Sociology is a diverse subject, with many views on the way that society is defined according to its origins and development. Scientific, interpretative and critical sociology are three of the most recognized approaches to sociology, and along with its implications for society at large, as well as research into the scientific method in the future, are all discussed herein.
Scientific sociology focuses on the social aspect of society, and how political, historical and cultural factors, amongst others, come into play. Originally conceptualized in the late 1970s, one of the major streams of thought and expert on the topic was Emile Durkheim. Stemming from cultural anthropology, this approach to sociology considered that sociological factors influenced beliefs.
This approach to sociology has often digressed to analyse religion, which is more difficult to study in comparison to other issues (Altglas and Wood, 2010). On one hand, such analysis only focuses on scientifically relevant features, and does not cover religious beliefs in detail, which is often intangible.
Interpretative sociology, however, examines social aspects in light of social action. Known as ‘positive social science’, it was first popularized in Germany by Max Weber. Unlike scientific sociology, people who are studied using this approach are seen as individuals rather than objects, and have meaning and understanding to which actions are attributed in relation to the environment, especially in regards to social behavior, objective reality and qualitative data.
Using such a point-of-view approach to sociology also limits self-interpretation. Such substantive underpinnings provide the foreground to rationalizing and determining people’s roles and viewpoints (Sahni, 2009). This is also the product of rigorous research, which is discussed later.
Critical sociology comes from a school of thought which shows that different ideologies actually represent the obstacle to human liberation. The concept behind this approach is to integrate social science into understanding the improvement of society. This was first brought forward by Karl Marx in the early 1900s.
Unlike the scientific and interpretive approaches to sociology, this was known as one of the most radical concepts. By removing the obstacles in the way of human liberation; this was classified as ‘revolution’. The many changes that have to be implemented in order to take a potentially new direction in sociology is a fundamental step in a new way of thinking (Clammer, 2009). This has also come to be seen as ‘post-modern thinking’.
Influences in society are quite broad, but two of the major influences that affect all society are faith and status. The former is often embraced in wider society, whereas the latter is often limited to a particular social group.
Faith often defines a person’s or people’s lifestyle, and is the driving force behind finding fulfillment and purpose. Although there are many faiths, true faith is only found when the faithful people’s impact can be seen in every epoch of society. This is quite observable in countries such as the United States, where multiculturalism is embraced. However, faith is evidenced by what one does, not merely by what one believes; and this can be seen in society today by anyone and everyone who claims to have something to live for.
Status often separates people into social classes and can be recognized by one’s measure of power. The affluent are often the benefactors of status, whereas the strugglers are often those who cannot reach over into a higher class. Although in the United States, people are not ‘classed’ into status groups, it can be easily seen by the lifestyles that various people live. Depending on race, family, title and a myriad of other factors determines which status group one belongs to, and more often than not, one cannot cross into the other. However, status can be improved with hard work and dedication, a work ethic which the people of the United Stated have come to embrace.
In future research, the scientific method is often employed from a perspective similar to a “doctor-patient” approach. Depending on various social factors, determines what the person in question comes to believe. This can change over time, but often remains the same; and analysis of which should be taken subjectively rather than objectively.
To conclude, sociology should be researched thoroughly, in order for certain viewpoints to be studied correctly, without drawings false assumptions and negative characteristics. Rather, these approaches to sociology, and the people that embrace such viewpoints, should be understood and respected in the best interests of the person or people who are being studied.
Altglas, V. and Wood, M. (2010). Sociologists of Belief and Beliefs of Sociologists. Nordic Journal of Religion and Society, 23(1), 1-7.
Sahni, I. (2009). Max Weber’s Sociology of Law. Journal of Classic Sociology, 9(2), 209-233.
Clammer, J. (2009). Sociology and Beyond: Towards a Deep Sociology. Asian Journal of Social Science, 37(3), 15-16.