Do other sciences value sociology

General sociology

The following remarks based on the sub-module GS 1.3 Sociology

The term sociology is derived from the Latin word “socius” (companion) and the Greek word λόγος (logos, science). So sociology is the study of society and researches both theoretically and empirically the social behavior of people.

There is no more specific, generally binding definition. Mostly, however, a definition by the German sociologist Max Weber is used, who puts the social behavior of actors at the center of the declaration:

Sociology should mean: a science that wants to interpret social action and thereby explain its course and effects causally. "Action" should mean human behavior [...] if and insofar as the agent or agents associate it with a subjective meaning. 'Social' action, however, should mean such action which, according to the meaning intended by the agent, is related to the behavior of others and is based on this in its course. "
Max Weber (1920) Economy and Society.

More generally, sociology could be described as a paradigm / theory-led, empirical-rational science that grasps and interprets social reality (s) (demarcation from everyday knowledge). This means that sociology uses methods of empirical social research to analyze the social by means of measurements, surveys and observations.

Some basic questions in sociology

One of the central basic questions in sociology is the conditions under which social coexistence can be imagined. Or to put it another way: how and why do individuals come together and under what conditions do they function together in families, peer groups, communities, companies, societies, states, etc.?
As a critical science, sociology also deals with social inequalities (e.g. old vs. young, poor vs. rich, uneducated vs. educated, city vs. country, locals vs. migrants, women vs. men, etc.), borders social cooperation and cohesion and phenomena of social exclusion (exclusion).

Macro, micro or rather meso - sociological reference values

As a science that deals with social interaction, the point of reference for sociological questions and considerations is crucial. If one or more societies are sponsored as a reference variable, one speaks of macro-sociology

Structure vs. actor - the chicken and egg problem in sociology

Social function of sociology

  1. Scientifically sound social analysis: Destroying prejudices, eradicating errors and clarifying the "real" processes in society.
  2. Information about what is going on in a societyto give people a comprehensive overview of their existence.
  3. Crisis science: Assistance in eliminating acute social problems such as B. Poverty, loneliness in old age, discrimination against minorities, juvenile delinquency, equal opportunities in education, etc.
  4. Administrative auxiliary science: Support for practitioners in politics, science and administration through information so that targeted and appropriate action is possible there.
  5. Means of transforming society: Reshaping of social institutions so that the individual can optimally satisfy his or her social and psychological needs.
  6. Social technology: Deliveries of contributions to the effective and smooth interaction of institutions and organizations in society.
  7. Social philosophy: Make proposals for building a better and fairer society.

(Based on Renate Mayntz (Ed.): Sociology in Studies; Stuttgart 1970; p. 102)

The term sociology was coined by the French scientist Auguste Comte in the first half of the 19th century. , of the discipline as social science

General Sociology vs. Special Sociology

As a science that deals with the social, the field of sociology encompasses countless topics and questions. This huge range of topics is usually differentiated into a general sociology on the one hand and many different so-called special sociologies on the other. While general sociology deals with the fundamentals of the subject and theoretical core questions, the different special sociologies (also known as hyphen sociologies) are each devoted to an independent topic that is dealt with from a sociological perspective. Examples of special sociologies are deviance sociology, medical sociology, technology sociology, cultural sociology, urban sociology and many more.

Example from special sociologies

Technology Sociology

The picture shows a classic tandem bicycle from 1904. The structure of the bicycle shows a classic men's bicycle - recognizable by the central bar, which was connected to a women's bicycle. The lack of a central bar on a classic women's bike enables the user to climb on the bike in a dress or skirt without any problems. For men who wear trousers, the center bar increases the stability of the bike. Today, the different structure of women's and men's bicycles hardly seems up-to-date, since most women also wear trousers in everyday life and many men appreciate the uncomplicated climb to a bicycle without a central bar.
However, a look at the image of the classic tandem reveals an idea of ​​a social gender relationship. In the imagination of the engineers, the man sits on the tandem in front of the woman, offers her slipstream, steers and thus determines the direction. In the event of a dangerous driving situation, it is up to the man to initiate an evasive maneuver and, if necessary, to avert danger from the woman as a "buffer". An idea of ​​the social gender relationship is inscribed in the technology of the tandem.

Sociology of food

Another so-called hyphen sociology is the sociology of food. Food intake is a fact that unites all people and at the same time represents a "prototype" of social action. Humans (and of course also animals) have to eat and we can speculate that people have eaten their meals together since the beginning of human history. The newborn baby who cries until his mother is breastfeeding is an example of (reciprocal) social action. The actions of the infant (screaming) and mother (breastfeeding) are mutually meaningful.

In the production, procurement, preparation and consumption division of tasks (who is a hunter ?, who is a collector ?, who is responsible for the preparation? Etc.), hierarchies within communities and societies (who sits at the head of the table? Who may eat first, say grace? etc.), distinctions - i.e. differences and demarcations - between individual social groups (e.g. food, their preparation and the way they are consumed, they are considered particularly elegant), but also cultural differences between societies are clear. The following video is intended to illustrate this, showing the different ways of preparing and consuming coffee in Mexico, Ethiopia, Sweden, Vietnam and Turkey. Although it is always one and the same food, the forms of preparation differ significantly and indicate cultural and socio-historical differences.

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Literature on Introduction to Sociology

  • Asmus, H.-J. (2002). What is sociology? In B. Frevel, H.-J. Asmus, H. Groß, J. Lagers, & K. Liebe (Eds.), Sociology. Study book for the police (pp. 9-23). Hilden: Verlag Deutsche Polizeiliteratur.
  • Frevel, B. (Ed.). (2015). Police in state and society. Political science and sociological fundamentals. Hilden: Verlag Deutsche Polizeiliteratur.
  • Groß, M. (2015). Classes, Shifts, Mobility: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Joas, H. (Ed.). (2007). Sociology textbook (3rd ed.). Frankfurt; New York: Campus Publishing.
  • Klimke, D., & Legnaro, A. (Eds.). (2016). Basic criminological texts. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Korte, H. (2011). Introduction to the history of sociology (9th ed.). Wiesbaden: VS publishing house for social sciences.
  • Korte, H., & Schäfers, B. (2016). Introduction to the main concepts of sociology (9th ed.). Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • Meulemann, H. (2012). Sociology from the Beginning: An Introduction to Topics, Findings, and Literature. Wiesbaden: VS publishing house for social sciences.
  • Sack, F., & König, R. (Eds.). (1968). Criminal Sociology. Frankfurt a. M .: Academic Publishing Company.
  • Schwietring, T. (2011). What is society? Introduction to basic sociological terms. Constancy; Munich: UTB GmbH.

Internet sites, specialist societies and journals all about sociology

The countless professional societies, specialist journals and websites offer a good overview of the diverse topics, research work and debates in sociology. The following list is therefore only a small selection for initial orientation within the discipline of sociology


DGS, German Society for Sociology

Eurostat, Statistical Office of the EU

Gesis, Leibniz Institute for Social Science

OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Statistics Portal

Federal Statistical Office, Wiesbaden

Theories and people

50 classics of sociology, University of Graz

Sociology Basic Knowledge - Selected Classics


American Journal of Sociology

the pillion. Journal of Sociology

Cologne Journal of Sociology and Social Psychology

Leviathan. Berlin journal for social science

Social problems, Bielefeld University

The British Journal of Sociology, London school of political and economic science

Theory, Culture & Society, Faculty of Humanities, The Nottingham Trent University

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Category: General Sociology