Man is a revolving theme of every activity in the society. Society without man and man without society is a misnomer. This inextricable relationship harped upon man’s intellectual erudition only in the 19th century, when he thought of studying society and the interactions within it as a separate discipline, the societal relationships, human interactions, human behavior, which were once raider became the zenith of his thoughts. He deeply dueled into such concepts and amalgamated them under the kingdom Sociology .He felt that man is no where without social consciousness. The titan of Greek Philosophy Aristotle had rightly said, “Man is a social animal, one who lives without society is either a God or a beast”.
Sociology is like the mother science which has amalgamated into it every aspect of human life. These different facets of human interactions have developed into different disciplines or subjects. Therefore, sociology is the root of all social sciences.
In the light of the above discussion, it is essential to define the meaning of sociology. Auguste Comte, a French Philosopher had coined the term sociology in the year 1839. He is regarded as the father of sociology. Sociology is a combination of the Latin word “Socius” meaning “society” and Greek word “Logus” meaning “science” or “Knowledge”. Etymologically sociology means the “science of society”. Therefore, sociology is the study of human social life, groups and societies. It is a dazzling and compelling discipline as its subject matter is our own behavior as social beings. However, let lus examine in brief some of the noted definitions of sociology, so as to have an initial taste of the nature and objectives of the subject.
Auguste Comte, the founding father of sociology, defines it as the science of social phenomena “subject to natural and invariable laws; the discovery of which is the object of investigation”. Emile Durkheim regards sociology as “the science of social institutions”.
Harry M.Johnson opines that “sociology is the science that deals with social groups”. Kingsley Davis says that “sociology is a general science of society”.
Alex Inkles says, “Sociology is the study of systems of social action and their inter-relations”.
Morries Ginsberg says, “In the broadest sense, sociology is the study of human interactions and interrelations, their conditions land consequences.”
So, from the above mentioned definitions, it clearly seems that sociologists have different viewpoints regarding the meaning of sociology.
But in common or in union, sociology is the science that is concerned with man, his social relations and his society. Although Auguste Comte is regarded as the father of sociology, as he coined the word, the history of social life and social problems is as old as man himself. Man faced several problems and complexities, while he lived in society. He himself was unable to find a solution to all these problems. Philosophers, poets and writers tried in their own way to understand society and social problems and to provide solutions to it. In the ancient period, the earliest systematic attempt in studying and stabilising, society was made through the code of Hammurabi and; the laws of Manu, about 4000 years ago.
Essentially both Manu and Hammurabi dealt with the customs, traditions of the society and extended to establish justice in society.
Thus, we can say that sociology had its origin since the dawn of civilization. In the ancient Greece, Plato reflected the touch of social aspects in his book “Republic”. Aristotle also dealt with law, the state and the society in his work “Ethics and Politics”. The great Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero has mentioned about Sociology in his book “Defocus”. We can also find traces of social concepts in the Demonarchia of Dante and Thomas Moore’s work, the “Utopia” may be noted in this regard.
Not only in the western society, in India too one finds a lot of references to the social organisations, institutions, structures by the law givers in the Shastras and Upanishads. The laws of Manu, Sukrachary’s Nitishastra and Kautilya’s Arthashastra had a lot references to the economic, political, social and legal aspects of the society. During Akbar’s rule (1556- 1605) we find Abul Fazal in his book Ain-E-Akabari dealt with a vivid description and analysis of the socio- economic and political life of people of that time. His book consists of brilliant analysis of Hindu law and its interpretations. He was regarded as the Gazetteer of the Moghuls. Thus, the above mentioned books may be considered as the treasure houses of information regarding the subject.
However, the origin of society is shrouded in mystery. How the society came into existence is still an enigma. But during this period, French Philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau and English philosopher john locked subscribed to the “theory of evolution” of society as a product of a social contract. Hobbes also more or less agreed with Locke and Rousseau. All of them agreed to the fact that the emergence of the society is though a contract. People surrendered their rights to an absolute Government in order to protect themselves. The major preoccupations of these theoreticians are the relationship of social stability, social conflict and its relationship to social change.
The above conditions give a clear picture of the fact that sociology existed even during the pre-scientific era. They laid a foundation to probe into the causes for the growth of sociology as a science. Various strains and tendencies, some intellectual and some social, combined to form the science of sociology.
We human beings have always been curious about the sources of our own behavior. But for thousands of years our attempts to understand ourselves relied on ways of thinking passed down from generation to generation, often expressed in religious terms. (For example, before the rule of modern science, many people believed that natural events, such as earthquakes were caused by gods or spirits). The objective and systematic study of human behavior and society is a relatively recent development, whose beginnings date from the early 1800s. The background to the origins of sociology was the series of sweeping changes ushered in by the French Revolution of 1789 and the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. The shattering of traditional ways of life wrought by these changes resulted in the attempt of thinkers to develop a new understanding of both the social and natural worlds.
There were large-scale changes in family, Kinship, caste community, and religion etc. A new set of relations become urgently required with new emerging situations, Religion and primary relationship started losing its importance in society during this period.