Founding Fathers of Sociology

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Sociology is the study of social behaviour. Our behaviour is patterned in certain ways and sociologists study these patterns and differences in a scientific manner. The study of modern sociology, the objective and systematic study of human behaviour and society, only began from the late 1700s onwards (Giddens, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001). The origins of this science can be linked to the two great revolutions that occurred in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth century – The French Revolution of 1789 and the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century. These revolutions greatly changed people's values and ideas about society and the part they had to play in it. The early sociologists, who lived during these times of great social and economic change, put forward theories and approaches to try and make sense of the changing society around them and the consequences these changes would have. In this essay I will refer to the main founding fathers of sociology: Comte, Durkheim, Marx and Weber. I will discuss their main ideas and concerns about the changing societies that they encountered. The Frenchman Auguste Comte (1798-1857) grew up in the wake of the French revolution of 1789. In these times of momentous change he noticed how French people's lives were being changed completely in the period after the revolution and the growth of industrialisation (Giddens, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001). He wanted to make sense of these changes as he believed that there were set laws in sociology like there are in the physical sciences. He sought to find these laws and understand how society actually operates. To do this Comte came up with what he called law of the three stages which stated that the development of knowledge changed the way we lived because we first went through a theological, metaphysical and then finally a positive stage in society. The theological stage as Comte put it was dominated by primitive religions whose moral structure was based on family and...
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