Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society.
  • n. Analysis of a social institution or societal segment as a self-contained entity or in relation to society as a whole.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The study of society, human social interaction and the rules and processes that bind and separate people not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups and institutions

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That branch of philosophy which treats of the constitution, phenomena, and development of human society; social science.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The science of social phenomena; the science which investigates the laws regulating human society; the science which treats of the general structure of society, the laws of its development, the progress of civilization, and all that relates to society.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the study and classification of human societies

Etymologies

French sociologie : socio-, socio- + -logie, study (from Greek -logiā; see -logy).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French sociologie, coined by Auguste Comte in 1834. Previous mentions of the field in English usually referred to it as social physics. (Wiktionary)

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