KOREA UNIVETSITY Department of Sociology

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What is sociology?

Sociology, a discipline that endeavors to understand and explain social phenomena scientifically, arose from the progression of fundamental change emerging from the two major revolutions of the 18th century, namely the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Sociology came to existence as an important intellectual process alongside other academic disciplines such as physics, chemistry, and biology.

As the traditional way of life imploded due to the two major revolutions, scholars found a need for new modalities and frameworks to understand the emerging society and the natural world. To comprehend the series of changes that could not be explained by earlier studies, Auguste Comte (1798~1857) created the term ‘sociology’ that was distinguishable from other disciplines and other modes of intellectual and philosophical thought.

After its appearance, sociology developed through the collective works of a succession of classic sociologists: Karl Marx (1818~1883), Emile Durkheim (1858~1917), and Max Weber (1864~1920).

Sociology studies the social life of peoples, groups, and societies. The field of sociology is very broad, ranging from analyzing pedestrians passing on the street by chance to examining social processes occurring at the global level. In other words, the fundamental perspective of sociology is to understand the delicate, complex, and basic methods of how the life of an individual is affected by the context of social experiences.

In short, sociology can be perceived as the study of lifestyle and behavior. Subfields include (in alphabetical order): Criminology, Cultural Sociology, Economic Sociology, Educational Sociology, Environmental Sociology, Gender Sociology, Historical Sociology, Knowledge Sociology, Organization Sociology, Political Sociology, Rural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of the Elderly, Sociology of Family, Sociology of Labor, Social Psychology, and Sociology of Religion.