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Sociology is the scientific study of social behavior, its origins, development, organization,

and institutions.[1] It is a social science that uses various methods ofempirical


investigation[2] and critical analysis[3] to develop a body of knowledge about social order, social
disorder and social change. A goal for many sociologists is to conduct research which may be
applied directly to social policy and welfare, while others focus primarily on refining the theoretical
understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of
individual agency and interaction to themacro level of systems and the social structure.[4]
The traditional focuses of sociology include social stratification, social class, social
mobility, religion, secularization, law, sexuality and deviance. As all spheres of human activity are
affected by the interplay between social structure and individual agency, sociology has gradually
expanded its focus to further subjects, such as health,medical, military and penal institutions, the
Internet, education, and the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge.
The range of social scientific methods has also expanded. Social researchers draw upon a variety
of qualitative and quantitative techniques. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-twentieth
century led to increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, andphilosophic approaches to the analysis of
society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of
new analytically, mathematically and computationally rigorous techniques, such as agent-based
modelling and social network analysis.[5][6]
Social research informs politicians and policy
makers, educators, planners,lawmakers, administrators, developers, business magnates,
managers, social workers, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and people
interested in resolving social issues in general. There is often a great deal of crossover between
social research, market research, and other statistical fields.
Contents
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1 Classification
2 History
o 2.1 Origins
o 2.2 Foundations of the academic discipline
o 2.3 Positivism and anti-positivism
2.3.1 Positivism
2.3.2 Anti-positivism
o 2.4 Other developments
3 Theoretical traditions
o 3.1 Classical theory
3.1.1 Functionalism
3.1.2 Conflict theory
3.1.3 Symbolic Interactionism
3.1.4 Utilitarianism

3.2 20th century social theory


3.2.1 Pax Wisconsana
3.2.2 Structuralism
3.2.3 Post-structuralism
4 Central theoretical problems
o 4.1 Subjectivity and objectivity
o 4.2 Structure and agency
o 4.3 Synchrony and Diachrony
5 Research methodology
o 5.1 Sampling
o 5.2 Methods
o 5.3 Computational sociology
6 Scope and topics
o 6.1 Culture
6.1.1 Art, music and literature
o 6.2 Criminality, deviance, law and punishment
6.2.1 Sociology of law
o 6.3 Communications and information technologies
6.3.1 Internet and digital media
6.3.2 Media
o 6.4 Economic sociology
6.4.1 Work, employment, and industry
o 6.5 Education
o 6.6 Environment
6.6.1 Human ecology
o 6.7 Family, gender, and sexuality
o 6.8 Health, illness, and the body
6.8.1 Death, dying, bereavement
o 6.9 Knowledge and science
o 6.10 Leisure
o 6.11 Peace, war, and conflict
o 6.12 Political sociology
o 6.13 Population and demography
o 6.14 Public sociology
o 6.15 Race and ethnic relations
o 6.16 Religion
o 6.17 Social change and development
o 6.18 Social networks
o 6.19 Social psychology
o 6.20 Stratification, poverty and inequality
o 6.21 Urban and rural sociology
6.21.1 Community sociology
7 Sociology and the other academic disciplines
8 Journals
9 See also
10 References
11 Further reading
12 External links