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Transcript
An Introduction to Sociology
Sociology is a social science that analyzes the development,
structure and functioning of human society. Sociologists focus on
an issue from a group level and try to understand patterns of
behaviour shared by members of a particular group or society.
Sociologists are interested in a range of issues that impact society
such as: social class, gender roles, crime, deviance, prejudice,
demographics etc.
Early History…
Sociology is a young science. Its origins date back to the early
1800s industrial revolution when Western society underwent
tremendous change. Urbanization, specifically, gave rise to social
issues that hadn’t existed in the same capacity previously. For
example, pollution, poverty, malnutrition, unemployment and
crime all resulted in social unrest. The first sociologists were the
people who wanted to study, understand and offer coherent
solutions to these problems.
Early Sociologists:
Auguste Comte (1798-1857) was identified as the first real
sociologist because he coined the term sociology and attempted to
study societies in a scientific way. He believed that all societies
could be studied through the principle of social evolution and
positivism.
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) was famous for her extensive
studies of social issues related to women and race. She was a
strong supporter of emancipation of both women and slaves and
believed that their lack of economic power made them dependent
and powerless in society. Martineau helped inspire future feminist
theories and participated in the abolitionist movement.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) was famous for his criticism of the
exploitation and inequalities caused by capitalism. He wrote The
Communist Manifesto advocating for a classless society that would
naturally replace capitalism. His works became the official
doctrine shaping the political and economic policies of many
nations throughout the world. I.e. Russia, China, Cuba etc.
Max Weber (1864-1920) was known for his extensive writing on
bureaucracy, social stratification, economic history and religion.
Weber believed that society is shaped by human values, beliefs and
attitudes and the best way to understand its functioning would be
by understanding these core factors.
Emile Durkheim (1815-1917) called sociology the “science of
societies” and believed that only through systematic comparison of
societies would we be able to understand complex social problems.
He was the first sociologist to use statistical methods in the study
of human groups and the founder of the first professional journal
of sociology. Most of his work focused on suicide, religion and
education.