Brief introduction to theorists - panchu

Brief introduction to theorists
Auguste Comte
 A Frenchman who coined the term “Sociology”
 He was the 1st theorist to suggest that man could study society employing methods in the
way of natural science
 According to him, applying these scientific methods “will produce a positive science of
 He argues that sociology was the last science to develop, but that it was the most
significant and complex of them all – the one that would contribute greatly to the welfare
of humanity
 Based on his theories, he drew up ambitious plans for the post-revolution French society
Emile Durkheim
 Greatly influenced by Comte – he was also French
 He felt that Comte’s theories remained vague and speculative. He argued that Comte has
not done enough to establish sociology as a science
 He believed that to become scientific, society must study “social facts”. His motto was
“study social facts as things”
 Social facts are events, phenomenon, institutions, organizations, groups etc. – things in
the external environment that can be measured objectively
 One of his greatest examples of studying social facts was his work on suicide
Karl Marx
 Vary radical in his writings. He was German born but died in England where he did most
of his major work and was found to be quite radical for his time
 His views were strongly opposed to Durkheim and Comte
 Dominating his work was his materialist conception of history – referring to the role of
economics in social change
 He believed that it was not ideas or values led to social change but rather economic
 Dialectic Materialism is a common reference where Marx was concerned – it dealt with
different classes existing at opposite ends of the social spectrum and conflicting with
each other
 He believed that there were 2 classes – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat – and that all of
history had been nothing but a class struggle between them
George Herbert Mead
 A phenomenologist like Weber, he studies the influence of symbols in the lives of people
– especially with respect to language
 He was responsible for the theory of Symbolic Interaction
R. Dahrendorf
He spoke of the Conflict / Consensus theory
Dealt with the role of authority
Latent and manifest interest
Functions of conflict
He also looked at other ideological issues
Max Weber
 German writer who, though influenced by Marx, was very critical of the Marxists view
 He believed that history is one of struggle and conflict but did not believe that it was the
result of economic factors alone, but rather from ideas and values that people hold
 He was the writer of the Social Action Theory – the reason behind the action
 He was an interactionist theorists who believed that social action must be a conscious
 He also wrote the Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism
 Rationality and reason
 Bureaucracy and control – “the iron cage of modern capitalism”
 Human actions were directed by meanings. Some types of actions are affective,
traditional and rational
 The ideal type and bureaucracy
 There are 2 types of understanding that lead to action
1) Observation
2) Explanatory
 He believed that bureaucracy is ideal for capitalism
 Ideals referred to the characteristics needed to function effectively
Alfred Schutz
 He was a phenomenologist – studied the social world
 Took the positivist approach – the meaning behind actions must be found to be
 Critique of Weber’s work
 Spoke of the “kneeling context” and the inter-subjectivity – “we relations”
 Typifications – sets of common sense knowledge that accumulate. As you get to know
someone, typifications can be revised or thrown out altogether
Ethnomethodologist – how people make sense of their social world
Common sense knowledge
Often seen as removed from mainstream sociology
The study of people’s method and how the mind works
Social order is an illusion – it is also potentially chaotic
People construct a social reality to make sense out of nonsense – documentary method