Sociology is the study of human social behavior, and includes the examination of the origins, institutions, organization, and development of human life. The meaning of the word comes from the suffix "-ology" which means "study of" and the stem "soci-" which refers to society. It is a social science involving the study of the social lives of people, groups, and societies, sometimes defined as the study of social interactions. It is a relatively new academic discipline which evolved in the early 19th century. It usually concerns itself with the social rules and processes that bind and separate people not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups, and institutions. Sociology is interested in our behavior as social beings; thus the sociological field of interest ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. Most sociologists work in one or more specialties or subfields (listed below).
In a broad sense, sociology is the scientific study of social aggregations (from a dyad to the world), the entities through which humans move throughout their lives. A related trend in the discipline, emerging since the late 1970s, attempts to make it a more "applied" discipline, applicable in areas such as non-profit organizations and nursing homes. The results of sociological research aid educators, lawmakers, administrators, and others interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy, through subdisciplinary areas such as survey research, evaluation research, methodological assessment, and public sociology.
Sociological methods, theories, and concepts compel the sociologist to explore levels of reality that go beyond the commonly accepted rules governing human behavior. This specific approach to reality is known as the sociological perspective.