CST04.Sum.Spencer - Classical Sociological Theory, 4e...

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Classical Sociological Theory, 4e Ritzer Herbert Spencer Classical Sociological Theory Chapter 4 CHAPTER SUMMARY Spencer and Comte Although the sociological theory of Herbert Spencer (1820-1902) has but a small following today, his work was quite popular during his lifetime, particularly in America. Spencer’s theory of society does represent an advance over Comtian theory, even though Spencer, like Comte, characterized himself as a positivist and derived his concepts of structure and function from the field of biology. Spencer used the Comtian terms of social statics and social dynamics, but not in a descriptive way as Comte did to refer to all types of societies, but rather in a normative way to describe his version of the future ideal society. Furthermore, Spencer was more interested in studying the progress of the external world or objectivity, while Comte focused more on the subjective nature of the progress of human conceptions. Finally, there are important political differences between Spencer and Comte. Spencer had little regard for centralized political control and believed that the government should allow individuals the maximum freedom to pursue their private interests. Comte, on the other hand, desired society to be led by the high priests of positivistic religion. Spencer’s Evolutionary Theory and Sociology Spencer defined sociology as the study of societal evolution and believed that the ultimate goal of societal evolution is complete harmony and happiness. Spencer’s theory of evolutionary change is built upon three basic principles: integration, differentiation, and definiteness. Spencer argued that homogenous phenomena are 1
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This note was uploaded on 05/20/2010 for the course SOCIOLOGY Classical taught by Professor N/a during the Spring '10 term at Open Uni..

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CST04.Sum.Spencer - Classical Sociological Theory, 4e...

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