Introduction to Sociology
Origin, meaning ,definition and nature of sociology
Studying society can hardly be claimed to be anything new; as far back as we have records, scholars and scribes have described and analyzed the social life shared by a people. Yet sociology as a discipline goes back in name and identity only to the early decades of the nineteenth century. Sociology grew at a time of new and creative social thought that transformed and modernized all of the social sciences. New specialized disciplines broke away from the long-established fields of history and philosophy.
The French Revolution, which began in 1789, symbolized this dramatic break with political and social tradition. French social analyst Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1895) declared that the changes in society brought about by the French revolution amounted to ‘nothing short of the regeneration of the whole human race’.
Huge factories, exploding cities, and a new spirit of individualism- these changes combined to make people aware of their surroundings. As the social ground trembled under people’s feet, the new discipline of sociology was born in England. France and Germany-precisely where the changes were greatest.
The discipline of sociology emerged in response to the vast social upheaval which so radically changed the shape of society in Europe; the French Revolution, for one which marked the rise to political power of new middle classes, instead of aristocrats and kings, the Industrial Revolution, for another, which, together with capitalism, brought about industrial society. The origins of these changes, just after the French Revolution, that thoughtful people began to realize just how revolutionary they were.
Once under way the revolutionary transformation of society relentlessly altered the way everyone was to live. Two significant consequences followed from this. 1) People’s daily range of personal experience became too limited in scope to provide them with sufficient familiarity with their own social world, for that world was growing to be vast and complex. 2) Their world changed before their eyes even as they learned about it. People soon learned that they could not assume that their world would be the same as the world of their parents, or that the world of their children would be like their own.
For many social thinkers the radical transformation of society produced born hope and anxiety. Political democracy and using standards of living were sources of hope. Yet there also emerged a deep anxiety over the future.
Scholars recognized that an old order was gone, replaced by a new order of unfamiliar and uncertain features .Among a varied group of intellectuals in nineteenth century Europe, there developed a new consciousness about society, a recognition of how revolutionary has been the change in human society, how uncertain had the future become .From such concerns as those, Sociology was born. Sociology has attempted to provide answers to questions generated about the old and new forms of society. The origin of Sociology, then, is rooted equally in two different though related tasks. The formulation of a theory of industrial society, and observation and description of the lives of people in new, urbanized environments. If sociology emerged as a distinct social science from Introduction to Sociology Page 5School of Distance Education this process, many others besides sociologists engaged in the task. Auguste Comte (1798-1857), who is known as the father of sociology, recognized the absence of a general science that deals with society as a whole. Comte combined two terms ‘Socius’, Latin for society , and ‘logos’ , Greek for studying and coined ‘ sociology ‘ which literally means “study of society” Comte defined sociology as the abstract and theoretical science of social phenomena “subject to natural and invariable laws, the discovery of which is the object of investigation’.
Comte was startled by the...