Emergence of sociology

Emergence of sociology

Since the formation of society and groups men have started thinking about societies and groups. Sociology is a modern science not more then 160 years old. The study of society in a scientific way started only after 1839 when Auguste Comte (father of sociology) had coined this term.

It is true that in the writings of philosophers and religious teachers of all civilizations we find concerns about society. For example, Kautilya Arthashastra, Aristotle politics etc. Analyse society in those ways which are still of interest to the sociologist. In real sense a new science of society and a new name was created in 1839. It is worthwhile to consider the circumstances in which this had happened.

The conditions which were responsible for emergence of sociology were both intellectual and social. The intellectual ancestors of sociology are the following.

  1. Political philosophy
  2. The philosophy of history

  3. Biological theories of evolution

  4. Movements for social and political reform

Sociology emerged as a response to the forces of changes which took place during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe. The ideas which are discussed again and again in early sociological writings are thus essentially ideas of that period. Much of the early sociology was affected by the thinkers of the enlightenment of the eighteenth century. The enlightenment appears as the most appropriate point of departure in the study of the origins of the sociological theory, for various reasons.

Firstly a scientific approach to the study of society dates back to the tradition of the enlightenment. The eighteenth century thinkers began more consistently than any of their predecessors to the study the human conditions in a scientific way using the methods of the natural science. They consciously applied scientific principles of analysis to the study of human beings and their nature and society.

Secondly they upheld reason as a measure to judge social institution and their suitability for human nature. Human beings they believed are essentially rational and this rationality can lead them to freedom of thought and action.

Thirdly they believed that human beings are capable of attaining perfection. By criticizing and changing social institutions they can create for themselves even greater degrees of freedom, which in turn would enable them increasingly to actualise their potentially creative powers.

French Revolution

French Revolution erupted in 1789 A.D. and it marked a turning point in the history of human struggle for freedom and equality. It changed the political structure of European society. It put an end to end to the age of feudalism and brought forward a new order of society. It replaced the age of feudalism by announcing the arrival of democracy.

After French Revolution law became an expression of general masses. Everybody was allowed to participate in making of law. Emphasis was given on equality. Recruitment to services were done on the basis of merit and not on the basis of class.

Before French Revolution marriage was undissolved due to belief in Roman Catholicism. But marriage is now a contract on the basis of law. After French Revolution is became possible that property can be divided and it was believed that through centralisation of education we can produce efficient and desirable subjects. French Revolution was responsible for abolition of feudal system for the introduction of new political system and in improving socio-economic status.

Effects of French Revolution

  • French Revolution was the destruction of old economic system feudalism and the advent of new economic system. This new economic system was capitalism.

  • Privileges of upper class clergy and nobles were abolished and taken back by the government. Whole of church property was confiscated.all the ancient laws were removed and new laws were made by National Assembly.

  • All the men and citizens were given right of equality and freedom. From here on the idea of sovereignty come into being means the nation’s law and authority is above everything.

  • French Revolution also had great impact on the world. It also paved way for removal of ancient systems and establishment of new system of democracy.

Industrial Revolution

The foundation of modern industry was laid by the industrial Revolution, which began in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Industrial Revolution is the term which is used for the use of new technology and machine in the field of trade and commerce.

With the change in the economy of society several social changes occurred. As capitalism after industrial revolution, became more and more complex the development of banks, insurance companies finance corporations took place. New class of industrial workers, managers and capitalists emerged.

The peasants in the law industrial society found themselves in unhygienic living conditions instead of familiar countryside. with the increase in production, population started increasing. Rise of population led to increased rate of urbanisation. The industrial cities grew rapidly. In the industrial cities socio-economic disparities were very wide. The factory workers were involved in repetitive and boring work, the fruit of which they couldn’t enjoy. In Marxist terms, the worker became alienated from the product of his/ her labour. City life in the industrial society became altogether a different way of life.

The significant themes of the Industrial Revolution which concerned the early sociologists were

  1. The condition of labour. Sociologists recognised that the poverty of this class during the 19th century became the subject of both moral and analytical concern.
  2. The Transformation of property. The traditional emphasis on land lost its value while money or capital became important during the industrial revolution. The feudal landlords became less significant, while the new capitalists gained power. A change in the property system involves a change in the Fundamental character of society.
  3. The Industrial City. Ancient cities were known as repositories of civilised graces and virtues while the new cities were known as repositories of misery and inhumanity. It were these aspects of the new cities which concerned the early sociologists.
  4. Technology and Factory System. Both the conservative and radical thinkers realised that the technology and factory system would alter human life for all times to come.

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