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Historical origins of sociology - Essay Example

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The field of sociology grew out of society's response to rapid change in social and industrial formation. Sociology represents the study of that change. It attempts to explain the way in which men and women built civil structures, why and how they were built in order aid social organization…
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Historical origins of sociology
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Download file to see previous pages Auguste Comte responded to the aftermath of the French Revolution and could see changes to society occurring with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. He is often credited as being the “father” of sociology. Comte sought to apply the scientific method and concepts of rationality which he defined as positivism to study human social forms. The field of sociology was formalized in the modern period by such thinkers as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx. East of these thinkers presented different theories that first sought to describe the way social and civic units were organized. These theories explained the importance of certain habits such as religion, aggression, or the way work was organized. In the West, Durkheim, Weber, and Marx are seen as the 'founders' of sociology as their theories, methods, and insights can still be used to understand and develop new concepts dealing with social phenomena today (Bilton et al, p. 5). But what is interesting is to raise the question did sociology exist even before these thinkers arrived on the scene. Or if it didn't, what did it mean in other periods of history. Certainly there were thinkers who studied their societies at other periods of history, possibly in the same way that current thinkers study their societies. One can imagine an advisor to an Egyptian pharaoh saying to the king that the poor community should be organized in such and such a way. He may say that they should be next to bodies of water and arid land and as well to a military community. He would explain to the kind that the people who are currently paying the most taxes are the middle class and that they even recognize their responsibilities more to this one god than this other god. The king would ask why and the ancient Egyptian sociologist would then describe the history of the forefathers of that group of middle class people, to make it appear that their religion served certain needs which should be provided for. Durkheim, Weber, and Marx each studied the social organizations and the religions of various ancient societies. Also each of these thinkers eventually wrote works that were specialties and represented individual concentrations of each writer. For example, Durkheim wrote books on religion and also on suicide. Marx, of course is the most known of the thinkers. His work was more or less in economics and social theory that dealt with classes (Bilton et al, p. 100). Marx's partner, Engels wrote a books on the English working class. Weber's most famous book was The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism", but he had also written on Roman medieval societies. Weber ventured outside his comfort themes to write about religion and Asian societies. He wrote about ancient Confucianism and Taoism. He also wrote on Hinduism and Buddhism. Durkheim and Marx also had studied different religions. Durkheim demonstrated the importance of religion in forming early societies and how some of its standard activities merged into civic activities. Durkheim’s theory of anomie, social deviance, today forms the basis for which many sociologists and criminologists build theories of social deviance and subcultures (Bilton et al, p. 386). His theories concerning the division of labor among growing societies help provide good understanding of Marx (who wrote before him) and other theorists. The early thinkers of western sociology were also familiar with economics. It was the changes which the Industrial Revolution had placed ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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