Sociology as a scholarly discipline emerged, primarily out of Enlightenment thought, as a positivist science of society shortly after the French Revolution. Its genesis owed to various key movements in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of knowledge, arising in reaction to such issues as modernity, capitalism, urbanization, rationalization, secularization, colonization and imperialism.
During its nascent stages, within the late-19th-century, sociological deliberations took particular interest in the emergence of the modern nation state, including its constituent institutions, units of socialization, and its means of surveillance. As such, an emphasis on the concept of modernity, rather than the Enlightenment, often distinguishes sociological discourse from that of classical political philosophy. Likewise, social analysis in a broader sense has origins in the common stock of philosophy, therefore pre-dating the sociological field.
Various quantitative social research techniques have become common tools for governments, businesses, and organizations, and have also found use in the other social sciences. Divorced from theoretical explanations of social dynamics, this has given social research a degree of autonomy from the discipline of sociology. Similarly, "social science" has come to be appropriated as an umbrella term to refer to various disciplines which study humans, interaction, society or culture.
As a discipline, sociology encompasses a varying scope of conception based on each sociologist's understanding of the nature and scope of society and its constituents. Creating a merely linear definition of its science would be improper in rationalizing the aims and efforts of sociological study from different academic backgrounds.
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