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Introduction to Sociology (Zimbabwe)


Sociology is a discipline that belongs to what conventionally is called the social science. The discipline plays a leading role in the social sciences. The term sociology literally means the science of society; for the term itself in its direct sense denotes that. Sociology as an academic discipline arose in the first half of 19th century (in 1837, to mention the exact year) as a special science dedicated to unravel the fundamental laws governing the societal phenomena and human social relationship with primary interest in analyzing the problems and societies of the modern, western world. It has, thus, conventionally been accepted to associate sociology with the study of the modern, industrialized societies of western world. Health science students learning this discipline have a great advantage of gaining fresh insights and practical benefits in their personal lives and professional practices.

Sociology along with other sisterly disciplines such as anthropology, economics, social psychology, human/ cultural geography, history and political sciences has now become an essential component of the health and medical sciences curricula in universities and other training institutions abroad. Following this example, similar institutions in Ethiopia have also included this course in their curricula. These lecture notes on introductory sociology are prepared for the health and medical sciences students in institutions of higher learning in Ethiopia. Its purpose is to provide the students with basic ideas and knowledge in the science of sociology. By learning the materials presented in this lecture notes, it is believed that students will be able to understand and appreciate the basic issues, principles and approaches of sociology. Students may also gain an indirect benefit of appreciating the social, cultural, and behavioral dimensions of health and disease. Specifically, the main learning objective of introduction to sociology is to familiarize the students with the basic ideas, issues, concepts and principles of sociology. Students will be able to describe the meaning, scope, methods, history and importance of sociology, and its relations to other disciplines.

The students will also be able to appreciate the relevance of sociology in their personal and future professional practice. A brief discussion of the survey of social problems in contemporary Ethiopian society will also help them understand their nature, causes and types; and their relations to health and disease. The lecture notes are organized into seven chapters: the First Chapter introduces important introductory issues such as the definition, subject- matter, theories, history importance and basic research methods of sociology, and its relationship to other disciplines. Chapter Two discusses the concepts of society and culture that are central to sociology. In Chapter Three, the concept of socialization is discussed. Here, the meaning, bases, necessity, goals and types of socialization are important issues of the chapter. Chapter Four deals with some aspects of social organization and social interaction. Three important dimensions of social processes, namely, social stratification, social mobility and social change will be discussed in Chapter Five, while an overview of social pathologies (focusing on Ethiopia) and methods of social action and intervention will be dealt in the Sixth and Seventh Chapters, respectively.

Each chapter begins with learning objectives, ends with a chapter summary and has review questions. Inside the text, there are illustrative boxes, tables and figures which are meant to aid the students in utilizing the notes more effectively. Throughout the text, key terms and concepts are highlighted in bold and they are put in glossary section for easy reference. Important references used in preparing these lecture notes are also cited in the text and they are put in bibliographical section. However, it is advisable to use the lecture notes as complementary materials. Students should refer to the textbooks and other references for detailed and richer knowledge. The author wishes an enjoyable and fruitful reading for the students.

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