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Sociology: Its History, Tools, and Modern Developments

Definition and Purpose

Today I’d like to talk to you about the scientific field of study that concerns the very nature of human beings – Sociology. It investigates all types of human relationships, from governmental structures to important personal matters. Its subject is diverse by nature, as it serves as a link between every other social science. As Turner (2003) states in his «Handbook of sociological theory», «sociology develops theories that explain the social world» (p. 2). Sociology aims to describe how humans shape the world around them by analyzing their actions and consequences.

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Roots of Sociology

Sociology is a relatively new discipline, although it takes roots from the works of such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius (Crossman, 2019). For example, in his work «Politics», Aristotle provides multiple sociological insights into the nature of human society, which remain true up to today (as cited in Swingewood, 1984). While humans began studying society in Ancient times, sociology was not defined as a science until the nineteenth century in Europe.

History of Sociology

Even though the term «sociology» was introduced in the 19th century by August Comte, sociology as a science took off during the twentieth century. The interest in sociology was sparked again when European people were introduced to other cultures and began questioning the reasons behind their difference. The societal changes that were brought by the first industrial revolution challenged the societal order and allowed people to push for democracy. Sociology in the 20th century had embraced the subjectivity of society to the full extent, subverting realism.

Modern Sociology

As the focus of the discipline was split between the sociology of the individual and sociology of the structure, two distinct approaches were created: micro-sociology, also known as social psychology, and macro-sociology, or structural sociology (Mirfakhraie, 2019). Modern societies are shaped and function in accordance with an ideology that is followed by the prevalent group of people in them. Sociologist Nicki Cole (2019) in her article Theories of Ideology writes that “Ideology is a fundamental concept in sociology.” Currently, capitalism has the strongest position among all ideologies on human society globally.

How Sociology Relates to other Sciences

This discipline is unique in its affinity to being subjective, however, sociologists use more stable social sciences, such as history and anthropology as a foundation for their research. For example, even though the main concern of sociology is modern society, it uses historical data as evidence Moreover, when history is being observed from the sociological angle, previously undiscovered aspects of it can be revealed. Sociology, anthropology, and psychology greatly overlap, they use a similar approach to their studies and provide mutual help to their shared subject of study – a human.

Sociology does not only takes its foundation from other sciences but also allows these sciences to use this discipline to create a different approach. For example, sociology took its roots from politics, however, nowadays political sciences often rely on sociologists to gain an insight into opinions and tendencies within society. Economics cannot exclude sociological factors as well: the basis for economic changes and developments stems from humans striving to change their lives for the better (Aakansha, 2017). Even geography has ties to sociology, as people define borders in accordance with social influences.

Tools of Research

There are multiple ways that sociologists use to gather data, but most often information is gathered directly from the subjects of study – humans – through interviews, surveys, and experiences. Scientists try to interpret the situations and behaviors they observe, search for their causes and consequences. James Wright (2015) describes sociological analysis as the main principle of the evidence-gathering process and the only way to stay relatively objective while remaining open for claims and opinions. He calls for a rational view on the subject of discussion and empathizes the necessity for a non-judgmental approach to any sociological issue. The crucial requirement for empirical evidence is that it needs to stay as objective as possible.

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Changes in Society

Unlike other sciences, sociological knowledge and theories are not static and change to reflect modern society (Mirfakhraie, 2019). While sociology provides a stable ground for scientists to analyze changes that affect human society, it shifts alongside them. Sociologists aim to understand the consequences of these changes for various groups across the globe. Modern sociology defines these changes as a natural and inevitable process of human development (Mirfakhraie, 2019). In conclusion, sociology covers a significant, perhaps, the most important field of research – human society. Its studies provide a crucial impact on all other societal changes. Sociology applies to all parts of human lives, from political views to family relationships, this is why this course is crucial in the educational process.


Aakansha. (2017). Relationship of sociology with other social sciences. Sociology Group. Web.

Calhoun C. (2002). Dictionary of the social sciences. Oxford University Press.

Cole, N. L. (2019). Theories of ideology. ThoughCo. Web.

Crossman, A. (2019). The history of sociology is rooted in Ancient times. ThoughtCo. Web.

Little, W. (2014). Introduction to sociology (1st Canadian ed.). BCampus.

Mirfakhraie, A. (2019). A critical introduction to sociology modernity, colonialism, nation-building, and post-modernity. Kendall Hunt Publishing.

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Ritzer, G. (2013). Sociological theory (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill.

Swingewood, A. (1984). Origins of sociology. Palgrave.

Turner, J. H. (2003). Handbook of sociological theory. Springer.

Wright, J. (2015). International Encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences (2nd ed.) Elsevier.

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