Sociology fulfils many cognitive and practical functions. Functions of sociology comprise a set of roles that are performed in organization of society as a social system reflecting interests of different social groups and communities.
As far as sociology gives basic idea of society as an integral unity part of its cognitive functions has a methodological character. Sociological dogmas have methodological value concerning other sciences that study society also. Sociological investigations produce a considerable ideological and educational influence. They draw attention to real social contradictions, activate people's activity, mobilize it, favor formation of social thinking.
It is necessary to distinguish such notions as ideology and sociology. Ideology is a system of ideas that express and defend interests of social groups that gives an idea about society through these interests. Sociology is a science that reveals regularities and mechanisms of real development of society. Ideology is oriented at social interest and sociology is oriented at true reflection of social processes. At the same time a sociologist can not be free from ideological influence. But being a representative of science he has to release himself from ideological influence and long for objective analysis. In this connection it is necessary to distinguish sociology and philosophy because the last one represents outlook and cannot be occupied by ideology.
In modern conditions when political leaders address sociology more often refer to sociological information appears a danger of transformation of sociology into instrument of politics. It makes activity of sociology more difficult. He has to stay for truth and his independence. Points of professional ethics acquire more and more value.
Informational-diagnostic and prognostic functions belong to practical functions of sociology. Sociology gives us an idea of social processes. What is more, with accumulation of information it becomes possible to predict tendencies of further development. Functions of social projecting and social technology belong to practical functions of social-engineering character. Sociologist defines optimal way of solving practical problems, develops methods, ways, procedures of management decisions, i.e. develops social technology. Unfortunately sociologists are yet not very good at transformation of sociological information that is collected during investigation into practical recommendations and usually give advices of general character.
Speaking of functions of sociology it is necessary to mention that being a social science sociology fulfils two basic functions theoretical-cognitive and administrating. These two basic functions can produce sub-functions that sometimes in scientific literature are treated as independent ones. In domestic sociological literature following functions are distinguished: theoretical, descriptive, informational, prognostic, ideological, etc.
Theoretical function consists in accumulation and development of sociological knowledge on the basis of investigation of social reality and finding typical repeating relations between its separate sides, in description of regularities of similar relations in system of sociological categories and notions.
Descriptive function is realized in description and systematization of collected sociological material, which is resulted in reflection of ideal picture of investigated sociological object described in "sociological language". This material is accumulated in the form of scientific reports, articles, books and serves as a material for practical conclusions and administrative decisions.
Informational function supposes collection, systematization and accumulation of sociological information that is received as a result of sociological investigations. Address to • banks of sociological information enables us to compare results of investigations, select scientific methods, avoid repeating and to lower cost of investigation on the basis of using typical methods.
Prognostic function is realized in development and grounding of social prognoses basing on results of sociological investigations, i.e. predicting future social regularities and tendencies of social life in future.
Ideological function of sociology is reflected in development and introduction into public consciousness sociological understanding society life. Formation of sociological outlook aimed at understanding and coordination of interests of different social groups and communities helps to avoid narrow-class approach, favoring interests of certain class or social group.
Attention should be paid to the fact that all these functions work integrally in sociological activity and penetrate all the trends and levels of sociology. Besides of that due to its specific functions sociology is closely related to theory and practice of social management of society. Sociology is able to serve as a powerful of scientific reformation of society. Fulfilling of this depends on many factors, for instance on state of the very society, level of development of sociological science, on methodological and theoretical background of sociologists, on sociologists' moral and civic positions.