The major characteristics of sociology are that it is a social science because it deals with the social world, and it is a normative discipline because it limits itself to statements about things that exist. It is a pure science because its main goal is to acquire knowledge about humanity.
Other characteristics of sociology are that it is an abstract science as it is interested in the form and patterns of human interactions. It is a generalizing science because it involves the study of the general laws of human interaction.
Some of the major theoretical perspectives of sociology include the evolutionary perspective, the functionalist perspective and the conflict perspective. The evolutionary perspective analyzes patterns of change in societies to determine if there are any general sequences. This perspective explains how human societies evolve.
The functionalist perspective views societies as being based on a harmonious organization of values and norms. A functionalist sees society as a stable operating system where each group exists and thrives because it remains functional. The conflict perspective disagrees with the functionalist perspective because it considers society to be in a continuous state of conflict. Conflict theorists believe that the assumed harmony seen by the functionalists is the result of dominant groups imposing their will on other members of society.