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Founders of Sociology
Auguste Comte
• Coined the term
• Study social world
through scientific method
• Key concepts:
scientific method for
social world
•Theories and work has
been abandoned.
Herbert Spencer
• Structural/Functionalist
• Coined the term “survival of
the fittest” in reference to
human social arrangements
(Social Darwinism)
• Advocated against social
reform efforts to poor people
because it disrupts the natural
selection process of evolution\
•Also discredited today.
The Fathers of Sociology
Karl Marx
• Founder of political / economic
theory of socialism
• Considered the founder of the
conflict perspective – Class
Conflict between wealthy class
and working class.
• Key concepts: proletariat,
bourgeoisie, capitalists, social
Karl Marx: Society and Conflict
 He examined SOCIAL
CLASS struggles
 He believed the
economy dominates all
other aspects of society
 He studied the
Capitalists- owners
Proletarians- the
The Capitalists
 According to Marx the
Capitalists had a false
consciousness of the
problem of social
class, meaning their
explanations of
capitalism were wrong
because they did not
want to admit their
own shortcomings
Class Conflict
 Marx embraced
communism and
socialism with his
work the Communist
 He believed the
workers should unite
an revolt against
Capitalism and Alienation
 Marx believed
workers became
alienated – the
experience of
isolation and
misery from
working in the
factory and having
no power
Max Weber: Rationalization of Society
 He studied IDEALISM-
how human ideas shape
 His thesis The
Protestantism Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism
proclaimed that the
protestant work ethic
drove capitalism and
vice versa
Traditional vs. Rationality
 Tradition beliefs passed
down from generation to
 He thought eventually
society would move from
traditional to rationality
 Rational view of the
world is a deliberate,
matter the fact
Emile Durkheim
Society as a function
 Durkheim believed in
patterns of behavior,
cultural norms, and
beliefs are social facts
 He believed these social
facts serve as function in
society. For example he
believed that crime is
normal and society
could not exist without
Emile Durkheim’s work: Suicide
 In this book
Durkheim studies
groups that are most
likely to commit
 He found that those
who have less
solidarity are more
likely commit suicide
 Solidarity is a feeling
or condition of unity
based on common
goals, interests, and
sympathies among a
group's members
 Durkheim believed
being connected to
society was the key
to a happy life
Other Sociologists
W. E. B. Dubois
• First Afro-American PhD
graduate of Harvard
• Concerned with the social
position of AfricanAmericans in US
• Wrote The Philadelphia
Negro (1899) on race
• Used statistics to examine
racial discrimination against
Jane Addams
• Won the first Nobel Peace
Prize (1931) given to an
American sociologist
• Founded Hull House for
the poor in Chicago
• Influenced the “Chicago
School” of applied
(social problems)
• Pioneered the study of
social problems