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What differentiates sociology from other social sciences?

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Sociology is the scientific study of human relationships, interaction, culture, and institutions. It, therefore, investigates the structures within societies and how people interact with these structures. Sociology differs from other social sciences in that it is more general and covers human interaction from a broad dimension whereas the other social sciences are specific. In fact, all other social sciences are said to have sprung from sociology.

As indicated, sociology is the scientific study of human relationships, their interactions, and institutions. Psychology, on the other hand, is the scientific study of the mind and mental processes. History, another social science, is the study of the occurrence of past events. Even though sociology and political science are dependent on each other, political science is the scientific study of the state and government. In regards to the study of economics, sociology deals with human interactions, while economics deals with human behaviors in relation to the resources available and their alternative uses.

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Sociology is the study of the behavior of people as members of society.  It studies the relationship that exists between human beings and their societies.  People influence their societies and their societies influence them.  Sociology studies this interaction.  Sociologists study things like the way that being members of a specific group (women, for example) influences peoples lives.  It studies how society helps to cause delinquency and how that delinquency impacts society.

The other social sciences study other aspects of human behavior.  For example, psychology studies the inner workings of the minds of human beings.  It looks at how we react, in our own minds, to various outside stimuli.   Economics looks at human behaviors, but only in the context of the way that they choose to use their scarce resources.  Political science looks at the structures that people form to govern themselves and the ways in which they interact with those structures.

Sociology is different from the other social sciences then, in that it is the only one that is specially concerned with the interaction between human beings and their societies.

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How does the formal definition of sociology distinguish it from other disciplines?

As the name "sociology" suggests, Sociology is a social and not an exact science (such as Physics or Chemistry). Due to empirical (measurable) study, analysis and research methodology, accurate interpretations of human behavior in specific circumstances can be attained. It is the study (hence the word ends in "ology")  

of society, its behavior, its culture, its categories, its institutions

the outcomes of which all affect individual attitudes and responses in group situations.

Sociology is a scientific understanding of a social concept. Hence, it involves behavior.It is distinct from, for example psychology which studies the mind. Sociology involves the origins of society and group interaction and is based on observation rather than an individual's response to a situation based on the complex interpretations of the mind. Sociology studies the individual's behavior within a group and how that group affects him.

People do behave differently according to the circles within which they mix and sociology attempts to quantify this.

The definition of sociology also excludes, to an extent, ancient customs and cultures and how they affect individuals and groups, making it distinct from anthropology.

Sociology covers  

the methodological study of social facts, processes, and actions

ensuring that it can in itself remain a distinct social science, indispensible in the understanding of society as a whole.



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