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Chapter 2

Chapter 2- A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory- The Later Years (Textbook).docx

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Sociology 2240E
Charles Levine

Chapter 2 A Historical Sketch of Sociological Theory The Later YearsEarly American Sociological TheoryPolitics oSchwedinger and Schwendinger argue that the early American sociologists are best described as political leadersoLiberalism characteristics 1 Belief in the freedom and welfare of the individual influenced more by Spencer then Comte 2 Adopted an evolutionary view of social progress oEither steps be taken for social reform or leave it alone Laissezfaire doctrine Social Change and Intellectual Currents oUttermost importance are the social changes that occurred in America society after the Civil War industrialization and urbanization Furmans view saw the positive possibilities of industrialization and well aware of its dangers Not in favour of radically overhauling society oAmerican sociologists retained the protestant interest in saving the world and merely substituted one language science for another religion oFrom 1854 Sociology was a moral and intellectual response to the problems of American life and thought institutions and greedoWanted to solve these problems like a clergyman working within religion to help improve it and peoples lot within itoSociety had a difficult time developing in Europe oMore easier going in the setting of the new American university systemoCharacteristic it was turned away from historical perspective and in the direction of a positivist or scientific orientationoEuropeans crated it Americans were able to rely this group work Herbert Spencers Influence on Sociology oWas interested in amersion sociologyoMore influential because oWrote in EnglishoWork was accessibleoOffered scientific orientationoOffered ComprehensionoTheory everyone was a part oBreath of ideas aloud his work to mean many different things to many different peopleoTheory was soothing and reassuringtelling society positive things When undergoing industrializationmoving in greater progress oHe influenced many other sociologists most famous American disciple was William Graham Sumner oSpencers Social Dawrinist laissezfaire ideas seemed ridiculous in the light of massive social problems a world war and a major economic depression oHis ideas shaped early American sociologyWilliam Graham Sumner oTaught first course in USA for sociologyoMajor exponent of social Darwinismchanged view later in life oLiberal viewon the need for individual freedom and his position against government interference oHe adopted survival of the fittest approach to the social worldoOpposed to helping those who failedoThis fit with the development of capitalism difference in wealth and power Historical because1 Social Darwinism little more than a crude legitimation of competitive capitalism and status quo2 failed to build a solid enough base for sociology with many disciples Lester F WardoAccepted idea that people had always evolved from lower forms to their present status oEarlier societies characterized by simplicity and its moral poverty modern societys more complex Happier offered greater freedom Pure Sociology study the basic Laws of social change and social structure Applied Sociology involved in the conscious use of scientific knowledge to attain a better society oNot extreme social Darwinist believed in the need for and importance of social reform Thorstein VeblenoNot a sociologist held position in economics department oProblem with social theory clash between business and industry Business owners are leaders captains of industrys who focus on the profit of their own company affect society as a wholeShould be lead by people who understand industrial system and its operation and were interested in the general welfare oHe is critical of leisure class wasteful consumption oLeisure class engages in both 1 Conspicuous leisure nonproductive use of time2 Conspicuous consumption spending more money on goods that they are worth Those in all other social classes are influenced by this resulting in society characterized by the waste of time and money oFocuses on consumption rather then production The Chicago SchooloFounded by Alvion Small 1892oCollaborated on the first sociological textbookEarly Chicago SchooloHad a strong connection with religion ministers were membersoSociology must be essential to Christianityinterested in social reform combined with being scientific WI Thomas 18631947oFellow at Chicago schooloSignificance emphasis on the need to do scientific research on sociological issues oHis work moved sociology away from abstract theory and library research and towards the study of the empirical world utilizing a theoretical frameworkoHis work included 8 years autobiographical material paid writings family letters newspaper files public documents and institutional letters oHe gravitated from macro sociological study to microscopicSocial psychological orientation
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