When we refer to classical sociological theory we refer to theories Of great scope and ambition that either were created in Europe between the early 1 sass and the early 1 9005 or have their roots in the culture of that period. The work of such classical sociological theorists as Augusta Comet, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Mile Druthers, Max Weber, George Simmer was important in its mime and played a central role in the subsequent development of sociology. They have become classics because they have a wide range of application and deal with centrally important social issues. Theory Theory is an explanation or model which is based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict phenomena.
Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. A clear distinction needs to be made between facts (things which can be observed and/or measured) and theories (explanations which relate and interpret the facts). Classical Greek Thought The ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle The Ancient Greek philosophers did not see a distinction between politics and society. The concept of society did not come until much later during the Enlightenment period. The term, sociot, was probably first used as a key concept by Rousseau in discussion of social relations.
By the mid-5th century, it had become more common for advanced thinkers to reject traditional explanations of the world of nature. As a result of the experience of a century of war, religious beliefs declined. Gods and goddesses were no longer held in the same regard as they had been a century earlier. Wars taught that the actions Of men and women determine their own destiny. Meanwhile, more traditional notions of right and wrong were called into question. Greeks used their creative energies to explain experience by recourse to history, tragedy, comedy, art and architecture.
But their creative energies were also used to “invent” philosophy, defined as “the love of wisdom. ” In general, philosophy came into existence when the Greeks discovered their dissatisfaction with supernatural and mythical explanations of reality. Over time, Greek thinkers began to suspect that there was a rational or logical order to the universe. Forces that led to the rise of Sociology Social Forces in the Development of Sociological Theory The social conditions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were of the utmost significance to the development of sociology. . ) The chaos and social disorder that resulted from the series of political revolutions ushered in by the French Revolution in 1 789 disturbed many early social theorists. While they recognized that a return to the old order was impossible, they sought to mind new sources of order in societies that had been traumatized by dramatic political changes. 2. ) The Industrial Revolution was a set of developments that transformed Western societies from largely agricultural to overwhelmingly industrial systems. Peasants left agricultural work for industrial occupations in factories.
Within this new system, a few profited greatly while the majority worked long hours for low wages. A reaction against the industrial system and capitalism led to the labor movement and other radical movements dedicated to overthrowing the capitalist system. As a result of the Industrial Revolution, large numbers of people moved to urban settings. The expansion of cities produced a long list of urban problems that attracted the attention of early sociologists. 3. ) Socialism emerged as an alternative vision of a worker’s paradise in which wealth was equitably distributed.
Karl Marx was highly critical of capitalist society in his writings and engaged in political activities to help engineer its fall. Other early theorists recognized the problems of capitalist society but sought change through reform because they feared socialism more than they feared capitalism. 4. ) Feminists were especially active during the French and American Revolutions. However feminist concerns filtered into early sociology only on the margins. In spite of their marginal status, early women sociologists like Harriet Martinets and Marianne Weber wrote a significant body of theory that is being rediscovered today.
All of these changes had a profound effect on religiosity. Many sociologists came from religious backgrounds and sought to understand the place of religion and morality in modern society. Throughout this period, the technological products of science were permeating every sector of life, and science was acquiring enormous prestige. An ongoing debate developed between sociologists who sought to model their discipline after the hard sciences and those who thought the distinctive characteristics of social life made a scientific sociology problematic and unwise. Intellectual Forces and the Rise Of Sociological Theory 1 . The Enlightenment was a period of intellectual development and change in philosophical thought beginning in the eighteenth century. Enlightenment winkers sought to combine reason with empirical research on the model of Newtonian science. They tried to produce highly systematic bodies of thought that made rational sense and that could be derived from real-world observation. Convinced that the world could be comprehended and controlled using reason and research, they believed traditional social values and institutions to be irrational and inhibitive of human development.
Their ideas conflicted with traditional religious bodies like the Catholic Church, the political regimes of Rupee’s absolutist monarchies, and the social system of idealism. They placed their faith instead in the power of the individual’s capacity to reason. Early sociology also maintained a faith in empiricism and rational inquiry. 2. ) A conservative reaction to the Enlightenment, characterized by a strong anti-modern sentiment, also influenced early theorists. The conservative reaction led thinkers to emphasize that society had an existence of its own, in contrast to the individualism of the Enlightenment.
Additionally, they had a cautious approach to social change and a tendency to see modern developments like industrialization, arbitration, and bureaucratically as having disorganized effects. Broad Category of Classical Functionalists in Sociology Claude Henry Saint-Simon Claude Henry Saint-Simon (1760-1825) was a positivist who believed that the study of social phenomena should employ the same scientific techniques as the natural sciences. But he also saw the need for socialist reforms, especially centralized planning of the economic system.
Augusta Comet Augusta Comet (1798-1857) coined the term “sociology. ” Like Saint-Simon, he believed the study of social phenomena should employ scientific techniques. But Comet was disturbed by the chaos of French society and was critical of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Comet developed an evolutionary theory Of social change in his law Of the three stages. He argued that social disorder was caused by ideas left over from the idea systems of earlier stages. Only when a scientific footing for the governing of society was established would the social upheavals of his time cease.
Comet also stressed the systematic character of society and accorded great importance to the role of consensus. These beliefs made Comet a forerunner of positivism and performs in classical sociological theory. The thoughts of Augusta Comet, who coined the term sociology, while dated and riddled with weaknesses, continue in many ways to be important to contemporary sociology. First and foremost, Comet’s positivism – the search for invariant laws governing the social and natural worlds – has influenced profoundly the ways in which sociologists have conducted sociological inquiry.
Comet argued that sociologist (and other scholars), through theory, speculation, and empirical research, could create a realist science that would accurately “copy” or present the way things actually are in the world. Furthermore, Comet argued that sociology could become a “social physics” that is a social science on a par with the most positivistic of sciences, physics. Comet believed that sociology would eventually occupy the very pinnacle of a hierarchy of sciences. Comet also identified four methods of sociology.
To this day, in their inquiries sociologists continue to use the methods of observation, experimentation, comparison, and historical research. While Comet did write about methods of research, he most often engaged in speculation or herring in order to attempt to discover invariant laws of the social world. Comet’s “law of the three stages” The law of three stages is an example of his search for invariant laws governing the social world. Comet argued that the human mind, individual human beings, all knowledge, and world history develop through three successive stages. 1 . The theological stage is dominated by a search for the essential nature of things, and people come to believe that all phenomena are created and influenced by gods and supernatural forces. Monotheism is the ultimate belief of the theological stage. . ) The metaphysical stage is a transitional stage in which mysterious, abstract forces (e. G. , nature) replace supernatural forces as the powers that explain the workings of the world. 3. ) The positivist stage is the last and highest stage in Comet’s work. In this stage, people search for invariant laws that govern all of the phenomena of the world.
Comet also used the term positivism in a second sense; that is, as a force that could counter the negativism of his times. In Comet’s view, most of Western Europe was mired in political and moral disorder that was a ensconce of the F-ranch Revolution of 1789. Positivism, in Comet’s philosophy, would bring order and progress to the European crisis of ideas. Comet’s philosophical idealism thus separates his views from those of his contemporary Karl Marx (1 818-1883), who was a materialist. Social static and dynamics Comet separated social static from social dynamics.
Social static are concerned with the ways in which the parts of a social system (social structures) interact with one another, as well as the functional relationships between the parts and to the social system as a whole. Comet therefore soused his social static on the individual, as well as such collective phenomena as the family, religion, language, and the division of labor. Comet placed greater emphasis on the study of social dynamics, or social change. His theory of social dynamics is founded on the law of the three stages; I. E. The evolution of society is based on the evolution of mind through the theological, metaphysical, and positivist stages. He saw social dynamics as a process of progressive evolution in which people become cumulatively more intelligent and in which altruism eventually triumphs over egoism. This recess is one that people can modify or accelerate, but in the end the laws Of progressive development dictate the development Of society. Comet’s research on social evolution focused on Western Europe, which he viewed as the most highly developed part of the world during his times.
Some of Comet’s most amusing ideas are found in his plans for the future. Comet envisioned a positivist calendar, public holidays, and temples. He elaborated a plan for his positivist society that included important roles for bankers and industrialists, positivist priests, merchants, manufacturers, and farmers. Comet also envisioned a positivist library of 100 books, titles that he personally selected. He argued that reading other works would contaminate the minds of the people. He also planned to restructure the family to include a father, mother, three children, and paternal grandparents.
Herbert Spencer: Individualism/Holism Herbert Spencer (1820-1902) depicted society as a system, a whole made up of interrelated parts. He also set forth an evolutionary theory of historical development. Social Darwinism is Spence’s application of evolutionary notions and the concept of survival of the fittest to the social world. According to Ritzier (2000) although the sociological theory of Herbert Spencer has but a small following today, his work was quite popular during his lifetime, particularly in America.
Spence’s theory of society does represent an advance over Contain theory even though Spencer like Comet, characterized himself as a positivist and derived his concepts of structure and function from the field of biology. Spencer used the Contain terms of social static and social dynamics, but not in a descriptive way as Comet did to refer to all types of societies, but rather in a normative way to describe his version of the true ideal society. Furthermore, Spencer was more interested in studying the progress of the external world or objectivity, while Comet focused more on the subjective nature of the progress of human conceptions.
Finally, there are important political differences between Spencer and Comet. Spencer had little regard for centralized political control and believed that the government should allow individuals the maximum freedom to pursue their private interests. Comet, on the other hand, desired society to be led by the high priests of positivistic religion. Spencer Evolutionary Theory and Sociology Spencer defined sociology as the study of societal evolution and believed that the ultimate goal of societal evolution is complete harmony and happiness.
Spence’s theory of evolutionary change is built upon three basic principles: integration, differentiation, and definiteness. Spencer argued that homogeneous phenomena are inherently unstable, which makes them subject to constant fluctuations. These fluctuations force homogeneous systems to differentiate, which results in greater multiform. In other words, homogeneous systems grow to become heterogeneous. Spencer focused such of his energy on trying to legitimate sociology as a scientific discipline.
He argued that laypeople might think they deal with the same issues as sociologists do; however, they are not trained to adequately comps these issues. One Of the ways that Spencer believed sociology cool more legitimate was for sociologists to study other disciplines, esp. biology and psychology. Biology could be linked to sociology throw: search for the basic “laws of life,” understanding society as a “living focusing on human beings as the starting point of sociological inquire Psychology is useful to sociology because it helps to show that memo sentiments are linked to social action.
According to Spencer, individual the source of all social phenomena, and the motives of individuals understanding society as a whole. Spence’s Methodology Spencer realized that studying social phenomena was inherently UDF from studying natural phenomena; therefore, sociology could not s imitate the methods used by biologists. Spencer also argued that the psychological method of introspection was ill-suited to studying box social facts and processes. Sociologists are also faced with the ethological problem of how to keep their own bias in check ant and report trustworthy data.
Spencer advocated a ‘value free’ meet approach for sociology and cautioned sociologists to be aware of e’ biases that might influence their work, including educational, patria political, and theological biases. Spencer was committed to empiric and employed a comparative historical methodology in much of his The Evolution of Society Spence’s general theory of social evolution involves the progress o towards integration, heterogeneity, and definiteness. It also include omission, the increasing coherence of social groups. Social groupВ± according to Spencer, strive towards greater harmony and cooperate through the division of labor and the state.
Spencer does not devil theory of social evolution; he acknowledges that dissolution or no c all may occur at any given moment. Spencer was a social realist in t viewed society as an entity in and of itself thus; the whole of society on even if its component parts die. As society grows, it becomes ms complex and differentiated. Structures accompany this growth, who function to regulate external concerns like military activities and us internal issues like economic activities Spencer uses his evolutionary theory to trace the movement from compounded societies and from militant to industrial societies.
Soc evolves from the compounding and recomposing of social evolves from military societies dominated by conflict and a coercive system to industrial societies characterized by harmony and a suit system of decentralized rule. Spencer thought the society that he vi was a ‘hybrid society’ exhibiting traits of both military and industrial Although he ultimately hoped society in general would progress too