Levels of sociological knowledge

Grand/ all- sociological theories Learning social structures Learning social development, integration and disintegration processes Learning a personality’s development Learning models, methods and techniques of sociological reseach

Social institutions Social communities Social processes
Middle range theories Sociology of family Sociology of science Sociology of education Sociology of religion Sociology of labour Sociology of arts etc. Sociology of small groups Sociology of organization Sociology of crowd Sociology of strata, classes Ethnosociology Feminist sociology etc. Sociology of conflicts Sociology of town Sociology of social movements Sociology of deviant behaviour Sociology of mobility and migration etc.

Primary generalization of empiric data Carrying out empiric sociological researches in social groups and institutions

At present there exist a number of middle range theories that occupy an intermediate place between theories of the grand or all-sociologicallevel and empiric generalization of primary sociological information. They are aimed at generalizing and structuring empiric data within definite areas of sociological knowledge (the family, organization, deviant behaviour, conflict etc.) applying both the ideas and terminology borrowed from fundamental sociological theories and specific concepts, definitions formed only for the given branch of sociological research.

When emerged, middle range theories created a number of indisputable advantages. First, researchers were given a possibility to make up solid theoretic grounds for investigating definite areas of human activities, not applying to the conceptual apparatus of fundamental theories; second, middle range theories allow to exercise close interaction with people’s real life as the subject of their research.

Middle range theories gave birth to rather a narrow specialization of sociologists who work, for instance, only in the area of the family or management, gather empiric data, generalize them and make theoretic conclusions within the given area of applied sociological knowledge. That’s why these theories bear an applied,or branch character. At the same time, applied theories enabled to increase effectiveness of fundamental researches because sociologists were given an opportunity to generalize theoretic outcomes in separate sociological branches without constant applying to first-hand empiric data.

All middle range theories can be conditionally divided into three groups: those of social institutions, social communities and specialized social processes. Theories of the first group investigate complex social dependences and relationships; those of the second one consider structural units of the society (social groups, classes, communities etc.); those of the third one study social processes and changes.

In each group the number of middle range theories is constantly increasing as far as learning the society is deepening, and sociology as a science is developing. Sociologists, who study applied social problems, work out a specific conceptual apparatus, carry out empiric researches of their issues, generalize the given data, make theoretic generalizations and combine them into a theory within their own branch.

Thus, sociology is not some monosemantic or homogeneous formation because it includes different levels of sociological knowledge. Although at each of the given levels the notion of the subject of research, goals and objectives are given a definite expression to, in all cases sociology is represented as a scientific system. It means that its main goal is to get scientific knowledge about the society on the whole or about its parts and subsystems.