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History of Origin of Sociology and Development of Sociological Theories

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1. Background

The history of today's human society is very old. Moreover, the history of emergence of living begins in this planet earth is more older. The ancient human society has crossed paleolithic age (about 100000 - 1000 BC), Mesolithic age (10000 - 6000 BC) and neolithic age (6000 - 4000 BC), and now it is developed in modern society. In spite of several changes between the society of Stone Age and culture of that period and modern period of society, social behaviors, interrelationships, activities, help, conditions of struggle, socialization and cultural exchange activities were coming continue from this period to now. To regulate this types of activities family, marriage, economic, political and social organization, kinship system social organizations played the vital role as in the form of medium. Although such activities and nature of interrelationship, processes and forms were different than the society of today. This context here is mentioned because of very old study subjects of social subject in the context of emergence of sociology. But the systematic study of sociology and other social sciences started late than other subjects, the history of emergence of human society is much more older than sociology and social subjects.

The process of study of different aspects of society such as psychology, social development, economy, political system, human development, demography, migration, culture, literature, art, music, commerce, religion, justice etc. started after the development of modern society rather than since the origin of society. Moreover, the theoretical analysis, research and the process of inclusion of these subjects in the curriculum of formal education started gradually in 18th century and it continued 19th century and 20th century. But general interactions and unsystematic point of views about these subjects were started since 12th century. In this process, special subjects to study each and every aspects of the society such as political science, population studies, philosophy, psychology, culture, law, economics etc. emerged. For the long time social activities, interrelations and the study about social processes remind either this or that form in these subjects. The complexity of society increased gradually and the importance of special subjects regarding to study and research about the social condition was realized. In this context, at the beginning of 19th century the importance of sociological study about social events and social subjects also realized. As the consequence of it in 1839 A.D. August come the father of sociology formulated a distinct type of social science especially to study holistic aspects of society; social relation, behaviors, activities or social social structure etc. and he named it as sociology. In the process of coming this time to preset there are developed more than 50 branches of sociology only.


In spite of the development of sociology in 1838 for the holistic study of society, it has several other functions in the field of systematic study and research in present context, several scientists in different period of time have given several logic in this regard. Therefore, it can be said that there is long history of present sociology and the period of history can be divided in several stages for the study. Among these stages the few major area mentioned below.

2. First Stage:

While studying the development process of sociology at the first stage of it, the thoughts of philosophers regarding to social activities with the development process of philosophy can be taken as an important. This period of time is the period of time before starting Anno Domini. Among several philosophers and thinkers of west; Plato (428-348 B.C.) and this book 'Republic', Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) and this book 'Ethic and politics' etc. and their analysis can be taken as an important. Among these, Plato and his book Republic is important, in this book Plato had divided society into three levels such as slave, combatant and Philosophic and he explained and analyzed above different stages. Plato has taken whole society as a state of policy and interrelated but Aristotle in his book Ethic and Politics has taken human as a political and social being. More than this he has explained political system which is an important aspect of society. This can be taken as an important subject of sociological study. Likewise Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), Cicero (106-43 B.C.), Lucretius (96-55 B.C.) etc. can be taken an important who explained and analyzed about different aspects of the society.


Philosophers of east mentioned the concept of sociology in different sacred book at the fist stage of society, on which social hierarchy, behavior, activities, family, development, caste system etc. were mentioned. Religious books such as Beda, Puran, Gita, Upanisad, Mahabharat, Ramayan etc. are full of explanation about society and culture. The great philosophers of that time such as Manu, Kautilya, Yagyabalyakya etc. can be taken as an important philosophers. Manu in his book Manusmritic has mentioned culture, religion, rite, rituals, social values, norms, the role of women etc. of contemporary ancient time in a holistic form of human life. Kutilya in his Economics has mentioned about socio-economic activities or social activities of contemporary society. After the arrival of Gautam Buddha, his religions ideology influenced much to each level of society. The thought formulated by his about what should be the behavior, relation, activities, mode, etc. of human beings influenced much to each and every level of society. This is a side or aspect about present social activities, norms, behavior, system, development of social institutions etc. of ancient analysis but another aspect is about present sociology and anthropology subjects and their development, for this also the analysis of ancient time has played vital role.

Also read: Theory of Origin of Anthropology and Development of Anthropological Theory

3. Second Stage:

In the context of historical development process of sociology. This stage mainly taken as about fourth and fifth century to the time period of seventeenth century. Therefore, this stage can also be taken as the middle age of ancient and modern age. This stage as in the period of time can be taken as a long period of time. The values, analysis, ideologies developed in this stage are taken as major consequences of the development of sociology after eighteenth century as in the term of base of development. But in this period of time because of the impact of Roman Empire the development of thoughts, analyses and ideologies regarding to society were less than expected, and the impact of these in the society as in the positive sense was less than expected which is the fact that can be realized. Social dispute, inner conflict, communalism etc. factors were the responsible causes of negative impacts in the society. In this stage the role of Sant Augustine (354-430) has been taken as an important. Augustine had explained and mentioned about the changes on the politics of society, the government formed under it, law and condition of these factors. He had also explained about rules, procedure and rites of the society and its condition. The analysis made by him has found spiritual and religious. After him mainly Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Lock (1632-1704) Montesquieu (1689-1755), Rousseau (1712-1778), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) etc. are taken as an effective philosophers and thinkers of this stage.


Among these philosophers, Hobbes had put the logic that on how the society functions, the human being of the society contains consciousness and on the basis of it the social functions are done. Although he was a political philosopher. Likewise, Lock was also a political philosopher. He explained that about the development of political authority and the emergence of patriarchal system, he also explained about the liberty of human being, state and human life. He has explained the responsibility of human being of the society and several thoughts and functions of human beings in his book. This helped much to get the knowledge by social analysists. Montesquieu can be take as a sociological thinker of middle age. He published a book 'Spirit of the Laws' in 1748 and explained the impact of form of government and climate on social structure, culture, business, population, religion, law, etc. on it. After this developed sociology of law. He also explained about the rites and rituals of France by publishing a book name 'Persian Letters' in 1721. German Philosopher Kant had explained about social behaviors, struggle, control etc. The theory of Malthus about population is also of great importance. He has expressed idea about the society and the impact of population growth.

Also read: Society and Culture from Diffusionist Perspective

4. Third and Modern Stage 

This stage is taken very important stage for the development of sociology which was in the womb for the long period of time, in this period sociology not only got the birth of it but also increased, expanded and got the maturity. In this the same stage four finding fathers of sociology. Auguste Comte, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Herbert Spencer contributed for the strong base of sociology. They also explained up to the level of research. Likewise, world famous multi-genius German Philosopher Karl Marx developed the concept of dialectical materialism for the analysis of society. For the analysis of politics, economy, religion, stratification etc. aspects of the society Marxist concept emerged and developed. Likewise, J.S. Mill, Tonnies, Simmel, Thorstein, Ward Ross, Talcott Persons, R.K. Merton and others Alfred Suhutz, Jonathan Turner, Harold GarFinkel, Wallerstein, Samir Amin, A.G. Frank etc. analysists have done sociological analysis in different aspects of society all over the 19the and 20th century. They have provided the theoretical frame to sociological analysis in different aspects such as society and culture, social work, interrelationship, social system, social institution, daily events analysis of world economy etc. 

5. Sociology in Twentieth Century:

For the development of discipline of sociology the contribution of August Comte, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx is great important. By then the base of this subject and expansion of it towards society was done. These five philosophers or scientists kept different aspects of society and culture and the study on these as the subject matter of sociology at first. More than these, the development of sociology, development of sociological theory and new values and concepts regarding to the subject matters of sociology had done by them and they had made to do so. Because of which is present time the special debate is started on different sub-divisions and over fifty branches of sociology. The new concept are developed. And as in the form of leading discipline sociology has been established.

Charles Horton Cooley (1864-1929) is an American sociologist who established sociology and developed the concept of sociology as a subject to study about small units of society, introduced groups, the family of directly contacted group, friendly groups etc. He has taken these aspects as the seedbeds of the society from which the norms, values and social natures are formed. He has divided society in two groups, Primary and secondary groups. Likewise, he forwarded the concept of 'Looking Glass Self'. George Simel (1858-1918) was a German sociologist, he formulated and forwarded the concept of interactionist approach to understand the society. According to him, society is the web of social interaction. He published over thirty books in his life time. Another Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto (1842-1929) presented the theory of social change distinctly than that of Karl Marx. According to this theory, cyclic theory has been emphasized much and he spent time much for the Elite Theory and social change. 


American Sociologist Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) is an important sociologist of twentieth century. He is also an analysist of functionalist concept or system approach. His 'Social System' (1951) is an important book. He committed always towards the social action theory and evolutionist assumption for the development of society and culture. R.K. Merton (1910) one of the students of Parsons is a social analysist up to present time. He restructured functionalist theory while analyzed function, dysfunction and deviant behavior within the functionalist concept. The conclusion made by R.K. Merton and such others sociologists are based on facts and scientific analysis. But the change on such social subjects after a course of time is inevitable. 

To analyze society and culture major three concepts have been developed. These are functional perspectives, conflict perspective and interactionist perspective. While taking about the development of sociology major two theoretical perspectives have been developed such as macro level and another perspective based on micro level. The theories developed in latest time symbolic interactionism, social exchange theory phenomenology, ethnomethodology etc. are great important. In these all theories society and culture are analyzed in micro level. More than these for the analysis of economic development of society in macro level. Neo-Marxist theories are also developed. Among these theories like modernization theory, world system theory, dependency theory etc. are taken as very important theories. Change occurs there in social events. On going research is essential for the study of variables of events in change or new condition. In this the same process of new social theory develops. 

How much the complexity of the society increased the much new social institution, behaviors, interrelationships increase or develop and the same rate study are of sociology increases or expands. The change on different aspects of society such as social rules of society, traditions, behaviors, rites, rituals, values and activities help to make the study area of sociology wider. Because the holistic study of social relationships, behaviors, activities, institutions, interaction or group and sub-groups is the study of sociological study. 

Social change brings new types of political system and system wise processes, behaviors and these brings the changes on the types of people's relation and essence of them. The change on family structure brings or creates several problems. Increase in population or population growth and the development of market system increases the processes of migration, urbanization, mobility etc. New possibilities of professions, businesses etc. also increase and in this the same situation the development of new institutions regarding so social and economic aspects occur. New forces or relation also develop in the society. Likewise the new structure of day to day of the society has increased the area of sociological study. 

In present time, rapidly increased poverty, illiteracy, scarcity, environmental destruction/degradation, waste, increased gap between rich and poor etc. problems and for the study of these problems the knowledge of sociology is under search. The new study areas are developed. Therefore, in present time dozens of branches of sociology are developed. This process in future days will be increased rapidly.

At the end, the development process of sociological theories can be overview of keeping this within different paradigms. In which the major scholars known as great contributors for the development process of sociology; August Comte, Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer, Max Weber etc. scientists developed structural functional paradigm. They started to study society as a system of balance. This paradigm later in the middle of twentieth century R.K. Morton reexplained, in which he forwarded the concept of function and dysfunction. Likewise, in the process of study of changeability and nature of different conflicts of society and culture this functional paradigm rejected and developed the conflict theory. Mainly Karl Marx, Cojar, Dehandarf, Collins etc. Sociologists developed the theory of conflict and exposed the values of social change. They criticized the functionist explanation of the society and explained society as the history of class struggle. After 1950 A.D. within the Neo-Marxist theory, dependency theory, world system theory, critical theories are developed. 

Different micro level theories were developed. In which the society is taken as the consequence of interaction between persons and emphasis was given to the study of micro levels of society and culture. By staying within this paradigm, Max Weber and Parsons developed the action theory, George Homans, Peter Blau developed the theory of social exchange. Likewise, Alfred Shutz and other such sociologists developed phenomenological theory. In the latest time, post modernism theory has been developed. Likewise, the development of applied sociology has proved the essence of sociological knowledge for the issue of development. This symbolizes that the scope of sociology has been extended wider than wider.


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2 comments:

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