Sociology is a social science that uses a variety of methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop and refine a body of knowledge about human social structure and activity, sometimes with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare and/or social justice. Its subject matter ranges from the micro level of identity construction to meso level interactions and macro level of societies at large.
Sociology is a broad discipline in terms of both methodology and subject matter. A sociological focus would include the study of social institutions (the economy, the family, the state, religion, the educational system, the health care system, science and technology, and the media) and how these institutions work together. Sociology also includes a focus on how these institutions pattern interactions between individuals and groups, and are related to individual and group identity formation. Sociology also studies how social institutions perpetuate or impede social stratification (class/race/gender/sexuality/ability, etc.) and how these arrangements differ across time (historically) and space (cross culturally).
- the study of society
- a social science involving the study of the social lives of people, groups, and societies
- the study of our behavior as social beings, covering everything from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes
- the scientific study of social aggregations, the entities through which humans move throughout their lives'
- an overarching unification of all studies of humankind, including history, psychology, and economics