The study of sociology provides valuable insights into how human behavior is shaped and influenced by the societal forces of group interaction. The insight gained from a study of sociology leads to a greater understanding of how individuals and groups interact at the local, national and worldwide level. This understanding also better prepares an individual for a wide variety of career paths in the areas of human resources, business management, assessment, research and any area in which a global awareness coupled with critical thinking skills is an asset.
The study of sociology can awaken what the American sociologist C. Wright Mills called "the social imagination." This refers to the ability to become aware of the important relationship between individual experience and the wider society. Social imagination also reflects a heightened awareness of how actions determine outcomes. Mills viewed the study of sociology as the means by which the skills and concepts could be developed to both expose and remedy social injustice.
One of the founding fathers of sociology, Emile Durkheim, viewed society as a reality unique to itself and greater than the sum of its parts. Durkheim believed that this unique reality was one that could only be fully understood in sociological terms and that could not be studied through a psychological or biological perspective. During his time, which was the late 19th and early 20th century, sociology was not fully recognized as an independent discipline of study. To overcome this lack of scientific recognition, Durkheim developed a new methodology that focused on the manner in which the unique elements of collective life can exert an influence on the members of a society.