Sociologist study a variety of topics in basic settings as well as in applied settings. To do so, the sociologist must work within three different realms. These realms are the theoretical realm, the observational realm, and the policy/action realm.
To begin research sociologist must look into the theoretical realm. Here (s)he may observe existing social knowledge about human behavior. After the sociologist focuses on one of these existing studies they may move on to the observational realm. If the sociologist is in a basic setting (s)he would now re-hypothesize about the fact she found and test it. However, if the sociologist is in an applied setting, (s)he must do much more work. Applied research includes such things as program evaluations, social impact evaluations, social indicators, and cost benefit analysis.
After the sociologist has begun the research (s)he will now move onto a different realm. Basic research will finish in the policy/action realm by creating a policy or recommendation based on their research. However, those in an applied setting have many options to consider. The sociologist may send their analysis outside of all these realms to a consultant or clinician. Here these people can make a clinical recommendation on what to do about their finding. They may also announce a program implementation. Other directions which the sociologist in the applied setting may go are in the Policy action realm to give their own policy recommendation. They may also announce program implementation without consulting a clinician.
One practitioner who has followed these steps is Herbert Spencer. Spencer looked at society based on anothers theory. He looked towards Charles Darwins theory of evolution. With this idea in mind, he came to his own hypothesis that society also has evolved over time. He also looked at society from a biological standpoint. He stated that society is a set of interdependent parts that work together to maintain the system overtime.
Spencer believed that the best aspects of society would survive throughout time. He believed that it is nobodys place to try to correct any bad aspects of society. Instead society should be left alone to run itself so that it can see that only the best societies will survive. His theory was basically survival of the fittest. However, it is not called by that name because it was already taken. Although eventually Spencers views were rejected, he had a large impact on society while his views survived. Many followed Spencers believes after his fame faded, many sociologists still chose to base their studies on Spencers theories. He bettered humanity by proving to people that societies must have a solid foundation in order to survive. This is a lesson which should be learned by all.