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Evaluation of the Study of Sociology from the Enlightenment Through to the Writings of Durkheim, Marx and Weber

  • Date Submitted: 02/13/2011 05:52 AM
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Assignment briefing: Evaluate the study of sociology from the enlightenment through to the writings of Durkheim, Marx and Weber.
In this essay I will explain the reasons behind the creation of social science and link it to the growth of scientific knowledge of the enlightenment, tracing the work of August Comte in developing the subject. I will also outline the key ideas of Durkheim relating to the collective conscience and his belief in scientific methods. I will outline Marx’s idea of social class conflict and his belief in scientific methods. I will also look at Weber’s idea of class, status and power and also his belief in social action theory. I will outline the key elements of functionalism, Marxism, social action and postmodern theories, using an example of a writer from each theory.   I will also look at how the founding fathers theories informed the later sociological ideas, in doing so I will illustrate the differences and similarities, comparing and contrasting between the theories.
Sociology first developed in Europe in the nineteenth century when industrialisation resulted in massive social changes. During this time of social change there were also intellectual changes and advances in science; which resulted in science gaining a higher reputation than ever before as it appeared to be capable of producing objective knowledge that could be applied to solve human problems. (Haralambos & Holborn, 2008)
Many early sociologists therefore chose to turn to science (using usually quantitative methods) for a methodology on which to base their subject, however not all agreed that adopting the methodology of the natural sciences is appropriate; these sociologists had the view that studying human behaviour is fundamentally different from studying the natural world and believed that unlike the subject matter of chemistry or physics, people possess consciousness which meant that sociology required a different type of methodology from science and they therefore...

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