History of Sociology
Sociology has a relatively short history.
The systematic study of "patterns of behavior" began in the early part
of the 19th century in France, and then appeared in other European societies
and the United States as that century progressed.
Why did sociology appear at that time and place?
Answer: there was a need to understand the rapid
social changes that were occurring throughout these societies as they experienced
dramatic political, economic, and social upheavals. What was happening
in France around 1800?
There was a great desire to know what was happening, why
it was happening, and where it was leading. Were these changes beneficial
ones? Were they harmful ones? Could anything be done to influence
the course of change? These were the central questions that all the
founders of sociology addressed.
Founders of Sociology
Key Concepts/Short Excerpts
Excerpt from Positive Philosophy (1830-42)
"The Positive Philosophy offers the only solid basis
for that Social Reorganization which must succeed the critical condition
in which the most civilized nations are now living.... It alone has
been advancing during a course of centuries throughout which the others
have been declining. The fact is incontestable. Some may deplore it, but
none can destroy it, nor therefore neglect it but under penalty of being
betrayed by illusory speculations. This general revolution of the human
mind is nearly accomplished. We have only to complete the Positive Philosophy
by bringing Social phenomena within its comprehension, and afterward consolidating
the whole into one body of homogeneous doctrine. The marked preference
which almost all minds, from the highest to the commonest, accord to positive
knowledge over vague and mystical conceptions, is a pledge of what the
reception of this philosophy will be when it has acquired the only quality
that it now wants—a character of due generality. When it has become complete,
its supremacy will take place spontaneously. and will re-establish order
throughout society." click for more...
|Evolution, "Survival of Fittest"
Excerpt from The Principles of Sociology, Vol. 1
"Society is an organism... It undergoes continuous growth;
as it grows, its parts, becoming unlike, exhibit increase of structure;
the unlike parts simultaneously assume activities of unlike kinds; these
activities are not simply different, but their differences are so related
as to make one another possible; the reciprocal aid thus given causes mutual
dependence of the parts; and the mutually dependent parts, living by and
for one another, form an aggregate constituted on the same general principle
as an individual organism. The analogy of a society to an organism becomes
still clearer on learning that every organism of appreciable size is a
society; and on further learning that in both, the lives of the units continue
for some time if the life of the aggregate is suddenly arrested, while
if the aggregate is not destroyed by violence its life greatly exceeds
in duration the lives of its units. Though the two are contrasted as respectively
discrete and concrete, and though there results a difference in the ends
subserved by the organization, there does not result a difference in the
laws of the organization: the required mutual influences of the parts,
not transmissible in a direct way, being transmitted in an indirect way."
click for more...
|Class, Revolution, Dialectical Materialism
Excerpt from The Communist Manifesto (1848):
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the
history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian,
lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed,
stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted,
now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary
reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending
It is high time that Communists should openly, in the
face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies,
and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto
of the party itself....
In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary
movement against the existing social and political order of things. In
all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in
each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at
the time. Finally, they labor everywhere for the union and agreement of
the democratic parties of all countries. The Communists disdain to conceal
their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained
only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the
ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have
nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
Working men of all countries, unite!" click
|Social Fact, Anomie
Excerpts from The Rules of the Sociological Method
"Before beginning the search for the method appropriate
to the study of social facts it is important to know what are the facts
termed 'social'. .. When I perform my duties as a brother, a husband
or a citizen and carry out the commitments I have entered into, I fulfill
obligations which are defined in law and custom and which are external
to myself and my actions. Even when they conform to my own sentiments and
when I feel their reality within me, that reality does not cease to be
objective, for it is not I who have prescribed these duties; I have received
them through education... Here, then, is a category of facts which present
very special characteristics: they consist of manners of acting, thinking
and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive
power by virtue of which they exercise control over him. Consequently,
since they consist of representations and actions, they cannot be confused
with organic phenomena, nor with psychical phenomena, which have no existence
save in and through the individual consciousness. Thus they constitute
a new species and to them must be exclusively assigned the term social."