Principles of Sociology for Graduate Nurses PR Nalini
Chapter Notes

Save Clear

IntroductionChapter 1

Highlights of the Chapter
  • • Sociology
  • • Sociology in India
  • • Scope of Sociology
  • • Importance of Sociology
Sociology is the modern science that uses various methods of empirical investigations and critical analysis of the society. It is required to develop knowledge related to social order, social awareness and social change.
Sociology is the science of social life of man and his society. The key aspects of sociology are:
  • The changes in the patterns of society
  • The inter-relationships of human beings
  • Several social barriers, unchanging foundations that resist and curb human relationships, individuals and different groups
  • Mysterious laws of nature that resist social changes, i.e. complexity of human inter-relationship, etc.
Sociology is very interesting due to its quality of nature. The traditional sociology focuses on all spheres of human activity that are affected by the interplay between social structure and individual agency. Sociology gradually expanded its focus to further subjects such as health, medical, military and legal institutions.
Sociology was coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes in an unpublished manuscript.
Sociology was later defined independently by the French Philosopher of Science, Auguste Comte in 1839. Comte endeavored to unify history, psychology and economics through sociology. The separate teaching of sociology as a separate discipline started in 1876 in the United States, in 1889 in France, in 1907 in Great Britain, after World War I in Poland and India., in 1925 in Egypt and Mexico and in 1947 in Sweden.
Sociology is the youngest of all other social sciences.
The word ‘sociology’ is derived from the Latin word ‘societies’, examining society and the Greek word ‘logos’ are meaning ‘study or science’. The sociology means science of society.
Auguste Comte (1798–1857) was the founding father of sociology
He defines sociology as the science of social phenomena ‘subject to natural and invariable laws, the discovery of which is the object of investigation’.
2Comte was the only major sociological thinker to postulate that the social realm may be subject to scientific analysis in the same way as noble science.
Durkheim set up the First European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux in 1895, publishing his Rules of Sociological Method.
Durkheim, Karl Marx and German theorist Max Weber are typically cited as the three principal architects of sociology. Historical sociology was described by Karl Marx.
Aristotle the great Greek philosopher remarked that man is a social animal. Both nature and necessity impel man to live in society.
Man's behavior in society is determined mainly by two forces of physical and social which are controlling him to understand the circumstances.
zoom view
Auguste Comte
  • Sociology is the science of society or social phenomena.
    —LF Ward
  • The subject matter of sociology is the inter-action of human minds.
    —LT Hobhouse
  • Sociology is the study of human inter-action and interrelation their conditions and consequences.
    —M Ginsberg
  • Sociology is the science that deals with social groups, their internal forms or modes of organization, the processes that tend to maintain or change these forms of organization and relation between groups.
    —HB Johnson
  • Sociology is the study of the relationships between man and his human environment.
    —HP Fairchild
  • Sociology may be defined as a body of scientific knowledge about human relationships.
    —JF Cuber
  • Sociology is the body of learning about society. It is a description of the ways to make society better. It is social ethics, a social philosophy. Generally, however, it is defined as a science of society.
    —WF Ogborn
  • Sociology is the science of collective behavior.
    —RE Park and FB Burges
  • Sociology deals with the behavior of men in groups.
    —Kimboll Young
  • Sociology is the science which attempts the interpretive understanding of social action.
    —Max Weber
  • Sociology is generalizing science of sociocultural phenomena viewed in their generic form, types and manifold interconnections.
    —PA Sorokin
Based on the above sociologists, we find the following views:
  • Sociology is a science of society
  • It is science of social relationships
  • It is the study of social life
  • It is a pure as well as applied science
  • It is science of generalization
  • Sociology is a social science not a natural science
  • It is a study of human behavior in groups
  • Sociology is the study of social action
  • It is the study of forms of social relationships
  • It is the study of social systems
Few Social Issues in Day-to-Day Life
  • Social issues and social destruction that are caused by few individuals or groups who are unaware of the proper social values, actual responsibility and value of human life, lack of cooperation towards fellow human-beings that in turn suppresses and restricts the growth and life of human-beings, individuals. For example terrorism, corruption, selfishness of fighting for power or throne, addiction to prohibited substances and unlawful acts, unrestricted access to over freedom without any age limit or cutoff, lack of morality.
  • Social global issues like destruction, exploitation of valuable natural resources on earth which causes indirect effect on the healthy living of mankind, society and overall hindrances in inter-personal relationships, i.e. global warming, tsunamis, earthquakes, adverse climatic conditions, modernization of cities without proper planning, cancer, obesity, death causing contagious diseases, scarcity of food crops, food adulteration, conversion of agricultural lands to urban areas, unwanted mining and destruction of mountains, unwanted usage of nuclear objects and weapons.
In India the study of sociology started in the year 1919 at the University of Bombay, but it was started as a study of separate discipline in 1930.
Some Indian writers like GS Murye, RK Mukarjee and HT Majumdar have also made original contribution to sociological studies. These studies pertain to Indian villages, caste system, marriage, kinship, family and social disorganization.
Nature and Scope of Sociology
In studying of social relationships, the sociologists attempt to discover the evolution of society, its systems and structure. The development of social institutions and their functions depends on the customs and rules regulating their social relationships. The groups and communities framed by man to lead the life in a systematic way. These are interdependent like family, economic groups, religious groups, etc.
Sociology is a Mother of Social Sciences
Sociology is an analytic and specialized science with its own field of research. It deals with the network of social relationships. Social morphology concerned with geographical basis on life of people. Sociology occupies very significant place among the various social sciences. Sociology uses the scientific method to study about the society. It is mainly records the factual data in a logical basis for generalizing.
History provides the records of unique events relating to man. Economics is concerned with his activities relating to production and consumption of wealth.
Political science deals with his political activities and institutions. Anthropology studies the activities and institutions of the individual how they existed in the past. Cultural Anthropology deals with the cultural aspects of early man.
Psychology is interested in springs of human action, the impulses and motives that sustain mental and bodily activity and regulate human conduct.
Sociology is a science or not: Two opposite views about nature of science. There is great controversy about the nature of sociology as a science. There are some critics who deny sociology the claim to be regarded as a science.4
The Meaning of Science
A science is a branch of knowledge or study dealing with body of facts or truths systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws. It gathers facts and links them together in their sequence with to draw valid inferences.
Scientific knowledge is based on reason and evidence. It is therefore variable and communicable. The chief characteristics of science are:
  • Possibility of concise, consistent and concrete formation
  • The capacity of form generalizations and make predictions
  • The possibility of verification of the data as well as the generalizations. The various steps used in the scientific method are observation, recording, classification, hypothesis, verification and prediction.
Sociology cannot be Regarded as a Science
Those who deny the claim of Sociology to be designated as a science by the following objections:
Lack of Experience
If science is used in the same sense in which it is used for physical science, then sociology cannot claim to be a science. The term science as used for physical sciences includes the twin processes of experiment and prediction. Sociology in this sense is not a science because its subject-matter, the human relationships, we can neither catch for see, nor analyze in the test-tube of the laboratory.
It does not possess the instrument like microscope and the thermometer to measure the human behavior.
Lack of Objectivity
Sociology in employing the scientific method is that it cannot maintain complete objectivity with the objects of experience as a physicist. Man has his own prejudice and bias. It is therefore, not possible for him to observe his subject with complete detachment.
Social relationships cannot be studied through physical senses. A sociologist works on the subject in order to understand his external actions.
Lack of Exactness
Sociology is able to frame certain laws on the basis of observation and hypothesis and such laws should also enable us to predict accurately.
Terminological inefficiency
Sociology suffers from inconfusing terminology. Same words convey different meaning to different persons. For example the term caste and class have not yet acquired exact meaning. The recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Mandal case has held that the concept of class cannot be separated from caste. Many of our terms like religion, caste, class and group are words found in everyday use.
Sociology is a Science
The scientific study of social phenomena is not free from difficulties. Meteorology fails to make accurate prediction to deny it the designation of science. If the methods study is scientific, the subject deserves the rank of a science. Sociology does make use of scientific methods in the study of its subject matter and it is therefore, entitled to be called as a science.
5Sociology cannot do experiment with men directly in a laboratory, its social behavior is amenable to scientific investigation as any other natural phenomenon, it is conducting many experiments indirectly with their consent in certain specific fields, particularly in the fields of industry. Sociology implies scientific methods as scales of questionnaire, interview and case history which quantitative measurements to social phenomenon and which are therefore comparable to the method of experimentation, for instance, if families with low incomes have more infant deaths, we collect statistics. The sociology always uses the methods of investigation, observation and comparison.
Sociology frames the laws and attempts to predict. It endeavors to discover laws that are generally applicable, regardless of variations in culture; for instance, the law that the social practices of the community are considered right by the group because they are in the mores not the practices are in the mores because they are right, that people always regulate marriage in such a manner to prevent incest.
In the broadened sense sociology is the study of human interactions and inter-relations, their conditions and consequences.
There are two main schools of thought among sociologists on this issue.
  1. Specialist or formalistic school
  2. Synthetic school
One group head by German Sociologist, Simmel demarcates sociology clearly from other branches of social study and confines it in the enquiry into certain defined aspects of human relationship. They regard sociology as pure and independent.
Specialist School
According to Formalistic School the scope of sociology is limited.
The other group maintains that the field of social investigation is too wide for any one science and that if any progress is to be made there must be specialization and division and 6insists that in addition to special social science such as economics, anthropology, history and general science.
Simmel's school of formalistic school: According to Simmel, the distinction between Sociology and other special sciences is that it deals with the same topics from different angles, and different modes of social relationships.
Social relationships, such as competition, subordination, division of labor, etc. are exemplified in different spheres of social life such as economic, the political and even the religious, moral or artistic but the business of sociology is the disengage these forms of social relationships and to study them in abstract manner.
Thus, according to Simmel, sociology is a specific social science which describes, classifies analysis and delineates the forms of social relationships.
  • Small's view: According to Simmel, sociology does not undertake to study all the activities of society. The scope of sociology is the study of the generic forms of social relationships, behaviors and activities, etc.
  • Criticism of formalistic school: It has narrowed the scope of sociology. The formalistic school has limited the field of sociology to merely abstract forms. Sociology studying the general forms of social relationships should also study the concrete contents of social life.
Synthetic School
The synthetic school wants to make sociology of the social sciences or a general science. According to synthetic school the scope is wider.
zoom view
Fig. 1.2: Synthetic schoolCourtesy:
Durkheim, Hob-House and Sorokin subscribe to this view.
Durkheim's View
According to Durkheim Sociology has broadly three principles divisions:
  • Social morphology covers the geographical settings, the density of population and other preliminary data which is likely to influence the social aspects. Social morphology concerned with geographical basis of life of people.
  • 7Social physiology is concerned with such dynamic processes as religion, morals, law, economic and political aspects, etc. Each of which may be the subject matter of special discipline.
  • General sociology is an attempt to discover the general social laws which may be derived from specialized social processes.
Sorokin's View
  • The study of relationship between the different aspects of social phenomena.
  • The study of relationship between the social and non-social
  • The study of general features of social phenomena
Karl Mark's View
Karl Mannheim, a leader of the synthetic school, worked on the issues of leadership and consensus in modern societies.
Karl Mannheim divides sociology into two main sections: Systematic and general sociology describe one by one the main factors of living together as far as they may be found in every kind of society.
Ginsberg's View
Ginsberg has summoned up the chief functions of sociology as follows:
Sociology seeks to provide a classification of types and forms of social relationships especially of those which have come to be defined institutions and associations.
  • It tries to determine the relations between different parts of factors of social life.
  • It endeavors to disentangle the fundamental conditions of social change and persistence and to discover the sociological principles governing social life.
Branches of Sociology
According to Sorokin, sociology can be divided into two branches:
  1. General sociology
  2. Special sociology
General sociology studies the properties and uniformities common to all and cultural phenomena in their structural and dynamic aspects. It describes inter-relationships between the sociocultural and biological phenomena.
The special sociologists study a specific sociocultural phenomenon which is selected for detailed study.
According to Sorokin most developed sociologies are:
  • Sociology of population
  • Rural and urban sociology
  • Sociology of family
  • Sociology of law
  • Sociology of religion
  • Sociology of knowledge
  • Sociology of war
  • Sociology of revolution
  • Sociology of disorganization
  • Sociology of fine arts
  • Sociology of economic phenomena and many others.
Rural and Urban Sociology
  • Urban sociology: This branch of sociology involves the analysis of social life and human interaction in metropolitan areas. It is a discipline seeking to provide advice for planning and policy making.
  • Rural sociology: by contrast, is the analysis of non-metropolitan areas. Agriculture is the main occupation in rural regions. Rural sociologists often overlap with environmental sociologists. Rural sociology, by contrast, is the analysis of non-metropolitan areas.
  • Social psychology: Sociological social psychology focuses on microscale social actions. This area is described to examine the whole societies through the study of individual thoughts and emotions as well as behavior of small groups. Some of the major topics in this field are social inequality, group dynamics, prejudice, aggression, social perception, group behavior, social change, nonverbal behavior, socialization, conformity, leadership, and social identity. Social psychology may be taught with psychological emphasis. Criminology is concerned with social psychology.
  • Sociology and anthropology: Anthropology and sociology are very closely related than any other social sciences. Herskovits defined anthropology as ‘The study of man and his works’. Anthropology and sociology have common objectives. AL Krober called sociology and anthropology as twin sisters. Anthropology studies the cultural areas. Sociology studies the human systems and subsystems. Sociology is concerned with modern society and anthropology and also tribal society. Cultural anthropology deals with the cultural aspects of early man.
  • Sociology of religion: This branch of sociology studies the church as a social institution inquiring into its origin, development and forms as well as into changes in its structure and function.
  • Sociology of education studies the objectives of the school as a social institution, its curriculum and extracurricular activities and its relationship to the community and its other institutions.
  • Sociology of law: This branch of sociology studies concerns itself with formalized social control or with the processes whereby members of a group achieve uniformity in their behavior through the rules and regulations imposed upon them by society. It enquiries into the factors that bring about the formation of regulatory systems as well as into the reasons for their adequacies and inadequacies as a means of control.
  • Criminology: This branch of sociology studies the criminal behavior of individuals or groups. Origin of crime, its types, nature, causes as well as law, punishment, police, etc. come under this study, the efforts for the improvement is also studied. Different organizations establish to control the crime and their role also comes under its study.
  • Industrial sociology: This branch of sociology is concerned with the industrial relationship of the human beings. It studies the different industrial organizations and institution; as well as their inter-relationship and links with other various institutions of society. It also studies the inter-relationships of industrial institutions with various aspects of human life such as culture, beliefs, customs, religion or the way of life.
  • Economical sociology: This branch of sociology studies production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services. This branch also studies the economic activities of the society in which the focus is on the sociocultural factors. The access in production, the mode of distribution, the real consumers, the role of culture in such activities are studied here.
  • 9Political sociology: This branch of sociology studies different political moments of the society. It includes the study of different political ideology (view), their origin, development and functions. In this study, different political parties are considered as social institutions. Various activities and behavior of political parties are studied in this branch.
As they are the part of social system, political sociology studies the social implications of various types of political movements and ideologies and the origin, development and functions of the government and the state.
zoom view
Fig. 1.3: Related to sociology
  • Sociology makes a scientific study of law: Scientific knowledge about society is pre-requisite to any marked improvement in the state of human affairs.
  • Sociology studies role of the institutions in the development of the individuals: The home and family, the school and education, the church and religion, the state and government, industry and work, the community and association, these are the great institutions through which society functions. Society studies these institutions and their role in the development of the individual and suggests suitable measures for strengthening them with a view to enable them to serve the individual better.
  • The study of sociology is indispensable for understanding and planning: Sociology bears the same relation to solution of social problems. A certain amount of knowledge about the society is necessary before any social policies can be executed.
  • Sociology is of great importance in the solution of social problems: The present world is suffering from many problems which can be solved only through scientific study of the society. It is obvious that social evils do not just happen and everything has its due cause. 10Sociology study the social problems through the methods of scientific research and find out solution for them. The scientific study of human affairs will ultimately provide the body of knowledge and principles that will enable us to control the conditions of social life and improve them.
  • Sociology has drawn our attention to the intrinsic worth and dignity of man: In any kind of society, we are all limited only to a particular culture and organization that we live and experience directly in our everyday lives. So, this is limiting our learning, recognizing and acceptance of other cultures. This is the main cause for the racial and social indifferences and is creating a havoc among people in the society. Sociology has been instrumental in changing our attitude towards human beings. The study of sociology emphasizes on the idea of common unity in human-beings and mankind and helping each other.
  • Sociology has changed our outlook with regard to the problems of crime: The science of criminology and penology, social-work and social therapy which are rendering commendable service in understanding social situations and solving individual problems wisely.
  • Sociology has made great contribution to enrich human culture: Human culture has been made richer by the contribution of sociology. It has removed many superstitions from our minds and social phenomenon by scientific knowledge and enquiry. It enables man to have a better understanding both about himself and others.
  • Sociology has great importance in the solutions of international problems: The progress made by physical sciences has brought the nations of the world nearer to each other. The effects of modern war upon society are varied and profound. There are various causes of war, is mostly functional disequilibrium between the political organizations of the states and their relationships. The study of sociology of war will help in understanding the underlying causes of war and remove all such causes which promote tension between nations and ultimately lead to peace.
  • Sociology is useful as a teaching subject: Sociology has an important place in the curriculum of colleges and universities. It is developing teachers to know about different individuals and groups in the society. It helps in social planning and social order which we suitable in socialized behavior.
    The importance of sociology is further proved by the fact that the subject of sociology is also included in the subjects to be offered by the candidates competing for the higher examinations such as IAS, etc.
    The study of sociology provides knowledge to hold high post in the administrative set up of the country.
  • Sociology as a profession
    • The sociology students can get jobs in factories and government as labor welfare officers, human relations officers, personal officers.
    • The field of social security like employment exchange, unemployment insurance scheme, social security schemes.
    • In the field of reformation of criminals as probation officer, superintendent of juvenile homes, reformatory schools, etc.
    • In the field of social welfare as social welfare officer, youth welfare officer, rural welfare officer, child welfare officer, tribal welfare officer, etc.
    • In the field of social education and adult education as social education officer or adult education officer.
    • 11In the fields of concerning widow welfare, as superintendents of Nari Niketan.
    • In the homes established for the welfare of the old, disabled, and destitute as their superintendents.
    • In the field of family planning as social worker or researcher.
      The values of sociology keep up up-to-date on modern situations, contribute to make good citizens, solution of community problems and adds knowledge of society, and provides the relations in society and identifies good government with community and it helps one to understand causes of things and so on.
Importance of Sociology in Nursing
Nursing and sociology are terms that rather tightly connected with each other, because nursing is a profession that is focused on helping patients, their families and whole communities in recovering optimal health whereas sociology is the study of society and how people should live in it.
Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles.
Connecting nursing and sociology, it is possible to say that connection between these two directions were formed long time ago. The studying of sociology helping in the nursing context not only a person in general but also his concrete world. It studies social environment, communities and way of person's life, social connections, social actions. This knowledge also opens new opportunities in patients' care, because it allows nurse to understand not only personality of the patient, but also circumstances of his existence and his reaction on surrounding world and surrounding reality.
Sociology is an important tool that will help nurses to understand the communities where their future patient's live in and will make them more effective in nursing practice. The sociological vision will help to find the essence of problems and then solve them in a right way. Sociology has positive influences on nurse's mind and it allows them in dealing, understanding the main mechanisms of society and make horizons of problem perception wider.
zoom view
Fig. 1.4: Nurse-sociology
zoom view
Fig. 1.5: Student nurses
12Nurses are soft spoken and their profession is to take care of the patient in hospital or at their nursing home. Their work is to give helping hand to the different types of patients suffering from different types of illnesses without hesitating. Indian nurses are noble and efficient so there is a lot of demand for Indian nurses in all over the world. Nurse acts as an educator, manager and supervisor, planner, researcher and social scientist.
Nurse works as a superior, colleague, subordinate, medical officer and health administrator and changing agent.
The study of sociology may be particularly applicable to certain areas of nursing, such as mental health or psychiatric nursing. Sociology has become such an important subject in nursing education.
Some nursing schools, such as the School of Nursing at the University of California in San Francisco, offer specific courses of study in sociology. At UCSF, the School of Nursing offers a sociology PhD program that focuses on the sociology of health care, and it has areas of concentration that include race, class, gender and health inequality.
Essay Questions
1. Desribe the nature and scope of sociology. How does sociology help in nursing profession?
2. Define sociology and explains its importance among medical professions.
3. Sociology is mother of all social sciences-discuss.
Short Notes
1. Explain the relationship between sociology and social psychology.
2. Is sociology a science-discuss.
Brief Questions
1. Define sociology.
2. List out the branches of sociology.
Objective Type Questions
1. Sociology is a --------------- science. (social)
2. ------- is the father of sociology. (Auguste Comte)
3. Sociology is the science of ---------. (society)
4. Sociology is mother of all -------- sciences. (social)
5. According to formalistic school the scope of sociology is --------------. (limited)
6. According to synthetic school the scope is ------. (wider)
7. Social morphology concerned with geographical basis of life of ----------. (people)
8. Society derived from the ------ Latin word and ----- is a Greek word. (societus, logos)
9. General sociology is to discover the general or master of ----- facts. (social)
10. Historical sociology was described by ---------. (Karl Marx)
11. Criminology concerned with ------------ psychology. (social)