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Sociology can help in many ways. In fact, there are so many ways, that they cannot all be mentioned in a short post. So, here are a few. First, sociology is able to define problems in ways that are insightful. For example, sociology may be able to see things from the point of ideology and see dynamics of power. This can be helpful when you are dealing with powerful organizations. Second, sociology always looks at things from different perspectives, usually from the stand point of different societies. This can be extremely helpful, because we live in a global village. Any insight will be helpful. Finally, when sociology is done well, it can also predict what may happen.
Sociological data cannot be directly used to solve a problem, but it can be used to help people figure out what the problems are. And it can, at times, be used to help figure out what solutions will help solve that problem.
Here's an example. Sociological data can tell us what kinds of students are doing poorly in school. They can tell us what race the students are, what their parents' backgrounds are, where they tend to live, that sort of thing. Then we will know what kinds of students need the most help. But that doesn't tell us how to solve the problem.
So then people have to figure out solutions on their own. Once they do, they can try out the solutions. After that, they can use sociological data (gathered after they try out the solutions) to see if those solutions work. In other words, after they try to fix education, they can go back and collect data to see if the former "problem" groups have improved -- if they have started doing better in school.
To solve any problem, sociological or others, we need to to understand, what the problem is, what are its causes and its effect, nature of factors that have some bearing on cause, effect, or solution of the problem, and many such related issues. To gain such understanding we need data and information. It is obvious that to solve sociological problems we need data related to sociological problems, that is sociological data.
However, it should be noted that other than sociological data may also be important for many sociological issues. For example, Internet has very important impact on the society today, and to understand issues relates to impact of Internet on Sociological problems it may be necessary to look at technological aspect of the Internet also.
Sociological data can be used to define a problem. A problem must be effectively defined before it can be effectively solved.
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