History of sociology

History of sociology

Sociology is a relatively new academic discipline among other social sciences including economics, political science, anthropology, and psychology. The ideas behind it, however, have a long history and can trace their origins to a mixture of common human knowledge, works of art and philosophy.

Precursors and foundations

Sociological reasoning can be traced back to ancient Greece (cf. Xenophanes' remark: "If horses would adore gods, these gods would resemble horses"). Sociological observations are frequently to be found e.g. in the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Polybius.

There is evidence of early Muslim sociology from the 14th century: Ibn Khaldun, in his "Muqaddimah" (later translated as "Prolegomena" in Latin), the introduction to a seven volume analysis of universal history, was the first to advance social philosophy and social science in formulating theories of social cohesion and social conflict. He is thus considered by many to be the forerunner of sociology.H. Mowlana (2001). "Information in the Arab World", "Cooperation South Journal" 1.] Dr. S. W. Akhtar (1997). "The Islamic Concept of Knowledge", "Al-Tawhid: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Thought & Culture" 12 (3).] [Amber Haque (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", "Journal of Religion and Health" 43 (4): 357-377 [375] .] citation|title=Ibn Khaldun: His Life and Works|first=Muhammed Abdullah|last=Enan|publisher=The Other Press|year=2007|isbn=9839541536|page=v] [citation|last=Alatas|first=S. H.|title=The Autonomous, the Universal and the Future of Sociology|journal=Current Sociology|year=2006|volume=54|pages=7-23 [15] ]

Sociology as a scientific discipline emerged in the early 19th century as an academic response to the challenge of modernity: as the world is becoming smaller and more integrated, people's experience of the world is increasingly atomized and dispersed. Sociologists hoped not only to understand what held social groups together, but also to develop an "antidote" to social disintegration and exploitation.

The term "sociologie" was first used by the French essayist Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès (1748-1836). ["Des Manuscrits de Sieyès. 1773-1799", Volumes I and II, published by Christine Fauré, Jacques Guilhaumou, Jacques Vallier et Françoise Weil, Paris, Champion, 1999 and 2007 See also and Jacques Guilhaumou, "Sieyès et le non-dit de la sociologie : du mot à la chose, in Revue d’histoire des sciences humaines", Numéro 15, novembre 2006 : Naissances de la science sociale.] (from the Latin: "socius", "companion"; and the suffix "-ology", "the study of", from Greek λόγος, "lógos", "knowledge" "Comte, Auguste" A Dictionary of Sociology (3rd Ed), John Scott & Gordon Marshall (eds), Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN-10: 0198609868, ISBN-13: 978-0198609865] ["Sociology" in "Dictionary of the Social Sciences", Craig Calhoun (ed), Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN-10: 0195123719, ISBN-13: 978-0195123715] ). The term was independently re-invented, and introduced as a neologism, by the French thinker Auguste Comte in 1838."A Dictionary of Sociology", Article: Comte, Auguste] Comte had earlier used the term 'social physics', but that term had been appropriated by others, notably Adolphe Quetelet. Comte hoped to unify all studies of humankind--including history, psychology and economics. His own sociological scheme was typical of the 19th century; he believed all human life had passed through the same distinct historical stages and that, if one could grasp this progress, one could prescribe the remedies for social ills. Sociology was to be the 'queen of positive sciences'. Thus, Comte has come to be viewed as the "Father of Sociology".

"Classical" theorists of sociology from the late 19th and early 20th centuries include Ferdinand Tönnies, Émile Durkheim, Vilfredo Pareto, Ludwig Gumplovicz, and Max Weber. Like Comte, these figures did not consider themselves only "sociologists". Their works addressed religion, education, economics, law, psychology, ethics, philosophy, and theology, and their theories have been applied in a variety of academic disciplines. Their influence on sociology was foundational.

Early works

The first books with the term 'sociology' in the title were "A Treatise on Sociology, Theoretical and Practical" by the North-American laywer Henry Hughes and "Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society" [ [http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/fitzhughsoc/fitzhugh.html Sociology For The South Or The Failure of Free Society] ] by the American lawyer George Fitzhugh. Both books were published in 1854, in the context of the debate over slavery in the antebellum US. "The Study of Sociology" by the English philosopher Herbert Spencer appeared in 1874. Lester Frank Ward, described by some as the father of American sociology, published "Dynamic Sociology" in 1883.

Institutionalizing Sociology

The discipline was taught by its own name for the first time at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1891 by Frank Blackmar, under the course title "Elements of Sociology" (the oldest continuing sociology course in America). The "Department of History and Sociology" at the University of Kansas was established in 1891 [ [http://www.ku.edu/%7Esocdept/about/ About Us - Sociology department] ,] [ [http://www.news.ku.edu/2005/June/June15/sociology.shtml KU News Release] ,] and the first full fledged independent university department of sociology was established in 1892 at the University of Chicago by Albion W. Small, who in 1895 founded the American Journal of Sociology. [ [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJS/home.html University of Chicago Press - Cookie absent ] ]

The first European department of sociology was founded in 1895 at the University of Bordeaux by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim. The first sociology department in the United Kingdom was founded at the London School of Economics in 1904. In 1919 a sociology department was established in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich by Max Weber and in 1920 in Poland by Florian Znaniecki.

International cooperation in sociology began in 1893 when Rene Worms founded the small Institut International de Sociologie, eclipsed by much larger International Sociological Association from 1949. In 1905 the American Sociological Association, the world's largest association of professional sociologists, was founded, and Lester F. Ward was selected to serve as the first President of the new society.

Positivism and anti-positivism

:"Main articles: Positivism, Sociological positivism, and Antipositivism."

Early theorists' approach to sociology, led by Comte, was to treat it in much the same manner as natural sciences, applying the same methods and methodology used in the natural sciences to study social phenomena. The emphasis on empiricism and the scientific method sought to provide an incontestable foundation for any sociological claims or findings, and to distinguish sociology from less empirical fields such as philosophy. This methodological approach, called positivism, became a source of contention between sociologists and other scientists, and eventually a point of divergence within the field itself.

While most sciences evolved from deterministic, Newtonian models to probabilistic models which accept and even incorporate uncertainty, sociology began to cleave into those who believed in a deterministic approach (attributing variation to structure, interactions, or other forces) and those who rejected the very possibility of explanation and prediction. One push away from positivism was philosophical and political, such as in the dialectical materialism based on Marx's theories.

A second push away from scientific positivism was cultural, even sociological. As early as the 19th century, positivist and naturalist approaches to studying social life were questioned by scientists like Wilhelm Dilthey and Heinrich Rickert, who argued that the natural world differs from the social world because of unique aspects of human society such as meanings, symbols, rules, norms, and values. These elements of society inform human cultures. This view was further developed by Max Weber, who introduced antipositivism (humanistic sociology). According to this view, which is closely related to antinaturalism, sociological research must concentrate on humans' cultural values (see also: French pragmatism. This has led to some controversy on how one can draw the line between subjective and objective research and has also influenced hermeneutical studies. Similar disputes, especially in the era of the Internet, have led to variations in sociology such as public sociology, which emphasizes the usefulness of sociological expertise to abstracted audiences.

Twentieth century developments

During the interwar period sociology continued to expand in the United States, but made much less progress in Europe, where it was attacked both by increasingly totalitarian governments and rejected by conservative universities. Meanwhile, in United States, the focus of sociology changed from macrosociology interested in evolution of societies towards microsociology, eventually resulting in the development of the structural-functional theory by Talcott Parsons in the 1930s.

Since World War II sociology has been revived in Europe, although during the Stalin and Mao eras it was suppressed in the communist countries. In the second half of the 20th century, sociology has been increasingly employed as a tool by governments and businesses. Sociologists made efforts to integrate macro- and microsociology and developed new types of quantitative research and qualitative research methods.

In the late 20th century, some sociologists embraced postmodern and poststructural philosophy. Others began to debate the nature of globalization. These developments have led to the reconceptualization of basic sociological categories and theories. For instance, inspired by the thought of Michel Foucault, power may be studied as dispersed throughout society in a wide variety disciplinary cultural practices. In political sociology, the power of the nation state may be seen as transforming due to the globalization of trade (and cultural exchanges) and the expanding influence of international organizations (Nash 2000:1-4).

Throughout the development of sociology, controversies have raged about how to emphasize or integrate concerns with subjectivity, objectivity, intersubjectivity and practicality in theory and research. One outcome of such disputes has been the formation of multidimensional theories of society, such as critical theory. Another outcome has been the formation of public sociology, which emphasizes the usefulness of sociological analysis to various social groups.

Modern academic sociology is now largely characterised by an intradepartmental split by subject, whereby individual specialisms are encouraged. Thus teaching is now divided into 'sociologies' and lecturers will offer courses in subjects such as the sociology of science, the sociology of consumerism, the sociology of the family, etc. Universities often incorporate this with more broadly based courses focussing on Cultural Studies or providing an introduction to philosophy. Thus a sociology degree can vary widely in the subjects studied, even within a department.

ee also

Timeline of sociology


*Gerhard Lensky. 1982. "Human societies: An introduction to macrosociology", McGraw Hill Company.
* Nash, Kate. 2000. "Contemporary Political Sociology: Globalization, Politics, and Power." Blackwell Publishers.

Further reading

*Samuel William Bloom, "The Word as Scalpel: A History of Medical Sociology", Oxford University Press 2002
*Raymond Boudon "A Critical Dictionary of Sociology". Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989
*Deegan, Mary Jo, ed. "Women in Sociology: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook", New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.
*A. H. Halsey, "A History of Sociology in Britain: Science, Literature, and Society", Oxford University Press 2004
*Barbara Laslett (editor), Barrie Thorne (editor), "Feminist Sociology: Life Histories of a Movement", Rutgers University Press 1997
*cite book |title=Visions of the Sociological Tradition |last=Levine |first=Donald N. |year=1995 |publisher=University Of Chicago Press |location= |isbn=0-226-47547-6
*T.N. Madan, "Pathways : approaches to the study of society in India". New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994
*cite book |title=The Frankfurt School : its history, theories and political significance |last=Wiggershaus |first=Rolf |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1994 |publisher=Polity Press |location= |isbn=0-7456-05346

External links

* [http://www.mdx.ac.uk/www/study/sshtim.htm History of Sociology]

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