Meaning of Rural Sociology:

Rural sociology is a field of sociology that is connected with the study of social life in rural areas. Rural sociology is centred on the rural
community life. Thus, rural sociology has been specially designed to study
the rural phenomena and it is a systematic study of the varied aspects of the rural society. It is the study of the rural social networks and how they operate for the smooth functioning of the society. The rural society is generally rooted in the villages, and rural sociology studies the aspects of the villages, the way it functions, the various problems it faces and the how it tackles to face the imminent challenges. Rural sociology offers viable solutions and ways of mitigating the problems that hound over the villages.

According to Sanderson, โ€•Rural sociology is the sociology of rural life in the rural environmentโ€–.

Bertand says, โ€•Rural sociology is that study of human relationships in rural environmentโ€–.

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Nature of Rural Sociology:

1. Scientific Methodology: Rural Sociology utilizes scientific
methodology and hence, all the methods used in rural sociology are
scientific in nature.

2. Facts Accumulation: Rural Sociology is always founded on factual study. It studies rural social relationship and activities in a factual manner. It makes a scientific study of facts, general principles and theories involved in them. It is also a known principle that science grows on the data collected from the field and that a sociologist stands on the shoulders of other sociologists as said by Robert Merton.

3. Empiricism: Unlike natural sciences that carry out experiments in the closed laboratory for measurement and verification, rural sociology uses the empirical method in the form of fieldwork. For a rural sociologist going to the field carries immense significance as it helps him/her to gather relevant data on the basis of which he will formulate theories and also it provides an occasion for experimentation, observation and verification.

4. Precision and Accuracy: Two of the important features of scientific
investigation are precision and accuracy. The data that is collected should reflect the exact existing situation at the time of observation. The principles of rural sociology need to be proved true when verified. Their validity can be examined by any one.

5. Discovery of cause-effect relationship: Like Sociology, Rural
Sociology also discovers a cause effect relationship between the
phenomena. For example, in the modern society, the rate of divorce
increases rapidly due to the family disorganization. Similarly, due to the
swift growth of population the rate of poverty and unemployment increases
in the rural society. In these examples, family disorganization and population growth are two causes and divorce as well as poverty and
unemployment are their effects. Rural Sociology has discovered a cause
effect relation between the phenomena and population growth and divorce.

Thus Rural Sociology finds the causal relationship in social disorganization
and other incidents, activities and relationship in rural society and then
forms laws concerning them.

6. Predictions: Eventually, on the basis of cause-effect relationship rural
sociology becomes capable of anticipating the future and make predictions concerning social relationship, activities, incidents etc. For example, if disorganization in the families becomes pronounced, it can make predictions concerning the number of divorces and many other things. Knowing the cause-effect relationship, rural sociology can conclude โ€—what will beโ€˜ on the basis of โ€—what isโ€˜.

Thus, it is evident from the above analysis that Rural Sociology, by
nature, is a science. It possesses all the essential characteristics of science.
However, there are plenty of objections against the scientific nature of rural sociology. Some sociologists have raised their views against the nature of Rural Sociology as a science. They have vehemently objected to the scientific nature of rural sociology on the basis of the following grounds:

7. Lack of Objectivity: The first objection rose against the nature of rural sociology being called a science is that, an unbiased and objective study cannot be made in it. The chief reason of this is that the sociologists have to play dual role of both the doctor and the patient in society. They are the members of that very society which they studies. From this point of view, they have established a very secure relation with the contents, very commencement of society. The sociologists study religion, family,
marriage, economic system etc. But hold their observation lacks the
ingredient of objectivity, which is so much indispensable to science.

8. Lack of experiment: There was also an objection that rural sociology
doesnโ€˜t use Rural Sociology is not a science just because of the term,
science used in it. If science is used for physical sciences, then rural
sociology cannot assert to be a science. The term science is used for
physical sciences includes the dual process of experimentation and
prediction. Rural Sociology, in this context, is not a science because its
subject matter, the human relationship and behavior and they are abstract in nature.

One can neither see nor touch, neither weigh nor analyze in the laboratory. It does not possess the instruments like the microscope and the thermometer to measure the human behavior as science does. It is not probable to validate and test the theory and the principles of rural Sociology like science.

9. Lack of measurement: The third argument against the nature of Rural
Sociology as a science is that it is deficient in measurement. In natural
sciences, definite and standard measurement is used to measure and weigh. The different measurements like units, grams, meters, centimeters etc, by which the subject matter of natural sciences can be measured the units or Rural Sociology. Due to the lack of measurement, the results of rural sociology differ from time to time which is not in the case of natural sciences.

10. Lack of Exactness: The fourth objection is that the discipline doesnโ€˜t
provide exactness. It is not possible to follow the laws and principles of
rural sociology universally as the principles of natural science can be
followed. Its law and principles vary on the basis of time and place
concerned. For example, the rural social problems of one country may be different from the other country. In India untouchability is a serious rural problem but in America it is not so.

11. Lack of Prediction: The fifth and final objection against the nature or
Rural Sociology being called a science is that it is deficient in accurate
prediction. But due to the lack of objectivity and electivity, the principles that are invented by rural sociology are not always acceptable.
Consequently, it becomes to predict any occurrence or phenomena or
forecast cannot be possible about the laws and principles of Rural
Sociology. For instance according to the standing principles of natural
science we can predict that the combination of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule produces water. But such type of prediction is almost impossible in the field of Rural Sociology.

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Scope of Rural Sociology:

1. Rural Community:
To quote Sanderson, โ€•A rural community consists of the social
interaction of the people and their institutions in the local area in which
they live.โ€– Rural Sociology is concerned with the study of the
characteristics, special features and ecology of the village community.

2. Rural Social Structure:
Social structure is the most important basis of social life. Rural
Sociology studies the various components of rural social structure such as village community, family, caste etc. It also analyses the effect of religion, customs and tradition on rural social structure.

3. Rural Social Institutions:
Social, economic, political, educational and religious institutions in the context of rural society constitute the subject matter of rural sociology. Rural Sociology also analyses the sociological significance of these institutions.

4. Rural Culture:
Culture is the total way of life shared by members of a society. It
can be conceived of as a tool kit that provides us with the ideas and
technology to deal with the common problems of everyday life. Rural
Sociology studies the various aspects of the cultural life of the ruralites
such as rural social customs, beliefs, values, attitudes, drives and interests.

5. Rural Social Change:
Consequent upon the forces of industrialization, urbanization,
westernization, sanskritization and modernization, rural society is
undergoing profound changes. Rural Sociology studies the effect of these
processes of social change on rural life.

6. Rural Development Programmes:
Rural Sociology evaluates the impact of various rural development
programmes such as Community Development Programme, Integrated
Rural Development Programme etc. It also studies the effect of various
social legislation measures on the life of the ruralites.

7. Agricultural Transformation:
An important area of study for Rural Sociology is the process of diffusion and adoption of agricultural technology among the rural farmers
and modernization of rural life as a result of improvement in the farming
technology. Rural Sociology also deals with the extent of gains of the various
classes of rural community consequent upon the growth in the agricultural economy.

8. Rural Demography:
Demography is pre-eminently concerned with the statistical study
of the size, distribution and growth of population over a specific period of
time. Rural Sociology studies the causes of the growth of population and its impact on rural development, rural to urban and rural to rural migration.

9. Rural-Urban differences:
All rural sociologists recognize that the social life of the community is divided into two distinct segments, rural and urban. Though
these segments interact among themselves, each is sufficiently distinct from the other. Study of rural-urban differences, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the scope of rural sociology.

10. Rural Social Processes:
Social processes refer to the repetitive forms of behaviour which
are commonly found in social life. Rural Sociology studies the various
social processes such as cooperation, accommodation, assimilation,
competition โ€“ and conflict which occur among individuals or groups in the rural context. It also deals with the effect of cooperation or conflict in
either uniting or dividing the various groups in the context of rural society.

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