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Sociology is the study of society.[1] It is a social science (with which it is informally synonymous) that uses various methods of empirical investigation[2] and critical analysis[3] to develop and refine a body of knowledge and theory about human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structures.[4]

Sociology is both topically and methodologically a very broad discipline. Its traditional focuses have included social stratification (i.e., class relations), religion, secularization, modernity, culture and deviance, and its approaches have included both qualitative and quantitative research techniques. As much of what humans do fits under the category of social structure and agency, sociology has gradually expanded its focus to further subjects, such as medical, military and penal institutions, the internet, and even the role of social activity in the development of scientific knowledge. The range of social scientific methods has also broadly expanded. The linguistic and cultural turns of the mid-20th century led to increasingly interpretative, hermeneutic, and philosophic approaches to the analysis of society. Conversely, recent decades have seen the rise of new mathematically and computationally rigorous techniques, such as agent-based modelling and social network analysis.[5][6]




Sociological reasoning pre-dates the foundation of the discipline. Social analysis has origins in the common stock of Western knowledge and philosophy, and has been carried out from at least as early as the time of Plato. There is evidence of early sociology in medieval Islam. It may be said that the first sociologist was Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century Arab scholar from North Africa, whose Muqaddimah was the first work to advance social-scientific theories of social cohesion and social conflict.[7][8][9][10][11]

The word sociology (or "sociologie") is derived from the Latin: socius, "companion"; -ology, "the study of", and Greek λόγος, lógos, "word", "knowledge". It was first coined by Auguste Comte (1798–1857), in 1838.[12] Comte had earlier used the term "social physics", but that had subsequently been appropriated by others, most notably the Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet. Comte endeavoured to unify history, psychology and economics through the scientific understanding of the social realm. Writing shortly after the malaise of the French Revolution, he proposed that social ills could be remedied through sociological positivism, an epistemological approach outlined in The Course in Positive Philosophy [1830–1842] and A General View of Positivism (1844). Comte believed a positivist stage would mark the final era, after conjectural theological and metaphysical phases, in the progression of human understanding.[13]

Foundations of the academic discipline

Though Comte is generally regarded as the "Father of Sociology",[13] the academic subject was formally established by another French thinker, Émile Durkheim (1858–1917), who developed positivism in greater detail. Durkheim set up the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux in 1895, publishing his Rules of the Sociological Method.[14] In 1896, he established the journal L'Année Sociologique.[14] Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide (1897), a case study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations, distinguished sociological analysis from psychology or philosophy.[15] It also marked a major contribution to the concept of structural functionalism.

A course entitled "sociology" was taught in the United States at Yale in 1875 by William Graham Sumner, drawing upon the thought of Comte and Herbert Spencer rather than Durkheimian theory.[16] In 1890, the oldest continuing American course in the modern tradition began at the University of Kansas, lectured by Frank Blackmar.[17] The Department of History and Sociology at the University of Kansas was established in 1891.[18] The Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago was established in 1892 by Albion W. Small.[19] George Herbert Mead and Charles Cooley, who had met at the University of Michigan in 1891 (along with John Dewey), would move to Chicago in 1894.[20] Their influence gave rise to social psychology and the symbolic interactionism of the modern Chicago School.[21] The American Journal of Sociology was founded in 1895, followed by the American Sociological Association (ASA) in 1905.[19]

The first sociology department to be established in the United Kingdom was at the London School of Economics and Political Science (home of the British Journal of Sociology) in 1904.[22] In 1909 the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (German Society for Sociology) was founded by Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber, among others. Weber established the first department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in 1919, having presented an influential new antipositivist sociology.[23] In 1920, Florian Znaniecki set up the first department in Poland. The Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt (later to become the Frankfurt School of critical theory) was founded in 1923.[24] International co-operation in sociology began in 1893, when René Worms founded the Institut International de Sociologie, an institution later eclipsed by the much larger International Sociological Association (ISA), founded in 1949.[25]

Sociology evolved as an academic response to the challenges of modernity, such as industrialization, urbanization, secularization, and a perceived process of enveloping rationalization.[26] The field predominated in continental Europe, with British anthropology and statistics generally following on a separate trajectory. By the turn of the 20th century, however, many theorists were active in the Anglo-American world. Few early sociologists were confined strictly to the subject, interacting also with economics, jurisprudence, psychology and philosophy, with theories being appropriated in a variety of different fields. Since its inception, sociological epistemologies, methods, and frames of enquiry, have significantly expanded and diverged.[4]

Durkheim, Karl Marx and Weber are typically cited as the three principal architects of social science.[27] Their thought is central to the modern sociological paradigms of functionalism, conflict theory and anti-positivism respectively. Vilfredo Pareto, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Ferguson, Robert Michels, Werner Sombart, Ferdinand Tönnies, Georg Simmel and Karl Mannheim are occasionally included on academic curricula as further founding theorists. Each key figure is associated with a particular theoretical perspective and orientation.[28]

Marx and Engels associated the emergence of modern society above all with the development of capitalism; for Durkheim it was connected in particular with industrialization and the new social division of labour which this brought about; for Weber it had to do with the emergence of a distinctive way of thinking, the rational calculation which he associated with the Protestant Ethic (more or less what Marx and Engels speak of in terms of those 'icy waves of egotistical calculation'). Together the works of these great classical sociologists suggest what Giddens has recently described as 'a multidimensional view of institutions of modernity' and which emphasizes not only capitalism and industrialism as key institutions of modernity, but also 'surveillance' (meaning 'control of information and social supervision') and 'military power' (control of the means of violence in the context of the industrialization of war).

John Harriss The Second Great Transformation? Capitalism at the End of the Twentieth Century 1992, [28]

Positivism and anti-positivism

The methodological approach toward sociology by early theorists was to treat the discipline in broadly the same manner as natural science. An emphasis on empiricism and the scientific method was sought to provide a tested foundation for sociological research, and to distinguish sociology from less empirical fields such as philosophy. This perspective, called positivism, is based on the assumption that the only authentic knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that such knowledge can come only from positive affirmation of theories through strict scientific and quantitative methods. Émile Durkheim was a major proponent of theoretically grounded empirical research,[29] seeking correlations between "social facts" to reveal structural laws. His position was informed by an interest in applying sociological findings in the pursuit of social reform and the negation of social "anomie". Accounts of Durkheim's positivism may be vulnerable to exaggeration and oversimplification: Comte was the only major sociological thinker to postulate that the social realm may be subject to scientific analysis in the same way as noble science, whereas Durkheim acknowledged in greater detail the fundamental epistemological limitations.[30][31]

Reactions against social empiricism began when German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel voiced opposition to both empiricism, which he rejected as uncritical, and determinism, which he viewed as overly mechanistic.[32] Karl Marx's methodology borrowed from Hegel dialecticism but also a rejection of positivism in favour of critical analysis, seeking to supplement the empirical acquisition of "facts" with the elimination of illusions.[33] He maintained that appearances need to be critiqued rather than simply documented. Marx rejected Comtean positivism but nonetheless endeavoured to produce a science of society grounded in historical materialism.[33] Hermeneuticians, neo-Kantian philosophers and human scientists, such as Wilhelm Dilthey and Heinrich Rickert, argued that empirical analysis of the social world differs to that of the natural world due to the irreducibly complex aspects of human society, culture, and being.[34]

At the turn of the 20th century the first generation of German sociologists formally introduced methodological antipositivism, proposing that research should concentrate on human cultural norms, values, symbols, and social processes viewed from a resolutely subjective perspective. Max Weber argued that sociology may be loosely described as a science as it is able to identify causal relationships of human "social action"—especially among "ideal types", or hypothetical simplifications of complex social phenomena.[35] As a nonpositivist, however, Weber sought relationships that are not as "ahistorical, invariant, or generalizable"[36] as those pursued by natural scientists. Ferdinand Tönnies theorized on "gemeinschaft and gesellschaft" (lit. community and society) as two "normal types" of social grouping. Tönnies drew a sharp line between the realm of conceptuality and the reality of social action: the first must be treated axiomatically and in a deductive way ("pure sociology"), whereas the second empirically and inductively ("applied sociology").[37]

Max Weber 1894.jpg

[Sociology is ] ... the science whose object is to interpret the meaning of social action and thereby give a causal explanation of the way in which the action proceeds and the effects which it produces. By 'action' in this definition is meant the human behaviour when and to the extent that the agent or agents see it as subjectively meaningful ... the meaning to which we refer may be either (a) the meaning actually intended either by an individual agent on a particular historical occasion or by a number of agents on an approximate average in a given set of cases, or (b) the meaning attributed to the agent or agents, as types, in a pure type constructed in the abstract. In neither case is the 'meaning' to be thought of as somehow objectively 'correct' or 'true' by some metaphysical criterion. This is the difference between the empirical sciences of action, such as sociology and history, and any kind of priori discipline, such as jurisprudence, logic, ethics, or aesthetics whose aim is to extract from their subject-matter 'correct' or 'valid' meaning.

Max Weber The Nature of Social Action 1922, [38]

Both Weber and Georg Simmel pioneered the "Verstehen" (or 'interpretative') method in social science; a systematic process by which an outside observer attempts to relate to a particular cultural group, or indigenous people, on their own terms and from their own point-of-view.[39] Through the work of Simmel, in particular, sociology acquired a possible character beyond positivist data-collection or grand, deterministic systems of structural law. Relatively isolated from the sociological academy throughout his lifetime, Simmel presented idiosyncratic analyses of modernity more reminiscent of the phenomenological and existential writers than of Comte or Durkheim, paying particular concern to the forms of, and possibilities for, social individuality.[40] His sociology engaged in a neo-Kantian critique of the limits of perception, asking 'What is society?' in a direct allusion to Kant's question 'What is nature?'[41]

Simmel 01.JPG

The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. The antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence. The eighteenth century may have called for liberation from all the ties which grew up historically in politics, in religion, in morality and in economics in order to permit the original natural virtue of man, which is equal in everyone, to develop without inhibition; the nineteenth century may have sought to promote, in addition to man's freedom, his individuality (which is connected with the division of labor) and his achievements which make him unique and indispensable but which at the same time make him so much the more dependent on the complementary activity of others; Nietzsche may have seen the relentless struggle of the individual as the prerequisite for his full development, while socialism found the same thing in the suppression of all competition - but in each of these the same fundamental motive was at work, namely the resistance of the individual to being levelled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism.

Georg Simmel The Metropolis and Mental Life 1903, [42]

Functionalism and conflict theory

Structural functionalism is a broad paradigm, both in sociology and anthropology, which addresses the social structure in terms of the necessary function of its constituent elements. A common analogy (popularized by Herbert Spencer) is to regard norms, values and institutions as 'organs' that work toward the proper-functioning of the entire 'body' of society.[43] The perspective is implicit in the original sociological positivism of Comte, but was theorized in full by Durkheim, again with respect to observable, structural laws. Although functionalism shares a history and theoretical affinity with the empirical method, later functionalists, such as Bronisław Malinowski and Talcott Parsons, are to some extent antipositivist.[44] Parsons, in fact, came to view the term as descriptive of a particular stage in the methodological development of the social sciences, rather than a specific school of thought.[45] Whilst functionalism shares an affinity with 'grand theory' (e.g. systems theory in the work of Niklas Luhmann), emphasis may be placed on small units of socialization, such as the nuclear family. It is also simplistic to equate the approach directly with conservative ideology.[31] Functionalism has been associated with thinkers as diverse as the post-structuralist philosopher Michel Foucault.[46] In the most basic terms functionalism concerns "the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system."[44]

To aim for a civilization beyond that made possible by the nexus of the surrounding environment will result in unloosing sickness into the very society we live in. Collective activity cannot be encouraged beyond the point set by the condition of the social organism without undermining health.

Émile Durkheim The Division of Labor in Society 1883, [47]

Conflict theories, by contrast, are perspectives which critique the overarching socio-political system, which emphasize the inequality of a particular social group, or which otherwise detract from structural functionalism (though they may also be 'structural'). Conflict theories draw attention to power differentials, such as class conflict, and generally contrast traditional or historically-dominant ideologies.[48] The term is most commonly associated with Marxism, but as a reaction to functionalism and the scientific method may be associated with critical theory, feminist theory, queer theory, postmodern theory, post-structural theory, postcolonial theory, and a variety of other perspectives.

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, 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 re-constitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels The Communist Manifesto 1848, [49]

Twentieth-century developments

In the early 20th century, sociology expanded in the U.S., including developments in both macrosociology, concerned with the evolution of societies, and microsociology, concerned with everyday human social interactions. Based on the pragmatic social psychology of George Herbert Mead, Herbert Blumer and, later, the Chicago School, sociologists developed symbolic interactionism. In the 1920s, Georg Lukács' History and Class Consciousness (1923) was released, whilst a number of works by Durkheim and Weber were published posthumously. In the 1930s, Talcott Parsons began to develop action theory, integrating the study of social order with the structural and voluntaristic aspects of macro and micro factors.[50] In Austria and later the U.S., Alfred Schütz developed social phenomenology, which would later inform social constructionism.[51] During the same period members of the Frankfurt school developed critical theory, integrating the historical materialistic elements of Marxism with the insights of Weber, Freud and Gramsci —in theory, if not always in name— often characterizing capitalist modernity as a move away from the central tenets of enlightenment.[52][53]

During the Interwar period sociology was undermined by totalitarian governments for reasons of ostensible political control. After the Russian Revolution, the discipline was "politicized, Bolshevisized and eventually, Stalinized" until it virtually ceased to exist in the Soviet Union.[54] In China, the discipline was banned along with semiotics and comparative linguistics as "Bourgeois pseudoscience" in 1952, not to return until 1979.[55] During the same period, however, sociology was also undermined by conservative universities in the West. This was due, in part, to perceptions of the subject as possessing an inherent tendency, through its own aims and remit, toward liberal or left wing thought. Given that the subject was founded by structural functionalists; concerned with organic cohesion and social solidarity, this view was somewhat groundless (though it was largely Parsons who introduced Durkheim and Weber to American audiences, and his interpretation has been criticized for a latent conservatism).[56]

In the mid-20th century there was a general trend for American sociology to be more scientific in nature, due to the prominence at that time of action theory and other system-theoretical approaches.[57] In 1949, Robert K. Merton released Social Theory and Social Structure, a major text in his functionalist project.[58] Parsons developed the sociology of family[59] and continued his work on action theory within a higher explanatory context of systems theory and cybernetics.[60] By the mid-1950s, new types of quantitative and qualitative research had been developed, and sociological research was increasingly employed as a tool by governments and businesses worldwide.[61]

In 1959, Erving Goffman published The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, whilst C. Wright Mills presented The Sociological Imagination, encouraging humanistic discourse and a rejection of abstracted grand theory.[62] Parallel with the rise of various social movements in the 1960s, particularly in Britain, the cultural turn saw a rise in conflict theories emphasizing social struggle, such as neo-Marxism and second-wave feminism.[48] Ralf Dahrendorf and Ralph Miliband presented politically influential theory on class conflict and industrialized nation states. The sociology of religion saw a renaissance in the decade with new debates on secularisation thesis and the very definition of religious practise.[63] Theorists such as Gerhard Lenski and John Milton Yinger formulated functional definitions of what constitutes a religion, thus analysing new social movements for their religious role.[63] Theorists in the tradition of Western Marxism continued to scrutize consumerism and ideology in analogous terms.[64]

In the 1970s so-called post-structuralist and postmodernist theory, drawing upon structuralism and phenomenology as much as classical social science, made a considerable impact on frames of sociological enquiry.[65] Often understood simply as a cultural style 'after-Modernism' marked by intertextuality, pastiche and irony, sociological analyses of postmodernity have presented a distinct era relating to (1) the dissolution of metanarratives (particularly in the work of Lyotard), and (2) commodity fetishism and the 'mirroring' of identity with consumption in late capitalist society (Debord; Baudrillard; Jameson).[66] Postmodernism has also been associated with the rejection of enlightenment conceptions of the human subject by thinkers such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Michel Foucault, and, to a lesser extent, in Louis Althusser's anti-humanist defence of Marxism.[67] [68] Most theorists associated with the movement actively refused the label, preferring to accept postmodernity as a historical phenomenon rather than a method of analysis, if at all. Nevertheless, self-consciously postmodern pieces continue to emerge within the social and political sciences in general.[65]

In the 1980s, theorists outside of France tended to focus on globalization, communication, and reflexivity in terms of a 'second' phase of modernity, rather than a distinct new era per se. Jürgen Habermas established communicative action as a reaction to postmodern challenges to the discourse of modernity, informed both by critical theory and pragmatism.[69] Fellow German sociologist, Ulrich Beck, presented The Risk Society (1992) as an account of the manner in which the modern nation state has become organized. In Britain, Anthony Giddens set out to reconcile recurrent theoretical dichotomies through structuration theory.[70] During the 1990s, Giddens developed work on the challenges of "high modernity", as well as a new 'third way' politics that would greatly influence New Labour in U.K. and the Clinton administration in the U.S.[71][72] Leading Polish sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman, wrote extensively on the concepts of modernity and postmodernity, particularly with reference to the Holocaust and consumerism.[73] Pierre Bourdieu gained both academic and critical acclaim for his work on the forms of cultural capital.[74]

Functionalist-structuralist systems theorists such as Niklas Luhmann remained dominant forces in sociology up to the end of the century. In 1994, Robert K. Merton won the National Medal of Science for his contributions to the sociology of science.[75] The positivist tradition is popular to this day, particularly in the United States.[76] The discipline's two most widely cited journals, the American Journal of Sociology and the American Sociological Review, primarily publish research in the positivist tradition, with ASR exhibiting greater diversity (the British Journal of Sociology, on the other hand, publishes primarily non-positivist articles).[76] The 1990s gave rise to improvements in quantitative methodologies. Longitudinal studies were employed to follow populations over the course of years and decades, enabling researchers to study long-term phenomena and gain greater reliability. Increases in the size of data sets was facilitated by new statistical computer software packages such as SAS, Stata, or SPSS. Social network analysis is an example of a new paradigm in the positivist tradition. The method, pioneered by theorists such as Harrison White, J. Clyde Mitchell, and Mark Granovetter, is now common in various subfields, as well as other related disciplines. There has also been a minor revival of a more independent, empirical sociology in the spirit of C. Wright Mills and his studies of the Power Elite in the United States, according to Stanley Aronowitz.[77]



Social interactions and their consequences are studied in sociology.

Sociological research methods may be divided into two broad categories:

  • Quantitative designs attempt to reduce social phenomena to quantifiable data which can then be statistically analyzed, focusing on the links and attributes across several cases.
  • Qualitative designs which emphasize personal experiences, interpretation, and self-knowledge over quantification, are concerned with understanding the meaning of social phenomena, and focus on links and attributes across relatively few cases.

Sociologists are divided into camps of support for particular research techniques. These disputes relate to the historical core of social theory (positivism and antipositivism; structure and agency). While very different in many aspects, both qualitative and quantitative approaches involve a systematic interaction between theory and data.[78] The choice of method often depends largely on what the researcher intends to investigate. For example, a researcher concerned with drawing a statistical generalization across an entire population may administer a survey questionnaire to a representitive sample population. By contrast, a researcher who seeks full contextual understanding of an individuals' social actions may choose ethnographic participant observation or open-ended interviews. Studies will commonly combine, or 'triangulate', quantitative and qualitative methods as part of a 'multi-strategy' design. For instance, a quantitative study may be performed to gain statistical patterns or a target sample, and then combined with a qualitative interview to determine the play of agency.[78]


Typically a population is very large, making a census or a complete enumeration of all the values in that population infeasible. A 'sample' thus forms a manageable subset of a population. In positivist research, statistics derived from a sample are analysed in order to draw inferences regarding the population as a whole. The process of collecting information from a sample is referred to as 'sampling'. Sampling methods may be either 'random' (random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified sampling, cluster sampling) or non-random/nonprobability (convenience sampling, purposive sampling, snowball sampling).[78] The most common reason for sampling is to obtain information about a population. Sampling is quicker and cheaper than a complete census of a population.

Types of method

The following list of research methods is neither exclusive nor exhaustive:

  • Archival research or the Historical method: draws upon the secondary data located in historical archives and records, such as biographies, memoirs, journals, and so on.
  • Content analysis: The content of interviews and other texts are systematically analysed. Often data is 'coded' as a part of the 'grounded theory' approach using qualitative data analysis (QDA) software, such as NVivo.[79]
  • Experimental research: The researcher isolates a single social process or social phenomena and uses the data to either confirm or construct social theory. Participants (also referred to as "subjects") are randomly assigned to various conditions or "treatments", and then analyzes are made between groups. Randomization allows the researcher to be sure that the treatment is having the effect on group differences and not any extraneous factors.
  • Survey research: The researcher produces data using interviews, questionnaires, or similar feedback from a set of people chosen (including random selection) to represent a particular population of interest. Survey items from an interview or questionnaire may be open-ended or closed-ended. Quantitative data may be tested using statistical software such as PASW (SPSS). Web-based survery research has become widespread in our society and is routine for reserach in academic fields inclduing healthcare research, politics and market research.
  • Life history (also known as oral history): A study of the personal life experiences and trajectories of a participant. Through semi-structured interviews, the researcher may probe into the decisive moments or various influences in their life.
  • Longitudinal study: An extensive examination of a specific person or group over a long period of time.
  • Observation: Using data from the senses, the researcher records information about social phenomenon or behavior. Observation techniques can be either participant observation or non-participant observation. In participant observation, the researcher goes into the field (such as a community or a place of work), and participates in the activities of the field for a prolonged period of time in order acquire a deep understanding of it. Data acquired through these techniques may be analyzed either quantitatively or qualitatively.

Computational sociology

A social network diagram consisting of individuals (or 'nodes') connected by one or more specific types of interdependency.

Sociologists increasingly draw upon computationally-intensive methods to analyze and model social phenomena.[80] Using computer simulations, artificial intelligence, complex statistical methods, and new analytic approaches like social network analysis, computational sociology develops and tests theories of complex social processes through bottom-up modeling of social interactions.[81] Although the subject matter and methodologies in social science differ from those in natural science or computer science, several of the approaches used in contemporary social simulation originated from fields such as physics and artificial intelligence.[82][83] By the same token, some of the approaches that originated in computational sociology have been imported into the natural sciences, such as measures of network centrality from the fields of social network analysis and network science. In relevant literature, computational sociology is often related to the study of social complexity.[84] Social complexity concepts such as complex systems, non-linear interconnection among macro and micro process, and emergence, have entered the vocabulary of computational sociology.[85] A practical and well-known example is the construction of a computational model in the form of an "artificial society," by which researchers can analyze the structure of a social system.[86][87]

Practical applications

Social research informs politicians and policy makers, educators, planners, lawmakers, administrators, developers, business magnates, managers, social workers, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and people interested in resolving social issues in general. There is often a great deal of crossover between social research, market research, and other statistical fields.

Epistemology and ontology

The extent to which the discipline should be conducted scientifically remains a salient issue with respect to basic ontological and epistemological questions. Controversies continue to rage on how to emphasize or integrate subjectivity, objectivity, intersubjectivity and pragmatism in the conduct of theory and research. While a number of major theorists since the early 20th century have argued that social science is not "science" in the modern sense of the word, the ability to determine causal relationships invokes the same fundamental discussions held in science meta-theory. Whereas positivism has sometimes met with caricature as a breed of naive empiricism, the word has a rich history of applications stretching from Comte to the logical positivism of the Vienna Circle and beyond. By the same token, successful positivism would be open to many of the same critiques set forth in the philosophy of science by thinkers such as Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn.[88][89] One notable critique of social science is found in Peter Winch's Wittgensteinian text The Idea of Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy (1958). Despite meta-theoretical criticisms of positivism, statistical quantitative methods remain extremely common in practise. Michael Burawoy has contrasted public sociology, emphasising strict practical applications, with academic or professional sociology, which largely concerns dialogue amongst other social/political scientists and philosophers.[90]

Early German hermeneuticians such as Wilhelm Dilthey pioneered the distinction between natural and social science ('Geisteswissenschaft'). This tradition greatly informed Weber and Simmel's antipositivism, and continued with critical theory.[91] Since the 1960s a general weakening of deductivist accounts of science has grown side-by-side with critiques of "scientism", or science as ideology.[92] Jürgen Habermas argues, in his On the Logic of the Social Sciences (1967), that "the positivist thesis of unified science, which assimilates all the sciences to a natural-scientific model, fails because of the intimate relationship between the social sciences and history, and the fact that they are based on a situation-specific understanding of meaning that can be explicated only hermeneutically ... access to a symbolically prestructured reality cannot be gained by observation alone."[93] Verstehende social theory has been the concern of phenomenological works, such as Alfred Schütz' Phenomenology of the Social World (1932) and Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method (1960).[94] Phenomenology would later prove influential in the subject-centred theory of the post-structuralists. The mid-20th century linguistic turn turn led to a rise in highly abstract sociology in general, as well as so-called "postmodern" perspectives on the social acquisition of knowledge.[95] Michel Foucault provides a potent critique in his archaeology of the human sciences, though Habermas and Richard Rorty have both argued that Foucault merely replaces one such system of thought with another.[96][97]

Structure and agency forms an enduring debate in social theory: "Do social structures determine an individual's behaviour or does human agency?" In this context 'agency' refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and make free choices, whereas 'structure' refers to factors which limit or affect the choices and actions of individuals (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, and so on). Discussions over the primacy of either structure and agency relate to the core of social ontology ("What is the social world made of?", "What is a cause in the social world, and what is an effect?").[98] One attempt to reconcile postmodern critiques with the overarching project of social science has been the development, particularly in Britain, of critical realism. For critical realists such as Roy Bhaskar, traditional positivism commits an 'epistemic fallacy' by failing to address the ontological conditions which make science possible: that is, structure and agency itself.[99] A general outcome of incredulity toward structural or agential thought has been the development of multidimensional theories, most notably the Action Theory of Talcott Parsons and Anthony Giddens's Theory of Structuration.[50][70]

Scope and topics


Members of the Frankfurt school: Max Horkheimer (left) and Theodor Adorno (right), in Heidelberg, Germany, 1965.

Cultural sociology involves a critical analysis of the words, artifacts and symbols which interact with forms of social life, whether within subcultures or societies at large. For Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history".[40] Culture was a prevalent object of historical materialist analysis for members of the Frankfurt School, such as Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. Loosely-distinct to culture as a general object of sociological inquiry is the discipline of Cultural Studies.[66] Birmingham School cultural theorists such as Richard Hoggart, Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams emphasized the reciprocity in how mass-produced cultural texts are used, questioning the valorized division between 'producers' and 'consumers' evident in earlier neo-Marxist theory. Cultural Studies aims to examine its subject matter in terms of cultural practices and their relation to power. For example, a study of a subculture (such as white working class youth in London) would consider the social practices of the youth as they relate to the dominant classes.

Criminality and deviance

Criminologists analyse the nature, causes, and control of criminal activity, drawing upon methods across sociology, psychology, and the behavioral sciences. The sociology of deviance focuses on actions or behaviors that violate norms, including both formally-enacted rules (e.g., crime) and informal violations of cultural norms. It is the remit of sociologists to study why these norms exist; how they change over time; and how they are enforced. The concept of deviance is central in contemporary structural functionalism and systems theory. Robert K. Merton produced a typology of deviance, and also established the terms "role model", "unintended consequences", and "self-fulfilling prophecy".[100]

Economic sociology

The term "economic sociology" was first used by William Stanley Jevons in 1879, later to be coined in the works of Durkheim, Weber and Simmel between 1890 and 1920.[101] Economic sociology arose as a new approach to the analysis of economic phenomena, emphasising class relations and modernity as a philosophical concept. The relationship between capitalism and modernity is a salient issue, perhaps best demonstrated in Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) and Simmel's The Philosophy of Money (1900). Economic sociology may be said to have begun with Tocqueville's Democracy in America (1835-40) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856).[101] Marx's historical materialism would attempt to demonstrate how economic forces influence the structure of society on a fundamental level. Emile Durkheim's The Division of Labour in Society and Max Weber's Economy and Society were published in 1922. Economic sociology is sometimes synonymous with socioeconomics. In most cases, however, socioeconomists focus on the social impact of very specific economic changes, such as the closing of a factory, market manipulation, and so on.


Environmental sociology is the study of societal-environmental interactions, typically placing emphasis on the social factors that cause environmental problems, the impacts of those issues, and the efforts to resolve them. Attention is paid to the processes by which environmental conditions become defined and known to a society. (See also: sociology of disaster; human ecology)


The sociology of education is the study of how educational institutions determine social structures, experiences, and other outcomes. It is particularly concerned with the schooling systems of modern industrial societies, including the expansion of higher, further, adult, and continuing education.[102]

Family and childhood

The sociology of the family examines the family unit by means of various theoretical perspectives, particularly with regard to the modern historical emergence of the nuclear family and its distinct gender roles. The concept of motherhood forms a central topic in the feminist sociology of Nancy Chodorow and Jessie Bernard.

Gender and sexuality

Sociological analyses of gender and sexuality observe and critique these categories, particularly with respect to power and inequality, both at the level of small-scale interaction and in terms of the broader social structure. At the historical core of such work is feminist theory and the concern for patriarchy: the systematic oppression of women apparent in many societies. Feminist thought may be divided into three 'waves' relating to (1) the initial democratic Suffrage movement of the late-19th century, (2) the second-wave feminism of the 1960s and the development of increasingly complex academic theory, and (3) the current, 'third wave', which has tended to do-away with all generalizations regarding sex and gender and is closely linked with postmodernism, antihumanism, posthumanism and queer theory. Marxist feminism and black feminism are also important perspectives. Studies of gender and sexuality developed side-by-side with sociology rather than strictly within it. As the great majority of universities do not possess a distinct school dedicated to the area, however, it is most commonly taught from within sociology departments.

Health and illness

The sociology of health and illness focuses on the social effects of, and public attitudes toward, illnesses, diseases, disabilities and the ageing process. Medical sociology, by contrast, focuses on the inner-workings of medical organizations and clinical institutions. In Britain, sociology was introduced into the medical curriculum following the Goodenough Report (1944).[103]


The Internet is of interest to sociologists in various ways; most practically as a tool for research and as a discussion platform.[104] The sociology of the Internet in the broad sense regards the analysis of online communities (e.g. newsgroups, social networking sites) and virtual worlds. Online communities may be studied statistically through network analysis or interpreted qualitatively through virtual ethnography. Organizational change is catalysed through new media, thereby influencing social change at-large, perhaps forming the framework for a transformation from an industrial to an informational society. One notable text is Manuel Castells' The Internet Galaxy - the title of which forms an intertextual reference to Marshall McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy.[105]


The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. The term first came into widespread use in the 1920s, when a number of German-speaking theorists, most notably Max Scheler, and Karl Mannheim, wrote extensively on it. With the dominance of functionalism through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought. It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the 1960s, particularly by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality (1966) and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society (compare socially constructed reality). The "archaeological" and "genealogical" studies of Michel Foucault are of considerable contemporary influence. The sociology of knowledge has laid important groundwork for social constructionist work on the sociology of social problems, on the sociology of scientific knowledge, and on the sociology of culture. It has also influenced science and technology studies.

Law and punishment

The sociology of law refers to both a sub-discipline of sociology and an approach within the field of legal studies. Sociology of law is a diverse field of study which examines the interaction of law with other aspects of society, such as the effect of legal institutions, doctrines, and practices on other social phenomena and vice versa. Some of its areas of inquiry include the social development of legal institutions, the social construction of legal issues, and the relation of law to social change. Sociology of law also intersects with the fields of jurisprudence, economic analysis of law and more specialized subjects such as criminology.[106] A law is formal and therefore not the same as a 'norm'. The sociology of deviance, by contrast, examines both formal and informal deviations from normality; both crime and purely cultural forms of deviance. The sociology of punishment examines, without normative or moral judgements, the nature of punitive actions.


As with cultural studies, media studies is a distinct discipline which owes to the convergence of sociology and other social sciences and humanities, in particular, literary criticism and critical theory. Though the production process or the critique of aesthetic forms is not in the remit of sociologists, analyses of socializing factors, such as ideological effects and audience reception, stem from sociological theory and method. Thus the 'sociology of the media' is not a subdiscipline per se, but the media is a common and often-indespensible topic.


Military sociology aims toward the systematic study of the military as a social group rather than as an organization. It is a highly specialized subfield which examines issues related to service personnel as a distinct group with coerced collective action based on shared interests linked to survival in vocation and combat, with purposes and values that are more defined and narrow than within civil society. Military sociology also concerns civilian-military relations and interactions between other groups or governmental agencies. See also: sociology of terrorism. Topics include:

  1. the dominant assumptions held by those in the military,
  2. changes in military members' willingness to fight,
  3. military unionization,
  4. military professionalism,
  5. the increased utilization of women,
  6. the military industrial-academic complex,
  7. the military's dependence on research, and
  8. the institutional and organizational structure of military.[107]

Political sociology

Political sociology is the study of the relations between state and society.[108] The discipline draws on comparative history to analyze socio-political trends. A typical research question in this area might be: "Why do so few American citizens choose to vote?"[109] Political sociology also concerns the play of power and personality, for instance, the impact of globalization upon identity: "The fragmentation and pluralization of values and life-styles, with the growth of mass media and consumerism and decline of stable occupations and communities, all means that previously taken for granted social identities have become politicized."[110] The field developed from the work of Max Weber and Moisey Ostrogorsky,[111] whilst contemporary theorists include Robert A. Dahl, Seymour Martin Lipset, Theda Skocpol, Luc Boltanski and Nicos Poulantzas.

There are four main areas of research focus in contemporary political sociology:

  1. The socio-political formation of the modern state.
  2. "Who rules"? How social inequality between groups (class, race, gender, etc.) influences politics.
  3. How public personalities, social movements and trends outside of the formal institutions of political power affect politics, and
  4. Power relationships within and between social groups (e.g. families, workplaces, bureaucracy, media, etc).[108]

Race and ethnic relations

Race and ethnic relations is the area of sociology that studies the social, political, and economic relations between ethnicities at all levels of society. It encompasses the study of race and racism, and of complex political interactions between members of different groups. At the level of immigration policy, the issue is usually discussed in terms of either assimilationism or multiculturalism. Anti-racism and postcolonialism are also integral concepts. Major theorists include Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, John Rex and Tariq Modood.


The sociology of religion concerns the practices, historical backgrounds, developments, universal themes and roles of religion in society.[112] There is particular emphasis on the recurring role of religion in all societies and throughout recorded history. Crucially, the sociology of religion does not involve an assessment of the truth-claims particular to a religion, although the process of comparing multiple conflicting dogmas may require what Peter L. Berger has described as inherent "methodological atheism".[113] Sociologists of religion attempt to explain the effects of society on religion and the effects of religion on society; in other words, their 'dialectical' relationship. It may be said that the modern formal discipline of sociology began with the analysis of religion in Durkheim's 1897 study of suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations. Max Weber published four major texts on religion in a context of economic sociology and his rationalization thesis: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism (1915), The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism (1915), and Ancient Judaism (1920). Contemporary debates often centre on topics such as secularization, civil religion, and the role of religion in a context of globalization and multiculturalism.

Scientific knowledge and institutions

Sociologist of science, Bruno Latour

The sociology of science involves the study of science as a social activity, especially dealing "with the social conditions and effects of science, and with the social structures and processes of scientific activity."[114] Theorists include Gaston Bachelard, Karl Popper, Paul Feyerabend, Thomas Kuhn, Martin Kusch, Bruno Latour, Robert K. Merton, Michel Foucault, Anselm Strauss, Lucy Suchman, Sal Restivo, Karin Knorr-Cetina, Randall Collins, Barry Barnes, David Bloor, Harry Collins, and Steve Fuller.

Social psychology

Sociological social psychology, also known as psychological sociology, is a specialist discipline which focuses on micro-scale social interactions. Theory in this area may be described as adhering to "sociological miniaturism", examining the nature of societies through the study of individual thought processes and emotional behaviours.[115] Social psychology is closely allied with symbolic interactionism and the work of George Herbert Mead.[116] A separate strand of social psychology is taught with psychological emphasis.


German politician and sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf

Social stratification is the hierarchical arrangement of individuals into social classes, castes, and divisions within a society. In modern Western societies stratification traditionally relates to cultural and economic classes comprising of three main layers: upper class, middle class, and lower class, but each class may be further subdivided into smaller classes (e.g. occupational).[117] Social stratification is interpreted in radically different ways within sociology. Proponents of structural functionalism suggest that, since social stratification exists in most state societies, hierarchy must be beneficial in helping to stabilize their existence. Conflict theorists, by contrast, critique the inaccessibility of resources and lack of social mobility in stratified societies. Karl Marx distinguished social classes by their connection to the means of production in the capitalist system: the bourgeoisie own the means, but this effectively includes the proletariat itself as the workers can only sell their own labour power (forming the material base of the cultural superstructure). Max Weber critiqued Marxist economic determinism, noting that social stratification is not based purely on economic inequalities, but on other status and power differentials (e.g. patriarchy). He showed that there are areas other than social class that have a major impact of peoples' lives. [Weber also came up with the idea of the three P's of stratification, which are: Property (class), Prestige (status), and Power (political party).] Pierre Bourdieu provides a modern example in the concepts of cultural and symbolic capital. Theorists such as Ralf Dahrendorf have noted the tendency toward an enlarged middle-class in modern Western societies, particularly in relation to the necessity of an educated work force in technological or service-based economies.[118] Perspectives concerning globalization, such as dependency theory, suggest this effect owes to the shift of workers to the third world.[119]

Urban and rural spaces

Urban sociology, involves the analysis of social life and human interaction in metropolitan areas. It is a normative discipline, seeking to provide advice for planning and policy making. After the industrial revolution, works such as Georg Simmel's The Metropolis and Mental Life (1903) focused on urbanization and the effect it had on alienation and anonymity. In the 1920s and 1930s The Chicago School produced a major body of theory on the nature of the city, important to both urban sociology and criminology, utilising symbolic interactionism as a method of field research. Contemporary research is commonly placed in a context of globalization, for instance, in Saskia Sassen's study of the "Global city".[120] Rural sociology, by contrast, is the analysis of non-metropolitan areas.

Work and industry

The sociology of work, or industrial sociology, examines "the direction and implications of trends in technological change, globalization, labour markets, work organization, managerial practices and employment relations to the extent to which these trends are intimately related to changing patterns of inequality in modern societies and to the changing experiences of individuals and families the ways in which workers challenge, resist and make their own contributions to the patterning of work and shaping of work institutions."[121]

Sociology and other academic disciplines

Sociology overlaps with a variety of disciplines that study society; in particular, political science, economics, and social philosophy. Many comparatively new social sciences, such as communication studies, cultural studies, demography, film studies, media studies, and literary theory, draw upon methods that originated in classical sociology. The distinct field of social psychology emerged from the many intersections of sociological and psychological interests, and is further distinguished in terms of sociological or psychological emphasis.[122]

Social anthropology is the branch of anthropology that studies how contemporary living human beings behave in social groups. Practitioners of social anthropology, like sociologists, investigate various facets of social organization. Traditionally, social anthropologists analysed non-industrial and non-Western societies, whereas sociologists focused on industrialized societies in the Western world. In recent years, however, social anthropology has expanded its focus to modern Western societies, meaning that the two disciplines increasingly converge.[123][124]

Sociobiology is the study of how social behavior and organization have been influenced by evolution and other biological process. The field blends sociology with a number of other sciences, such as anthropology, biology, zoology, and others. Sociobiology has generated controversy within the sociological academy for giving too much attention to gene expression over socialization and environmental factors in general (see 'nature or nurture'). Entomologist E. O. Wilson is credited as having originally developed and described Sociobiology.[125]

Irving Louis Horowitz, in his The Decomposition of Sociology (1994), has argued that the discipline, whilst arriving from a "distinguished lineage and tradition", is in decline due to deeply ideological theory and a lack of relevance to policy making: "The decomposition of sociology began when this great tradition became subject to ideological thinking, and an inferior tradition surfaced in the wake of totalitarian triumphs."[126] Furthermore: "A problem yet unmentioned is that sociology's malaise has left all the social sciences vulnerable to pure positivism - to an empiricism lacking any theoretical basis. Talented individuals who might, in an earlier time, have gone into sociology are seeking intellectual stimulation in business, law, the natural sciences, and even creative writing; this drains sociology of much needed potential."[126] Horowitz cites the lack of a 'core discipline' as exacerbating the problem. Randall Collins, the president of the American Sociological Association has voiced similar sentiments: "we have lost all coherence as a discipline, we are breaking up into a conglomerate of specialities, each going on its own way and with none too high regard for each other."[127]

In 2007, The Times Higher Education Guide published a list of 'The most cited authors of books in the Humanities' (including philosophy and psychology). Seven of the top ten are listed as sociologists: Michel Foucault (1), Pierre Bourdieu (2), Anthony Giddens (5), Erving Goffman (6), Jürgen Habermas (7), Max Weber (8), and Bruno Latour (10).[128]

See also

Related fields of inquiry


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  104. ^ D. R. Wilson, Researching Sociology on the Internet, Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004, ISBN 0534624375
  105. ^ The Internet Galaxy, Reflections on the Internet, Business and Society. Oxford, Oxford University Press (2001)
  106. ^ Jary, Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 636
  107. ^ Siebold, Guy (2001). "Core Issues and Theory in Military Sociology". Journal of Political and Military Sociology. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
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  109. ^ Piven, F. (1988) Why Americans Don't Vote: And Why Politicians Want it That Way Pantheon. ISBN: 0679723188
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  • Aby, Stephen H. Sociology: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources, 3rd edn. Littleton, CO, Libraries Unlimited Inc., 2005, ISBN 1-56308-947-5 . OCLC 57475961. 
  • Calhoun, Craig (ed) Dictionary of the Social Sciences, Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-19-512371-5. OCLC 45505995. 
  • Macionis, John J. 2004. Sociology (10th Edition). Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-184918-2. OCLC 52846261. 
  • Nash, Kate. 2000. Contemporary Political Sociology: Globalization, Politics, and Power. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-20660-4 . OCLC 41445647. 
  • Scott, John & Marshall, Gordon (eds) A Dictionary of Sociology (3rd Ed). Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-19-860986-8, . OCLC 60370982. 

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Quotes by Famous Sociologists

  • Obviously something is wrong with the entire argument of "obviousness".
    • Paul Lazarsfeld, 1949, about the interpretation of results in social science as obvious.
    • "The American Soldier — An Expository Review", Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 377-404, 380
  • "Myth does not set out to give lessons in natural science any more than in morals or sociology."
    • François-Bernard Mâche (1983, 1992). Music, Myth and Nature, or The Dolphins of Arion (Musique, mythe, nature, ou les Dauphins d'Arion, trans. Susan Delaney). Harwood Academic Publishers. ISBN 3718653214
  • "Men were often called "breadwinners" because their income put food on the table... Although women were not usually called "breadservers," that was their role."
    • Leonard Beeghley paraphrasing Max Weber. Page 70 in The Structure of Social Stratification in the United States. 2008. ISBN: 978-0-205-53052-6 (not necessarily a famous sociologist, but a good quote)

Favorable views of Sociology

  • The social sciences are granted eternal youth because findings must be revisited.
    • Leonard Beeghley paraphrasing Max Weber. Page 12 in The Structure of Social Stratification in the United States. 2008. ISBN: 978-0-205-53052-6

Unfavorable views of Sociology

  • "Don't give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy."
  • "Anyone who has studied psychology, sociology, anthropology, or any of the other wacko-and-wog disciplines knows the three great rules of the social sciences: Folks do lots of things. We don't know why. Test on Friday."
  • "The second item in the liberal creed, after self-righteousness, is unaccountability. Liberals have invented whole college majors— psychology, sociology, women's studies— to prove that nothing is anybody's fault. No one is fond of taking responsibility for his actions, but consider how much you'd have to hate free will to come up with a political platform that advocates killing unborn babies but not convicted murderers. A callous pragmatist might favor abortion and capital punishment. A devout Christian would sanction neither. But it takes years of therapy to arrive at the liberal view."
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Welcome to Wikiversity's School of Sociology which is part of the Social Sciences.


Sociology is the scientific study of individual behaviour in society. In sociology, we seek to understand human social interaction.

Sociology can be examined from both a micro and macro perspective, though neither can be divorced from the other. While micro sociology seeks to understand the individual in the context of society, which is referred to as 'Sociological Social Psychology,' macro sociology seeks to understand group behaviour in the context of society.

For a more in depth examination of sociology, visit the SOC 201 Introduction to Sociology course level that provides the basics needed to understand sociology.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SOCIOLOGY; a science which in the most inclusive sense may be defined as that of human society, in the same manner that Biology may be taken to imply the science of life. The word Sociologic was first used by Comte in 1839 as an equivalent of the expression, social physics, previously in use, and was introduced, he said, to describe by a single term that part of natural philosophy which relates to the positive study of the fundamental laws of social phenomena. The word is a hybrid, compounded from both Latin and Greek terms. It is now generally accepted in international usage; none of the terms, such as politics, political science, social economy, social philosophy and social science which have been suggested instead of it having succeeded in taking its place.

There has been in the past a certain hesitation, especially in England, to admit sociology as the title of a particular science in itself until it was made clear what the subject must be considered to cover. In certain quarters sociology is still often incorrectly spoken of as if it implied the practical equivalent of the science of politics. Henry Sidgwick, for instance, considered the word as usually employed in this sense, and while he himself recognized that sociology must have a wider scope than politics, he thought that in practice "the difference between the two subjects is not indeed great" (Elements of Politics). This view of sociology, which at one time widely prevailed, dates from an earlier period of knowledge. The difference between sociology and the science of politics is wide and is due to fundamental causes, a true perception of which is essential to the proper study of the science of society. It is a feature of organisms that as we rise in the scale of life the meaning of the present life of the organism is to an increasing degree subordinate to the larger meaning of its life as a whole. Similarly, as the advance from primitive society to society of a more organic type takes place, a marked feature of the change is the development of the principles through which the increasing subordination of the present interests of society to the future interests of society is accomplished. It is, however, characteristic of the last-mentioned principles that their operation extends beyond the political consciousness of the state or nation, and that this distinction becomes more and more marked in the higher societies. The scope and meaning of sociology as a science is, therefore, quite different from the scope and meaning of the science of politics. In other quarters, again, the word sociology is often incorrectly used as no more than a covering term for subjects which are fully treated in various subdivisions of social science. Thus when the science of society is distinguished from the special social sciences which fall within its general purview, it may be considered, says Lester F. Ward, that "we may range the next most general departments as so many genera, each with its appropriate species - that is, the classification of the sciences may be made strictly synoptical. When this is done it will be possible for philosophers, like good systematists, to avoid making their ordinal characters include any properly generic ones, or their generic characters include any that are only specific. Thus understood, sociology is freed from the unnecessary embarrassment of having hanging about it in more or less disorder a burden of complicated details, in a great variety of attitudes which make it next to impossible to secure due attention to the fundamental principles of so vast a science. These details are classified and assigned each to its proper place (genus or species), and the field is cleared for the calm contemplation of the central problem of determining the facts, the law and the principles of human association" (Outlines of Sociology). This definition, good as it is in some respects, does not make clear to the mind the essential fact of the science, namely, that the principles of sociology involve more than the generalized total of the principles of the subordinate sciences which it is said to include. In Herbert Spencer's writings we see the subject in a period of transition. Spencer placed his Principles of Sociology between his Principles of Psychology and Principles of Ethics. This fact brings out the unsettled state of the subject in his time, while it also serves to exhibit the dominance of the ideas of an earlier stage. For psychology, which Spencer thus places before sociology, cannot nowadays be fully, or even in any real sense scientifically, discussed apart from sociological principles, once it is accepted that in the evolution of the human mind the principles of the social process are always the ultimate controlling factor.

Sociology, therefore, as a true science in itself, must be regarded as a science occupied quite independently with the principles which underlie human society considered as in a con The Claims dition of development. In this sense the conclusions p of sociology cannot be fully stated in relation to the phenomena dealt with in any of the divisions of social science, and they must be taken as implying more than the sum total of the results obtained in all of them. The sociologist must always keep clearly before him that the claims of sociology in the present conditions of knowledge go considerably beyond those involved in any of the foregoing positions. As it is the meaning of the social process which in the last resort controls everything, even the evolution of the human mind and all its contents, so none of the sciences of human action, such as ethics, politics, economics or psychology can have any standing as a real science except it obtains its credentials through sociology by making its approach through the sociological method. It is in sociology, in short, that we obtain the ruling principles to which the laws and principles of all the social sciences stand in controlled and subordinate relationship.

The fathers of the science of society may be said to be the Greek philosophers, and in particular Plato and Aristotle. The Laws and the Republic of the former and the Ethics and Politics of the latter have, down to modern times, Greeks. and notwithstanding the great difference in the standpoint of the world and the change in social and political conditions, exercised a considerable influence on the development of the theory of society. To the Greeks the science of society presented itself briefly as the science of the best method of attaining the most perfect life within the consciousness of the associated life of the State. "In this ideal of the State," says Bluntschli, "are combined and mingled all the efforts of the Greeks in religion and in law, in morals and social life, in art and science, in the acquisition and management of wealth, in trade and industry. The individual requires the State to give him a legal existence: apart from the State he has neither safety nor freedom. The barbarian is a natural enemy, and conquered enemies become slaves.... The Hellenic State, like the ancient State in general ... was all in all. The citizen was nothing except as a member of the State. His whole existence depended on and was subject to the State. ... The State knew neither moral nor legal limits to its power" (Theory of the State). It was within the limits of this conception that most of the Greek theories of society were constructed. The fundamental conception of the Roman writers was not essentially different, although the opportunism of the Roman ? g pp State, when it became a universal power embrac ing the social and religious systems of many peoples, in some degree modified it; so that with the growth of jus gentium outside the jus civile, the later writers of the empire brought into view an aspect of the State in which law began to be to some extent distinguished from State morality. With the spread of Christianity in Western Europe there commenced a stage in which the social structure, and with it the theory of society, underwent profound modifications. These changes are still in progress, and the period over which they extend has produced a great and increasing number of writers on the science of society. The conceptions of each period have been intimately related to the character of the influences controlling development at the time. The writers up to the 14th century are nearly all absorbed in the great controversy between the spiritual and temporal power which was defining itself during this stage in Western history. In the period of the Renaissance and the Reformation the modern development of the theory of society may be said to begin. Machiavelli is the first great name in this period. Bodin with other writers up to the time of Montesquieu carry the development forward in France. The Dutch writer Grotius, although chiefly recognized at the time as an authority on international law, had much influence in bringing into view principles which mark more directly the transition to the modern period, his De jure belli et pacis, issued in 1625, being in many respects an important contribution to the theory of society. Hobbes and Locke are the principal representatives of the influential school of writers on the principles of society which the period of the political and religious upheaval of the 17th century produced in England. The ideas of Locke, in particular, exercised a considerable influence on the subsequent development of the theory of the State in Western thought. From the 17th century forward it may be said, strictly speaking, that all the leading contributions to the general body of Western philosophy have been contributions to the development of the science of society. At the time of Locke, and to a large extent in Locke's writings, there may be distinguished three distinct tendencies in the prevailing theory of society. Each of these has since become more definite, and has progressed along a particular line of development. There is first the empirical tendency, which is to be followed through the philosophy of Hume down to the present day, in what may be called - to borrow an idea from Huxley - the physiological method in the modern study of the science of society. A second tendency - which developed through the critical philosophy of Kant, the idealism of Hegel, and the historical methods of Savigny in the field of jurisprudence and of the school of Schmoller in the domain of economics - finds its current expression in the more characteristically German conception of the organic nature of the modern State. A third tendency - which is to be followed through the writings of Rousseau, Diderot, d'Alembert and the literature of the French Revolution - found its most influential form of expression in the 19th century in the theories of the English Utilitarians, from Bentham to John Stuart Mill. In this development it is a theory of the utilitarian State which is principally in view. In its latest phase it has progressed to the expression which it has reached in the theories of Marxian Socialism, in which the corresponding conception of the ascendancy of the economic factor in history may now be said to be the characteristic feature. All of these developments, the meaning of which has now been absorbed into the larger evolutionary conception to be described later, must be considered to have contributed towards the foundation of modern sociology. The definition of the relations to each other of the positions they have severally brought into view is the first important work of the new science.

At the period between 1830 and 1842, when Comte published the Philosophie positive, the conditions were not ready for a science of society. The Darwinian doctrine of Comte. evolution by natural selection had not yet been enunciated, and knowledge of social phenomena was limited and very imperfect. As an instance of the character of the change that has since been in progress, it may be mentioned that one of Comte's main positions - that, indeed, to which most of the characteristic conceptions of his system of philosophy were related - was that "the anatomical and physiological study of individual man" should precede the theory of the human mind and of human society. Here the position is the one already referred to which has prevailed in the study of the social sciences down into recent times. It was supposed that the governing principles of society were to be discovered by the introspective study of the individual mind, rather than that the clue to the governing principles of the individual mind was only to be discovered by the study of the social process. It must now be considered that no really fundamental or far-reaching principle of human development can be formulated as the result of Comte's position. For with the application of the doctrine of evolution to society a position is becoming defined which is almost the reverse of it, namely, that the development of the individual, and to a large extent of the h uman mind itself, must be regarded as the correlative of the social process in evolution. The study of the principles of the process of social evolution would therefore in this sense have to come before the complete study of the individual, and even to precede the construction of a system of psychology scientific in the highest sense. Comte, apart from his want of mastery of the historical method in dealing with sociological development, possessed, on the whole, little insight into the meaning of the characteristic problem in which the human mind is involved in its social evolution, and to the definition of which not only the processes of Western history, but the positions successively developed in Western thought, must all be considered as contributing. His great merit was the perception of the importance of the biological method in the science of society, the comprehension of the fact that there can be no science of society if its divisions are studied apart from each other; and finally, and although it led at the time to the formulation of no important principle of human development, the intuition that sociology was not simply a theory of the State, but the science of what he called the associated life of humanity.

It has to be observed that, preceding the application of the doctrine of evolution to society, most of the contributions to The Ruling social science have a certain aspect in which they Principle of resemble each other. While in current theories Early Sod- society tends to be presented as evolving, consciously ological or unconsciously, under stress of natural selection, Con s: I towards social efficiency, earlier contributions (ions: nflu- y?

ence of were merely theories of the meaning and object Greek Con- of society as a medium for the better realization of ception of human desires. In this presentation of the sub- the State. j ect the influence of the Greek conception of the State upon modern sociology may be traced down to the present day.. At the beginning of the modern period it reappears in Machiavelli (Titus Livius, i., iii., and The Prince). It is represented in modified form in Hobbes (Leviathan), and in Locke (Two Treatises of Government), each of whom conceived man as desiring to leave the state of nature and as consciously founding civilized society, "in order that he might obtain the benefits of government" in the associated State. It is continued in Rousseau and the writers of the French Revolution, who similarly imagined the individual voluntarily leaving an earlier state of freedom to put "his person and his power under the direction of the general will" (Social Contract). It is characteristic of Jeremy Bentham (e.g. Principles of Morals and Legislation, i.) and of J. S. Mill (e.g. Utilitarianism and Political Economy, iv., vi.). Finally, it survives in Herbert Spencer, who in like manner sees man originating society and submitting to political subordination in the associated State "through experience of the increased satisfaction derived under it" (Data of Ethics). It continues at the present day to be characteristic of many European and some American writers on sociology, who have been influenced both by Spencer and the Latin theory of the State, and who therefore, conceiving sociology not so much as a science of social evolution as a theory of association, proceed to consider the progress of human association as the development of a process "of catering to human desire for satisfactions of varying degrees of complexity." All these ideas of society bear the same stamp. They conceive the science of society as reached through the science of the individual, the associated State being regarded only as a medium through which he obtains increased satisfactions. In none of them is there a clear conception of an organic science of society with laws and principles of its own controlling all the meaning of the individual.

With the application of the doctrine of evolution the older idea in which society is always conceived as the State and as existing to give increased "satisfaction" is replaced The Doc- by a new and much more extended conception. In trine of the evolutionary view, the development of human Evolution. society is regarded as the product of a process of stress, in which progress results from natural selection along the line not of least effort in realizing human desire, but of the highest social efficiency in the struggle for existence of the materials of which society is composed. In the intensity of this process society, evolving towards higher efficiency, tends to become increasingly organic, the distinctive feature being the growing subordination of the individual to the organic social process. All the tendencies of development - political, economic, ethical and psychological - and the contents of the human mind itself, have therefore to be regarded as having ultimate relations to the governing principles of the process as a whole. The science of social evolution has, in short, to be considered, according to this view, as the science of the causes and principles subordinating the individual to a process developing by inherent necessity towards social efficiency, and therefore as ultimately over-ruling all desires and interests in the individual towards the highest social potentiality of the materials of which society is composed. The conflict between the old and the new conceptions may be distinguished to an increasing degree as the scope of modern sociology has gradually become defined; and the opposing ideas of each may be observed to be sometimes represented and blended, in varying degrees of complexity, in one and the same writer.

It was natural that one of the first ideas to be held by theorists, as soon as sociology began to make progress to the position of a real science, was that society must be considered to be organic, and that the term "social organism" should be brought into use. An increasing number of writers have been concerned with this aspect of the subject, but it has to be noted as a fact of much interest that all the first ideas of society as an organism move within the narrow circle of the old conception of the State just described. The "social organism" in this first stage of theory is almost universally confused with the State. The interests of the social organism are therefore confused with the interest of the individuals which men saw around them in the State. The science of society was accordingly regarded as no more than the science of realizing most effectively here and now the desires of those comprising the existing State. Sidgwick, for instance, considered the science of politics and the science of sociology as practically coincident, First Conceptions of Society as an Organism. and his Elements of Politics, extraordinary to relate, contains only a few words in which it is recognized that the welfare of the community may be interpreted to mean the welfare not only of living human beings, but of those who are to come hereafter; while there is no attempt to apply the fact to any law or principle of human development. Bentham's utilitarian philosophy, like that of the two Mills, was based almost entirely on the idea of the State conceived as the social organism. Writers like Herbert Spencer (Sociology) and Schaflie, who was for a time minister of commerce for Austria (Bau and Leben des socialen Kdrpers), instituted lengthy comparisons between the social organism considered as the State and the living individual organism. These efforts reached their most characteristic expression in the work of the sociologists who have followed G. Simmel in lengthy and ingenious attempts at classifying associations, considering them "as organizations for catering to human desire." In all these efforts the conception of the State as the social organism is vigorously represented, although it is particularly characteristic of the work of sociologists in countries where the influence of Roman law is still strong, and where, consequently, the Latin conception of the State tends to influence all theories of society as soon as the attempt is made to place them on a scientific basis. The sterilizing effect for long produced on sociology by this first restricted conception of the social organism has been most marked. It is often exemplified in ingenious attempts made, dealing with the principles of sociology, to construct long categories of human associations, based on quite superficial distinctions. None of the comparisons of this kind that have been made have contributed in any marked degree to the elucidation of the principles of modern society. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu's criticism of Schafle's efforts at comparisons - anatomical, physiological, biological and psychological - between the individual organism and the State as a social organism applies to most of the attempts of this period to institute biological comparisons between the life of the social organism and that of organisms in general, "the mind sinks overwhelmed under the weight of all these analogies, these endless divisions and subdivisions to which they give rise.... The result is not in proportion to the effort" (L'Etat moderne et ses f onctions). In tracing the direction of this conflict between the newer and older tendencies in modern sociology, it is in Herbert Spencer's writings that the student will find presented in clearest definition the characteristic difficulty with which the old view has tended to be confronted, as the attempt has continued to be made to enunciate the principles of human development from the standpoint that society is to be considered as a "social organism," but while as yet there is no clear idea of a social organism with its own laws and its own consciousness quite distinct from, and extending far beyond those governing the interests of the individuals at present comprising the State.

With the application of the doctrine of evolution to society considered as an organism, a position has been brought into view of great interest. It is evident in considering the application of natural selection to human society that there is a fact, encountered at the outset, which is so fundamental that it must be held to control all the phenomena of social evolution. It is nowadays a commonplace of knowledge, that the potential efficiency of an organism must always be taken to be greater than the sum total of the potential efficiency of all its members acting as individuals. This arises in the first instance from the fact, to be observed on all hands in life, of the effects of organization, of division of labour, and of specialization of;work. But in an organism of indefinitely extended existence like human society, it arises in a special sense from the operation of principles giving society prolonged stability. By these principles individual interests are subordinated over long periods of time to the larger interests of organic society in which the individuals for the time being cannot participate; and it is from this cause that civilization of the highest ty p e obtains its characteristic potency and efficiency in the struggle for existence with lower types.

There follows from this fact, obvious enough once it is mentioned, an important inference. This is that in the evolution of society natural selection will, in its characteristic results, reach the individual not directly, but through society. That is to say, in social evolution, the interests of the individual, qua individual, cease to be a matter of first importance. It is by development in the individual of the qualities which will contribute most to the efficiency of society, that natural selection will in the long run produce its distinctive results in the human individual. It is, in short, about this function of socialization, involving the increasing subordination of the individual, that the continued evolution of society by natural selection must be held to centre. Societies in which the individuals resist the process quickly reach the limits of their progress, and have to give way in the struggle for existence before others more organic in which the process of subordination continues to be developed. In the end it is the social organizations in which the interests of the individual are most effectively included in and rendered subservient to the interests of society considered in its most organic aspect that, from their higher efficiency, are naturally selected. In other words, it is the principles subordinating the individual to the efficiency of society in those higher organic aspects that project far beyond the life-interests of its existing units which must ultimately control all principles whatever of human association.

Spencer, in an elaborate comparison which he made (Essays, vol. i., and Principles of Sociology) between the social organism and the individual organism brought into view a position which in its relation to this capital fact of Natural human evolution exhibits in the clearest manner how completely all the early evolutionists, still under the influence of old conceptions, failed at first to grasp the significance of the characteristic problems of the social organism. Spencer's comparison originally appeared in an article published in the Westminster Review for January 1860 entitled "The Social Organism." This article is in many respects one of the most noteworthy documents in the literature of the last half of the 10th century. In comparing the social with the individual organism Spencer proceeded, after noting the various aspects in which a close analogy between the two can be established, to make, as regards society, an important distinction by which the nature of the difficulty in which he is involved is immediately made apparent. While in an individual organism, he pointed out, it is necessary that the lives of all the parts should be merged in the life of the whole, because the whole has a corporate consciousness capable of happiness or misery, it is not so with society. For in society, he added, the "living units do not and cannot lose individual consciousness, since the community as a whole has no corporate consciousness." Spencer proceeded, therefore, to emphasize the conclusion that "this is an everlasting reason why the welfare of citizens cannot rightly be sacrificed to some supposed benefit of the State; but why, on the other hand, the State is to be maintained solely for the benefit of citizens." The extraordinary conclusion is indeed reached by Spencer that "the corporate life in society must be subservient to the lives of the parts, instead of the lives of the parts being subservient to the corporate life." It will be here clearly in evidence that the "social organism" which Spencer had in view was the State. But it will be noticed at the same time how altogether remarkable was the position into which he was carried. Spencer, like most thinking minds of his time, had the clearest vision, constantly displayed in his writings, of the scientific importance of that development in history which has gradually projected the conception of the individual's rights outside all theories of obligation to the State. He wrote at a time when the attention of the Western mind in all progressive movements in Western politics had been for generations fixed on that development in which the liberties of the individual as against the State had been won. This development had involved nearly all Western countries in a titanic struggle against the institutions of an earlier form of society resting on force organized in the State. Spencer, therefore, like almost every advanced writer of his period, had constantly before him the characteristic fact of his age, namely, that the meaning of the individual had come to be in some way accepted as transcending all theories of the State and all theories of his obligations to the State. The position was, therefore, very remarkable. Spencer has been for long accepted by the general mind as the modern writer who more than any other has brought into use the term "social organism," and who has applied the doctrine of evolution to the theory of its life. Yet here we see him involved in the apparent self-stultification of describing the social organism to us as that impossible thing, an organism "whose corporate life must be subservient to the lives of the parts instead of the lives of the parts being subservient to the corporate life." It was obvious that some profound confusion existed. The science of society was evidently destined to carry us much farther than this. If natural selection was to be taken as operating on society, and therefore as tending to produce the highest efficiency out of the materials that comprise it, it must be effecting the subordination of the interests of the units to the higher corporate efficiency of society. But one of only two conclusions could therefore result from Spencer's position. If we were to regard the "social organism" as an organism in which the corporate life must be subservient to the lives of the parts, instead of the lives of the parts being subservient to the corporate life, it would be necessary to hold that the individual had succeeded in arresting the characteristic effects of natural selection on society. But for the evolutionist, whose great triumph it had been to reveal to us the principles of natural selection in universal operation throughout life elsewhere, to have to regard them as suspended in human society would be an absurd anti-climax. Such being scarcely conceivable as a final position, it remained only to infer that natural selection must still be subordinating individual interests to some larger social meaning in the evolutionary process. But in this case, society must be subject to principles which reach farther than those Spencer conceived: it must be organic in some different and wider sense than he imagined, and the analogy of the "social organism" as confined within the consciousness of ascendant interests in the political State must be considered to be a false one.

We had, in short, reached a capital position in the history of sociology from which an entirely new horizon was about to A New become visible. The principles of society organic Horizon in in a wider sense than had hitherto been conceived Sociology. were about to be brought into the discussion. All the phenomena of the creeds and ethical systems of humanity, of the great systems of religion and philosophy, with the problems of which the human mind had struggled over immense stretches of time as the subordinating process had unfolded itself in history, were about to be brought into sociology. And not now as if these represented some detached and functionless development with which the science of society was not directly concerned, but as themselves the central feature of the evolutionary process in human society. The stage in the history of sociology characterized by the confusion of the principles governing the social organism with those governing the State, the stage which had lasted from the time of the Greeks to Spencer, and which had witnessed towards its close Sidgwick's statement that the science of sociology was in effect coincident with the science of politics, was thus bound to be definitely terminated by the application to the science of society of the doctrine of evolution. Yet Spencer, despite his popular association with the doctrine of evolution, is thus not to be reckoned as the first of the philosophers of this new stage. His place is really with the last great names of the preceding period. For his conception of society was that of Bentham, Mill and Sidgwick. His Principles of Sociology as a contribution to modern evolutionary science is necessarily rendered to a large extent futile by the sterilizing conception of a social organism "in which the corporate life must be subservient to the lives of the parts." It is indeed in the reversal of this conception that the whole significance of the application of the doctrine of evolution to the science of society consists. Henceforward we shall have to regard the social process in evolution as a process with its own interests, its own psychology, its own consciousness and its own laws, all quite distinct from the political consciousness of the modern State, though indirectly controlling and governing the consciousness of the State so thoroughly that there can be no true science of the latter without a science of the former.

The new situation created in sociology as the doctrine of evolution began to be applied to the science had features of great interest. The advance had been made to a central The First position along two entirely distinct lines. The Darwinians army of workers was, in consequence, divided into in sociology. two more or less isolated camps, each largely in ignorance of the relation of its own work to that in the other section. It is often said as a reproach to sociology in the period through which we are passing that it attracts the kind of recruits who are not best equipped for its work, while it repels the kind of mind of philosophical training and wide outlook which it ought to enlist in its service and for which it has most urgent need, the loss to sociology both in credit and efficiency being immense. This is the result of a peculiar situation. Those who are best qualified to understand the nature and scope of the problems with which sociology has to deal cannot fail to have the conviction strongly developed in them that the Darwinian principles pf evolution which reveal to us what may be described as the dynamics of the universal life process have very important relations to the dynamics of the social process. The situation which has arisen in sociology, however, is a very curious one, although it is one easy to understand when the causes are explained. When the endeavour is made to follow Darwin and the early Darwinians through the facts and researches which led to the formulation of the law of natural selection it may be observed how their preoccupation was almost exclusively with the details of the struggle for existence not in societies, but as it was waged between individuals. This was so as a matter of course, from the character of the facts which wild nature supplied, reinforced as they were, by observations on domestic animals and the practices of breeders.

Darwin made no systematic study of society; and outside human society the struggle through which natural selection has operated has been mainly between individuals. It is, of course, sometimes remarked that the social life exists among animals and that the laws of the social life and of the herd are to be observed there, but as a matter of fact there is nothing whatever elsewhere in life to compare with what we see taking place in human society, namely, the gradual integration - still under all the stress of natural selection expressing its effects in the person of the individual - of an organic social process resting ultimately on mind. The laws of this process are necessarily quite different from the laws of the other and simpler process in operation lower down in life. If we regard the classes from which sociology as a science should be able to draw its most efficient recruits we see that at the present day they fall mainly into two camps. There are in the one camp the exponents of biological principles, often trained in one or more of the departments of biological science, who are attempting the application to human society of the principles with which they have become familiar elsewhere in life. There are in the second camp the exponents of various aspects of social philosophy. When the exponent of Darwinian principles advances to the study of society he is naturally strong in the conviction that he has in his hands a most potent instrument of knowledge which ought to carry him far in the organization of the social sciences and towards the unification of the leading principles underlying the facts with which they deal. But what we soon begin to see is that his training has been, and that his preoccupation still continues to be, with the facts and principles of the struggle for existence between individuals as displayed elsewhere in life. He does not easily realize, if he has not been trained in social philosophy, how infinitely more complex all the problems of natural selection have become in the social integration resting on mind which is taking place in human affairs; or how the social efficiency with which he has become now concerned is something quite distinct from the individual efficiency with which he has been concerned elsewhere. He does not readily comprehend how the institutions which he sees being evolved in history have, in their effects on the individual, laws quite different from those which he applies in the breeding of animals; or how the dualism which has been opened in the human mind, as natural selection acts first of all on the individual in his own struggle with his fellows, and then, and to a ruling degree, acts on his as a member of organic society in the evolution of social efficiency, has in the religious and ethical systems of the race a phenomenology of its own, stupendous in extent and absolutely characteristic of the social process, which remains a closed book to him and the study of which he is often apt to consider for his purposes as entirely meaningless. All this became rapidly visible in the first approach of the early Darwinians to the science of society.

Darwin, as stated, had attempted no comprehensive or systematic study of society. But in a few chapters of the Descent of Man he had discussed the qualities of the human mind, including the social and moral feelings, from the point of view of the doctrine of natural selection enunciated in the Origin of Species. The standpoint he took up was, as might be expected, practically that of Mill and Spencer and other writers of the period on social subjects, from whom he quoted freely. But the note of bewilderment was remarkable. The conclusion remarked upon as implied in Spencer's theory of the social organism, but which Spencer himself hesitated to draw, namely, that natural selection was to be regarded as suspended in human society, Darwin practically formulated. Thus at times Darwin appeared to think that natural selection could effect but comparatively little in advanced society. "With highly civilized nations," he says, "continued progress depends to a subordinate degree on natural selection." While Darwin noted the obvious usefulness of the social and moral qualities in many cases, he felt constrained at the same time to remark upon their influence in arresting, as appeared to him, the action of natural selection in civilization. "We civilized men," he continues, "do our utmost to check the process of elimination (of the weak in body and mind); we build asylums for the imbeciles, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment." There is here in evidence no attempt to connect the phenomena thus brought into view with some wider principle of the evolutionary process which evidently must control them. There is no perception visible in Darwin's mind of these facts as constituting the phenomenology of a larger principle of natural selection; or of the higher organic efficiency in the struggle for existence of societies in which the sense of responsibility to life thus displayed has made most progress; or of the immense significance in social evolution as distinct from individual evolution of that deepening of the social consciousness of which this developing spiritual sense of responsibility to our fellow creatures is one of the outward marks characteristic of advanced societies.

In the year 1889 Alfred Russel Wallace in a statement of his conception of the doctrine of evolution in his book, Darwinism, . brought more clearly into view the fundamental difficulty of the early Darwinians in applying the doctrine of natural selection to society. In the last chapter of the book Mr Wallace maintained that there were in "man's intellectual and moral nature. .. certain definite portions. .. which could not have been developed by variation and natural selection alone." Certain faculties, amongst which he classed the mathematical, artistic and metaphysical, the latter covering qualities with which he considered priests and philosophers to be concerned, were, he asserted, "altogether removed from utility in the struggle for life," and were, therefore, he thought, "wholly unexplained by the theory of natural selection." In this elementary conception which still survives in popular literature, the same confusion between individual efficiency and social efficiency has to be remarked upon. And there is in evidence the same failure to perceive that it is just these intellectual and moral qualities which are the absolutely characteristic products of natural selection in advanced society, in that they contribute to the highest organic social efficiency. Wallace in the result proposed to consider man, in respect of these higher portions of his mind, as under the influence of some cause or causes wholly distinct from those which had shaped the development of life in its other characteristics. The weakness of this position was immediately apparent. To remove man as regards qualities so directly associated with his social evolution from the influence of the law of natural selection was felt to be a step backwards. The effect produced on the minds of the younger school of evolutionists was deep. It operated, indeed, not to convince them that Wallace was right, but to make them feel that his conception of natural selection operating in human society was still in some respect profoundly and radically incomplete.

A few years later, Huxley, though approaching the matter from a different direction, displayed a like bewilderment in attempting to apply the doctrine of evolution to the. phenomena of organic society. With his mind fixed on the details of the individual struggle for existence among animals, Huxley reached in the Romanes lecture, delivered at Oxford in 1893, a position little different from that in which Wallace found himself. In this lecture Huxley actually proceeded to place the ethical process in human society in opposition to the cosmic process, to which latter alone he considered the struggle for existence and the principle of natural selection belonged. "Social progress," he went on to say, "means a checking of the cosmic process at every step and the substitution for it of another which may be called the ethical process; the end of which is not the survival of those who may happen to be the fittest, in respect of the whole of the conditions which obtain, but of those who are ethically the best." Thus the remarkable spectacle already witnessed in Spencer, Darwin and Wallace of the evolutionist attempting to apply his doctrines to human society, but having to regard his own central principle of natural selection as having been suspended therein is repeated in Huxley. The futility of contemplating the ethical process as something distinct from the cosmic process was at once apparent. For the first lesson of evolution as applied to society must be that they are one and the same. So far indeed from ethical process checking the cosmic process, it must be regarded as the last and highest form of the cosmic process. The sense of subordination and sacrifice which forms the central principle of all the creeds of humanity, so far from being, as Wallace imagined, "altogether removed from utility" is, indeed, the highest form of social efficiency through which natural selection is producing its most far-reaching effects in the evolution of the most advanced and organic types of civilization.

A similar tendency continued to be in evidence in other directions. In an effort made a few years later to found a society for the study of sociology in Great Britain a very characteristic feature of the first papers contributed was the attempt to apply elementary biological generalizations regarding natural selection to a highly complex organism like human society, the writers having in most cases made no previous extensive or special study of the social process in history. The confusion between what constitutes individual efficiency in the individual and that higher social efficiency in the individual which everywhere controls and overrules individual efficiency was very marked. An early paper contributed in 1904 was by Mr (afterwards Sir) Francis Galton, one of the last and greatest of the early Darwinians. Galton had made many original contributions to the doctrine of evolution, and had been occupied previously with researches into individual efficiency as displayed among families, his Hereditary Genius being a notable book of this type. The object of his paper was to explain the scope and aim of a new science, "eugenics," which he defined as the science which deals with all the influences that improve the inborn qualities of the race and develop them to the utmost advantage. Galton found no difficulty whatever in setting up his sociological standards for the best specimens of the race. Even the animals in the Zoological Gardens, he said, might be supposed to know the best specimens of their class. In society the list of best qualities would include health, energy, ability, manliness and the special aptitudes required by various professions and occupations. Everything in "the scientific breeding of the human race" was to be much as in the breeding of animals; for Galton proposed to leave morals out of the question as involving too many hopeless difficulties. This was the basis of the scheme of qualities from which he proposed to proceed to the improved breeding of society. The proposal furnishes one of the most striking and characteristic examples which have appeared of the deep-seated confusion prevailing in the minds of the early Darwinians between social efficiency and individual efficiency. Even from the few minor examples of society among the lower animals the true sociological criticism of such standards in eugenics might easily be supplied. For at the point at which the social insects, for instance, began their social integration all their standards were in the qualities which gave success in the struggle for existence between individuals. Had they, therefore, understood eugenics only in this light and in Galton's sense, they would have condemned at the first the beginnings of the peculiar social efficiency of the queen bee which now makes her devote her life entirely to egg-laying; still more would they have condemned the habits of the drones, through long persistence in which they have become degenerate as individuals; and in particular they would have condemned the habits of the workers which have led to their present undeveloped bodies and abortive individualistic instincts. But all these things have contributed in the highest degree to the social efficiency of the social insects and have made the type a winning one in evolution. The social integration of the social insects has been comparatively simple and did not, like that of human society, rest ultimately on mind, yet even in this elementary example it was evident what ruin and disaster would result from miscalled scientific breeding of the race if undertaken within the limits of such restricted conceptions of social efficiency. Galton's preoccupation, as in the case of most biological and medical schemes of improvement in the past, was with those individualistic qualities which contribute to the individual's success in the struggle for existence with his fellows. But it has been continuously obvious in history that individuals of the very highest social efficiency, the great organic minds of the race who, often quite unsuccessful in their lives as judged by individualistic standards, and who, often quite unperceived and unappreciated by their contemporaries, have been the authors of ideas, or moral conceptions or works of such organic importance that they have carried the race from one social horizon into another, have been just those individuals who would have entirely failed to pass the kind of prize-animal standards which Galton proposed to set up.

Galton's essay may be said to close that first epoch in the application of biological conceptions to sociology which opened with Spencer's essay in 1860. With the extending conception of the organic interests of Stage of society during the intervening period the idea of social efficiency had altered profoundly. For instance, Theory, a supposed standard of efficiency, which like Malthusianism represented to Mill at the opening of the period the last conclusion of science, had become towards the close scarcely more than a standard of "race suicide." It was not surprising that in these circumstances the representatives of those sciences which rested on a knowledge of the social process in history and philosophy continued to look coldly on the attempt of the first Darwinians to apply Darwinian princi p les to sociology. True, the development in their own sciences had been almost equally sterile, for they had themselves as yet no reasoned conception of the enormous importance of the Darwinian principle of evolution to these sciences in its capacity to reveal to them the dynamics of the social process. But they had watched the development of institutions in history; they had studied the growth of social types and the integration of great systems of belief; and they had struggled with the capital problems of the human mind in psychology and philosophy as the process had continued. The two armies of workers continued to be organized into isolated camps, each with the most restricted conception of the nature and importance of the work done by the other and of its bearing upon their own conclusions. One of the most remarkable results of such a situation - a result plainly visible in the valuable collection of essays edited by Professor Seward which was issued from the Cambridge University Press in commemoration of the centenary of Darwin's birth - is the extremely limited number of minds in our time of sufficient scope of view to be able to cover the relation of the work of both sets of these workers to sociology.

It remains now to consider the relation to the position in modern sociology of the extended conception that society must be considered to be organic in some wider sense than the first Darwinians thus imagined it and also g in some wider sense than that in which Sidgwick imagined it when he said that sociology was in effect of Evo- coincident with the science of politics. The present writer has laid it down elsewhere (The Two Principal Laws of Sociology: Bologna) that there is a fundamental principle of sociology which has to be grasped and applied before there can be any real science of sociology. This principle may be briefly stated as follows: The social process is primarily evolving in the individual not the qualities which contribute to his own efficiency in conflict with his fellows, but the qualities which contribute to society's efficiency in the conflict through which it is gradually rising towards a more organic type.

This is the first law of evolutionary sociology. It is this principle which controls the integration which is taking place under all forms in human society - in ethical systems, in all political and economic institutions, and in the creeds and beliefs of humanity - in the long, slow, almost invisible struggle in which under a multitude of phases natural selection is discriminating between the standards of nations and types of civilization.

Dealing first with political and economic institutions; the position reached in Spencer's sociology may be said to represent the science of society in a state of transition. It represents it, that is to say, in a stage at which the Greek theory of society has become influenced by the doctrine of evolution applied to modern conceptions, but while as yet no synthesis has been achieved between the conflicting and even mutually exclusive ideas which are involved. The Greek theory of society is represented in Spencer in his practical identification of "the social organism" with the State. The modern idea, however, which carries Spencer far beyond the principles of Greek society - as these principles were summarized, for instance, in the passage already quoted from Bluntschli - is clearly in evidence. It may be observed to be expressed in the recognition of a principle resident in modern society which in some manner projects the individual's rights outside and beyond the whole theory and meaning of the State. In other words, in society as Spencer conceives it, "the welfare of citizens cannot rightly be sacrificed to some supposed benefit of the State"; whereas, according to the Greek theory and the theory of Roman law, the citizen's whole existence depended on and was subject to the State. "The State knew neither moral nor legal limits to its power." If, however, it be considered that modern society has made progress beyond the Greek, and if it be accepted that the theory of evolution involves the conclusion that society progresses towards increased efficiency in a more organic type, there follows from the foregoing an important inference. This is that it now becomes the task of modern sociology, as a true science, to show that the principle in modern civilization which distinguishes it from society of the Greek period - namely, that principle which Spencer rightly recognized, despite the contradictions in which he became involved, as rendering the life of the individual no longer subservient to the corporate life of the State - is itself a principle identified not with individualism but with the increasing subordination of the individual to a more organic type of society. It must, in short, remain for the evolutionist, working by the historical method scientifically applied, to present the intervening process in history - including the whole modern movement towards liberty and enfranchisement, and towards equality of conditions, of rights and of economic opportunities - not as a process of the increasing emancipation of the individual from the claims of society, but as a process of progress towards a more organic stage of social subordination than has prevailed in the world before.

When society is considered as an organism developing under the influence of natural selection along the line of the causes which contribute to its highest potential efficiency, and therefore tending to have the mean centre of its organic processes projected farther and farther into the future, it is evident that it must be the principles and ideas which most effectively subordinate over long periods of time the interests and the capacities of the individuals of which it is composed to the efficiency of the whole which will play the leading part in social evolution. In primitive society, the first rudiments of social organization undoubtedly arose, not so much from conscious regard to expediency or "increased satisfactions" as from of fitness in the struggle for existence. "The first organized societies must have been developed, like any other advantage, under the sternest conditions of natural selection. In the flux and change of life the members of those groups of men which in favourable conditions first showed any tendency to social organization became possessed of a great advantage over their fellows, and these societies grew up simply because they possessed elements of strength which led to the disappearance before them of other groups of men with which they came into competition. Such societies continued to flourish, until they in their turn had to give way before other associations of men of higher social efficiency" (Social Evolution, ii.). In the social process at this stage all the customs, habits, institutions, and beliefs contributing to produce a higher organic efficiency of society would be naturally selected, developed and perpetuated. It is in connexion with this fact that the clue must be sought to the evolution of those institutions and beliefs of early society which have been treated of at length in researches like those of M ` Lennan, Tylor, Lubbock, Waitz, Letourneau, Quatrefages, Frazer, and others of equal importance. For a long period in the first stages the highest potentiality of the social organization would be closely associated with military efficiency. For in the evolution of the social organism, as has been said, while the mean centre of the processes involving its organic identity would tend to be projected into the future, it would at the same time always be necessary to maintain efficiency in current environment in competition with rival types of lower future potentiality. Amongst primitive peoples, where a great chief, law-giver and military leader appeared, the efficiency of organized society resting on military efficiency would, as a matter of course, make itself felt in the struggle for existence. Yet as such societies would often be resolved into their component elements on the death of the leader, the overruling importance - on the next stage of the advance towards a more organic type - of ideas which would permanently subordinate the materials of society to the efficiency of the whole would make itself felt. Social systems of the type in which authority was perpetuated by ancestor-worship - in which all the members were therefore held to be joined in an exclusive religious citizenship founded on blood relationship to the deities who were worshipped, and in which all outsiders were accordingly treated as natural enemies, whom it would be a kind of sacrilege to admit to the rights of the State - would contain the elements of the highest military potentiality. The universal mark which ancestor-worship has left on human institutions in a certain stage of social development is doubtless closely associated with this fact. The new and the older tendencies in sociology are here also in contrast; for whereas Herbert Spencer has been content to explain ancestor-worship as arising from an introspective and comparatively trivial process of thought assumed to have taken place in the mind of early man in relation to a supposed belief in ghosts (Principles of Sociology, 68-207), the newer tendency is to xxv. r r a consider science as concerned with it in its relation to the characteristic principles through which the efficiency of the social organization expressed itself in its surroundings. The social, political and religious institutions disclosed in the study of the earliest civilizations within the purview of history must be considered to be all intimately related to the ruling principles of this military stage. The wide reach and significance of the causes governing the process of social evolution throughout the whole of this period may be gathered from treatises like Seebohm's Structure of Greek Tribal Society, Maine's Ancient Law, History of Institutions, and Early Law and Custom, Fowler's City-State of the Greeks and Romans, and in a special sense from the comparative study of Roman law, first of all as it is presented in the period of the Twelve Tables, then as the jus civile begins to be influenced by the jus gentium, and lastly as its principles are contrasted with those of English common law in the modern period. In most of the philosophical writings of the Greeks, and in particular in the Ethics and Politics of Aristotle, and in many of the Dialogues of Plato, the spirit of the principles upon which society was constructed in this stage may be perceived as soon as progress has been made with. comparative studies in other directions.

A very pregnant saying of T. H. Green was that during the whole development of man the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" has never varied. What has varied is only the answer to the question - Who of is my neighbour ? If in the light of this profoundly true reflection we watch the progress of society from primitive conditions to the higher stages, it may be observed to possess marked features. Where all human institutions, as in the ancient civilizations, rested ultimately on force; where outsiders were regarded as natural enemies, and conquered enemies became slaves; where, as throughout all this phase of social evolution, a rule of religion was a rule of law identified with the principles of the State (Maine, Ancient Law); where the State itself was absolute as against the individual, knowing "neither moral nor legal limits to its power"; and where all the moral, intellectual and industrial life of the community rested on a basis of slavery - the full limits of the organic principle of social efficiency would in time be reached. The conditions would be inherent in which all social institutions would tend to become closed absolutisms organized round the conception of men's desires in the present. And the highest outward expression in which the tendencies in ethics, in politics, and in religion must necessarily culminate would be the military State, bounded in its energies only by the resistance of others, necessarily acknowledging no complete end short of absolute dominion, and therefore staying its course before no ideal short of universal conquest. This was the condition in the ancient State. It happened thus that the outward policy of the ancient State to other peoples became, by a fundamental principle of its life, a policy of military conquest and subjugation, the only limiting principle being the successful resistance of the others. The epoch of history moved by inherent forces towards the final emergence of one supreme military State, in an era of general conquest, and culminated in the example of universal dominion which we had in the Roman world before the rise of the civilization of our era.

The influence upon the development of civilization of the wider conception of duty and responsibility to one's fellow men which was introduced into the world with the spread of Christianity can hardly be over-estimated. The extended conception of the answer to the question - social Bill- Who is my neighbour ? which has resulted from the characteristic doctrines of the Christian religion - a conception transcending all the claims of the family, group, state, nation, people or race, and even all the interests comprised in any existing order of society - has been the most powerful evolutionary force which has ever acted on society. It has tended gradually to break up the absolutisms inherited from an older civilization and to bring into being an entirely new type of social efficiency.

As society under this influence continued to be impelled to develop towards a still more organic type, the greatly higher potentiality of a state of social order which, while preserving the ideal of the highly organized state and the current efficiency of society in competition with lower types, was influenced by conceptions that dissolved all those closed absolutisms, and released human energies into a free conflict of forces by projecting the principles of human responsibility outside the State, became apparent. In many of the religions of the East such conceptions have been inherent, Christianity itself being a characteristically Eastern religion. But no Eastern people has been able to provide for them the permanent defensive military milieu in history in which alone their potentiality could be realized. The significance of modern Japan in evolution consists largely in the answer she is able to give to the question as to whether she will be able to provide in the future such a milieu for such a conception among an Eastern people.

The significance of the culmination of the military epoch in the ancient classic civilizations of the Western world, which preceded the opening of the era in which we are living, and of the fact that the peoples of the same descent who were destined to carry on the civilization of the existing era represent the supreme military stock by natural selection, not only of the entire world, but of the evolutionary process itself in human history, will therefore be evident.

With the spread, accordingly, amongst peoples of this origin, and in such a defensive military milieu in history, of a new conviction of responsibility to principles extending beyond the consciousness of the political State, Efficiency there began a further and more organic stage of the evolutionary process in society. The gradual d i ssolution in the era in which we are living of all the closed absolutisms within the State, in which human action and ideas had hitherto been confined, is apparently the characteristic phenomenon of this stage. Progress is towards such a free and tolerant, but intense and efficient, conflict of forces as was not possible in the world before. It is, it would appear, in this light that we must regard the slow dissolution of the basis of ideas upon which slavery rested; the disintegration of the conceptions which supported the absolute position of the occupying classes in the State; the undermining of the ideas by which opinion was supported by the civil power of the State in the religious struggles of the middle ages; the growth of the conception that no power or opinion in the State can be considered as the representative of absolute truth; the consequent development of party government amongst the advanced peoples, with the acknowledgment of the right of every department of inquiry to carry results up to that utmost limit at which they are controlled only by the results obtained in other departments of activity with equal freedom; the growth of the conception, otherwise absurd, of the native equality of men; the resulting claim, otherwise similarly indefensible, of men to equal voting power irrespective of status or possessions in the State which has been behind the movement towards political enfranchisement; and, finally, the development of that conviction which is behind the existing challenge to all absolute tendencies in economic conditions in the modern world - namely, that the distribution of wealth in a well-ordered State should aim at realizing political justice. There are all the features of an integrating process in modern history. They must be considered as all related to a controlling principle inherent in the Christian religion which has rendered the evolutionary process in society more organic than in any past stage - namely, the projection of the sense of human responsibility outside the limits of all the creeds and interests which had in previous stages embodied it in the State (Kidd, Prin. West. Civil.). The meaning, in short, which differentiates our civilization from that of the ancient;civilizations of Greece and Rome is that modern Western;civilization represents in an ever-increasing degree the enfranchisement of the future in the evolutionary process. So great has become the prestige of our civilization through the operation of this principle in it that its methods and results are being eagerly borrowed by other peoples. It is thereby so materially influencing the standards of conduct and culture thoughout the world that the developments which other nations are undergoing have in a real sense tended to become scarcely more than incidents in the expansion of Western civilization.

We live in the presence of colossal national armaments, and in a world, therefore, in which we are continually met with the taunt that force is still everywhere omnipotent. It may be perceived, however, that beneath all outward Militarism appearances a vast change has been taking place.

In the ancient civilizations the tendency to con3' quest was an inherent principle in life of the military State. It is no longer an inherent principle in the modern State. The right of conquest is indeed still Principle. acknowledged in the international law of civilized States; but it may be observed to be a right becoming more and more impracticable among the more advanced peoples. Reflection, moreover, reveals the fact that the right of conquest is tending to become impracticable and impossible, not, as is often supposed, because of the huge armaments of resistance with which it might be opposed, but because the sense of social responsibility has been so deepened in our civilization that it is almost impossible that one nation should attempt to conquer and subdue another after the manner of the ancient world. It would be regarded as so great an outrage that it would undoubtedly prove to be one of the maddest and one of the most unprofitable adventures in which a civilized State could engage. Militarism, it may be distinguished, is becoming mainly defensive amongst the more advanced nations. Like the civil power within the State, it is tending to represent rather the organized means of resistance to the methods of force should these methods be invoked by others temporarily or permanently under the influence of less evolved standards of conduct.

In thus regarding the social process in Western history, the projected efficiency of which now, after many centuries of development, begins to realize itself to an increasing degree in determining competition with other types ism is of society throughout the world, it may be observed of that the result by which a synthesis of the older more organic and later views may be attained is already in sight. It was pointed out that if the principle which Spencer rightly recognized in modern society as rendering the life of the individual no longer subservient to the corporate life of the State was to be accepted as a principle of progress distinguishing modern civilization from that of the Greek period, it would be necessary for the sociologist to exhibit it not as indicating the larger independence of the individual, but as a principle identified with the increasing subordination of the individual to a more organic type of society. Here, therefore, this result is in process of accomplishment. The intervening process in history - including the whole modern movement towards liberty and enfranchisement, towards equality of conditions, towards equality of political rights and towards equality of economic opportunities - is presented as a process of development towards a more advanced and organic stage of social subordination than has ever prevailed in the world before (Print. West. Civil. xi.). In this light, also, it may be observed how the claim of sociology to be the most advanced of all the theoretical sciences is justified. For if the historical process in the civilization of the era in which we are living is thus to be regarded as a process implying the increasing subordination of the individual to a more organic type of society, then the study of sociology as embracing the principles of the process must evidently involve the perception and comparison of the meaning of the fundamental positions disclosed in the history of political progress, of the problems with which the human mind has successively struggled in the phases of religious development, and, lastly, of the positions with which the intellect has been confronted as the stages of the subordinating process have gradually come to define themselves in history. The positions outlined in the developments already referred to which have come down through Hume and Huxley, through Kant and Hegel, through Grotius and Savigny, through Roscher and Schmoller, through the expression which English utilitarianism has reached in Herbert Spencer as influenced by the English theory of the rights of the individual on the one hand, and in Marxian Socialism as influenced by the Latin conception of the omnipotence of the State on the other, have thus all their place, meaning and scientific relations in the modern study of sociology. It must be considered that the theory of organic evolution by natural selection and the historical method will continue in an increasing degree to influence the science of society.

The sociological law that "the social process is primarily evolving in the individual not the qualities which contribute The Claim of to his own efficiency in conflict with his fellows, Sociology as but those qualities which contribute to society's the Master efficiency in the conflict through which it is gradually Science, rising towards a more organic type," carries us into the innermost recesses of the human mind and controls the science of psychology. For it is thus not the human mind which is consciously constructing the social process in evolution; it is the social process which is constructing the human mind in evolution. This is the ultimate fact which raises sociology to its true position as the master science. Nor is there any materialism in such a conception. It is in keeping with the highest spiritual ideal of man that the only conception of Truth or the Absolute which the human mind can hold at present is that which is being evolved in it in relation to its own environment which is in the social process.


- It has been one of the results of the conditions affecting sociology in the past, that many of the principal contributions to the science of society are not usually included in lists of sociological references. The following are mentioned only as indicating or suggesting others in the same classes of equal or perhaps greater importance. The dates given are usually those of the first edition of a work.

Introductory. - Darwin, Origin of Species (1859); Descent of Man, 1871 (chapters dealing with society); Wallace, Darwinism (1889); Romanes, Darwin and after Darwin (1892); Osborn, From the Greeks to Darwin (1894). Economics, Historical. - Ashley, Introduction to English Economic History and Theory, part i. (1888), part ii. (1893); Schmoller, The Mercantile System (1884); Roscher, Geschichte der Nationalokonomik in Deutschland (1874); Nys, History of Economics (Trans. Dryhurst, 1899). Ethics, Historical. - Sidgwick, History of Ethics (1886); Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics (1893); Hobhouse, Morals Evolution (1906). Primitive Society. - Lubbock, Origin of Civilization (1870); Tylor, Anthropology (1881); Quatrefages, Human Species (Eng. trans. 1879); Lang, Custom and Myth (1884); Maine, Ancient Law (1861); Early History of Institutions (1875); Early Law and Custom (1883); Frazer, Golden Bough (1890); Early History of the Kingship (1905).

GENERAL,. - Spencer, Synthetic Philosophy (Principles of Biology, Principles of Sociology and Principles of Ethics); Kidd, Social Evolution (1894); Principles of Western Civilization (1902); Individualism and After; Two Principal Laws of Sociology: Bologna (1908); Barth, Die Philosophie der Geschichte als Sociologie (1897); Ward, Dynamic Sociology; Outlines of Sociology (1898); Flint, Philosophy of History in Europe (1874); Historical Philosophy in France (1894); Bagehot, Physics and Politics; Ratzenhofer, Die soziologische Erkenntnis (1898); Giddings, Principles of Sociology (1896); Tarde, Etude de psychologie sociale (1898); Stuckenberg, Introduction to the Study of Sociology (1898); Stephen, The English Utilitarians 0900); J. S. Mill, System of Logic (1843); On Liberty (1859); Utilitarianism (1861); Conte, Philosophie positive (6 vols., 1830-1842, Eng. trans., condensed by Martineau, in 2 vols.; Baldwin, Social Psychology; Ritchie, Natural Rights (1895); Bluntschli, The Theory of the State (Eng. trans. 1892); Wright, Outline of Practical Sociology (1899); Sidgwick, Methods of Ethics (1874); Elements of Politics (1901); Philosophy, its Scope (1902); Taylor, The Problem of Conduct (1901); Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (particularly 2nd Division), and Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic; McDougall, An Introduction to Social Psychology (1908); Schiller, Studies in Humanism (1907); James, Pragmatism (1907); Fairbanks, Introduction to Sociology (1896); Pollock, History of the Science of Politics (1890); Maine, Popular Government (1885); Morley, Rousseau (1873); Diderot and the Encyclopaedists (1878); Burke (1879); Austin, Theory of Jurisprudence (1861-1863); Holland, Elements of Jurisprudence (parts i., iii. and iv., 1880); Studies in International Law (1898); Westlake, International Law (1894); Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), Oxf. ed., 1819; Sohm, Institutes of Roman Law; Sandars, Institutes of Justinian; Le Roy Beaulieu, L'Etat moderne et ses fonctions; Huxley, Evolution and Ethics (1894); Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols; Zarathustra; Loria, Les Bases economiques de la constitution sociale (French trans.); Pearson, National Life and Character (1893); Vincent, The Social Mind in Education (1897); Marx, Kapital (1867, Eng. trans. 1887); Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific (Eng. trans., Aveling, 1892); Kirkup, An Inquiry into Socialism (1907); George, Progress and Poverty; Mazel, La Synergie sociale (1896); Mallock, Aristocracy and Evolution (1898); Ross, Social Control (1901); Mackenzie, Social Philosophy (1895); Hobson, The Social Problem (1901); Fabian Essays; Rousseau, Social Contract; Hobbes, Leviathan; Locke, Two Treatises of Government; Webbs, Industrial Democracy (1897); History of Trades Unionism (1894); Booth, Life and Labour of the People (1891-1897); Patten, The Theory of Prosperity (1902); Wallas, Human Nature in Politics (1908); Urwick, Luxury and Waste (1908); Small, The Scope of Sociology (1902). (B. K.*)

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Books in this subject area deal with the social sciences, which include academic disciplines concerned with the study of the social life of human groups and individuals.

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Sociology is the study of societies and how humans act in groups. Sociology is a social science.

Auguste Comte (1789 - 1857) was first to use the term. The problems caused by the change to an industrial society, where many people moved to cities and worked in factories, was an early focus of sociology. Karl Marx, Max Weber and Émile Durkheim were leading figures in the study of social phenomena. Themes included: community, authority, status, “alienation” (isolation) and lack of power.

In the 2000s, sociology looks at such things as: race, ethnicity, class, gender, the family and social interaction. It also studies the breakdown of social structures; crime and divorce. Sociology can also be looked at as the study of the worldwide society. A society is the community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations.


What do sociologists do?

Sociologists research the structures that organize society, such as race, gender (whether a person is male or female), and social classes (rich or poor). They study the family and examine problems such as crime and drug abuse.

Most sociologists work in one or more specialty areas or "sub-fields". Sociology includes many sub-fields that examine different aspects of society. For example, social stratification studies inequality and class structure in society. The field of demography studies changes in a population size or type. The field of criminology examines criminal behavior and crime. Political sociology studies government and laws. Sociology of race and sociology of gender examine how people think about race and gender.

Many sociologists also do research outside of the university. Their research helps teachers, lawmakers, and government administrators to make better institutions, government programs, and rules.

Sociologists often use statistics to count and measure patterns in how people act or behave. Sociologists also interview people or hold group discussions to find out why people behave in certain ways. Some sociologists combine different research methods.

History of sociology

Social analysis has been done since the time of Plato. Sociology became a type of science in the early 1800s. European cities were changing as many people moved into cities and began working in factories. Sociologists tried to understand how people interacted and how groups interacted.

The word sociology was invented by a French thinker called Auguste Comte in 1838. Early thinkers who wrote about sociology included Karl Marx and Max Weber.

Sociology was taught in a university for the first time at the University of Kansas in 1890. The first European department of sociology was founded in 1895 at the University of Bordeaux by Émile Durkheim. The first sociology department to be established in Britain was at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1904. In 1919 a sociology department was established in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich by Max Weber.

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Further reading

  • Babbie, Earl R. 2003. The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition. Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc., ISBN 0-534-62029-9
  • Giddens, Anthony. 2006. Sociology (5th edition), Polity, Cambridge.
  • Nisbet, Robert A. 1967. The Sociological Tradition, London,

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