Still it is possible to identify some topics which constitute the subject- matter of sociology on which there is little disagreement among the sociologists. Such topics and areas broadly constitute the field of sociology. A general outline of the fields of sociology on which there is considerable agreement among sociologists could be given here.
Firstly, the major concern of sociology is sociological analysis. It means the sociologist seeks to provide an analysis of human society and culture with a sociological perspective. He evinces his interest in the evolution of society and tries to reconstruct the major stages in the evolutionary process. An attempt is also made “to analyse the factors and forces underlying historical transformations of society”. Due importance is given to the scientific method that is adopted in the sociological analysis. Secondly, sociology has given sufficient attention to the study of primary units of social life. In this area, it is concerned with social acts and social relationships, individual personality, groups of all varieties, communities (urban, rural and tribal), associations, organisations and populations. Thirdly, sociology has been concerned with the development, structure and function of a wide variety of basic social institutions such as the family and kinship, religion and property, economic, political, legal, educational and scientific, recreational and welfare, aesthetic and expressive institutions.
Fourthly, no sociologist can afford to ignore the fundamental social processes that play a vital role. The social processes such as co-operation and competition, accommodation and assimilation, social conflict including war and revolution; communication including opinion formation, expression and change; social differentiation and stratification, socialisation and indoctrination, social control and deviance including crime, suicide, social integration and social change assume prominence in sociological studies. Fifthly, sociology has placed high premium on the method of research also.
Contemporary sociology has tended to become more and more rational and empirical rather than philosophical and idealistic. Sociologists have sought the application of scientific method in social researches. Like a natural scientist, a sociologist senses a problem for investigation. He then tries to formulate it into a researchable proposition. After collecting the data he tries to establish connections between them. He finally arrives at meaningful concepts, propositions and generalisations. Sixthly, sociologists are concerned with the task of “formulating concepts, propositions and theories “.
Concepts are abstracted from concrete experience to represent a class of phenomena”. For example, terms such as social stratification, differentiation, conformity, deviance etc., represent concepts. A proposition “seeks to reflect a relationship between different categories of data or concepts”. For example “lower-class youths are more likely to commit crimes than middle-class youths”. This proposition is debatable.
It may be proved to be false. To take another example, it could be said that “taking advantage of opportunities of higher education and occupational mobility leads to the weakening of the ties of kinship and territorial loyalties”. Though this proposition sounds debatable, it has been established after careful observations, inquiry and collection of relevant data. Theories go beyond concepts and propositions. “Theories represent systematically related propositions that explain social phenomena”.
Sociological theories are mostly rooted in factual than philosophical. The sociological perspective becomes more meaningful and fruitful when one tries to derive insight from concepts, propositions and theories. Finally, in the present era of explosion of knowledge sociologists have ventured to make specialisations also. Thus, today good numbers of specialised fields of inquiry are emerging out.
Sociology of knowledge, sociology of history, sociology of literature, sociology of culture, sociology of religion, sociology of family etc., represent such specialised fields., The field of sociological inquiry is so vast that any student of sociology equipped with genius and rich sociological imagination can add new dimensions to the discipline of sociology as a whole.