History of Sociology

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“We live in a complex social environment” (Anderson & Thomas, 1982). We relate, communicate and socialize with our fellow human beings. It is our nature to do so. In the same manner, we ourselves are influenced by others. These human interactions and relationships are what sociologists deal and study with. What an average person such as I would not know is that sociology is unlike any natural science. And ‘that’ I just learned while making this essay. Unlike a Natural Science, which is the systemized study of nature and the physical world, the Social Sciences are disciplines that apply the scientific method to the study of society and human behaviour (Kassop & Popenoe ,1991). Aside from that, Sociology can be described as to having a quite interesting background. For here we observe the reasons why man has decided to study it when it can possibly just be ignored and let alone for nature to work on. Ever since man began to interact and move in pacts, the need of a social life has long been noticed. But never yet did they think of having to study their social environment. Alex Thio (1986), in his book Sociology: An Introduction, has said that long before Christ was born, people such as Plato and Socrates had already thought and argued about social behaviour. But according to him, Plato and Socrates were only social philosophers who did not make any systematic observations to test their speculations against reality (Thio,1986). That is why he proclaimed sociology to have a short background. So basically, we can also say that the study of sociology began not too long ago from the age we live in today. The emergence of sociology as a field of study primarily resulted from a combination of circumstances in Western Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries (Brinkerhoff & White, 1985). According to Giddens & Sutton (2010), these circumstances have been described as the “two great revolutions”. That is because two major transformations in the society were being made. Andersen & Taylor (2006) did mention that “In this period, the political and economic systems of Europe were rapidly changing”. First to mention is what we call the “French Revolution” of 1789. According to Thio (1986), it was in this time when “many people began to question their monarchies and the authority of their churches, demanding greater freedom for the individual”. During the course of this revolution, France was temporarily transformed from an absolute monarchy to a republic of theoretically free and equal citizens (Kaiser, 2008). New policies, new constitutions, new laws.... new everything! France then turned out to be very influential. Not for long, other places in Europe began adopting these changes as well. The second “great revolution” is the Industrial Revolution which is said to have begun in Britain during the late eighteenth century. Then in the nineteenth century, it spread throughout western Europe and the United Sates. According to Brinkerhoff & White (1985), “the revolution was a major turning point in history”. Why? It was a period where machinery and factories replaced manual labor and small country houses. Instead of living with the agricultural and rural settings, the people rather chose to live in cities and urbanized areas. As Brinkerhoff & White (1985) has stated, “the social, economic, and political conditions of the society were revolutionized”. But as this happened, too many people had compressed themselves in the urban areas. This brought forth housing shortages, sanitation problems, and harsh working environment (Brinkerhoff & White, 1985). And so, it is not difficult to see that despite the many advancements being made, certain problems still occurred. And those problems resulted to what we call poverty. Brinkerhoff & White (1985) explained, “The changes given by industrialization created stress by producing situations for which there were no preset patterns.” Like what any other person would do when faced with problems, the...
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