As an academic discipline, 18th century in europe. Political revolutions -- people have inalienable rights? (political system) The enlightenment & enlightenment thinking: belief in reason and human rationality to create understanding, search for practical useful knowledge; interest in how to control nature. Move away from traditional and religious explanations for life and society. Brought belief in modern science to solve problems. We have immense change and therefore things we really want to understand about the social world. We have a new sense of the appropriate way to understand things. French guy who coined the term sociology . Committed to positivism (using exact scientific method) Macro - the big picture, large-scale social processes, such as social stability and change. Micro - small-scale interactions between individuals, such as conversation or group dynamics. Critically - with the perception that some findings/outcomes/issues are good and some are bad.