Download e-book for kindle: A Short History of Sociological Thought by Alan Swingewood

By Alan Swingewood

This lucidly written, jargon-free textual content bargains 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 study the trendy paradigms of functionalism, interactionism, structuralism and important Marxism, and ends by means of discussing salient modern sociological idea, together with the theories of Foucault, Baudrillard, Giddens, Habermas and others. Systematic and finished, this can be a textual content that severely engages with sociological concept all through its improvement, providing scholars a direction via competing traditions and views that brings out the designated price and boundaries of those.

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Montesquieu lacked a theory oftransition, his synchronie model of society eliminating the sources of energy and thus of structural change. For Adam Smith, the development of a commercial society produced a social structure divided into three dear dasses, landowners, capitalists and labourers, 'the three great and constituent orders of every civilised society'. Like Ferguson and Millar, Smith did not employ the concept of social dass, but there can be no doubt that in his work, and that of Millar particularly, a theory of dass as a sociological category is articulated.

Like Adam Smith, Saint-Simon's model of society was based on astronomy: 'The astronomers only accepted those facts which werc verified by observation; they chose the system which linked them bcst, and since that time, they have never led science astray' (Ionescu, 1976, pp. 76-8). Saint-Simon coined the terms 'social physiology' and 'social physics' and, following Maistre and Bonald, defined society as an organic unity. The positive stage of development was domina ted by the centrality of science and the growth of systematic social knowledge especially in relation to the laws which regulated the social whole.

Empiricism assumed the existence of an external world made known through the senses; only that knowledge which could be tested against experience was genuinely scientific. Knowledge was thus defined as a social product, useful and functional, secular and innovating. The transformation of the raw data of experience into knowledge, however, was not a simple mechanical process; it was the function of the human mind to process the data through immanent categories such as judgement, measurement and comparison.

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