Before going fully into the definition of sociology what we have to do is determine the etymological origin of this term. Specifically, its antecedents are found in Latin and more exactly in the union of the words socĭus, which would be translated as “partner or individual”, and lodge which has several meanings including “study”. Therefore, starting from this, we could make a literal translation that sociology is the study of the partner or individual.
The sociology is a science which is dedicated to the study of social groups (set of individuals who live together in various types of associations). This science analyzes the internal forms of organization, the relationships that the subjects maintain among themselves and with the system, and the degree of cohesion existing within the framework of the social structure.
For instance: “My son wants to study Sociology when he finishes high school.”, “Last night I saw a very interesting debate on sociology on television”, “The president may be a great economist, but he knows very little about sociology.”.
Sociology as a Science
It could be said that sociology has existed for a long time before it will develop as a science or its object of study will be delimited. In the 5th century BC, Herodotus he dedicated himself to making complete descriptions of the customs and rituals of various peoples. Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), for his part, was the one who proclaimed the notion of Ilm el Iytima (the science of society or social).
Auguste Comte, for his part, was in charge of shaping the concept of sociology, when in 1838 he presented his Positive Philosophy Course. Sociology was consolidated as an autonomous science only in the mid-nineteenth century. Late in the 20th century, different schools and dominant currents began to differentiate.
In this sense, it is interesting to make a short parenthesis to establish that sociology throughout history has not left anyone indifferent. Hence, great thinkers of all time such as the German Max Weber defined it as the science that is in charge of a very specific mission.
For him, what that discipline does is confront social action in order to undertake the explanation causally, from a so-called interpretive knowledge approach, both its development and its effects.
Study methods and paradigms of sociology
Sociology can be studied from different methods: the qualitative, which includes detailed descriptions and explanations of behaviors, situations and subjects, and which may also include the participants’ accounts told by themselves; and the method quantitative, which takes care of the variables that can be represented by numerical values (numbers) and that allow looking for possible relationships through statistical analysis.
Regarding the main sociological paradigms, the functionalism (which affirms that social institutions are means collectively developed to satisfy the needs of society), the Marxism (conflict theory), the structuralism, the symbolic interactionism and the systems theory.
Thus, today it is very common to resort to this science of the individual to carry out interesting studies around latent aspects in our society that concern or interest us. In this sense, it is frequent that sociological studies are carried out to determine the behavior of young people towards drugs or alcohol. Through these, data will be obtained on the ages at which they begin to consume, the reasons that lead them to drink or if they feel pressured by their group of friends to do so.