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History of Sociology

Sociology is just like any other sciences that has specific origin. It emerged due to the influence of various fields in the natural science and philosophy. The origin of sociology can be traced back 200 years ago when science was gradually being accepted as a source of truth. From 16th – 18th century, the several components of the scientific method were being integrated by prominent philosophers that paved the way to the emergence of the natural sciences. Within the period, the philosophical theories like empiricism and rationalism popularized by Locke, Hume, Kant and other enlightenment thinkers had contributed to the advancement of science and technology.

In other words, everything was studied and explained by science because empirical data and rationality became the basis of truth. This phenomenon eventually led to the industrial revolution when most economies were propelled by machines and factories. Unfortunately, industrial revolution had created many social problems the plagued most European countries. The increase in unemployment rate, population explosion, poverty, and others had become increasingly prevalent due to the new mode of production created by the industrial revolution.

This is why most natural scientists and philosophers had argued that science should also be used to solve the problems of every society. It is speculated that Saint-Simon (1760-1825), a founder of socialism, helped in the beginning of sociology. His thoughts in creating new and organic social order based upon the new principles of his socialism were the starting point of sociology. It was Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who coined the word sociology. He argued that society can also be viewed as an objective reality that can be studied through the scientific method ( Scott, 2007) .

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) is considered the second founder of sociology. He was influenced by Social Darwinism because of the belief that every society had evolved from simple to complex ones. Emile Durkheim followed the principles of the mentioned founders and conducted a research about suicide from a sociological point of view. 1895, Durkheim formally founded the first department of sociology at the University of Bordeaux . He later on published the Rules of the Sociological Method as basis for studying social phenomenon. Durkheim’s research about suicide in 1897 was published in his journal L'Année Sociologique . From then on, Sociology has become one of the most reliable social sciences in examining human behavior and structural-functionalism was the main sociological theory ( Scott, 2007) .


Scott, J. Fifty Key Sociologists. New York, Routledge, 2007.

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nitsbubb wrote on July 13, 2014, 1:13 AM

Frankly I had heard the word 'sociology' but never knew the history of the same. Thanks for this informative article.

Stiffany4u wrote on July 13, 2014, 2:41 AM

sociology is an interesting subject to study