There is a controversy about the subject matter of sociology. Some thinkers opine that sociology is not a separate subject with its own subject matter. They think that it is merely a mixture of different science sciences and has borrowed its subject matter from other social science like economics, political sciences, Anthropology, History and Law. But many sociologists do not agree with these thinkers. They argue that though sociology deals with the economic, political historical religious ethnic and psychological aspects of human social life but it touches these study topics from different angle.
It is impossible to deny that sociology has produced a great deal of valuable information about social institution such as family, property, church and state about social classes and national and racial group, about migration and population changes about changes in social habits, customs and fashion, about poverty crime and suicide. None of the topics is adequately treated elsewhere.
Since different aspects of social life are inter related and inter linked therefore, from the study of one aspect we will not be able to understand the entire fact. Thus, it is necessary that sociology should study human society as a whole.
The major aim of Sociology is to find out what is the structure, pattern and process of human relationships. This can be classified into two main categories, i.e., the static, or the structural aspect of society and the dynamic, or changing aspect of society. Both aspects of human relationships are equally important for a sociologist. The subject matter of Sociology is never a single individual, but interacting men or people in groups. The sociologist aims at studying the individual as being a member of a certain group, and not at an independent unit. Thus, we can say that Sociology is the systematic study of structure and functioning human groups.
Subject Matter of Sociology by Alex Inkeles
Alex Inkeles suggests the following points of subject matter of sociology.
- Human Culture and Society
- Sociology perspective
- Scientific method in social sciences
PRIMARY UNITS OF SOCIAL LIFE
- Social acts and social relationship
- Groups (including ethnic and class)
- Communities Urban and rural
- Associations and organizations
BASIC SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS
- The family and Kinship
- Political and legal
- Educational and scientific
- Recreational and welfare
- Aesthetic and expressive
FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL PROCESSES
- Differentiation and Stratification
- Cooperation, Accommodation, Assimilation
- Social conflict (including revolution and war)
- Communication (including opinion formation, expression and change)
- Socialization and identification
- Social control
- Social evaluation
- Social deviance (crime and suicide)
- Social Integration
- Social change