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  • Explain why sociology emerged when it did
  • Describe how sociology became a separate academic discipline
Figure (a) shows two ancient Greeks. Figure (b) shows an ancient Chinese man. Figure (c) shows a statue of a man. Figure (d) shows a portrait of a Frenchman.
People have been thinking like sociologists long before sociology became a separate academic discipline: Plato and Aristotle, Confucius, Khaldun, and Voltaire all set the stage for modern sociology. (Photos (a),(b),(d) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Photo (c) courtesy of Moumou82/Wikimedia Commons)

Since ancient times, people have been fascinated by the relationship between individuals and the societies to which they belong. Many topics studied in modern sociology were also studied by ancient philosophers in their desire to describe an ideal society, including theories of social conflict, economics, social cohesion, and power (Hannoum 2003).

In the thirteenth century, Ma Tuan-Lin, a Chinese historian, first recognized social dynamics as an underlying component of historical development in his seminal encyclopedia, General Study of Literary Remains . The next century saw the emergence of the historian some consider to be the world’s first sociologist: Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) of Tunisia. He wrote about many topics of interest today, setting a foundation for both modern sociology and economics, including a theory of social conflict, a comparison of nomadic and sedentary life, a description of political economy, and a study connecting a tribe’s social cohesion to its capacity for power (Hannoum 2003).

In the eighteenth century, Age of Enlightenment philosophers developed general principles that could be used to explain social life. Thinkers such as John Locke, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Hobbes responded to what they saw as social ills by writing on topics that they hoped would lead to social reform. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) wrote about women’s conditions in society. Her works were long ignored by the male academic structure, but since the 1970s, Wollstonecraft has been widely considered the first feminist thinker of consequence.

The early nineteenth century saw great changes with the Industrial Revolution, increased mobility, and new kinds of employment. It was also a time of great social and political upheaval with the rise of empires that exposed many people—for the first time—to societies and cultures other than their own. Millions of people moved into cities and many people turned away from their traditional religious beliefs.

Creating a discipline

Auguste comte (1798–1857)

A portrait of August Comte.
Auguste Comte played an important role in the development of sociology as a recognized discipline. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

The term sociology was first coined in 1780 by the French essayist Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès (1748–1836) in an unpublished manuscript (Fauré et al. 1999). In 1838, the term was reinvented by Auguste Comte (1798–1857). Comte originally studied to be an engineer, but later became a pupil of social philosopher Claude Henri de Rouvroy Comte de Saint-Simon (1760–1825). They both thought that social scientists could study society using the same scientific methods utilized in natural sciences. Comte also believed in the potential of social scientists to work toward the betterment of society. He held that once scholars identified the laws that governed society, sociologists could address problems such as poor education and poverty (Abercrombie et al. 2000).

Questions & Answers

what is culture
Chisom Reply
Culture i's tha society
Mahatab
right
Mahatab
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Vikram Reply
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NA Reply
list the point of social change with management and business administration
Rabiya Reply
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Emmy Reply
Waht is crime
muhammads
crime may be say to be as an offence comited that is punishable by the law
Emmy
sociology and other social sciences have one thing in common which is examining an individual and how interact with others in the society
mudakikwa
what are the theories of social change
afya Reply
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Emmy
reasons why we study sociology
OBADIAH Reply
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Emmy
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Agness Reply
how did the industrial revolution contribute to the raise or birth of sociology
Debra
what are social organizations
Mr Reply
social organization is the process in which group or organise people engage in one event or aspect to do or provide something
Umar
Discuss the historical events that led to socialogy as a science
Debra Reply
sociology is the way in which study the society, behavior, value, norms and cultural interaction
Umar Reply
Discuss in details the Historical events which lead to the introduction of Sociology as a science.
Jonathan
The term sociology was coined by French philosopher Auguste Comte in 1838, who for this reason is known as the “Father of Sociology.” Comte felt that science could he used to study the social world. Just as there are testable facts regarding gravity and other natural laws
Umar
but which events really made him conclude that sociology is a science
Debra
Comte thought that scientific analyses could also discover the laws governing our social lives. It was in this context that Comte introduced the concept of positivism to sociology a way to understand the social world based on scientific facts. He believed that, with this new understanding, people
Umar
could build a better future. He envisioned a process of social change in which sociologists played crucial roles in guiding society.
Umar
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Debra
Other events of that time period also influenced the development of sociology. The 19th and 20th centuries were times of many social upheavals and changes in the social order that interested the early sociologists. The political revolutions sweeping Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries
Umar
were times of many social upheavals and changes in the social order that interested the early sociologists. The political revolutions sweeping Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries led to a focus on social change and the establishment of social order that still concerns sociologists today.
Umar
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Umar
what is the relationship between sociology and other social science discipline
Emmy
What historical events lead to the introduction of sociology as a science?
Jonathan Reply
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Deborah Reply
is sociology is an easy subject
Sanjana Reply
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rameez
what is the relationship between sociology and other social science discipline
Emmy
Definition of sociology
Jafaru Reply
The historical events which lead to the introduction of sociology as a science
Jonathan
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Emmy

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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