The Role of Sociologists in the Development of Sociology
Sociology as a science has developed relatively recently. It is only in the nineteenth century that sociology was recognized as an independent science with a complicated subject matter and methods of research that systematize social knowledge and experience. The current paper evaluates the role of sociologists in the development of sociology as a science. It may be assumed that sociology presents a valid scientific perspective as a result of the studies conducted by sociologists. Research that was undertaken by sociologists in the past allowed sociology to emerge and develop.
Auguste Comte and the Implication of the Term “Sociology”
In order to discuss the matter of sociology it is necessary to define the term. In academic sources, sociology is understood as “a scientific study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social actions, and culture”. The definition is based on the main issues of sociology, however, the term has appeared only in the nineteenth century. It was a contribution of Auguste Comte. He and other scientists made a sociological knowledge a well-recognized discipline that is an important part of the contemporary studies.
Auguste Comte is regarded to not only as the architect of the term but as a founder of sociology as a study. Under this appellation, he wanted to “unite all knowledge about human activity”. Presently, under the umbrella of sociology, scientists attempt to explore peculiarities of social life and contribute to its development. It should be noted that Comte was a philosopher, however, his contribution allowed the science under consideration to gain a theoretical foundation. First and foremost, Comte helped to comprehend the inner laws responsible for the social environment of individuals. For example, he argued that sociology can reflect the actual rules of society in its empirical research that finds its particularization in theories, hypotheses, and observations. Comte introduced the notion of positive sociology and identified the major methods that are widely used by sociology. They are the method of experimentation, observation, historical research, and comparison. His contribution to the establishment of sociology as a science is essential. Presently, other sociologists continue the work of Comte.
Theoretical Achievements of Sociologists
As a rule, every science needs a theoretical foundation in order to develop. Some of the greatest achievements in this field of sociology were made by Durkheim (a French sociologist), Marx (a sociologist, born in Prussia), and Weber (a German sociologist). It is interesting that sociology as a science appeared when people needed answers that could explain the differences between societies, and the answers were given by sociologists who originated in different social environments. Sociology was founded in a response to social dynamics and shift of social organization that was common during industrial revolution. People began to wonder about conflicts that appeared between different groups. These and other factors created demands for understanding society as a system. It was an impulse for scientists interested in the nature of societies to gather knowledge and analyze it.
Durkheim is one of the “fathers of sociology” has influenced sociology by his profound description of collective consciousness as a sociological concept. Weber's most notable ideas are concerned with the three-component theory of stratification. From a scientific perspective, Marx's theories contributed to sociology by developing a sociology-political theory of Marxism. Sociologists contribute to the study by collecting social data and “providing substantive explanations which nevertheless are understandable in terms of everyday life”. In order to complete this task, sociologists design approaches to assess a social organization system and its variety. Thus, sociologists popularize sociology as science in special journals devoted to the matters of the study. As a matter of fact, journals and university departments related entirely to sociology “began to proliferate in the 1980s”. The works of these sociologists represent the most vivid understanding of the science.
In the United States, sociologists work in different directions. This is the way that they manage to enlarge theoretical background of sociology. Due to this approach, there are four major tendencies of sociology that were developed. The first tendency is known as the social-mind theory and it was formulated by such sociologists as Ellwood, Ross, and others. The second tendency is based on the social-instincts theory designed by McDougall. The third is the social habit tendency described by Dewey and Thomas. The fourth tendency is regarded to as the personality and society theory that may be found in the works of Cooley. These tendency led to the fact that sociology is one of the fundamental sciences. These significant contribution of sociologists may be seen on such examples as follows:
- Sociology is a popular subject in universities in the United States and other countries around the world. The number of courses steadily increases.
- Sociological problems are actively studied with an emphasis on objective phenomena related to social interactions. Thus, new social environments are evaluated by sociologists in an effort to predict behavior of people and found the most productive grounds for successful socialization. Here, sociologists make the science a matter that is considered under various circumstances, especially in politics and business.
- Increasing recognition of sociology is a result of the actions of sociologists who show the importance of the relation between the sociology and other spheres of life, for instance, education, anthropology, psychology, and even religion. Here, the interdisciplinary connections are important but they also signify that sociology is a wide subject. Sociology cannot be a part of one science but has to develop independently with the help of sociologists.
These and other factors give rise to sociology. According to sociologists, it is “clear that sociology must build upon the materials furnished it by other sciences which affect social relationships and social groups”.
The Influence of Sociologists and the Future of Sociology
Sociology is connected to social changes and movements that sociologists reflect in their studies. In the world of divergent societies and ways of life, the science broaden its theoretical foundations and explores more areas. It may be assumed that in the future sociology will develop more branches. The assumption is supported in the present by such studies as, for example, sociology of scientific knowledge, environmental sociology, and other spheres.
In the twenty-first century, sociology of the Internet is an influential subject. It mai be said that sociologists redirect the focus of the science and place it on the most current issues that include online societies. The implications of a technological development are believed to be the matter of interest for sociologists in the future.
Sociology as a science does not have a single theoretical approach or scheme. Each sociologist brings new ideas and theories that develop the science. In the previous centuries, sociology achieved a level of global recognition. Formal institutionalization of the science is the legacy of Comte and other sociologists. It should be pointed out that for a long time sociology and its knowledge was the domain of philosophy. Understanding of the human nature and patterns of behavior as well as other social factors is no longer a part of a generalized knowledge. Sociologists design new approaches and theoretical basis of the science. They analyze interdisciplinary connections and enlarge the methods of sociology. Sociologists also follow the tendencies of societies and reflect them in their works. Due to contributions made by sociologist, the science has a future.