What is a sociologist


1. Term / development: Sociology is an empirical science that focuses on the structure and functioning of societies and the actions of individuals in social contexts. It was founded by Comte (1798-1857), who called it "social physics".

Social research developed, among other things, from population statistics ("moral statistics", Quetelet) in the early 19th century. She received further impulses from the Engl. Studies on the situation of individual population groups, e.g. the "situation of the working classes" (Engels 1845), the three-, later seventeen-volume study on "Life and Labor in London" by Booth (1889-1902) as well as the French. Studies of working-class families by Le Play (1855) and his students. In Germany, especially after the First World War, the Verein für Socialpolitik contributed to the expansion of empirical social research and its methods through its surveys, including on career choices and career fate.

2. Important representatives of the subject were: Marx (1818–1883), Simmel (1858–1918), Durkheim (1858–1917), Mead (1863–1931), Weber (1864–1920), Lazarsfeld (1901–1976), Parsons (1902– 1979), Merton, (1910-2003), Coleman (1926-1995), Luhmann (1927-1998), Bourdieu (1930-2002).

3. Object: The development and establishment of sociology as an independent subject is closely related to the increasing quantitative orientation after the Second World War, the increase in mathematical-statistical procedures and critical rationalism as the predominant scientific paradigm.

Sociology focuses, among other things, on research into social change and social inequality, social integration, social institutions and interaction processes, as well as in numerous sub-areas including family, youth, economy and business, deviant behavior, the city and mass communication. To explain it, she uses general theories such as systems theory (e.g. Luhmann), action theories (e.g. Homans) and the rational choice theory.

4. The separation of macro and micro sociology is increasingly being abandoned and through Analyzes in the form of the analytical micro-macro model replaced because not specified. The procedure can be explained using the example of Weber's assumption that capitalism arose from Protestant ethics. A fact should be explained on the macro level Xj (the emergence of capitalism) through a hypothesis at the macro level Xi -> Xj (Xi = Protestant ethics). This statement by Xj is now replaced by one of Xi about xi and xj to Xjbecause the original macro hypothesis explains the facts inadequately. That is why the explanation is made on the micro level: A declaration that the Protestant environment influences individual Protestant families in their ethics, this is the context effect Xi -> xi, they raise their children to a performance ethic and a specific economic behavior, this is the micro-hypothesis xi -> xj, one aggregates their behavior by an aggregation rule (xj -> Xj), in the simplest case by addition, one arrives at the explanation of the state of affairs Xj (the emergence of modern capitalism).

5. The main research methods Sociology includes face-to-face, written and telephone surveys, increasingly as CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview) and CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview), as well as the content analysis of texts and the secondary analysis of existing data sets for new questions.

6. Systematic research into social structures and social change in Germany is carried out on a regular basis Survey: a) ALLBUS: A representative population survey carried out since 1980 with approx. 3,000 people, since 1991 also in the five new federal states. In addition to standard demographics, it contains changing topics, e.g. crime, attitudes towards foreigners, political attitudes.

b) Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP): A panel survey, which is primarily aimed at employment, income and life satisfaction; it is intended to supplement official statistics. It is based on a microeconomic approach. The repeat surveys have been carried out annually since 1984; In 1990 it was extended to the new federal states, in 2001 it comprised around 12,000 households with more than 22,000 people aged 16 and over: Germans, foreigners and immigrants. It is supervised by the German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin. With its multitude of analysis options (individual, household; longitudinal section), the SOEP is currently the most complex and costly research instrument in empirical social research in Germany. Its data are used by sociologists, economists and political scientists.