Originally Answered: What is sociology?
Sociology is an academic and applied discipline that studies society and human social interaction. Sociological research ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. The field focuses on how and why people are organized in society, either as individuals or as members of associations, groups, and institutions. As an academic discipline, sociology is typically considered a social science. There is ongoing lively discussion about whether social science can be classified as "science", also known as the Science Wars. This was ignited as an open debate by Alan Sokal in 1996.
One useful way to describe the discipline is as a cluster of sub-disciplines (sometimes called fields) that examine different dimensions of society. For example, social stratification studies inequality and class structure; demography studies changes in a population size or type; criminology examines criminal behavior and deviance; political sociology studies government and laws; and the sociology of race and sociology of gender examine the social construction of race and gender as well as race and gender inequality. New sociological fields and sub-fields—such as network analysis and environmental sociology—continue to evolve; many of them are cross-disciplinary in nature.
Sociological research provides educators, planners, lawmakers, administrators, developers, business leaders, and people interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy with rationales for the actions that they take.
The word sociology was coined by French thinker Auguste Comte in 1838 from Latin socius (companion, associate) and Greek λóγος, lógos (word). Comte hoped to unify all studies of humankind - including history, psychology and economics. His own sociological scheme was typical of the 19th century; he believed all human life had passed through the same distinct historical stages (theology, metaphysics, positive science) and that, if one could grasp this progress, one could prescribe the remedies for social ills. Sociology was to be the 'queen of positive sciences.'
Karl Marx"Classical" theorists of sociology from the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Karl Marx, Ferdinand Tönnies, Émile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, and Max Weber. Like Comte, these figures did not consider themselves only "sociologists". Their works addressed religion, education, economics, law, psychology, ethics, philosophy, and theology, and their theories have been applied in a variety of academic disciplines. Their influence on sociology was foundational.
 Institutionalizing Sociology
The discipline was taught by its own name for the first time at the University of Kansas, Lawrence in 1890 by Frank Blackmar, under the course title Elements of Sociology (the oldest continuing sociology course in America). The Department of History and Sociology at the University of Kansas was established in 1891 ,, and the first full fledged independent university department of sociology was established in 1892 at the University of Chicago by Albion W. Small, who in 1895 founded the American Journal of Sociology .
The first European department of sociology was founded in 1895 at the University of Bordeaux by Émile Durkheim, founder of L'Année Sociologique (1896). The first sociology department to be established in the United Kingdom was at the London School of Economics and Political Science (home of the British Journal of Sociology)  in 1904. In 1919 a sociology department was established in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich by Max Weber and in 1920 in Poland by Florian Znaniecki.
International cooperation in sociology began in 1893 when René Worms founded the small Institut International de Sociologie that was later on eclipsed by the much larger International Sociological Association  starting in 1949 (ISA). 1905, the American Sociological Association, the world's largest association of professional sociologists, was founded; in 1909 as well the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Society for Sociology) by Ferdinand Tönnies, Max Weber et al.