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The emergence of sociology as a society’s positivist science resulted from the thought of enlightenment that occurred after realization of French revolution. The origin of sociology had its key roots (common stock) in the field of philosophy which involved science as well as general knowledge. After emergence of ancient sociology, modern academic sociology followed and this occurred as a result of urbanization and modernity (Wallace, 1995). Other factors that led to emergence of modern sociology included secularization, rationalism as well as capitalism. These factors are the ones that led to development of modern states and their constituent institutions including socialization units and surveillance processes. After its emergence as a modern discipline, sociology was subjected to great expansion and diversification (topics and methods) as a result of empiricism. The ancient, modern and postmodern sociological perspectives have developed to a level where only contemporary social theory can attempt to consolidate them (Scott & Marshall, 2005).
There are various cast characters in the filed of sociology that have greatly contributed to its emergence and subsequent development to a social science. Although individuals like Comte and Spencer contributed a lot to development of sociology, we are only going to consider the contributions of three characters (Weber, Marx and Durkheim).
Karl Marx was an economist and a political philosopher from Germany born in 1818 and died in 1883. He was a dedicated sociologist who engaged in making observations concerning the exploitation of the poor in the society by powerful rich individuals. Marx disagreed with healthy societal organism as claimed by Spencer terming it as false. He advocated that societies are marked by continuous struggle, competition and social conflict (conflicts of class) rather than stability or independence (Wallace, 1995). Marx embraced social conflict through an example involving the owners of production means (bourgeoisie) and the class of laborers (proletariat) with no ownership of production means. According to Marx, it is the very nature of these two varying groups that keeps them in constant conflict. On the other hand, Marx believes that the proletariats are not selectively unfit and that with time, they are likely to overthrow the bourgeoisie. When this revolution takes place, a class free society will develop where human populations will be working within their capabilities and receiving as per their needs and requirements. According to Marx, natural selection does not play any role in the difference that exists between the capitalists and the laborers but rather the economics in place. He finally urged human populations to actively engage in advocating for change in the society rather than waiting for it to positively evolve by itself (Scott & Marshall, 2005).
Durkheim Emile contributed to sociology by being the first one to make systematic applications of scientific methods in the discipline of sociology. As a philosopher and a sociologist, he emphasized on the benefits associated with learning social facts as well as the characteristic patterns of behaviors in societal groups. He found interest in suicide as a sociology topic and carried out a lot of statistical data collection and analysis in various countries to establish and formulate conclusive causes (as opposed to mere speculations). When explaining society, he suggested that the study of sociological events can be done using systematic observations with little consideration of people’s attitude (Wallace, 1995). In this aspect, people’s subjective experiences should be given less consideration as compared to what can be directly observed (objective evidence).
Weber Max added that the objective evidence should be enhanced with consideration of people’s interpretations of various events. He believed that the behaviors of human beings can not exist without their interpretation which in most cases guides how people act or react. Therefore, sociologists should go deeper than mere objective conduct and subjective experience to seek people’s thoughts and perceptions regarding human behaviors. He finally recommended the use of empathetic understanding as a means to disclose an elaborate interpretation of the meaning of various behaviors portrayed by various individuals (Scott & Marshall, 2005).
The work of these sociologists is important to their field of study because it enhances understanding of various sociological aspects as they relate to philosophy, economy as well as religious and political arena. Their work has also enhanced deeper understanding of sociology from varying perspectives and has enabled improvement of the original ideas of sociology. To their field of study, the work has been fundamental in making professional adjustments to handle varying sociological, economic and philosophical challenges.
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