Sociology the Discipline

Unit 1 Module 1 - Sociology, Culture & Identity

Origins of Main Stream Sociology

Amongst the academic disciplines known as the Social Sciences, Sociology is considred to be new, when compared to the older disciplines such as political science, anthropology, economics and psychology to name a few. The French essayist Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès (1748-1836), was perhaps the first to use the term sociology. August Comte later, re-conceptulaised and introduced the term sociology in the way that we now know and appreciate it.

Most early sociological thinkers approached the study of society in a similar manner as the natural sciences. They believed that generalized theories can be formulated, based on natural science research methodologies. This approach to sociological research is known as positive science - positivism.

Socio-political Context - Modernists contend that sociology emerged out of two major revolutions of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Starting with the French revolution of 1789 and then the Industrial Revolution of Europe. The new socio-political and economic orders that emerged due to these real life changes, birthed a new era in social life, giving rise to individualism, democracy, capitalism and the research for efficient systems of living and operating - (leading to the rise of rationalization).

Politcal thinkers, philosophers and other academics, noted and began rationalizing the major changes that had begun to occur in the 'world'. In their quest to adequately classify and explain the new dynamics of social life, they developed various research methods and theories to explain social life. It is through this process that we note the development of the discipline of sociology.

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Positivism

Sociology a Science