Sociology is derived from the words socio – society/people (individual and collection) logy – refers to study.

Sociology is therefore defined as:-

  • The study of society.
  • The study of social institutions.
  • It is the study of social life of the people and study of social systems and how human beings behave both as individuals and as groups.


It is the largest group of people who live together and are tied with some common aspects that bring about some social order. These people usually share common territories, may have a common culture, common goals and objectives, kinship ties and some form social control systems (rules and regulations) e.g. ethnic groupings.


Sociology history emerged in the 19th C due to rapid social and political changes that took place in Europe in the 19TH and 18th centuries.

Industrial revolution played a big role in changing people’s social life, people’s behavior and subsequently urbanization with the emergence of urban population also came numerous social problems e.g. unemployment, lack of housing, crime, population etc with time situation worsens.

Sociology has its root primarily in France, German and England. Some of the early factors of sociology are:-

Augustine Compte; he lived between (1798 – 1837) with the French revolution. He believed that understanding in the society was very vital and bringing stability to the world.

He was heavily influenced by the scientific method, by natural sciences and he argued that the sociologists should use the scientific method in solving problems of order and change. He used the terms like social statistics (stability) of the society, social dynamic (social change).

Karl Marx lived between 1818 – 1883; a German doctor, lecturer; he traveled widely in Europe. Marx believed that the overall structure of society is heavily influenced by having the economy organized i.e. those who occur in the means of production and those who do not.

He introduced the concept of cross economy like business and labour; he divided economic system into capitalism and communism; he said that the society always in a state of conflict between the classes.

Herbert Spencer lived between 1820 – 1903; an English (England), civil engineer, influenced the views of Charles Darwin (evolutionist). He understood the society as a biological model i.e. cell – tissue – organ – system – organism.

He understood the society as having system which works towards perfection what became to be known as social Darwinism.

Emile Durkheim lived between 1838 – 1917; he was a French man, a lecturer, a philosopher. He applies method of science to the study of society. He was concerned with the social order and he understood the society as set of interdependence part that maintains the system over times.

He viewed the roles of these facts I terms of function; he was necessarily interested in the function of religion in maintaining social order.

He used his theory through statistical analysis i.e. social statistics.


Max Weber lived between 1864 – 1920; a German, lecturer, a profession of economics; unlike others, he was interested more in groups within the society rather than the social whole.

He struggled to analyze the effect of society on an individual i.e. socialization and resocialization.

Weber attached a lot of emphasis on understanding the action of the people in the society; the social dynamics which tries to look at the group behavior.

Key concepts of Sociology

  • Society
  • Behavior
  • Social institution
  • Norms, Ethics
  • Values
  • Theories
  • Social interaction
  • Group
  • Social order.

Applications of Sociology

  1. Social institutions e.g. schools, colleges, universities etc.
  2. Conflict resolution
  3. Humanitarianism
  4. Disaster management
  5. Social dynamic
  6. Social problems e.g. IDPs
  7. Community based organizations e.g. UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF

Branches of Sociology

  1. Rural sociology
  2. Criminology
  3. Urban sociology
  4. Medical sociology


It is as social study dealing with causes of crime and how to tackle criminal behavior in the society. It deals with defiant behaviour, delinquency and penology.

Defiant behavior is any behavior which causes the societal norms, values and expectations.

Delinquency means a crime in general; penology is the study of how to punish on crime.

Medical sociology

Deals with the study of sociological perspective as regard the practice of medicine e.g. how a child can be handled, rehabilitation etc.

Rural sociology

The word rural refers to the outside the urban setting; in the outskirts, an area of predominant agriculture or in grass roots etc.

It is the study of rural ar4eas and development in social perspectives outside the urban areas. It studies things like:-

  • Rural community
  • Social interaction in the rural
  • Social institutions in the rural
  • Rural development
  • Rural urban migration

Urban sociology

It is the study of social perspective in urban area e.g. urban society, urban settlement, urban mobility, intra and inter urban move – linkages.

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