The word sociology comes from the fusion of two terms: societas , a Latin term that means society , and logos , a Greek term that means study , science . Sociology means the scientific study of society, the study of forms of human coexistence.

The Sociology studies the social relations and form of association. It is a discipline that considers the interactions that occur in life in society: it involves the study of groups and social facts, divisions into classes and layers, social mobility and the interaction between the people and groups that constitute it. In summary, Sociology is a science that studies society through the observation of human behavior.

Sociology is a Social Science. It is important to note that the methods used in Social Sciences are different from the methods used in Natural Sciences. These employ several precise methods – calculations, predictability, statements. The Social Sciences employ quantitative and observation processes.

The objective of Social Sciences is to expand knowledge about human beings in their social interactions. Sociology reveals society as it really is, not as it should be. The purpose of Sociology is to contribute to a better understanding of society, which allows measures to be taken to improve the lives of those who are part of it.

The systematic study of human society began in antiquity. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), author of Politics , stated that “man is born to live in society”.


In the Middle Ages, they were thinkers linked to the Church who reflected on issues relevant to human society. During the Renaissance, several thinkers who approached social phenomena suggested: among them, Machiavelli (author of the famous political classic, The Prince ), Erasmus of Rotterdam ( Praise of Madness ), Thomas Morus ( Utopia ) and Francis Bacon ( New Atlantis ).

A particularly important work for the development of the study of Sociology was written by Giambattista Vico, in the 18th century. In his work A Nova Ciência , Vico wrote that society bribes itself to defined laws that can be discovered through study and objective observation. His claim that “The social world is, of course, the work of man”, was a revolutionary idea.

Years later, the famous philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau recognized that society has a profound influence on the individual. In his famous work The Social Contract , Rousseau stated that “Man is born pure, society is what corrupts him”.

But it was only from the 19th century, through Augusto Comte, Herbert Spencer, Gabriel Tarde, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx, that the study of society became truly scientific.

Sociology Fathers

Augusto Comte (1798-1857) is traditionally considered the father of Sociology. Comte was the creator of positivism in the 19th century, which formed the basis for the rise of scientism. The scientism believes that the only way there is to get to knowledge is through science.

Comte fought for all branches of studies to be approached with the utmost objectivity. This French thinker defended the view that only the analyzes of societies that were carried out with a scientific spirit, that is, with objectivity and without preconceived goals, are valid. Human relations studies should constitute a new science, which has been called Sociology . In fact, Comte was the first to use the word sociology , in 1839, in his Positive Philosophy Course. According to Comte, Sociology is the supreme science, standing above all philosophies and religions. “Everything comes from it and everything comes down to it,” he said.

But it was from the work of Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) that Sociology, in fact, came to be considered a science. With its scientific rigor, Durkheim classified Sociology as a credible science, and so it developed academically. It was Durkheim who formulated the first concepts of Sociology. He demonstrated that social facts have their own characteristics. For Durkheim, Sociology is the study of social facts .

What are social facts? According to Durkheim, they are the way a social group thinks, feels and acts. For Durkheim, social facts exist independent of a person’s will, even before he is born, and are imposed by society.

Social facts are basically characterized by three characteristics:

  1. Generality: the social fact is common to all, or at least the majority, of a group of people. Examples: the form of housing, communication, senses and morals.
    2. Externality : the social fact exists, not depending on the individual’s will. It is the laws, social rules and customs that are coercively imposed.
    3. Coerciveness : individuals feel pressured to adopt established behavior. People are forced to live according to the rules of society, regardless of their will or choice.

Social facts, according to Durkheim, can be studied objectively, as “things”. In the same way that biology studies nature, sociology studies social facts. For Durkheim’s sociological theory, social facts have their own existence, that is, they are independent of the beliefs and actions of individuals.


by Abdullah Sam
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