This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot,
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield.
- Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle I.
Sociology is the study of societies. In proportion as this study becomes scientific it is the study of society in the abstract; that is, it studies the uniformities which run through all societies, or all of a given kind.
A society, in the sense here used, is a population the individual members of which maintain more or less permanent relations with one another. In proportion as these relations are permanent, or recurring under certain conditions, they are capable of scientific treatment; they are the uniformities which run through all similar societies; to work them out and set them in order is the business of the sociologist.
In the first four chapters which follow, an equal number of factors will be treated which are necessary to constitute a society, and which help to determine what the characteristics of that society shall be. The material for these four chapters must be drawn largely from other sciences. Herein sociology is indebted chiefly to geography, economics, physiology, and psychology.
. . . For the social process, consisting as it does of manifold activities of men, is almost infinitely complex, and needs to be analyzed into its simpler elements if such a concept is to be useful as a norm in education. What goes to make up the social process? What is its nature? What are its constituents? How are they interrelated, and how is the whole related to the life, experience, and education of the individual? - Betts, Social Principles of Education, p. 51.
... As a matter of fact, a modern society is many societies more or less loosely connected. Each household with its immediate extension of friends makes a society; the village or street group of playmates is a community; each business group, each club, is another. Passing beyond these more intimate groups, there is in a country like our own a variety of races, religious affiliations, economic divisions. Inside the modern city, in spite of its nominal political unity, there are probably more communities, more differing customs, traditions, aspirations, and forms of government or control, than existed in an entire continent at an earlier epoch.
. . . There are also communities whose members have little or no direct contact with one another, like the guild of artists, the republic of letters, the members of the professional learned class scattered over the face of the earth. For they have aims in common, and the activity of each member is directly modified by knowledge of what others are doing. - Dewey, Democracy and Education, pp. 24, 25.