1. The Enlightenment
a. The Enlightenment is basically the view or belief that modern science and our understanding of the
social world derived from modern science can help us to improve our living conditions. It was led by
religious sceptics, political reformers, cultural critical, historians and social theorists. Men of the
Enlightenment regarded all aspects of human life as subject to critical examination, such as education,
religious beliefs, and metaphysics. They applied the Newtonian scientific method to society in order to
understand it. Sociologists applied reason to life for the first time; they looked at the connection between
what ‘is’and what ‘ought’to be. The Enlightenment occurred to ‘shed light on society’. It breaks away from
the traditional way of thinking. For example, Rousseau, an important figure of the Enlightenment, believed
that a ‘revolution was necessary to bring men back to common sense’.
2. Rousseau and Hobbes on the Origins of Society
a. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes were both great thinkers of the Enlightenment. Hobbes
came up with the idea of the Social Contract. He believed that it is necessary for man to give up his freedom
and liberty to a higher authority. This authority, also known as the State of the government today, protects
man in exchange for power over him. Hobbes believes this is necessary because war is a natural human
condition and man needs to be subjected to society to protect him from war. Rousseau argues that this is not
true. He believes that nature and society work according to such laws; that society could depart from the
requirements of its natural laws. He believed that society limits the perfectibility of man and is not necessary.
Rousseau claims that society is the cause of war, not the solution; that man becomes a warrior after he
becomes a citizen.Although he agrees with Hobbes that natural man is egostic, solitary and even brutish, he
disagrees that it results in war. Men learn to make war only in society, it is not natural. For example, natural
man does not know about robbery and violence until he becomes a part of society. The inequality and
stratification that occurs in society is what causes war according to Rousseau.
3. Mary Wollstonecraft on Rousseau and Gender
a. Rousseau believes that men and women are very different and therefore they should be educated
differently. “Boys want movement and noise, while girls prefer things that appeal to the eye. The doll is the
girl’s special plaything; this shows her instinctive bent towards her life’s work. Little girls always dislike
learning to read and write, but they are always ready to learn to sew.” Mary Wollstonecraft believed that
erroneous and debilitating conceptions of women could be eliminated by the right kind of education.
Women’s rights could be established by education. She argues that women deserve social equality with men
and should be given the education necessary to achieve it.
4. The Dialectical Perspective
a. The Dialectical Perspective rejects the either/or dichotomy. Everything is in a constant state of change
or motion, so it is hard to pin down either/or at any particular moment. For example, you cannot step into the
same river twice, because the river is always changing. The dialectic relationship of the individual and
society is another example. One cannot exist without the other; the individual is a social being. Society does
not consist of individuals but expresses the sum of the relationships and conditions in which these
individuals stand to one another
5. Historical Materialism: Mode, Forces and Relations of Production
a. The historical perspective is a method of understand social change. It is not a formula for predicting the
future. The mode of production is everything that goes into the production of the necessities of life, including
the "productive forces". For example, ancient, tribal, or capitalist modes of production. The forces of production are the means of labour combined with human labour power, which include land, capital,
technology and tools. The relations of production are the social relationships at play, such as ‘who owns or
does not own the forces/means of production?’One’s class determines one’s relationship to the forces or
means of production.
6. Structure andAgency