It is true that a scientific study of social phenomena is not free from difficulties. Study of society by their very nature cannot be exact like natural and physical sciences. But it is not correct to say that there is no possibility of sociology becoming a science.
It is true that a scientific study of social phenomena is not free from difficulties. Study of society by their very nature cannot be exact like natural and physical sciences. But it is not correct to say that there is no possibility of sociology becoming a science. The critics are over-obsessed with the exactness of conclusions and capacity to predict as the most important criteria of any scientific study. In that case, meteorology cannot be a science since it fails to make an accurate prediction of the weather and natural calamities Universal validness of conclusions and a complete accuracy of prediction are not the only prerequisites of science. The scientific character of a discipline is best knowing by its methodology. If the methods, tools and techniques used by any discipline are scientific then the subject can be treated as a science. Sociology uses scientific methods in the study of its subject matter. Therefore, it is entitled to be called a science. The argument in favour of sociology as a science is as follows:
1) Investigation is possible:
Sociology conducts many experiments indirectly and employs scientific methods such as scales of socio meter, schedules, questionnaire, interview and Case History etc. In these methods quantitative measures are used to measure social phenomenon. Sociologists use statistical methods in their analyses. For example, if we want to know about families with low incomes have more deaths, we collect data. The difficulty lies in getting the data for process are very costly.
2) Observation is possible:
It is not possible to put human beings into a laboratory and observe them. There is no laboratory for human observation. The whole social world is its laboratory. In laboratory, experiments are conducted to measure the relationship between two variables, keeping other factors constant. In sociology, we do the same, but not in a formal laboratory. We do it through statistics. Laboratory experiments are not the only criteria for science. Had it been so then Astronomy would not have been qualified to be science. It cannot make experiments with heavenly bodies. Newton and Archimedes did not invent their laws inside a laboratory. The obstacles far a sociologist is not subject matter itself but from the limitations placed on him by his own society.
3) Comparison is possible:
Sociologists use comparisons between groups, communities and societies. It is readily available with the sociologists. Comparative method is one of the important methods in scientific investigation
4) Generalisation is possible:
The view that generalisation is not possible in sociology as in natural sciences is not true. Sociologists seek universal generalisations. For example, incest taboo (prohibition of sex relationship between mother and son, brother and sister, and father and daughter) is a universal general truth. Sociology makes laws and attempts to predict. It tries to discover laws that generally applicable in all the societies, irrespective of actual differences. A regulation of marriage in certain manner to prevent incest is one such example. There are the principles whose validity can be examined by anyone. They are universal.
5) Accurate measurement is possible:
It is not always true to say that accurate measurement is not possible in sociology. It is possible to measure social relationships by employing statistical method, scales measurement and sociametry etc.
6) Prediction is possible:
Critics opine that since human beings have their indulgence and free choice, this behavior is not predictable. Secondly, if individuals are not largely predictable, then so life is not possible. Thirdly, the concept of exact prediction is an outdated notion of science most scientific theories are now based on probability. Moreover, no science can boast making infallible predictions. In some areas of social life prediction to a limited extent hi been possible. There is a good deal of information on family relationships and the personally of children with the growth and maturity of sociology it would be possible to understand more fully, the principles underlying human behavior and make more accurate prediction about it.
7) Objectivity is possible:
Every idea of man is subjective when as it originates form a person and belongs to him. A scientist while approaching his subject matter relies on his experience and knowledge to get the desired results. Moreover, no value judgment is personal. The statement the dowry is a social evil is a scientific judgment. Social surveys and careful studies confirm ill Social values are based on careful observation and analysis of social facts. They are product of scientific research as social issues.
8) Probability of cause and effect relationship:-
Sociology tries to analyse cause and affect relationship. In its study of family, it has traced the relationship between family disorganisation and divorce, between urbanisation am family disorganisation as one of the causes of divorce. Thus sociology traces cause is effect relationship in social organisation. It tries to find out “how” and “why” of social relationships and social processes.
Thus, we can say that the scientific nature of sociology is a hot issue which has acquired greater dimensions. From the above it follows that sociology is a science in its own rights. Science is after all a method of discovery through observation and experimentation. The result of these observations and experiments are arranged and organised in the fields of knowledge. The term science in other words is the classification of facts and recognition of their sequences. Science is a process which tries to get at the facts and tries to understand them. Science helps us to face facts. It is mostly concerned with a mass of knowledge regarding a particular subject acquired by systematic observation, experience and study analysed and classified into unified whole.
It is approach rather than the content that is the real test of science. According to Lundeberg, “Science is a procedure for discovering conditions under which events occur”. According to Maxwaber, “Sociology is a science which attempts at interpretative understanding of social action in order thereby to arrive at a causal explanation of its cause and effects”. Sociology studies its subjects matter scientifically. It tries to classify types and forms of social relationship, of institutions and associations. It tries to determine the relation between different parts and factors of social life. It tries to deduce general laws from a systematic study. Sociological principles are then applied to the solution of social problems. Sociology is thus as much a social science like psychology, Economics, political science and other social sciences concerning man.