reflect the male dominance of sociology.
S. L Doshi (1999), remarks that “ in a single sentence , reviewing the definitions of sociology given by all these master thinkers, one could safely say that sociology studies man as member of society or a group , may it caste or clan”. He adds, “It all means that sociology is about interaction – human behavior which takes place among individuals. Secondly its prime objective is to improve that status of individual or society in wider context (P.20).
Marshel Jones and Henry Fairchild, Doshi and like minded limit the scope of sociology- limit sociology to study only men in society and ignore women who constitute half of society and without whom even the imagination of human society is impossible.
Iqbal philosopher poet beautifully talks about women in the following lines:
Wujood-e- Zan Se Hai Tasveer-e- Kainat Mein Rang
Issi Ke Saaz Se Hai Zindagi Ka Souz-e Darun
Issi Ke Saaz Se Hai Zindagi Ka Souz-e Darun
The presence of women fills colors in the picture of world
Her contributions keep it in course of action
Her contributions keep it in course of action
Whatever confusion and chaos various definition of sociology may create in the mind of beginners it is interesting for them to know that every alphabet of word sociology stands for the explanation and subject matter of sociology. The nine alphabets in the word sociology very nicely define sociology and clear all the chaos and confusion.
In the next page it is elaborated in detail and there is scope for addition and modification.
S = Social System, social processes
O = Of
C = Companions, Community, cooperation
Conciliation, competition, conflict
I = Interaction, Institutions
O = Ological (scientific study)
L = Liquid
O = Organisations
G = Groups
Y = Youngest
By giving order and explanation to the above mentioned words, sociology is youngest ological (scientific study) of liquid, social systems, social processes, companions, interaction, organisations and groups.
According to Cambridge advanced learners dictionary (2008), ological is related to particular type of scientific study. Zygmunt
Bauman (2000, 2005), remarks that the present phase of history of modernity is like a fluid, that flow, spill, run out, splash, leak, in simple liquid keep changing form, shape and nature. Bauman drew attention towards social relations in post modernity which he preferred to call liquid modernity.
Bauman rightly argues that forms of modernity changed. However, these changes were also experienced by earlier societies. Historical accounts reveal how human relations were changing in past also. How people were changing their stand with changing circumstances. How once staunch enemies turned intimate friends and intimate friends as foes. Like liquid with external pressure, stimulus and environment people used to act and behave like liquid.
In our context we observe that not common masses, individual like liquid change their colour, shape and size with changing circumstances but groups behave accordingly. Those participating in protests, freedom struggle, speak anti India with changing circumstances change their affiliations
The folk lore and literature sheds more light on the subject how people behave, behaved like liquids. In Kashmiri, there is a saying “haeth boeth chandus” ( hunderned masks in pocket) this reflects how people use to change colour,shape and nature even fast than liquid. The same thing is narrated in a bollywood song in these words “ Jab be Jee Chahay Naye Duniya Basatai hai loog, ek chahray pe kahee chahray laga lay tay hai loog” ( Whenever people desire they change their faces, turn their faces into many). No doubt the degree pace, and extent of this liquid behavior varied but it is not something new.
Sociology being a youngest science is a particular type of science as it deals with a very complex thing that is human society and behavior. Social relations and social reality which is the subject matter of sociology is like a liquid which keep changing its form and nature.
There is a lot which is not apparent and many times what is apparent is not reality. In our context there is a saying “ joh asta hai woh nahin baseta hai, joh basta hai who nahin aasta hai”(things are not what they appear they are what they not appear). American Sociologist Peter Berger put the same thing in different lines “the first wisdom of sociology is this - things are not what they seem”. S. L. Doshi (1999), while elaborating the view point of a noted contemporary sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, writes, sociology to Bourdieu “is a social science which uncovers the hidden truth of society”.
From the above discussion it is clear that the mandate of sociology is to study human societies and reveal what other sciences are not able to. Sociology is on a mission to understand social system, institutions, human interactions, organisations, groups irrespective of societies whether, developed or underdeveloped, traditional or modern rural or urban.
It is interesting to know when sociology claims to be science of society why we need a separate science of rural society. Is rural society not a society? After reading Louis Dumont, David Pocock, I. P. Deasi the question becomes more relevant, interesting and twisting. S.L. Doshi while quoting these scholars writes:
It is argued by David Pocock and Louis Dumont that there is nothing special about Indian rural life. Both rural and urban communities are part of the larger civilization of the subcontinent. They argue that urban community is nothing but extension of rural community. Basically, rural and urban communities are the two sides of the same coin. Whether it is Rampura or Kanpura, the marriage is basically a Hindu marriage. It does not change with the change of community. Similarly, there is nothing like rural family or urban family. Family is a basic Indian institution and in the paraphrase of I.P. Desai, family in India means joint family (P.12).
The above paragraph clears reflects that there is no difference at all in rural and urban set up of life. If it is so why we need a separate branch to study rural society? The present age of smart phones, facebook, twitter has further bridged gap between rural and urban societies. Both a youth from far flung area of a village and a youth from the center of city have access to internet and are influenced in their life style interaction. This raises further question mark on the need, relevance and importance of rural sociology.
Whatever may appear similar and same in rural and urban areas there is a lot of difference in social relations. There is difference in interaction, occupation, organization, politics and an institution, no matter it is apparent or not. Above all there is sociology in it. The lack of basic facilities like water, electricity, access to quality education and health facilities keep people attached with each other and maintain solidarity among people. Moreover, kinship ties and neighborhood acts as connecting bond between people. And even if there is hardly any difference between the two still there is scope of sociology especially of rural sociology.
Rural sociology like general sociology emerged in a particular context and there were factors responsible for the emergence of rural sociology. The next chapter deals with the emergence of rural sociology.
The Material is copy right and must not be cited without the permission of the author.
Bhat, Fayaz and Bhat Ajaz (2017). Disappearance of Daughters. Counter Currents
Bauman, Z. (2000) Liquid Modernity. Polity Press,
Bauman, Z. (2003) Liquid Love: On the Frailty of
Human Bonds. Polity Press, Cambridge.