Sociology: Scope of the Subject

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Scope of the Subject

A scope refers to the areas of study or fields of inquiry of a discipline. Every branch of learning becomes difficult for anyone to study systematically unless its boundaries are demarcated and determined precisely. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on the part of sociologist with regard to the scope of sociology because it is so elastic a subject that it is hard to establish just where its precinct begins and ends. Everything and anything under the sun seems to fall under the purview of sociology. However, such assumption is nullified. There are two main schools of thought regarding the scope of sociology: the specialistic or formalistic school and the synthetic school.

The Specialistic/Formalistic School
This school of thought was led by the German sociologist George Simmel. The other main advocates of this school were Vierkandt, Max Weber, Small, Von Wiese and Tonnies. They were of the opinion that sociology was different from other branches of social science and deemed it necessary to confine to the enquiry of certain defined aspects of human relationship. It was to study only the abstract forms of social relationships but not their contents. They regard sociology as pure and independent science. According to Simmel, sociology is distinct from other social sciences for the reason that it has its own abstract mode of dealing with the same topic of social relationship which other social science like history, economics, political science etc. too deals with, but in their own way. To him sociology is a specific social science that describes, classifies, analyses, and delineates the forms of social relationships.
Vierkandt maintains that sociology is a special branch of knowledge concerned with the ultimate forms of mental or psychic relationships, which link men to one another in society. He was of the opinion that…...

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