Scope of Sociology | Sociology Notes 2021

Here is the full article on the scope of sociology.


All science has its areas of study or fields of research. It comes to be difficult for anyone to study science systematically unless its boundaries are demarcated and scope specified actually.
Unfortunately, there is no agreement on the part of sociologists about the scope of sociology.

Nevertheless, there are two main schools of thought considering the scope of sociology:-

1. The Specialistic or Formalistic School

This school of thought is headed by the German sociologist George Simmel. The other prominent advocates of this school are Vierkandt, Max Weber. Small, Von worse, and Tonnies.

Simmel and others believe that sociology is pure and independent science. As a pure Science, it has a restricted scope. Sociology should define itself as the study of particular aspects of human relationship only. Further, it should examine only the forms of social relationships but not their contents. A social relationship such as competition, sub-ordination, division of labor, etc.. are asserted in different fields of social life such as economic, political, religious, moral, artistic, etc

Vierkandt asserts that sociology concerns itself with the ultimate form of mental or psychic relationship which relates men to one another in society. He preserves that in dealing With culture, sociology should not interest itself with the original contents of cultural evolution but it should limit itself to only the finding of the fundamental forces of change and persistence. It should refrain itself
from creating a historical study of concrete societies.

Max Weber opines that the purpose of sociology is to or comprehends social behavior but social behavior does not fill in the field of human relations. He further explains that sociology should bring about analysis and classification of types of social relationships.

Small insisted that sociology has a restricted field. Von Wiese and Tonnies agree in the same expression.

Criticism :

The opinions of the Formalistic School are widely criticized. Some critical statement may be mentioned here:

Firstly, the formalistic school has unreasonably limited the field of sociology. Sociology should not study only the general forms of social relationships but also their concrete subjects.

Secondly, the distinction between the forms of social relations and their contents is not attainable.

Thirdly, the form of social relationships is studied by the other sciences also. For example, the study of international law, constitutes social relations conflict, war, opposition, agreement, contract, etc. The social relationship is also studied by Political Science, Economics.

Finally, the establishment of pure sociology is unworkable. No sociologist has been qualified to define pure sociology so far.

Also Read: Features of the Indian Constitution

2. The Synthetic School on Scope of Sociology

The synthetic school of thought opines sociology as a synthesis of the social sciences. It prefers to make sociology a general social science and not a pure or special social science. Durkheim, Hob House, Ginsberg, and Sorokin have been prominent supporters of this school.

The primary opinion of this school is that all parts of social life are secretly interrelated. Hence the study of one element is not sufficient to explain the entire phenomenon. Accordingly, sociology should examine social life as a whole. This viewpoint has contributed to the achievement of general and systematic sociology.

The Views of Emile Durkheim on the scope of sociology

Durkheim, one of the loyal supporters of this school of thought, says that sociology includes three main divisions or fields of research. They stand as follows; Social Morphology, Social Physiology, and General Sociology.
(i) Social Morphology: It studies the territorial basis of the life of society and also the issues of the community such as volume and density, local distribution, etc.
(ii) Social Physiology: It has different territories such as sociology of religion, morals, legislation, economic life and of language, etc.
(iii) General Sociology can be considered as the philosophical aspect of sociology. It deals with the general behavior of the social facts, Its system is the formulation of general social laws.

The Views of Morris Ginsberg on the scope of sociology

Ginsberg, another supporter of the synthetic school, says that the major task of sociology can be classified into four branches: Social social morphology, Social control, Social Processes, and Social
(I) Social Morphology: It is concerned with the quantity and quality of the population. It analyses the Social Structure, social groups, and institutions.
(ii) Social Control: Social Control studies conventional as well as non-conventional means of social control such as custom, tradition, morals, religion, convention, and also law, court, legislation, etc. It deals with the regulating factors of society.
(iii) Social Processes: Social processes attempt to make a study of various modes of interaction such as cooperation, competition, conflict, accommodation, assimilation, isolation, integration, differentiation, development, arrest, and decay.
(iv) Social Pathology studies social mal-adjustment and disorders. It also incorporates studies on different social problems like poverty, beggary, unemployment, overpopulation; prostitution, crime, etc.

Ginsberg has summed up the main goals of sociology as follows:
(i) Sociology seeks to empower a classification of types and forms of social relationships.
(it) It tries to specify the relationship between different factors of social life. For instance, the economic and political.
(iii) It tries to separate the fundamental conditions of social change and persistence and find out sociological principles governing social life.


The scope of sociology is, undoubtedly, very vast. It studies all the social elements of society such as social processes, social control, social difference, social stratification, social system, social groups., social pathology, etc.

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