What is the Object of Study of Sociology? Main characteristics

He object of study of sociology it is human society, individually and collectively, through the application of the scientific method to its structures, forms of organization and behaviors.

Sociology approaches man as a social being and seeks to cover all the edges that start from there.

What is the Object of Study of Sociology?  Main characteristics

Formally it is known as the science that deals with the conditions of existence of human societies.

Sociology is a dynamic field of study, because it must adapt its reflections in terms of the social changes that occur throughout history, seeking to encompass its factors and determining phenomena.

Throughout its existence as a social science, sociology has applied multidisciplinary techniques that have allowed it to reflect on its basic foundations.

This has allowed him to also adopt new methods as new organic scenarios are discovered in which man is socially involved.

It is considered a science that goes far beyond its basic concepts, because its object of study can not be considered mechanical or absolute.

Therefore, there will always be new phenomena whose answers or causes must be addressed with fresh perspectives and novel concepts.

Social theories and sociology

Before establishing itself and assimilating as a science or field of knowledge, the origins of sociology were manifested in the social theories that different authors have worked throughout history.

These theories have arisen because of different contextual aspects, such as the implementation of the first social orders, worked by Aristotle in works such as The Republic .

They have also been generated by the irruption of a new organization because of drastic changes in labor and production relations, as was the case with Karl Marx's work.

Other authors who developed their own social theories, and even today are references for the study of man in society, were René Descartes, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, Adam Smith and Henri de Saint-Simon, among others.

A relevant aspect of this and of the sociology itself is that many currents handle opposing ideas among themselves, which has allowed a great historical richness at the time of the confrontation of thoughts and ideas.

Social theories start from a fundamental element: man. Most of the authors who have imposed their social thoughts on collective knowledge, have done so based on their own conception of man in terms of their environment.

From this they build what would be the social order and the society in which such a man would develop.

Social theories, in themselves and as part of sociology, present an ideal conception of society that is not necessarily reflected in reality.

Sociology, once entered into the world scientific field, began to take into account the contextual aspects of each historical moment in order to establish its own positions.

Paradigms of sociology

Once recognized as a social science capable of applying scientific methods adapted to its purposes with relative effectiveness, a series of paradigms and approaches have been established in the sociological field that have served to address certain social phenomena.

It should be noted that these paradigms have been changing, and new ones have emerged throughout history, in pursuit of the respective phenomena that originate them.

Among the best known and applied ones, the paradigm or functionalist approach, proposed for the first time by Emile Durkheim, can be considered.

This paradigm approaches society as a complex system whose internal elements are connected to each other, providing functionality to the whole.

The twentieth century structuralist current was driven by this approach, whose perception established that society progressed gradually through the application of norms and precepts that would guarantee stability.

Another paradigm of importance is that of ethnomethodology, which consists of a more pragmatic approach based on man and his immediate environment.

According to this paradigm, the environment influences man through the practices and activities to which he has had to submit in order to guarantee his subsistence.

Other paradigms that have received great importance, especially after the decline of older currents, have been the theoretical approaches to conflict and exchange.

The first arises in the mid-twentieth century, from the hand of thinkers like Jurgen Habermas or Michel Foucault; it can be perceived as a slightly more intricate look of the internal dynamic scissors of a social system.

The theory of exchange starts from behaviorism, and has great psychological implications in relation to the forms of behavior of man according to his needs and ambitions.

Sociological paradigms are usually overcome. Today the neo-Marxist approaches have displaced several of the others mentioned.

Methods of sociology

Because sociology can not function as a rigid science, the versatility of its techniques has made it possible to use different methods that in other scientific fields may not be seen together in a single subject.

Sociology can apply equally scientifically popular quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as the comparative method.

In the case of sociology, qualitative research focuses on the understanding and reflection of human behavior, as well as the explanation of the reasons or consequences of this.

The qualitative approach focuses on answering the how and why of something, through the study of reduced samples under very specific conditions.

Quantitative research is more common because it is used to have general notions about one aspect or several phenomena, through the application of scientific, statistical and numerical techniques that respond to patterns without so much specificity.

In this way we look for relationship patterns that would allow then to perform qualitative approaches on specific aspects.

What in sociology is defined as a comparative method is only the relation that could exist between different phenomena of a study process that in principle could seem isolated, but with an implicit capacity to influence each other.


  1. Bourdieu, P. (2005). An invitation to reflexive sociology. XXI CENTURY.
  2. Chinoy, E. (1996). Society: an introduction to sociology. Mexico: Economic Culture Fund.
  3. FES. (s.f.) What is sociology . Obtained from the Spanish Federation of Sociology: fes-sociologia.com
  4. Martinez, J. C. (May 22, 2012). What is sociology? Obtained from Ssocilogos: sociologos.com
  5. Simmel, G. (2002). Fundamental questions of sociology. Barcelona: Gedisa.

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