A distinction between pure and applied science is drawn in every scientific field. Pure science is' a search for knowledge, without primary concern for its practical use. Applied science is the search for ways of using scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. A biochemist who seeks to learn how a cell absorbs food or how a cell ages is working as a pure scientist. If this biochemist then tries to find some way to control the aging process, this is applied science. A sociologist making a study of "the social structure of a slum neighborhood" is working as a pure scientist; if this is followed by a study of "how to prevent delinquency in a slum neighborhood," this is applied science. Many people vie.w sociology entirely as an applied science trying to solve social problems. Properly viewed, it is both a pure and an applied science. For unless a science is constantly searching for more basic knowledge, its "practical applications of knowledge" are not likely to be very practical. Practical applications of sociological knowledge have become quite common. Some sociologists are employed by corporations, government bureaus, and social agencies, often in evaluation research but sometimes in administration. Sociologists arc often consulted by legislative committees in preparing new legislation. While the political clout of opposing interest groups may be the prime determinant of social policy decisions, the policy recommendations of social scientists are a significant factor in the legislative process. 01'1 many social questions, such as the causes and treatment of crime and delinquency, drug and alcohol addiction, sex offenses, the causes and consequences of race discrimination, or the adjustment of the farm Unto a changing society, there is considerable scientific knowledge within the social sciences. Often this knowledge is rejected by people who prefer to follow their prejudices, but as a nation, we are beginning to apply scientific methods to our thinking about social issues.

Posted on September 1, 2014 in FIELD AND METHODS OF SOCIOLOGY

Share the Story

About the Author

Back to Top
Share This