Since order, which then leads to social progress,
Since the 17th century, people all over the world have been trying to figure out how society works and the ways in which people are influenced by their society. Traditionally, these questions were answered using superstition and myth (Henslin, 4). The “founding fathers” of sociology -Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber- all broke apart from the traditional ways of thinking and developed their own worldviews. Auguste Comte first coined the term “sociology,” or the process of applying the scientific method in order to discover social laws. He used “positivism,” in which the scientific method is used in the social world, rather than the typical superstition and tradition. When hearing of the cheering crowds at the execution of the king and queen of France, Comte questioned exactly how a society is held together (Henslin, 4). When viewing society and the world as a whole, he proposed that a society is created first by having social order, which then leads to social progress, and finally to social evolution. As the creator of sociology, he wanted the discovery of sociology to make a change and a reformation in society.Herbert Spencer, a philosopher from England, also questioned how society works and how it was evolving. However, he disagreed with Comte and his theories. Rather than changing and reforming society, Spencer believed that sociologists should not influence social reform, but rather simply know more about society. He believed that as more and more generations go by, the more intelligent members of society will thrive while those who are not well-adapted will die off. He called this “survival of the fittest”, otherwise known as “natural selection.” Spencer worried that reformations made through sociology would help the less fit and allow them to survive. Similar to Comte, Karl Marx believed that society should be changed. However, he believed it should be changed through revolution, not through social laws. He stated that societies progressed from different stages: from primitive communism, to slavery, to feudalism, to capitalism, to socialism, and finally, to communism once again. Marx theorised that the leading cause of social change is class conflict. He believed that society is an entire unit, but the different parts aren’t working together and are constantly competing, otherwise known as conflict theory. Marx stated that there are two classes in society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie control the money, factories, and all the land, while the proletariats are the workers who do not own any production. He predicted that one day the workers will throw a revolution that will lead to a society free of social classes. With this accomplished, people of the society could work based on their abilities and needs (Henslin, 5). Emile Durkheim was a sociologist who sought to find the answer to what social aspects affect people’s behavior. The first sociologist to apply the scientific method, Durkheim studied the suicide rates of different countries around the world. He found that each country has a different suicide rate that remains almost at a constant year after year. He noted too that groups within each country also had different suicide rates that stayed practically the same each year. For example, males are far more likely than females to commit suicide, Protestants more likely than Catholics or Jews, and the unmarried more so than those who are married. Durkheim came to the conclusion that there are social factors which affect a group’s suicide rate, including social ties, social integration, and social links. He reasoned that those with less social ties are more likely to take their lives than those who have strong connections to other people and groups. (Henslin, 6). Disagreeing with Marx’s ideals, Max Weber was a sociologist who believed that religion shaped capitalism. Unlike the Roman Catholics, who were told that they would go to heaven because they were part of the Church, Calvinists were taught that they’d only find out whether or not they were getting into heaven on Judgement Day. Therefore, they soon began to look for any signs that they were getting into heaven, and these “signs” were found in financial success. (Henslin, 6). Weber theorized that this was the start of capitalism, and called this approach the “Protestant Ethic.” At the end of his research, Weber believed that the driving force of social change is how people think and act according to how they understand the world. After learning about all the “founding fathers” of sociology, I would have to say that Emile Durkheim has the most similar view of the social world to that of my own. I very much believe that the social ties you have with other people can affect your quality of life and social behavior. Personally, I can’t go for long periods of time without seeing anyone, as the longer I go, the more I feel myself getting increasingly sad and lost. If you have people in your life to interact with and support you, I think you will definitely live a more fulfilled life. It doesn’t surprise me at all that those who are lonely are more likely to commit suicide, as loneliness can make you feel like there is no one in the world who can understand or help you. We are social creatures and to deprive us of those social interactions is bound to have a negative impact.