Key Difference – Pure vs Applied Sociology
Pure and Applied Sociology are two branches of the discipline of Sociology between which a key difference can be identified. Sociology is a field of study that focuses on the human society, its structure and various social institutions. It attempts to comprehend the varied social patterns, behaviors and problems that people face in the society. The key difference between pure and applied sociology is in its focus. In pure sociology, the primary focus of the sociologist is to acquire knowledge through theory and research. He attempts to use theoretical knowledge and research to broaden his understanding of the larger societal structure. However, in applied sociology the primary focus of the sociologist is to use the knowledge that he has to practice by solving real life social problems.
What is Pure Sociology?
Pure sociology refers to the field of sociology in which the primary focus is to gain knowledge. This includes various perspectives such as functionalist perspective, Marxist perspective, symbolic interactionism, etc. It also includes a variety of theories and concepts on all social aspects ranging from family to globalization. In pure sociology, the sociologist attempts to broaden his understanding of sociology as an academic discipline.
This usually includes research as well. However, the key difference is that even the research is conducted with the purpose of building new theories, supporting existing theories or rejecting theories. In this sense, the link that pure sociology has to the real world is only limited to knowledge. For an example, as a pure sociological research, a sociologist conducts a research on the relocation of low-income families. Through the research, the sociologist attempts to comprehend the changes that have come about in the lifestyle of people, the difficulties they face, etc. Although the research highlights certain social issues, the main focus of the researcher is to produce quality data and new knowledge.
What is Applied Sociology?
Applied sociology is the field of sociology of which the primary focus is to find solutions to social problems with the assistance of the theoretical knowledge. Unlike in pure sociology where the sociologist is more interested in broadening his knowledge, in applied sociology, the focus is on the practical aspects of the discipline.
Applied sociology consists of a lot of research both qualitative and quantitative that helps the sociologist to understand the social phenomenon, attitudes of the people and even social issues. An applied social researcher usually uses the theoretical knowledge that he has and combines it with the social setting. This allows him to find solutions to the social problem. Let us take the same example of the relocation research. An applied social researcher would use his findings to provide solutions to the people in order to better their life conditions. This is why for most projects; applied sociologists are also hired on policy as well as implementation levels.
What is the difference between Pure and Applied Sociology?
Definitions of Pure and Applied Sociology:
Pure Sociology: Pure sociology refers to the field of sociology in which the primary focus is to gain knowledge.
Applied Sociology: Applied sociology refers the field of sociology of which the primary focus is to find solutions to social problems with the assistance of theoretical knowledge.
Characteristics of Pure and Applied Sociology:
Pure Sociology: The focus is on gaining knowledge.
Applied Sociology: The focus is on solving problems.
Pure Sociology: Knowledge is acquired to broaden one’s understanding of the discipline.
Applied Sociology: Knowledge is used to solve social issues.
Pure Sociology: Research is carried out to come up with new theoretical knowledge.
Applied Sociology: Research is carried out to understand and find solutions to problems.
1. Sociology of Health and Illness By 80jimmylouie [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Survey Research Books By User:Jtneill (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons