A Critical Reconstruction of Evolutionary, Marxist and Modernization Theories

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Marxism Pages: 26 (8589 words) Published: May 17, 2013
This paper focuses on three very significant theories of Social Science namely the Evolutionary Theory, Marx’s Theory and Modernization Theory. It tries to discuss the theories from different dimensions as to give a clear picture of the theories. The main goal of this paper is to cover every aspect of these theories as briefly as possible.

Evolutionary Theory:


Society presents a sue generis reality: a real existence in which it manifests properties other than and separate from those of individuals - social determinism. All social organisms evolve: they go through a process of gradual, cumulative, and determinable change from an infant state to a mature state. Social development is understood in terms of the manner in which individuals interpret their world. Society is conceptualized statically, as a social organism composed of integrated parts, and dynamically, in terms of interpretive evolutionary stages a teleological stance: society has an innate tendency to develop in a certain direction (towards more complexity). Individuals are mere abstractions and have no existence outside of the society which gave birth to them. Individuals mature in much the same way societies do: through theological, metaphysical, and positive forms of thought.

Sociology should try to predict future events in order to create a more harmonious society. Social order cannot be based on reasoned self-interest and free association. Individuals are governed by emotions not reason. Liberal democracy would not produce a harmonious society opposed to socialism because of its focus on equality. Auguste Comte believed in innate inequalities between individuals favored a society under the control of sociologist.

The Concept

At the very beginning let us focus on Comte's most fundamental assumption: sui generis social reality, which basically means that -society exhibits a real existence with properties other than and separate from those manifested by individuals or aggregates - it is alive. Comte felt that "individuals" were the products of society. At any given point in time a society's parts are related to one another in specifiable and scientific relations (Comte, 1974). 

The social organism is like a biological organism. Each part of the social organism is engaged in different but mutually supportive functions. The most fundamental unit of society is the family. Comte saw societies as more or less complex. Families produce individuals, families’ produce cities, cities produce society, within the city the families serve as functional parts in accomplishing necessary tasks. Ultimately all societies would merge into an even greater entity: the "great being." All societies go through a process of gradual, cumulative, and determinable change from a state of social infancy to one of maturity. This is the biological analogy again. As organisms grow and mature so do the societies.


Auguste Comte developed the idea of the law of three stages which states that society as a whole, and each particular science, develops through three mentally conceived stages: (1) the theological stage, (2) the metaphysical stage, and (3) the positive stage. The stages are understood mentalistically: in terms of how the world is generally or collectively understood and acted toward. Each stage is represented by a change in the understanding of the world.

1. Theological Stage

Events are explained in terms of the will or action of humanlike gods, spirits, demons, ghosts, and other supernatural beings. Lacking sophisticated theoretical concepts it’s easy to understand how people could reify objects and nature. Take the example of a hunting-gathering-and fishing society living by the bank of a river. Modern people know that rivers meander and frequently flood. But this is because of their more sophisticated understanding of the mechanics of nature and rivers. When the river floods and tribal members...
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