Sociology is one of the most studied disciplines today. Well, this can be understood from its broad definition. It is the study of human society’s development, structure, and functioning. As you delve deeper into sociology, it is crucial to understand its history. In this post, we are going to look at the founders of sociology. Who is the father of sociology?
A Brief History: How Did Sociology Begin?
Before looking at the fathers of sociology, it is important to try and establish where it all started. While sociology is considered a relatively new subject when compared to other subjects such as psychology and political science, people were thinking like sociologists long before it was mapped as an academic discipline. The origins of sociology go back to the works of great philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius.
Early thinkers, especially of the enlightenment era, set the stage for sociologists who would come after them. The period around the 18th century, saw philosophers start thinking deeper about the social world. Later, the founders of sociology focused on addressing the challenges that emerged from modernity. Better mobility, technology advances, resulted in people’s exposure to societies other than their own. The impact of this exposure, although varied, warranted demystifying traditional norms deeper explorations of how the globe works.
Early sociologists sought to answer key questions, including; “What exactly holds together social groups?” and “What are the possible solutions to social solidarity breakdown?”
Who is the Father of Sociology?
Taking a closer look at sociology makes it hard to pinpoint a specific personality as the beginning of sociology because of the large list of early thinkers involved. For example, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes had used the term sociology back in 1780 in his unpublished essays. However, it is believed that the term “sociology” was coined in 1838 by Auguste Comte.
A deeper look at Auguste Comte father of sociology reveals that he studied as an engineer but later became a student of Claude Henri de Rouvroy Comte de Saint-Simon, a renowned philosopher of the period between 1760 and 1825. Comte and de Saint-Simon thought that social scientists could use scientific methods applied in natural science to study society.
As the person who coined the term sociology, Comte did a lot of work that became crucial pillars of later sociologists. One of the notable contributions that make him referred to as the father of modern sociology is the scientific study of social patterns positivism. He described this philosophy in a series of publications that went by the names: A General View of Positivism and The Course in Positive Philosophy.
Other Important Sociologists and their Contributions in History
Although Conte takes the bulk of the credit as the father of modern sociology, the discipline has grown steadily because of the huge contribution by other sociologists. These personalities are also referred to as founding fathers of sociology. Here are some of them:
- Karl Marx: Marx was a German economist and a philosopher. Marx, together with Friedrich Engels wrote the famous Communist Manifesto that turned out one of the most influential books in history. The Communist Manifesto also presents Marx’s theory, which provides an opposing view of what Comte proposed. Marx rejected the positivist view presented by Comte. Instead, he suggested that communities grew and changed based on struggles and varied social classes.
- Hebert SpencerThis is another sociologist who is also considered a second father of sociology. Spencer was an English philosopher who opposed both Marx and Comte’s views. In his book, The Study of Sociology, Spencer suggested a type of government that supports operations of free-market forces to help grow capitalism. His contributions to sociology were very crucial and greatly influenced the views of other founding fathers of sociology.
- Georg Simmel: When you set off looking for answers to the question, when was sociology founded, one of the names that will feature dominantly is Georg Simmel. Simmel was a German critic whose works became an important pillar in the development of sociology. Like Karl Max and Max Weber before him, Simmel also had an anti-positivism view and focused on key topics including social conflict, the European fear of outsiders, individual identity in city life, and the function of money. In most of Simmel’s work, the focus was two to three-person groups. Besides, he stressed more on individual culture as the underlying creative capacity of individual persona. However, his work was greatly overshadowed by that of Durkheim.
- Emile Durkheim: Durkheim is another crucial portrait in the list of the founding fathers of modern sociology history. He is particularly credited with establishing sociology as a discipline in academics. He started the first European department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux. He is also credited for his publication, Division of Labor in Society. In the book, he outlined his theory of how societies change from primitive to the capitalist. In Durkheim’s view, people grow based on merit.
- Max Weber:This list cannot be complete without mentioning Max Weber because of his great contribution to the growth of sociology. Weber, like Durkheim, is credited with creating the first sociology department in Germany. He wrote on varying topics, including social forces and political changes. In 1904, Weber wrote a controversial book referred to as The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Weber held that using standard scientific methods, it is impossible to predict people’s behavior precisely. Instead, he argued that such scientific methods had to factor other components, such as the influence of culture.
Sociology Can Be Entertaining… Can’t It?
If you are a sociology student, learning about the founding fathers of sociology and their views makes the subject interesting. Seeing how each founding father worked to support or oppose what the previous sociologists thought makes it even more interesting. And you know what? You can also be one of these great sociologists by picking one of the perspectives such as interactionism and critiquing it. Sociology has never been this fun!
But before cheering with champagne, we need to be truthful here. Reading through these works of sociologists can be tough. And this is not all! Understanding their theories and opposing views can be complex. Think of the mountains of publications that you need to read and decipher to complete your assignment. If you feel overwhelmed, it is time to seek some help. That is right: writing help for your college sociology assignment.
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