Essay on Relationship Between Sociology and Social Psychology – Sociology and Psychology are contributory sciences.
Psychology has been defined as the study of human behaviour. In the words of Thouless, “Psychology is the positive science of human experience and behaviour”.
The problem of relation between sociology and psychology is still disputed. According to Durkheim, sociology should study social facts and not psychological facts. Social facts, according to him, are something external to the individual and exercise an external constraint on the individual.
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On the other hand, writers like Ginsberg hold the opinion that many sociological explanations could be made firmly established by being related to general psychological laws or explanations. As such, psychological phenomenon is the result of social interaction.
Social Psychology, Psychology, as the science of behaviour, occupies itself principally and primarily with the individual. It is interested in his intelligence and his learning, his hopes and his fears and the order and the disorder of his mind. Social psychology serves as a bridge between psychology and sociology.
As Krech and Crutchfield define, “Social psychology is the science of the behaviour of the individual in society “. Social psychology deals with the mental processes of man, considering him as a social being. It attempts to determine the character of his social behaviour.
It involves various aspects of social behaviour: social interaction, interaction between an individual and a group, and interaction between one group of individuals and another group of individuals. It studies the individual in his relation to his fellow-men. It also studies how an individual’s personality is a function both of his basic physiological and temperamental equipment and of the social and cultural influences to which he is exposed.
The relationship between social psychology and sociology is so close that Karl Pearson asserts that the two are not separate sciences. McDougall and Freud expressed the view that the whole of the social life could be reduced finally to psychological forces. In that case, sociology would be reduced to a mere branch of psychology.
This view is not an acceptable one. Social behaviour of man is affected by political, economic, biological and geographic factors also. Social life of man should not be studied exclusively with the methods of psychology. The mutual dependence of social psychology and sociology should not be interpreted to mean that one is either identical with or is the branch of the other.
Interdependence of the Two Sciences:
Social psychology has to depend on sociology to understand properly human nature and behaviour as it is sociology which provides the necessary material regarding the structure, organisation and culture of societies to which individuals belong. Similarly, the sociologists have taken the assistance from social psychology. They have recognised the importance of psychological factors in understanding the changes in social structure.
Common Topics of Interest for both the Sciences:
Sociologists and social psychologists may have to study together certain common topics such as- individual disorganisation, crime, juvenile delinquency, social disorganisation, public opinion, propaganda, leadership, war conflicts, socialisation, suggestion, imitation, fashion and so on.
Social Psychology Helps to Face Social Problems:
Social psychology helps us a great deal in facing several social problems. Problems such as racial conflict, religious prejudices, communal tensions, crimes, juvenile delinquency, prostitution, gambling and alcoholism are not totally isolated cases in the society.
As they are inseparable from normal social processes and normal social behaviour, the knowledge of social psychology should be brought to bear on the solution of these problems.
Deviant patterns such as stealing, suicide, divorce and prostitution are also normal consequences of our social institutions. As social behaviour and misbehaviour are very closely interrelated, applied social psychologist must be an expert in the details of the practical problems.
Of course, the social psychologist must know his limitations in curing these social evils. He cannot be ‘master-fixer’ of solutions to social problems.
The expressed views of some thinkers on the mutual relationship of the two sciences:
Emphasising the close relation between sociology and social psychology, Lapiere writes that “Social psychology is to sociology and psychology, as Bio-chemistry is to Biology and Chemistry”.
Maclver says that “Sociology in special gives aid to psychology, just as psychology gives special aid to sociology”. To quote Murphy, “social psychology is the study of the way in which the individual becomes member of and functions in a social group”.
T.B. Bottomore says that “Social Psychology is that part of general psychology which has a particular life”. Robert Bierstedt says that “Social psychology, serves as a bridge between psychology and sociology”. Maclver and Page have said: “When we study the nature of the individual consciousness which expresses itself in social relationships, we are taking the psychological point of view.
When we study the relationships themselves we take the sociological point of view. Both sciences are concerned with different aspects of an indivisible reality. Individuals cannot be understood apart from their relations with one another; the relations cannot be understood apart from the units of the relationship.”