The birth of Sociology.

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For any fellow sociologists out there. This was one of the essays written for university last year, an essay that got me 26 marks out of 30.

Submitted: July 15, 2017

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Submitted: July 15, 2017



The Birth of Sociology.


Sociology has been a primary field within the area of social science for centuries and  has answered numerous questions about why our society  is riddled with unseen social problems and what those  problems are. Sociology as a field of  research that seeks to answer questions  involving emotive subjects such  as religion, poverty,  immigration and crime – all of  which have numerous unanswered questions.

But how did sociology develop?

There is no doubt that the disaplin of sociology was created from a rising tide of social confusion that erupted from the ashes of the French revolution of 1789. It can be argued that the  French revolution – a period of major  socio-political change, brought about the collapse of a system that depended entirely upon a person’s nobility and social class. The peasants’ revolt changed the  hierarchical system that they had been suffering under for centuries. Feudalism – a  system in which land owners and the church  have the ultimate power over society was changed forever as the peasants of the lower  classes  systematically brought about an end to the monarchy and  aristocracy within France.

One other factor that contributed in a major way to the birth of sociology was the rapidly changing state of the economy.Along with the collapse of feudalism, there was an emergence of capitalism – the idea that everybody could rise up the social ladder by either owning the means of production or by selling their labour to those who do. The creation of capitalism as an ideology saw the lower classes rise up the social ladder and we  entered a vastly changing economical world.

Capitalism also brought about a shift in the manner in which people lived. Before the days of capitalism, people lived in tight knit communities and shared the same goals, values and social norms. Emile Durkheim – a prominent figure within sociology called this mechanical solidarity. Then, upon the emergence of capitalism, people began to move into rapidly expanding towns and cities, spreading out  into wider communities. People began  to recognise a subtle change between their own social norms and values and the norms and values of others. This awakening  understanding of the differeing social norms and lifestyles was what Emile Durkheim called organic solidarity.

So,  the shift from a system of social sameness to a system of vastly different norms and lifestyles only helped to add social confusion to an already confused  society.

Another major factor that  led to the birth of sociology was the industrial revolution of the 1840s. The agricultural way of life  was quickly  swept away in the interest of a  growing  machine powered industry. The tasks that had  previously been undertaken by people were now being undertaken by machines and it quickly became apparent that a sense of loss was felt by those who’s jobs had become meaningless.

The industrial revolution meant that the idea of creativity within work was becoming less and less of a factor within the working world and this brought about a sense of  confusion, as people were beginning to lose  their idea of what work was all about.

Aside from the social confusion regarding work, the lost feeling that shrowded society had spread to everyday life. This feeling of loss is what Emile Durkheim called Anomie, and it can be argued that the rise in anomie within society was what really brought about  the birth of sociology.

Anomie, as described by Emile Durkheim is the idea of  social normlessness. This is a concept that relates to  people within society who have lost their sense of self and where they fit within society. Though anomie is still a  prominent feeling  that  teenagers experience in modern day society, anomie was very much present within the society of the nineteenth century. The rapid  expanssion of cities meant that a person’s certainty of where they would go in their life was gone, as was their understanding of the community that they lived in. The change in the economic and working life of society also meant that people had somewhat lost their place within work also.  

Ans so, to conclude, it  can be argued that the rapidly snowballing events that were brought about as a result of the French revolution. The  collapse of the feudal economy meant that solidarity within communities vanished. The emergence of capitalism and the industrial revolution meant that cities expanded and the  concept  of  work changed  dramatically. These major social changes brought about a sense of anomie [social  normlessness that led to people becoming confused as to where they fitted within society. These problems  were what made  sociologists such as Emile Durkheim want to find answers, and in the persute of finding answers to the growing  problems within society, Durkheim officially became the first professor of sociology and the field of sociology was properly  established as a disaplin.

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