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Lecture Two: Intro to Sociological Theory.docx

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McMaster University
David Young

Introduction to Sociological Theory: Studying Sociological Theory September 5, 2013 – September 9, 2013 The Development of French Sociology • The Ideas of Claude Henri de Saint-Simon o Saint-Simon was a French Aristocrat o Made a contribution to the conservative theory and radical theory within sociology o He wanted to preserve society as it was, in spite of this – he did see the need for some social change o He built upon the ideas of the enlightenment thinkers by arguing that social phenomena need to be examined through empiricism and science – he focused on social phenomena • The Ideas of Auguste Comte o Use of the term “Sociology” – developed a notion of social physics, what he later called sociology  First person to use that term  Comte wanted to model sociology after the natural sciences  There are laws governing society  The task of sociology is to identify these laws  Social statics (social structure) and social dynamics to study for sociology o The Law of Three Stages  Comte proposed this law of three stages and this is an evolutionary theory which is suggesting that society or the social world has gone through three intellectual stages  The Theological Stage • Existed prior to 1300 • Focused on understanding the world through religion  The Metaphysical Stage • Existed from approx. 1300 – 1800 • Focused on understanding the world through philosophy  The Positive Stage • Began in 1800 • Focused on understanding the world through science • Why is this called the positive stage? To reflect his optimism of the use of science and scientific techniques for understanding society • “Positivism”: a system of thought which recognizes only that of which can be scientifically verified or logically proved o Social order and disorder  Intellectual disorder was the cause of social disorder • Introduction to the work of Emile Durkheim o Influence of the enlightenment and Comte  Built on Comte’s view that sociology should be modelled on the natural sciences  Developed methodology (Durkheim) [a way of doing research]  “The Rules of Sociological Method” – Durkheim’s methodology  Identify patterns or regularities in society that are reflected in statistics • Can be like natural scientists by collecting objective data and analyzing cause and effect o Influence of the Conservative Reaction and Comte  Oriented toward social order  Argued that social disorder could be reduced through social reforms The Development of German Sociology • The Ideas of Georg Friedrich
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