Definition of Sociology

Definition of Sociology According to Experts: Karl Marx to Giddens

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Definition of sociology according to experts such as Emile Durkeim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber is different. But the essence of sociology is the study of society.

As social beings, our daily activities can be studied through a social science or better known as sociology. Furthermore, according to Max Weber, sociology tries to understand social action to arrive at a causal explanation of how it works and the consequences of that action.

As a scientific discipline, sociology was born around the 19th century, namely in 1837. The term sociology itself was first used by a French social scientist named Auguste Comte. The term consists of a combination of two Latin words, namely  socius  which means society and  logos  which means knowledge. So that literally sociology is a science that studies society.

Although Comte was the first social scientist to use the term sociology, the existence of sociological theory actually exists in the philosophy of several philosophers such as Emile Durkeim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber.

Thoughts of 3 Main Figures of Sociology

Karl Marx

In social science, Marx issued a theory on the issue of capitalism. Marx thought that the existence of capitalism has the potential to damage the good relations between humans and the earth. This is because of the exploitation carried out by capitalists who aim to enrich themselves.

The works of Marx that are still frequently encountered today include social class, social class conflicts, oppression, and alienation. One of the concepts used as the main perspective in sociology, is the theory of social conflict.

Then, entering the 20th century, various neo-Marxist notions or various social analyzes emerged which made the theory of Marx the main reference. One theory that claims to be neo-Marxist is the dual movement theory of Karl Polanyi, an economic historian. The theory describes a form of response in environmental movements. Examples such as organized labor, to the excesses of capitalism.

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Based on the various theories he put forward, Marx thought that sociology could be used as a tool to help the oppressed in fighting and realizing ideals without the concept of class.

Max Weber

One of Weber’s most famous works is  the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) and Economics and Society  (1920)

In his book,  Economy and Society , Weber argues that the spread of capitalism has led to the rationalization of society. This has an impact on the development of life with the creation of new technologies. In this regard, Weber was also the first theorist to believe in the independent role of the state in the spread of capitalism.

In general, Max Weber has a study that is used as the main theory in sociology, namely social action. According to him, social action refers to all forms of action that affect and are influenced by other people.

So as a sociologist, Weber argues that it must lead to subjective meaning, that is, each person interprets their own behavior or attaches their own behavior.

Emile Durkheim

Durkheim in the study of sociology has carried out various types of analysis, among which are well-known such as  Subcultural Variations in Suicide  (1897),  Sociology of Religion  (1912) and  Rules of Sociological Methods  (1895).

In addition, one of his most important works in sociology is on the division of labor. He thought that the longer the population density and size would increase. So that in terms of work there will be a clearer division between people who come from urbanization and globalization.

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Opinions of Other Social Experts related to Sociology

Apart from the three main figures in this science, there are several other experts who have also contributed to the development of sociology to date, including:

Erving Goffman

According to Goffman, sociology is the study of social interactions in everyday life. .

Anthony Giddens

In contrast to Goffman, Giddens explains that sociology is a study of the social life of humans, groups, and society.

C. Wright Mills

Meanwhile, C. Wright Mills thinks that to understand what is happening in the world, it is necessary to have a sociological imagination. That way we can understand the life history of the community, personal history, to the relationship between the two.


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