(1798-1857) Auguste Comte is considered to be the founder of sociology. Comte’s main concern was the improvement of society. If societies were to advance, Comte believed social behavior had to be studied scientifically. Comte published his theories in a book titled Positive Philosophy, but died before people could appreciate his work.
(1802-1876) She lost her sense of taste, smell, and hearing at an early age. Her profound deafness prevented her earning a living as a teacher so she became an author. She became a popular writer of celebrity status, whose work initially outsold Charles Dickens’s. She is best known for her translation of Comte’s great book. In Society in America, Martineau established herself as a pioneering feminist theorist. She was a strong and outspoken supporter of the emancipation of women and slaves. She helped inspire future feminist theorists by writing about the inferior position of women in society.
(1820-1903) Spencer’s career became a mixture of engineering, drafting, inventing, journalism, and writing. He compared society to the human body. He explained, like a body, a society is composed of parts working together to promote its well being and survival. Spencer was an early proponent of Social Darwinism and evolutionary social change. The poor, he wrote, deserve to be poor and the rich to be rich. To interfere with the existence of poverty—or the result of any other natural process—is harmful to society.
(1818-1883) Karl Marx was the social scientist that underscored the importance of conflict in social change. Pats of his writings were later used as a basis for communism. He predicted that at some point all industrial societies would contain two social classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marx thought the key to the unfolding of history was class conflict. Out of class conflict, would come a classless (communistic) society—one in which there would be no powerless proletariat. He was convinced that he could speed up the change from capitalism to communism. He also believed, that capitalism would eventually self-destruct anyway.
(1858-1917) Emile Durkheim was a brilliant student during his early school years. Even in college he was nicknamed “the metaphysician.” According to Durkheim, society exists because of broad consensus, or agreement, among member of a society. Emile Durkheim was the first sociologist to use statistical methods in the study of human group. He was also the first to teach a university sociology course.
(1864-1920) Weber was affected psychologically by the conflicting values of his parents. He eventually suffered complete mental breakdown from which he recovered to do some of his best work. Weber’s model of a bureaucracy reflected greatly increased efficiency in business and government. Today, however, bureaucratic is often used as a synonym for unimaginative, plodding, or despotic. Weber believed that an…