What is the relationship between History and Sociology?

Sociology has a wide scope of study. It studies the development of the human society at large. Really speaking, the subject-matter of history, geography, civics, political science etc., could very safely be included within the broad scope of the study of sociology. In fact, sociology gives us knowledge of the development of the society. It aims at developing man into an ideal social being. History is very helpful in acquiring the knowledge of the development of society under various periods and under various conditions. The teaching of history should invariably be guided by the knowledge of sociology. Similarly, study and teaching of sociology can draw a lot from the knowledge of history.

Social history deals with institutions and problems dealing with man and society, customs, manners, habits, food, dress, amusements, family life, group life, folklore, festivals, ceremonies, and such other activities which are an essential part of human life.

Sociology is the latest science with which history is now developing very intimate relations. Sociology needs history as much as history needs sociology in order to describe social behavioural patterns. Trevelyan’s Social History of England is extremely popular. It brings to our mind a vivid picture of how society functioned in the past in its multifarious range of social activities.

Toynbee has gone to the extent of saying that societies are the atoms of which history is composed and it is not individuals or nations but societies that form the components of histories. Social history concerns itself with the tracing of the origin and the development of institutions. It emphasises the cultural aspects of the evolution of man from savagery to civilisation. It is the daily life of the inhabitants of the past ages, the character of family and household life, the conditions of labour and leisure, the attitude of man towards his fellow beings and nature, the pattern of life as it arose from his group living, and the changing forms in his life as a result of religion, literature, music, philosophy, art, learning, thought or any other intellectual activity.

In short sociology is helping history to study ‘social dynamics’ which is a study not of society at rest but constantly in social change and development. Social processes and social causation are giving a new perspective to history enlarging our vision away from dynastic history. In India too our historians are now giving increasing attention to social history, which has already become popular in the West.

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