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History of Sociology

Question 1)

Describe the historical origins of Sociology from the time of the ancient Greeks.


Sociology has always been around. The word Sociology comes from two separate words, ology - which is a Greek word meaning ‘the study of' and socio - with its Latin meaning companion/people. Sociology is the study of human behaviour going back as far as the ancient Greeks. Greeks such as Socrates, Plato, Heredities, Polybius and Thucydides were among the first people credited with sociological discussion. (Perry, 2009)

Ibn Khaldun from Tunisia was the first person considered to be a sociologist. In the 14th century he wrote seven volumes on social conflicts, such as war, and social cohesion. He also wrote a shorter version of all seven volumes which he named the Muqaddimah. (Perry, 2009)

In 1830 Auguste Comte was the first to come up with the word sociology. He was also the founder of positivism. This came about through the industrial revolution, when people moved away looking for a better life. They lost touch with their families, relocating from the rural environment to the cities looking for work. (Perry, 2009)

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In 1890 the University of Kansas first taught the subject of sociology. The following year they formed a department of history and sociology. They were closely followed by the University of Bordeaux who in 1895 established a sociology department; this was lead by Emile Durkheim who had a great interest in the study of suicide. The London school of economics (LSE) was started in 1904. (Perry, 2009)

During the 1960's sociology became a popular subject. We had sexual liberation, Equality for women and drugs. But it was the civil rights movement when people started to ask questions. People like Martin Luther King made people of the 60's start looking for answers. (Perry, 2009)

Question 2)

Define the terms science, sociology and commonsense. Differentiate between these concepts.


Science is always experiment based, and is only concerned with facts and what can be proved. Sociology leans more towards studying people and things they already know something about. We will all have some knowledge or point of view simply by living as a member of society. Commonsense is the natural ability to think, we can learn it but most of us just know it. Problems within commonsense explanations are that they can be influenced by culture and religion of the person's society in particular times. Different societies have different commonsense ideas. There are however two differences between sociology and commonsense: (Perry, 2009)

* While sociologists study normal routines of daily life, they look at them in a different way. Sociologist re-examine by studying the past, how they changed, the difference in society and how they will change in the future.

* Sociologists look at evidence before coming to a conclusion. Their findings are based on evidence which has been collected through research.

Question 3)

Describe and explain the relationship between Positivism and Interpretivism and qualitative research methodologies.


Positivism is the scientific approach which Auguste Comte came up with. Sociology should be considered a science so should have explanations using logic and procedures of natural science. (Perry, 2009)

Interpretivism, otherwise known as anti-positivism, is more the non scientific approach. In the 1900's Emile Durkheim developed this method saying the scientific approach was pointless. Intepretivism is based on descriptive accounts where individuals are studied. (Perry, 2009)

Quantative methodologies are methods that give us quantities or facts. We use this to interpret positivism as it is based on facts and is generally approached by surveys and questionnaires. Information can be quick, and cheap to obtain and can cover more people. The down side to this approach would be that people may not always tell the truth. The outcomes using this method can be rather general. Whereas the Qualitative approach would be more detailed. (Perry, 2009)

Qualitative methodologies give us methods of quality. Which is used for Interpretivism. This information is gathered by interviews or observations. It seeks answers to questions and collects evidence. This personal approach in comparison to Quantative methodologies is costly and can take a lot of time to gather information. (Perry, 2009)

As you can see both positivism and interpretivism, go hand in hand with Quantative and Qualitative methodologies. They complement each other and research using both methods could give a more precise outcome.


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