Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, is considered by many as the founder of Sociology for he was the first to present sociology as a science. According to Durkheim (1950, p. 110), “the determining cause of a social fact should be sought among the social facts preceding it and not among the states of individual consciousness. ” By this, he suggests the causal exploration of a fact in relation to other facts that surround it.
Similarly, based on this definition, Durkheim expresses the importance of clarity and validity in presenting social facts. In line with this proposition, but more systematically, Max Weber (1897) defines sociology as the “science that attempts the interpretive understanding of social action to arrive at a causal explanation of course and events. ” According to him, action may either be overt, that is, it is evidently visible, or it can be purely inward or subjective.
The definition offered by Weber suggests the systematic approach of sociology in interpreting human responses to events and stimuli. According to him, sociology interprets social responses to provide understanding of why such responses occur. In addition, Weber notes that social action encompasses not only those responses that are outwardly identifiable, but also those that form the thoughts and affection of individuals. Moreover, Weber states that sociology involves methods or considerations in interpreting social action.
These considerations include actual and contextual meaning, verbal and demonstrative language, meaningful and mere reactions, rationality and affection, historical and scientific approaches, among others. Furthermore, sociology strives for clarity of meaning, that is, it presents evidences which can be verified and comprehended. Despite achieving clarity and certainty, it cannot, however, claim to present absolutely valid interpretation. Instead, it presents an interpretation that is subject to refutation and further exploration.
These views of sociology present to us the importance of this science in our life. By determining the cause of certain facts or human actions, sociology provides us the reasons why we behave in a particular way. Through sociology, we comprehend our situation more easily, allowing us to contemplate on our life more vividly. For instance, as a student, sociological studies on the effects of media would help me understand how media could affect my studies negatively as well as positively.
Gaining knowledge from such study, I would know how to use media wisely, for my advantage. Without sociological interpretation, I or even other students could be addicted to media (i. e. , watching television) and not find out its possible negative effects. In the same way, sociology helps schools design their programs based on the needs of people or the society. For example, the existence of different cultures in our population requires schools to design their programs in consideration of multicultural education.
As such, the need of individuals to understand other cultures is addressed by schools, allowing students to exist in harmony with those of other cultures. As noted by the two authors, sociology as a science does not only present mere interpretations, but it offers systematically perceived interpretations. A study on gender, for example, cannot just interpret the rise of transgenderality in our times without the use of survey, in-depth interview, focus group discussion, participative observation, etc. , and a handful of theories on personality.