seemann1 - Sociology 2000 The advent of sociology came...

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The advent of sociology came during the Industrial Revolution, which was well underway by the mid-1800s in most of Europe. This shifted a large portion of the world from an agricultural society to an industrial society. People began working long hours in factories, in conditions of squalor and an unregulated safety environment. There was a lot of unemployment, which was relatively unheard of in feudal society. The term “sociology” was coined by August Comte in 1854. That being said, there are others who are considered sociologists who came before Comte. Some consider Adam Smith the first sociologist. Smith published a book in 1776 known as “Wealth of Nations”. Smith argued for free market capitalism, or “laissez-faire” economics. He believed government regulation was burdensome and unnecessary. European powers operated under mercantile economic systems, which protected some manufacturers from competition and forced the colonies controlled by that power to provide the mother country with raw materials. The American colonies felt as if these laws were antiquated and unnecessary. Following the French and Indian War, the British government enforced tariff laws and instituted new taxes to raise revenue for the war-torn economy. These laws created an economic depression in the colonies. Smith also argued for a “high division of labor”, which entailed an efficient low-cost production strategy involving delegating certain tasks to groups of workers. This idea transcended a simple factory assembly line and pervaded the structure of society. Karl Marx is also considered by some to be the first sociologist. His idea of economic determinism stated that the economic structure of a particular state determined various other cultural factors of that society. Marx believed that every epoch of history could be divided by the dominance of a particular economic system. Marx believed that the changing of these economic systems are what influenced upheaval in history. Marx theorized that capitalism created conflict between social classes, namely a person’s “relation to the means of production”. Capitalist owners make profits based on the work of their employees. The worker at some point realizes that he is being exploited and attempts to gain control over the means of production. This idea is known as the conflict theory. Conflict theorists look at the competition among groups in society for various different goals, including power and the allocation of resources. C. Wright Mills was a mid 20 th century sociologist who published a book called “The Sociological Imagination”. This term, according to Mills, referred to the ability to see what we call “personal troubles” as a part of larger social problems. The last chapter of this book is entitled “The Sociological Promise” in which Mills argues that the purpose of sociology should be to make societies better. Structural Fuctionalism
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This note was uploaded on 10/19/2011 for the course SOCL 2001 taught by Professor Mecom during the Fall '07 term at LSU.

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seemann1 - Sociology 2000 The advent of sociology came...

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