Sociology occupies an important position among the disciplines, usually called the social sciences. These include sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, political science, history and human geography.
These disciplines are sometimes also referred to as behavioral sciences, as they study the principles governing human social behavior.
How is sociology related to other sciences? What are the similarities and differences? These are important questions. Sociology is similar with all other sciences in that it employs the scientific methods and its major aim is production of scientific knowledge.
Sociology is related to other social and behavioral sciences in that all of them have more or less similar subject matter; they all in one way or another study society, human culture, social phenomena; and aim at discovering the laws that govern the social universe.
However, sociology differs from other social sciences in terms of its focus of study, approach of study, and the method of study.
The closest discipline to sociology is social anthropology. The two share concepts, theories and methods, and have similar historical background.
However, they are different in that sociology is primarily interested in the problems of modern society, whereas anthropology is primarily interested in the problem of traditional, non-western society. (It should be noted here that this conventional distinction between the two is now disappearing.) Further, sociology focuses mainly on quantitative techniques whereas anthropology on qualitative research techniques. Perhaps, the methods of research are more important in differentiating the two.
Anthropology’s heavy focus on qualitative method and sociology’s on quantification are still persistent natures of the two disciplines.
Further, one point of difference worth mentioning is that sociology is narrower in scope than anthropology, which has four sub fields; and anthropologists tend to stay in the field for long period (several months to few years) while sociologists prefer brief stay (weeks to few months).