Branches of Sociology


The problem of definition in sciences is one of the most common problems especially in social sciences as the concepts are not easy for people to grasp. It is noticed that since the time of August Comte, scholars have been trying to identify the scope of this field. The French and German scholars made every effort in defining the scope of sociology compared to their American and English counterparts. What is noteworthy is that scholars disagree not only on the definition of sociology but also on its scope and branches.


The first scholars divided the branches of sociology based on the main social phenomena. Therefore they had family; religion, government system, social stratification, crime and deviations. Other scholars divide it based on its scope of interest. Therefore we have theoretical and practical sociology. Another way of division is the level of analysis. In this, we have wide-scope and narrow-scope levels of analysis; also labeled: macro and micro sociology


There are generally two levels of analysis in sociology, which may also be regarded as branches of sociology: micro-sociology and macro- sociology (Henslin and Nelson, 1995). Micro-sociology is interested in small-scale level of the structure and functioning of human social groups; whereas macro-sociology studies the large-scale aspects of society.

Macro-sociology focuses on the broad features of society. The goal of macro-sociology is to examine the large-scale social phenomena that determine how social groups are organized and positioned within the social structure. Micro-sociological level of analysis focuses on social interaction. It analyzes interpersonal relationships, and on what people do and how they behave when they interact. This level of analysis is usually employed by symbolic interactionist perspective.

Some writers also add a third level of analysis called meso-level analysis, which analyzes human social phenomena in between the micro- and macro-levels. Reflecting their particular academic interest sociologists may prefer one form of analysis to the other; but all levels of analysis are useful and necessary for a fuller understanding of social life in society.


Within these general frameworks, sociology may be divided into specific sub-fields on the basis of certain criteria. The most important fields of sociology can be grouped into six areas (World Book Encyclopedia, 1994: Vol. 18; Pp. 564-568).

• The Field of Social Organization and Theory of Social Order: focuses on institutions and groups, their formation and change, manner of functioning, relation to individuals and to each other.

• Social Control: focuses on the ways in which members of a society influence one another so as to maintain social order.

Social Change: focuses on the way society and institutions change over time through technical inventions, cultural diffusion and cultural conflict, and social movements, among others.

Social Processes: focuses on the pattern in which social change takes place, and the modes of such processes.

Social Groups: focuses on how social groups are formed, structured, and how they function and change.

• Social Problems: focuses on the social conditions which cause difficulties for a large number of persons and which the society is seeking to eliminate. Some of the problems may include: juvenile delinquency, crime, chronic alcoholism, suicide, narcotics addiction, racial prejudice, ethnic conflict, war, industrial conflict, slum, areas, urban poverty, prostitution, child abuse, problem of older persons, marital conflicts, etc.

Currently, sociology has got quite several specific subdivisions or fields of specialization in it: some of these include the following: criminology; demography; human ecology; political sociology; medical sociology; sociology of the family; sociology of sports; sociology of development; social psychology; socio- linguistics; sociology of education; sociology of religion; sociology of knowledge; sociology of art; sociology of science technology; sociology of law; urban sociology; rural sociology; economic sociology; and industrial sociolo

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