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(Revised Edition, 2007)
Dr. Epitacio S. Palispis

What is Sociology?
The word sociology has been derived from two terms, logus, which means “science or study”, and socius,
which means “group or partners”. Hence, sociology deals with the study of groups. In a group, the
interaction process is vital. From this, patterns of behavior evolve. Relationships are developed and group
life is achieved.

According to Joseph Fichter, “sociology is the scientific study of patterned, shared human behavior”. The
social behavior of human beings has been an interesting subject of study all through the recorded history of
man. The ways in which people act toward one another, that is, their social relations, have been scrutinized,
discussed, and described by historians and politicians, by poets and storytellers, and theologians and
philosophers. The story of “what happened”, whether told by expert historians or by the reporter’s in today’s
newspapers, is the story of people in social life. To analyze this story of social events from a scientific point
of view is the task of the sociologist.

The term sociology was used first about a hundred years ago by Auguste Comte, a Frenchman. At that time,
the scholars who called themselves sociologists were what we call today social historians and social
philosophers. Some of them quarreled over whether heredity of environment made man what he was, as it
had to be all one factor or all the other. Some of them talked of “social soul” in terms more religious and
philosophic and scientific.

Sociology is, therefore, the scientific study of patterns of human interaction that deals with the study of
group life. However, although sociologists can learn about such patterns by studying behavior identified as
wrong, many sociologists focus on ordinary behavior that is in accord with the prevailing rules of various
social units. Some sociologists simply study the structures created to organize social units of life.
Sociologists interested in social change loot at violations of social understandings and conflicts between
social units to understand the dynamics of social change.

In the words of Rodney Stark, a sociologist, “sociology deals with the study of the patterns and processes
of human relations.” Some sociologists concentrate on the study of small groups and the patterns and
processes of face-to-face interactions between humans. This part of sociology is known as microsociology
(micro means small). Microsociology looks at group life in close-up. On the other hand, other sociologists
concentrate on large groups, even on whole societies. From this viewpoint, the individual is simply one
small dot among the many dots that comprise a big picture of many individuals, and many big groups. This
larger view of society is known as macrosociology (macro means big). Macrosociologists attempt to explain
the fundamental patterns and processes of large-scale social relations.

It is clear that the primary focus of sociology is not on individuals and individual behavior but on social
behavior. Since sociologists specialize in studying what goes on between people, the primary subject of
sociology is the group.

Sociology is the science of society and the social interactions taking place therein. It deals with the study
of people living in interdependence. It may focus its attention on all kinds of social interactions: social arts,
social relationships, social organizations, social structures, and social processes. The social facts it gathers
include the recurrent and repetitive forms of behavior such as attitudes, beliefs, values, norms, and social
institutions which make up the social order. Sociology studies not only the structure and function of social
organizations but also the changes which take place within it.

Being the science of society, sociology deals with the study of various current issues and problems such as
ethnic relations, family life, community life and participation, social mobility, social problems, community
beliefs and practices, and other similar subjects.

As explained by Lundberg and associates, “sociology is a body of scientific knowledge with theories based
on scientific investigations and observations, rather than on ‘armchair’ speculations.” It may, therefore, be
defined as the science of society which consists of a body of related generalizations about human social
behavior, guided by concepts and theories arrived at by scientific investigations.

What is, therefore, important in the study of sociology is the interaction process taking place in group life.

Sociology as a Science
Science is a systematized body of knowledge or facts. Sociology deals with the systematized or organized
body of facts about patterns of human interactions, of group life, of people living in interdependence. Hence,
sociology is clearly a science.

Being a science, sociology uses methods and techniques of inquiry and investigations which are scientific.
Science is based on the belief that patterns exist in the world. Scientists study certain people or events to
find these patterns. Natural scientists study the natural world. Biologists study the source and physical traits
of plants and animals. Geologists study minerals and the make up of the earth’s crust. The patterns they
find help these scholars arrange and organize what they know in which members affect their groups.

Areas of Sociology
Hauser gives seven areas in the study of sociology for purposes of research and teaching.

1. Social organization. This area covers the study of the various social institutions, social groups, social
stratification, social mobility, bureaucracy, ethnic groups and relations, and other similar subjects.
Topics like the family, education politics, religion, economy are studied in this area.

2. Social psychology. This area deals with the study of human nature as an outcome of group life, social
attitudes, collective behavior, and personality formation. It deals with group life and the individual’s
traits, attitudes, beliefs as influenced by group life. It views man with reference to group life.

3. Social change and social disorganization. This area includes the study of the change in culture and social
relations and the disruption that may occur in society. It deals with the study of such current social
problems in society as juvenile delinquency, criminality, drug addiction, family conflicts, divorce,
population problems, and other similar subjects.

4. Human ecology. This studies the nature and behavior of a given population and its relationships to the
group’s present social institutions. For instance, studies of this kind have shown the prevalence of
mental illness, criminality, delinquencies, prostitution, and drug addiction in urban centers and other
highly developed places.

5. Population or demography. This is concerned with the study of population number, composition, change,
and quality as they influence the economic, political and social system.

6. Sociological theory and method. This area is concerned with the applicability and usefulness of the
principles and theories of group life as bases for the regulation of man’s social environment. This
includes theory building and testing as bases for the prediction and control of man’s social

7. Applied sociology. This area utilizes the findings of pure sociological research in various fields such as
criminology, social work, community development, education, industrial relations, marriage, ethnic
relations, family counseling, and other aspects and problems of daily life.

What is Anthropology?
The word anthropology is taken from two Greek words, logos, which means “study of”, or logia “to study”,
and anthropos, which means “man”. The key words to remember are scientific, study, man, works, body,
behavior, values, time, and space.

Anthropology defines itself as a discipline of infinite curiosity about human beings. Anthropologists seek
answers to enormous variety of questions about humans. They are interested in discovering when, where,
and why humans appeared on earth, how and why they have changed since then, and how and why modern
populations vary in certain physical features. Anthropologists are also interested in how and why societies
in the past and present have varied in their customary ideas and practices.

Some anthropologists claim that a definition of anthropology as the study of human beings is not complete,
for according to the, anthropology would incorporate a whole catalog of disciplines: sociology, psychology,
political science, economics, history, human biology, and perhaps even the humanistic disciplines of
philosophy and literature.

Anthropology has been defined as that branch of knowledge which deals with the scientific study of man,
his works, his body, his behavior and values, in time and space. It is the scientific study of physical, social
and cultural development, and behavior of human beings since their appearance on earth. It includes several
distinct fields. These are human evolution, or the study of the fossils of man; physical anthropology which
is concerned with the classification of modern geographical populations and with their processes of physical
change; archaeology or prehistory; cultural anthropology; and scientific linguistics.

Anthropology is a scientific study. It follows scientific laws to discover rules of human conduct. The
discipline contains order and logic in its search for truth.

Man, the main concern of Anthropology?

The central concern of anthropology is the study of man. Manis not only the measure of all things but is the
main focus and unit of investigation and analysis in this field. Man is studied and analyzed regardless of
the color of his skin, the nature of his commitment to ideology, or the level of his technological

Anthropologists study man, whether he is a communist or a democrat, a Chinese or a Japanese.

Anthropologists are concerned with man who has now gone to the moon as well as the cave man.
Anthropologists study man of different religious affiliations: Christians, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Hindu,
Taoists, among others.

Anthropology deals with the works and achievements of man. Man’s achievements may be in the form of
arts, sciences, technology, literature, and others. Man’s masterpieces in music, architecture, sculpture, and
inventions in various fields may be the subject of study in anthropology.

Man’s body and behavior are also the anthropologists’ interesting subjects of inquiry. Man’s biological
foundations, physical similarities and differences, evolution, differentiation, and classifications are also
scrutinized. Man’s daily activities and his behavior in politics, religion, social life, aesthetics, health, and
other fields are also of interest to the anthropologist.

Branches of Anthropology?
General anthropology is classified traditionally into two: physical anthropology and cultural anthropology.
However, in view of the expansion of the scope and sophistication in the methods of the discipline, the
following four subdisciplines are generally accepted:

1. Physical anthropology. This is also known as biological anthropology. It deals with man’s
biological foundations, race evolution, racial classifications, and differentiation. It relates biology
and culture. It traces the evolutionary development of man and studies the biological variation
within the species. It concentrates on the study of man’s physical characteristics, the processes by
which the biological changes occur, and the resultant human variations.
The following are the subdisciplines of physical or biological anthropology:
(a) Racial history which deals with the study of the nature of races;
(b) Paleontology which deals with the origin of man; and
(c) Human genetics which deals with the study of various ways of inheritance that take
place in man.

2. Cultural anthropology. This is also known as social anthropology. It deals with one of the most
significant and revolutionary concepts in the social sciences-the concept of culture.

Human beings are distinct from other animals in that they have a culture-that is, social heritage,
transmitted not biologically through the germ cells but independently of genetic inheritance.

Social or cultural anthropologists, who are also often called ethnologists and ethnographers,
describe, analyze, and attempt to account for the wide variety of customs and forms of social life
of human beings, particularly of people with primitive technologies.

Cultural anthropologists, therefore, study technology or material culture, economic life, community
organizations, family life, clans, secret societies, government and law, magic, religion, the arts, and
all other forms of cultural behavior. Cultural anthropology deals with the study of culture. Culture
has been defined as the way of life of a people which had been learned, shared, and transmitted
from one generation to another by means of language and symbols.

The following are the subdivisions of cultural anthropology:

a. Ethnography is pure description of the culture of a people or an ethnic group. The ethnographer
is one type of researcher who usually spends a year or so living with, talking to, and observing
the people whose customs he or she is studying. The fieldwork (an ethnography) of many
aspects of the customary behavior and thought of those people. The ethnographer not only tries
to describe the general patterns of their life, but also may suggest answers to such questions as:
How are economic and political behavior related? How may the customs of the people be
adapted to environmental conditions? Here, the ethnographer depicts the way of life of a
particular group of people and may also suggest explanations for some of the customs he or
she has observed.

b. Ethnology is analysis, comparison, and contrast of cultures of peoples. The ethnologists seek
to understand how and why peoples today in the recent past differ in their customary ways of
thinking and acting. Ethnology is concerned with patterns of kinship organization, political and
economic systems, religion, folk art, and music, and with the ways in which these patterns
differ in contemporary societies. They also study the dynamics of culture – that is, how various
cultures develop and change. Moreover, they are interested in the relationship between beliefs
and practices within a culture. Hence, the aim of ethnologists is largely the same as that of
archaeologists. However, ethnologists generally use data collected through observation and
interviewing of living peoples. Archaeologists, on the other hand, work with fragmentary
remains of the past cultures, on the basis of which they can only make guesses about the actual
customs of prehistoric peoples.
c. Social anthropology is on a higher level of abstraction than ethnology. In social anthropology,
one evolves generalizations about social life and conduct based on the ethnography and
ethnology of the culture under study.
d. Cultural anthropology deals with the total life of man in time and space. It deals with man’s
integrated aspects of culture.
Other experts in the field of anthropology classify archaeology, ethnology, and linguistics as
branches of subfields of socio-cultural anthropology.

3. Archaeology. It is a branch of general anthropology concerned with the study of man’s culture and
society in the past, as far back in time as prehistoric times, that is, many million years ago, the main
evidences for evaluating prehistoric societies are (a) fossils, ad (b) artifacts. Fossils are remnants
of the past that have organic life which withstood the test of time and forces of nature. On the other
hand, artifacts are man-made and man-conceived remains of prehistoric times that have endured
through time. Examples of artifacts are tools, pottery, among others.

The archaeologist seeks not only to reconstruct the daily life and customs of the people who lived
in the past, but also to trace cultural changes in their societies and to offer possible explanations of
those changes. This concern is similar to that of the historian, but the archaeologist reaches much
farther back in time. The historian deals only with societies possessing written records and is
therefore limited to the past 5,000 years of human history. But human societies have existed for
perhaps a million years, and almost all except in the last 5,000 years, did not have writing. For all
those past societies lacking a written record, the archaeologist serves as historian. Lacking written
records for study, the archeologist must try to reconstruct history from the remains of human
culture. Some of these remains are as grand as the Maya temples discovered at Chichen Itza in
Yucatan, Mexico.

Archaeological research methods are as highly scientific as any other branch of natural sciences.
The main technique is excavation work which involves very careful and highly sophisticated ways
of recovering and rediscovering our ancestors.

As mentioned earlier most archaeologists deal with prehistory, the time before written records.
However, there is a specialty within archaeology, called historical archaeology, which studies the
remains of recent peoples who left written records. This specialty employ the methods of
archaeologists and historians for studying recent societies for which we have both archaeological
and historical information.

4. Linguistics. This is another branch of general anthropology. However, other experts have classified
it as a branch or subdivision of socio-cultural anthropology. It refers to the systematic study of
recorded and unrecorded languages all over the world. It also deals with the relationship between
language and culture. It deals with how culture effects language, and vice versa.

Through linguistics, anthropology is able to understand how people perceive themselves and the
world around them. The anthropologist is able to know how man was able to communicate with
his fellow humans, as a result of which, culture developed.

It is said that as a science, the study of languages is somewhat older than anthropology itself. The
two disciplines came to become closely associated in the early days of anthropological fieldwork,
when the anthropologists enlisted the help of linguistics in studying unwritten languages. However,
in contrast with other linguists, the anthropological linguists are interested primarily in the history
and structure of unwritten languages.

Just like physical anthropologists, the linguists are interested both in changes that have taken place
over time and in contemporary variation. Some anthropological linguists are concerned with the
emergence of language and also with the divergence of languages over thousands of years. The
study of how languages change over time and how they may be related is known as historical
linguistics. Historical linguists are also interested in how contemporary languages differ –
especially in the way they differ in construction. This area of linguistics is called descriptive or
structural linguistics. The study of how language is used in actual speech is called sociolinguistics.

Anthropology as a Science
The common denominator in the study of anthropology is the use of the scientific approach and method in
the study of human beings and their achievements.

Generally, the science of anthropology has a well-defined set of objectives:

1. To describe the phenomena of human life and culture accurately
2. To classify the variable phenomena studied in order to achieve revealing general formulations
3. To locate the origins of the changes and processes that are characteristics of such classified data
4. To describe those changes and directions of change likely to be taken by the phenomenon under

The proper sphere of anthropology as a science is to strive to secure historical, sociological, and
psychological laws that describe the overall trends or processes among the peoples of all prehistoric and
historic periods. To do this, it must first be descriptive, factual, and chronological in order to acquire data
from which generalizations or laws may be formulated. The search for scientific laws or principles is
relatively simple and easy when the phenomena observed and analyzed are numerous and similar, so that
the observer may ignore variable individual behavior, minor exceptions, or other details in order to express
the average behavior of a great mass of similar terms.

The anthropologist studies man as a member of the animal kingdom, he studies his behavior as a member
of society and, on the basis of data and information gathered, formulates principles about man’s biological,
social and cultural development. The anthropologists, like other social scientists, collects facts about society
and culture in a careful and systematic manner.

Relationship with other Social Sciences

Both sociology and anthropology are social sciences. Sociology does not study behavior that is not social.
Likewise, although sociologists are interested in historical events and processes, they focus on social
patterns. Similarly, sociologists may be interested in economic and political influences on human
interactions, but that do not try to explain those influences. On the other hand, anthropologists study the
product of man’s association with other men, in what we now call culture.

The other social sciences such as psychology, history, economics, political science, social work, among
others contribute information useful to sociological and anthropological analyses, but do not have the same

goal of understanding patterns of human interaction as a product of numerous social influences. The
following are the leading social sciences.

1. Psychology. This concentrates on the processes occurring within the individual. Psychologists deal
with what takes place within what they call the “skinbound organism”. The psychologist is
primarily concerned with processes which occur in what is sometimes referred to as the “mind.”
Psychologists typically study such phenomena as perception, attitudes, values, and their influences
or determinants. They are also interested in personality and how individuals cope with problems
they face. Psychology may be defined as the study of human behavior.

2. History. History is a social science. It focuses on the study of past events. Historians attempt to
unearth the facts surrounding an event that they feel is in some way of social significance. They
attempt to establish the context or social milieu relevant to the event – the important persons, ideas,
social movements, and recurrent events that appear to have in some way influenced the outcome
they are attempting to explain. From this context, they reestablish from the records of the past and
abstract what they consider to be the most important elements, or variables, that caused the event.
By means of these “causal” factors or variables, historians “explain” the past. Historians deal with
the study of past events in their chronological arrangement.

3. Economics. This is another discipline in the social sciences which is primarily concerned with the
study of a single social institution. Economists concentrate on the production, distribution, and
allocation of the material goods and services of a society. They want to know what goods are being
produced, at what rate, and at what cost, the factors that influence their distribution to the consumer,
and the variables that determine who gets which. They are also interested in the factors that underlie
decisions to produce the particular items in the first place – for example, why within limited
instances, a certain type of item is being produced instead of another. Economics is, therefore, the
study of wealth getting and wealth using activities of men.

4. Political Science. This focuses on the study of politics or government. The political scientist studies
the ways people govern themselves: the various forms of government, their structures, and their
relationships to other institutions in society. The political scientist is especially interested in how
people attain the ruling position in their society, how they maintain this position once they secure
it, and the social consequences of the activities of rulers for those who are governed. In studying a
government, which has a constitutional electorate, such as ours, the political scientist is especially
concerned with voting behavior.

5. Sociology. Sociology is like history in that sociologists also attempt to establish the human context
of what they are attempting to explain. Sociology is similar to political science in that sociologists
are also extremely interested in how people govern one another, especially in the human
consequences of various forms of government. Sociology is like economics in that sociologists are
also highly interested in what happens to the goods and services of a society, especially the social
consequences of production and distribution of goods and services. Sociology is similar to
anthropology in that sociologists focus on the study of culture. Sociologists are particularly
interested in the social consequences of artifacts, group structure, and belief systems, as well as
how people communicate with one another. Sociology is like psychology in that sociologists are
also very much interested in how people adjust to the various contingencies they confront in life.

Relationship between Sociology and Anthropology

The sciences of sociology and anthropology have many similarities and affinities.