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1. What is sociology? How does it differ from the other social sciences such as psychology or anthropology?

2. How do the three sociological perspectives differ? Does one make more sense to you than the others? Which one and why?

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1. What is sociology? How does it differ from the other social sciences such as psychology or anthropology?

Sociology is the scientific study of human social relations or group life. Other disciplines within the social sciences-including economics, political science, anthropology, and psychology (click for more details on each)-are also concerned with topics that fall within the scope of human society.

In contrast, psychology is the scientific study of behavior and the mind. This definition contains three elements. The first is that psychology is a scientific enterprise that obtains knowledge through systematic and objective methods of observation and experimentation. Second is that psychologists study behavior, which refers to any action or reaction that can be measured or observed-such as the blink of an eye, an increase in heart rate, or the unruly violence that often erupts in a mob. Third is that psychologists study the mind, which refers to both conscious and unconscious mental states. These states cannot actually be seen, only inferred from observable behavior. On the other hand, anthropology is the study of all aspects of human life and culture. Anthropology examines such topics as how people live, what they think, what they produce, and how they interact with their environments. Anthropologists try to understand the full range of human diversity as well as what all people share in common.

The French philosopher, Auguste Comte, advanced the first definition of sociology. In 1838 Comte coined the term sociology to describe his vision of a new science that would discover laws of human society resembling the laws of nature by applying the methods of factual investigation that had proved so successful in the physical sciences. The British philosopher Herbert Spencer adopted both Comte's term and his mission. Sociology therefore differs from other social sciences (psychology and anthropology) both in focus (e.g., social structures and institutions) and in the types of questions they pose for scientific enquiry. However, like other social science disciplines, sociology uses all types of research methodology and analysis to interpret their findings.

1). Sociologists also differ in their focus. They examine the ways in which social structures and institutions-such as class, family, community, and power-and social problems-such as crime and abuse-influence society. Social interaction, or the responses of individuals to each other, is perhaps the basic sociological concept, because such interaction is the elementary component of all relationships and groups that make up human society. Sociologists who concentrate on the details of particular interactions as they occur in everyday life are sometimes called micro-sociologists; those concerned with the larger patterns of relations among major social sectors, such as the state and the economy, and even with international relations, are called macro-sociologists.

In contrast, psychologists investigates an enormous range of phenomena: learning and memory, sensation and perception, motivation and emotion, thinking and language, personality and social behavior, intelligence, infancy and child development, mental illness, and much more. Furthermore, psychologists examine these topics from a variety of complementary perspectives. Some conduct detailed biological studies of the brain, others explore how we process information; ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains sociology, and how it differs from the other social sciences such as psychology or anthropology. It also compares the three sociological perspectives, and then discusses which one seems more reasonable and why.