Why is sociology a social science?

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Sociology is very important to understanding the functions of a society and how those functions can inform different policies and solutions to social problems. By definition, it is the scientific study of society. It is considered a social science because sociology is a discipline that employs research to understand human...

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Sociology is very important to understanding the functions of a society and how those functions can inform different policies and solutions to social problems. By definition, it is the scientific study of society. It is considered a social science because sociology is a discipline that employs research to understand human behavior and that behavior's relationship with greater society.

Sociologists use the scientific method as much as possible in their work. They may employ a variety of research strategies, such as surveys, observations, and statistical analysis, but they still develop hypotheses and consider the information they've collected in coming to a conclusion. They, like traditional scientists, must create a research question, formulate a hypothesis, gather materials, and then use the results of studies or another research method to inform their conclusion.

Practices within the field of sociology itself also function very much like a science. Sociologists often publish the results of research and studies in scientific journals. Governments and other institutions of authority may take those results into consideration when drafting new policy, as they would consider an expert's take on a particular issue. Sociologists will also often conduct experiments to test their hypotheses as traditional scientists do. For example, The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most famous sociological experiments ever conducted.

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The term "social science" has two aspects and sociology can display both of these aspects.  Therefore, it is a social science.

First, social sciences study the human world.  Sociologists study human society.  They study the ways in which group membership affects people's lives.  Therefore, sociology involves the study of the human world and can be a social science.

Second, the social sciences at least try to be scientific.  They try to use the scientific method in studying the human world.  This is supposed to set them apart from fields such as the humanities in which this method is not used.  Sociologists typically do try to use scientific techniques.  They typically have hypotheses and gather data to prove or disprove those hypotheses.  

For these reasons, sociology is a social science.

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