Before we analyse the relationship between sociology and social problems, we need to answer a question: why we study social problems in sociology it is not because most people consider them ‘bad’ and these need to eliminated.
In fact, Sociology is a social science like natural sciences, attempts to approach its subject matter objectively. If we approach the study of social problems assuming that they are bad, we are not being objective and will not achieve a sociological understanding.
Relationship between Sociology and Social Problems
The three issues which need analysis with regard to the relationship between sociology and social problems are:
- How does sociology pursue social problems
- What sociological principles does sociology offer about the social problems
- To what extent is the knowledge of the sociologists about social problems impartial, confirmed and concrete?
As far as the sociologists perspective is concerned, they view social problems as problems which arise out of the functioning of the system and structures in a society or which are the result of group influences.they are also concerned with social relationships which emergent are sustained because of the social problems.
Thus, in analysing alcoholism, whereas a doctor will be concerned with its effects on the body, a psychiatrist will be concerned with its effective on attitude and behaviour and a sociologist will be concerned with its effect on social relations and roles.
The relations with family members, with colleagues in the office and with neighbours and friends as well as its effect on work efficiency, status and so on.
Study of Social Problems
The study of social problems in sociology asfires towards a body of valid and logically related principles, and in some cases a systematic theory too. Sociological knowledge of social problems is not complete. We have considerable knowledge about some social problems like crime and drug abuse, but inayati quote knowledge about others like suicide, bonded labour, black marketing, mental illness etc.
According to Weinberg, this unevenness in knowledge about social problems is because our approach to social problems is it generally problem Centre rather than theory centred. most sociologist study social problems because of the practical interest of the community rather than for building a theory, or filling up the theoretical gaps.
As regards bias in the sociologists’ knowledge, through it is true that their orientation and their values can influence their study of social problems, yet they try to interpret facts without any distortion.
Some sociologist think that the only role of sociologist is that of an analyst. That is, to understand social problems but not take interest in their solution. others think that a sociologist has not only to study social problems but has to devise ways and means to correct them. Knowledge cannot be detached completely and from concerted corrective action.
It has to be used in elevating social problems. But the fact to be remembered is that a sociologist by himself cannot solve a social problem. Much depends on the officials politicians agencies and general public.
Sociology is a science which has to be pursued for its fruits, for the sake of what it can do.
What is the task of a Sociologist?
The time has come when sociologist decide to undertake management of change in society like management of business, management of administration. The central concerns of sociology are other and change.
The condition for change includes the directionality of change and sociologist have to move from delving deep into the hoary past true indology and ancient history and from pastulating concept and theories suitable to study Indian social reality to futuristic plants and to identifying and dealing with crisis in the society.
In its initial stages, the gift of sociology may not have been great but after the labours that has been put in developing this science during the last five to six decades, the fruits may be plucked not for their beauty but for their utility.
Earlier we might have been baulked down ine explaining various concept or in historical tracing the growth and functioning of various social institutions and communities but today our display has to take up the question of the present and the future imbalances seriously. In this question of relevance and priorities in the search or significant.
Sociologist in Society
Why have top Indian sociologist remained indifferent to study problems and critical issues like insurgency in northeast India terrorism in Punjab, linguistic mobilization in Assam, cultural polarization in Mizoram, anti-reservation agitations in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Communal riots in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra and police torture and criminalization of policies in Bihar? Is it because they are afraid of this pleasing the establishment by their unbiased and critical evaluations and lodging their positions in council and community and commissions, or is it because they think that they do not fall within the scope of their pure science?
We are not trying to critical but only pointing to the needs for sociologist to take interest in the management of change in society. In sociology and Sociologist alienate themselves from the immediate issues and problems in our society. Both our discipline and other scholars will render themselves irrelevant to the nation as well as to humanism.
It is time that the sociologist develop better predictive capabilities and present the option to the public in a comprehensible manner. This alone will help the society in tackling social problems effectively.
The sociologist role in studying social problems is
- to create awareness about these problems
- analyse the causes of problem,
- develop theories about the problems,
- discuss the effect of social problems on individual groups and societies
- examine the consequences of alternate plans suggested for solving problems.