Perhaps, the most fundamental question which divides sociologists is the status sociology as a science. The founding fathers of sociology took it for granted that sociology a science. Comte, the father of sociology, called sociology as the “queen of sciences”. Sin then many sociologists has come to view sociology in terms of natural sciences. But however there have been differences of opinion regarding the scientific nature of sociology. There is lot of controversy about the nature of sociology as a science. There are two schools thought or group regarding the nature of sociology as a science; some critics claim that sociology is a science in its own rights. It is as much a science like other social sciences such History, Economics, Political science etc. Others deny its scientific status.
Before forming an opinion on this subject, let us enquiry into what constitutes “Science”. A science is “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws. It gathers facts and links them together in their causal sequence with a view to draw valid inferences. Scientific knowledge is based on reason and evidences. It is, therefore, variable and communicable’ the chief characteristics of a science are:
(1) The possibility of a concise, consistent and concrete formulation.
(2) The capacity to form generalisations and make predictions, and
(3) The possibility of verification of the data as well as of the generalisations.
The various steps used in the scientific method are observation, recording, classifications, hypothesis, verification and prediction.
According to William Estlinger, what distinguishes a science is that “it is exclusive and methodically based on reason”. Experimentation and prediction are not its requirement it only signifies the instance of systematic methods of enquiry. According to Huxley a science is a systematic body of knowledge based on reason and evidences.