‘Introduction to Sociology’ by Dr. Ron J. Hammond introduces sociology as the science of societies.
Why did one thinker of recent times find a need for a new science of sociology? Societies had change in unprecedented ways and had formed a new collective of social complexities that the world had never witnessed before. Western Europe was transformed by the Industrial Revolution, a technological development of knowledge and manufacturing that began in the late 1600s and continued until the early 1900s. Industrial Revolution brought some rather severe social conditions which included: deplorable city living conditions; crowding; crime; extensive poverty; inadequate water and sewage; early death, frequent accidents, and high illness rates. The new social problems required a new science.
In the first chapter, the book examines the relevance and growth of sociology as a branch of human knowledge. Its history from the pioneers like Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, and other exponents of England, USA and Europe is traced. Next, the two distinct types of theories are introduced. Namely, the Grand Theory, which include Conflict, Functionalism, Symbolic Interactions’, and Social Exchange Theories, and the Middle-Range Theory, which include Continuity, Activity, Differential Association, and labeling theories.
Next chapter discuss sociological imagination. If psychology enabled understanding of self-esteem, economics gave us the understanding of supply and demand, political science gave us the understanding of polling; sociology gives us a framework for understanding our social world that far surpasses any common sense notion we might derive from our limited social experiences. Discussion then turns to sociological theories, the core and underlying strength of the discipline. Sociologists’ strive for objectivity and the ability to study and observe without distortion or bias, especially personal bias, leads us to scientific sociology. Culture, as part of human social experience is discussed thereafter.
The process of socialization that takes place since birth is discussed. This is followed by other natural topics. The formation of human society with the propensity to make groups, and the deviations to this norm is also analyzed. And how that leads to criminal tendencies. Education and money, stratification of or society, issues of race and minorities, problems particular to the old –senescence, which is the social, emotional, biological, intellectual, and spiritual processes associated with aging, the continuously evolving family structure, the media and it’s societal functions, the prevalence of rape, and demographic studies are some of the topics discussed thereafter.
I think this book examines the science of society in the changing environment, especially with the current trends in view. Author’s portrayal of sociological issues and the society’s response is both academic and realistic. All the discussions are to the point and easy to assimilate. However, when it comes to the issues involving women, like rape and FGM, both discussed here at length, the assessment that the earlier one is due to man’s attachment to power, anger, selfishness, and sadism, as well as the conclusion that the latter is owing to tribal, religious, or, traditional forces, are not supported by sufficient proof or analysis (more than abstract reasoning).