By Alan Swingewood
This lucidly written, jargon-free textual content deals an account of the increase of sociological proposal from its origins within the eighteenth century. starting with the classical sociology of Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Simmel, it is going directly to learn the trendy paradigms of functionalism, interactionism, structuralism and important Marxism, and ends by way of discussing salient modern sociological idea, together with the theories of Foucault, Baudrillard, Giddens, Habermas and others. Systematic and accomplished, this can be a textual content that significantly engages with sociological conception all through its improvement, providing scholars a course via competing traditions and views that brings out the precise worth and barriers of those.
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Extra resources for A Short History of Sociological Thought
Empiricism and positivism Positivism formed an integral part of the Enlightenment tradition: science and facts opposed metaphysics and speculation; faith and revelation were no longer acceptable as sources ofknowledge. Positivism in this extremely general sense must, however, be distinguished from empiricism although both are closely connected historically and theoretically. Sociological 30 Industrialisation and the Rise qf Sociological Positivism positivism dates from the early nineteenth century in the work of Auguste Comte (1798-1857) whose attack on metaphysics was as sharply drawn as that of Hume who had described all forms of metaphysical philosophy as containing no 'reasoning concerning matters of fact and existence' but pages of mere 'sophistry and illusion'.
The active relation ofhuman labour and thought to the development and transformation of social forms is effectively assimilated to a theory of objective, determining facts. The polemical thrust ofComte's positivism is thus clear: but what of his concept of science? Sociology was defined in its relations with other sciences and Comte's stated aim was the synthesis of all available knowledge, a task facilitated by the law of three stages and hierarchical classification of the sciences. Both these conceptions had been stated by previous writers notably Turgot, Condorcet and Saint-Simon: in their beginnings all the sciences, wrote Saint-Simon, are conjectural but end by being positive, developing from the simple to the complex.
Smith's conception is basically optimistic: the bad effects of the division of labour can be mitigated by education and religion and the collective workings of market forces. Ferguson, in contrast, developed no link between the social actions of individuals, as members of social groups, and the wider, collective historical process. Indeed, for Ferguson the 26 Origins oJ Sociology individual, as with the state of nature, was merely a fiction. Man is a member of a community, 'part of a whole', his actions social because they are collective.