Sociology. Although the origins of sociology can be traced back to the nineteenth century with the work of pioneers such as Max Weber, Emile Durkheim and Auguste Comte, it has been one of the more recent of the social sciences to establish itself as a discipline of university study within the Anglo-American tradition. Sociology could be defined very broadly as 'the study of society'; for example, researching into structures, change, and conflict within society. However, as with psychology, there are many disagreements about what should be the appropriate subject matter, aims, and methodology of sociology. Sociologists such as Marx and Parsons focus on social structures and institutions (e.g. capitalism, or the nuclear family); other sociologists such as Weber study social interactions on a much smaller scale (e.g. how individuals and groups develop social relationships). A third approach takes as its focus the study of collective representations: looking at how many of the ways in which we make sense of the world are constructed at societal levels (e.g. representations of political parties such as Labour and the Conservatives). Like psychology, modern sociology has given birth to a number of closely-related fields, such as cultural studies.
Some branches of psychology have been heavily influenced by sociology, for example the broad approach to studying social psychology called 'sociological social psychology' (SSP). Instead of tackling social psychology by establishing the principles governing the individual, and then seeing how these are modified in a social setting, SSP approaches make the social central and view it as inseparable from individual processes. Instead of seeing the social context as simply another 'variable', they ask questions such as 'in a particular social setting, how do the social and cultural practices actually act to construct the individual, as he or she develops from childhood?'.