Comprehensive definitions of Sociology in dictionary and
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Sociology is a social science that studies the preconditions for, the
emergence and interaction of different elements of society.
While other social sciences have specialized in specific sectors of social
life such as economics, politics or pedagogy, sociology has aimed to be a
general social science.
It can be referred to as a teaching about social systems, whether it is about
social relationships and fellowships between a few, or about
organizations, institutions and entire communities.
Sociology is also an education that can be taken at universities and
colleges. It is possible to take both a three-year bachelor's degree and a
two-year master's degree, which you qualify for through an obtained bachelor's
Although Western culture has been written about society for hundreds of years
(some would consider Plato to be the basis of general social theories), Auguste
Comte's work in the 1830s is usually considered a starting point for modern
sociology. Otherwise, the work of Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx is important for
what has gradually evolved into professional traditions for general social
Much of the early sociology came to revolve around the dynamics and structure
of the new metropolitan and industrial communities in Europe and America, in
contrast to the social relationships of traditional, local-oriented societies.
Ferdinand Tönnies ' description of the differences between
the Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft has thus been pattern-forming. Around
1900, Max Weber and Émile Durkheim were central names in sociology. Weber is
known for his studies of bureaucracy and the terms of political governance, and
for his books on the links between religion and economic change.
Durkheim is best known for his studies of the division of labor
into different forms of solidarity and of the social function of religion, as
well as his statistically based evidence that countries and regions with a
relatively high degree of family resolution also had higher suicide rates than
Concepts such as social integration and anomie have since become part of the
common interpretive framework of sociology.
The subject of sociology moved in the 20th century through many theoretical
traditions and methodological directions. Methodically, the subject has been
based partly on quantitative data and the use of statistical analyzes for the
study of relationships between different conditions ( variables ) and partly on
qualitative analyzes, with emphasis on interpretations of people's motives and
opinion formation (especially when using in-depth interviews), understanding
social situations in more detail (using observational studies), as well as
various forms of document studies.
Some sociologists have emphasized the mutual and harmonious complementarity
of different groups and institutions, others have concentrated on the conflicts
and contradictions in society.
Some have mostly studied small groups, and used concepts such
as interaction, norms, interaction and social roles. Others have worked more
with macro sizes and used concepts related
to organizations, classes and institutions.
The academic peculiarities of sociology are not studies of one particular
area of social life, but certain views and systematizations that have proved
fruitful for systematic comparisons between society and within society, as well
as for theory development and more generic understanding of phenomena.
The theoretical explanatory framework has long been in dispute. Historically,
there has been conflict between different directions, among others
- evolutionary directions, with an emphasis on the developmental stages of
society and organizations,
- structuralist directions, with emphasis on the specific structure of
large and small "societies",
- functionalist directions, with emphasis on the contribution of social
subsystems to the overall adaptation,
- interactionist directions, with an emphasis on how communities are
created from below, through interaction,
- social constructivist directions, emphasizing that experiences must be
understood as shaped by social conditions.
Even today, the discipline embraces different perceptions of what is the most
appropriate data, methods of analysis and theoretical starting points.
One perspective sees social structure, in the sense of relations between the
positions in which the actors are in, as the most crucial for their actions and
for which social patterns take shape.
In Durkheim's spirit, another perspective is concerned with so-called
collective representations, that is, how common ways of understanding and
meaningful content grow and form the basis for action that in turn affects
A third perspective is in principle oriented towards individual choices that
are influenced by, among other things, the individual's preferences and
Sociology in Norway
Although Eilert Sundt is regarded as a pioneer in Norwegian sociology, it was
only after World War II that sociology became a separate academic study at
Norwegian universities. In 1949, the Department of Sociology was established at
the University of Oslo, with Sverre Holm as the first professor in the subject.
At this institute, academic theory development and practical research were
conducted throughout the 1950s, but it was not until the 1960s that sociological
perspectives became a recurring element of public social debate. Gradually,
sociological institutes were also established at the other universities in
Today there are sociologists in a number of public and private institutions,
and there is sociological research and investigative work at many research
institutes, universities and colleges. A significant interest in Norwegian
sociology is linked to how the welfare state contributes to changes in social
conditions, for example in the area of social inequality.
There is much evidence that sociology has had a greater influence in
Norwegian social life in recent years than has been the case in most other