Focusing on the study of society, sociology is one of the social sciences that attempts to study human interaction of both the individual and populations. As a social science, sociology studies the stratification of society, social class and religion and the ramifications that these elements have on society as a whole. Unlike social studies, which examines events and happenings, sociology attempts to delve into why society functions as it does, as well as how certain views socially alienate different groups of people and different beliefs.
While Auguste Compte may have been the first commonly agreed upon philosopher of science, Karl Marx is typically seen as the father of modern sociology by many scholars and students. Marx became known as the creator of a belief system known as Marxism that focused on the study and understanding of sociology. Later scholars, such as the 19th century's Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim, would sell millions of books that coined phrases such as Spencer's "survival of the fittest" when attempting to explain the advancement of society through the ages. The first college course titled sociology was offered at the American institution of Yale in 1875.
Positivism is one aspect of sociology that attempted to anchor the study of the subject with a scientific base in an attempt to give it credence. Science was the only credible field in the early years of sociological study, and linking the study to a science-based methodology gave sociology the credibility it needed to become a relevant college course of study. Sub-fields in the social sciences consist of such courses as criminality, law and punishment as well as economic social studies and family, sexuality and gender. Offering insight into all aspects of the human social condition, these college courses open up areas to discussion where the mere mention of the subject would have been grounds for dismissal in earlier years.
Examining the matters that make society a working, breathing life source requires deep insight into both the past as well as current and popular beliefs. Many functions of a society that might appear normal and not at all out of the ordinary may be seen as completely inappropriate in other social settings. The basic glue that holds any society together, such as the legal system, educational requirements and even marital relationships, are created and defined by the rules imposed by the ruling members of any society. At times, a society may form a different mindset following a war or social uprising as the new leaders begin to impose their ideals of society upon the citizens of the land.