Difference Between Pure & Applied Sociology

Key Takeaways

  • Pure sociology primarily focuses on acquiring knowledge through theory and research, while applied sociology focuses on using that knowledge to solve real-life social problems.
  • Pure sociology involves various perspectives and theories on social aspects, whereas applied sociology uses theoretical knowledge to find solutions to social problems.
  • Research in pure sociology is conducted to build, support or reject theories, while research in applied sociology is carried out to understand and find solutions to problems.

Pure Sociology and Applied Sociology are two branches within the study of Sociology, which focuses on human society, its structure, and various social institutions. While both branches attempt to understand social patterns, behaviors, and problems, they differ in their main focus.

What is Pure Sociology?

Pure sociology aims to gain knowledge through various perspectives such as functionalist perspective, Marxist perspective, symbolic interactionism, and more. It encompasses a variety of theories and concepts on all social aspects, ranging from family to globalization. In pure sociology, sociologists seek to broaden their understanding of sociology as an academic discipline through research. However, the primary goal of this research is to create new theories, support existing theories, or reject theories, rather than directly addressing real-world problems.

What is Applied Sociology?

In applied sociology, the primary focus is on finding solutions to social problems using theoretical knowledge. Unlike pure sociology, where the focus is on broadening one’s knowledge, applied sociology emphasizes the practical aspects of the discipline. Applied sociology involves both qualitative and quantitative research to understand social phenomena, people’s attitudes, and social issues. An applied social researcher typically combines theoretical knowledge with a social setting to find solutions to social problems.

For example, while a pure sociologist might conduct research on the relocation of low-income families to understand the changes in their lifestyles and difficulties they face, an applied social researcher would use the findings to provide solutions to improve their living conditions. This is why applied sociologists are often hired for policy and implementation levels in various projects.

Difference between Pure and Applied Sociology

The main differences between pure and applied sociology can be summarized in their focus, knowledge acquisition, and research purposes:


  • Pure Sociology: Gaining knowledge.
  • Applied Sociology: Solving problems.


  • Pure Sociology: Acquiring knowledge to broaden one’s understanding of the discipline.
  • Applied Sociology: Using knowledge to solve social issues.


  • Pure Sociology: Conducting research to create, support or reject new theoretical knowledge.
  • Applied Sociology: Conducting research to understand and find solutions to problems.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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