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Who is regarded as the father of sociology? Why?

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The French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857)—often called the “father of sociology”—first used the term “sociology” in 1838 to refer to the scientific study of society. He believed that all societies develop and progress through the following stages: religious,... read more

The French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857)—often called the “father of sociology”—first used the term “sociology” in 1838 to refer to the scientific study of society. He believed that all societies develop and progress through the following stages: religious, metaphysical, and scientific.Auguste Comte is called the father of sociology because he coined the word 'Sociology' in 1830, for that branch of science which studied human behaviour. In fact, he created a hierarchy of sciences in which he put sociology at the top. He argued that sciences dealing with simple phenomena were first to arrive.

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August Comte.the father of sociology.the father of sociology used the term sociology for the first time in the year 1937. Sociology is the systematic description and explanation of society viewed as a whole.


New research in the history of sociological thought tells us that sociology is not an exclusively modern, Western phenomenon. People were working on sociological ideas long ago and in various parts of the world, such as Abdel Rahman Ibn-Khaldun in Tunis, North Africa, whose work had many ideas in common... read more

New research in the history of sociological thought tells us that sociology is not an exclusively modern, Western phenomenon. People were working on sociological ideas long ago and in various parts of the world, such as Abdel Rahman Ibn-Khaldun in Tunis, North Africa, whose work had many ideas in common with contemporary sociology. He was committed to the scientific study of society, empirical research, and the search for causes of social phenomena. He devoted considerable attention to various social institutions (for example, politics, economy) and their interrelationships. He was interested in comparing primitive and modern societies. However, neither Ibn-Khaldun have a dramatic impact on classical sociology nor did he see himself as a sociologist.

France's Auguste Comte was the first to use the term 'sociology'. In that narrow sense, he could be considered to be the father of sociology. He had an enormous influence on later sociological theorists and believed that the study of sociology should be scientific, just as many classical theorists did and most contemporary sociologists do. He developed his scientific view, “positivism,” or “positive philosophy,” to combat what he considered to be the negative and destructive philosophy of the Enlightenment. He developed a sophisticated theoretical system that was to shape a good portion of early sociology. Comte developed social physics, or what in 1839 he called sociology. The use of the term social physics made it clear that Comte sought to model sociology after the “hard sciences.” This new science, which in his view would ultimately become the dominant science, was to be concerned with both social statics (existing social structures) and social dynamics (social change). Although both involved the search for laws of social life, he felt that social dynamics was more important than social statics. Several other aspects of his work deserve mention because they also were to play a major role in the development of sociological theory. For example, his sociology does not focus on the individual but rather takes as its basic unit of analysis larger entities such as the family. He also urged that we look at both social structure and social change. Of great importance to later sociological theory, is Comte’s stress on the systematic character of society—the links among and between the various components of society. In addition, Comte emphasized the need to engage in abstract theorizing and to go out and do sociological research. He urged that sociologists use observation, experimentation, and comparative historical analysis. Even though Comte lacked a solid academic base on which to build a school of Comtian sociological theory, he nevertheless laid a basis for the development of a significant stream of sociological theory.


Apart from Comte, though, three other thinkers came to define the methods and subject of sociology: Max Weber, Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim. Together, these are considered the founding fathers of sociology. 


Durkheim developed a distinctive conception of the subject matter of sociology and then tested it in an empirical study. In 'The Rules of Sociological Method', Durkheim argued that it is the special task of sociology to study what he called social facts. He conceived of social facts as forces and structures that are external to, and coercive of, the individual. The study of these large-scale structures and forces—for example, institutionalized law and shared moral beliefs—and their impact on people became the concern of many later sociological theorists.


Though not a sociologist, there is a sociological theory to be found in Marx’s work. There has been a continuous strand of Marxian sociology since the beginning. But for the majority of early sociologists, his work was a negative force, something against which to shape their sociology. Marx offered a theory of capitalist society based on his image of the basic nature of human beings. Marx believed that people's productivity is a perfectly natural way by which they express basic creative impulses. Furthermore, these impulses are expressed in concert with other people; in other words, people are inherently social. Capitalism is a structure (or, more accurately, a series of structures) that erects barriers between an individual and the production process, the products of that process, and other people; ultimately, it even divides the individual himself or herself.


Whereas Karl Marx offered basically a theory of capitalism, Weber’s work was fundamentally a theory of the process of rationalization. Weber tended to view Marx and the Marxists of his day as economic determinists who offered single-cause theories of social life. That is, Marxian theory was seen as tracing all historical developments to economic bases and viewing all contemporaneous structures as erected on an economic base.  Weber was interested in the general issue of why institutions in the Western world had grown progressively more rational while powerful barriers seemed to prevent a similar development in the rest of the world. Weber developed his theories in the context of a large number of comparative historical studies of the West, China, India, and many other regions of the world. In those studies, he sought to delineate the factors that helped bring about or impede the development of rationalization. Weber saw the bureaucracy (and the historical process of bureaucratization) as the classic example of rationalization. Weber embedded his discussion of the process of bureaucratization in a broader discussion of the political institution. 

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