Auguste Comte (1798-1857) is often considered the Father of Sociology, although some might argue that Claude Henri de Rouvroy, also known as Saint Simon (1760-1825), whom Comte studied under, to be the first sociologist. Both men were from France. Comte coined the term sociology and was the first to apply the scientific method to the study of society. He later parted ways with Rouvroy because of differences in thought. Comte applied his positivism to society. He believed that the basic scientific method could be transferred and used in the social sciences, as well as the natural sciences and performed through observation. Until that time scientific data was collected only in the general fields of astronomy, physics, chemistry, and physiology. The formal study of sociology began to develop in reaction to the rise of the urban centers in Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Sociology is an academic and applied discipline that studies society and human social interaction. Sociological research ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. Formal study began to develop in reaction to the rise of the urban centers in Western Europe during the Industrial Revolution during the 16th and 17th centuries. Sociology studies social behavior of the individual in context to the surrounding environment. It differs from psychology in that rather than look for personality traits, individual characteristics, or internal explanations of behavior; sociology looks at external forces, like the workings of society and its effects that social class, gender roles, age, technology, culture, and religion, have on people in a given social position or situation. Social psychology bridges the two fields and looks at the impact of groups on individual behavior. Anthropology is also a closely related field in that it is interested in the impact that social structure and culture has on behavior. However, rather than focusing on nonwestern preliterate societies as anthropologists often do, sociologists look more at modern industrialized and urban centers for research and study.
This site maintains links in the six areas under sociology on the left hand menu.