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Contributors to Sociology
Founders and Historical Figures
Auguste Comte (1798 - 1857)
Father of Sociology
Social scientists could study societies using same scientific methods used in
natural sciences
Positivism - study of social patterns
The Course in Positive Philosophy (1830-42)
A General View of Positivism (1848)
Comte’s “Law of Three Stages”
Theological Stage
People viewed the world and events in that world as a direct expression of the will of
various gods.
Metaphysical Stage
People viewed the world and events as natural reflections of human tendencies.
Still believed in divine powers or gods, but are less involved on daily happenings. Instead,
problems in the world are due to defects in humanity.
Scientific Stage
C. Wright Mills (1916 - 1962)
Introduced Sociological Imagination
The awareness of the relationship between a person's behavior and experience and the
wider culture that shaped the person's choices and perceptions.
“Three Components of Sociological Imagination”
History: Why society is what it is.
Biography: The nature of "human nature" in a society.
Social Structure: How the various institutional orders in a society function.
Harriet Martineau (1802 - 1878)
First woman Sociologist
1st to translate Comte’s Positive Philosophy from
to English
Society in America (1837)
Capitalism at odds with moral principles of people in U.S.
Belief that all beings are created equal was inconsistent with lack of women’s rights.
Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903)
Influenced by Charles Darwin - Social Darwinism
Adopted biological, “organic analogy”, model society.
Society is a set of interdependent parts that work together to maintain the system over
“Survival of the fittest”
No steps should be taken to correct social ills, strongest
societies would survive over time.
Study of Sociology (1873)
Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917)
Social disorders were not the necessary parts of the modern world and
could be reduced by social reforms.
Published Suicide (1897)
Suicide is neither an individual nor a personal act. It is a social fact.
Four types:
Durkheim’s Four Types of Suicide
Implies that the person commits suicide because he thinks of himself as not integrated into
the social group.
Degree of integration is so strong that the individual will feel that he has disgraced the
entire group and it is his duty to commit suicide.
Society’s influence is lacking in the individual passions. Caused due to extreme frustration
of an individual
Karl Marx (1818 - 1883)
Published Communist Manifesto (1848)
Structure of society is influenced by how its economy is
Bourgeoisie - Capitalists, own the means of production
Proletariat - Workers, own nothing
Class (Social) conflict would lead to collapse of capitalism
which would be replaced with communism
Max Weber (1864 - 1920)
Published The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Claimed Protestantism led to Capitalism
Introduced Verstehen
To understand in a deep way, i.e. put yourself in their shoes.
Georg Simmel (1858 - 1918)
Microsociologist - Small-group research
Objective Culture
The things people produce
Individual Culture
The capacity of individuals to produce, absorb,
and control elements of objective culture.
Published The Philosophy of Money (1900)
Jane Addams (1860 - 1935)
Established the Hull House on the West Side of
Chicago (1889)
Offered welfare, educational, and recreational services
for the poor.
Published Hull-House Maps and Papers (1895)
Covered wage levels, sweatshops, child labor, the
immigrant experience, and living conditions in
poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
W.E.B. Du Bois (1868 - 1963)
Co-founder of NAACP
Published The Philadelphia Negro (1899)
Both whites and blacks bear responsibility for the poor
state of race relations in America.
Published The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
Primary “problem of the twentieth century was the
colour line.”
Erving Goffman (1922 - 1982)
Study of symbolic interaction
Dramaturgical Analysis
people's day-to-day lives can be understood as resembling performers in action on a
theater stage.
Presentation of the self is the person's efforts to create specific impressions in the
minds of others.
Talcott Parsons (1902 - 1979)
Developed action theory
views social action as something purposively shaped by individuals within a context to which
they have given meaning.
tend to treat the individual as an autonomous subject, rather than as constrained by social
structure and culture.
Published The Structure of Social Action (1937)
Robert Merton (1910 - 2003)
Published Social Theory and Social Structure (1949)
Coined the terms Role Model and Self-fulfilling Prophecy