Emergence Of Sociology As A Scientific/Academic Discipline

The Emergence of Sociology As A Scientific/Academic Discipline

Emergence of Sociology

The Emergence (Origin/ Development) of Sociology as a Scientific/ Scholarly/ Academic Discipline.

Sociology is a young science and also a new discipline. The fact is that in the writings of philosophers, religious teachers, and legislators of all civilizations and epochs, their observations and ideas are relevant to modern sociology. In this regard, Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’ and Aristotle’s ‘politics’ analyze the political system in ways that are still of interest to the Sociologists of today.

It is very much worth mentioning here, the circumstances and situations in which this new science of society i.e. ‘Sociology’ emerged. The following historical, socio-political, and economic situations are responsible for the emergence of sociology as a scientific and academic discipline:

Ancient Philosopher’s Contribution

The ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, Aristotle (who were born before Christ), and others described the very nature of society and emphasized the solution of the problems of the society in order to make society a better place to live in. However, they couldn’t give the concrete solution at last.

Reformation Movement

New ideas in religion in 16th century Europe led to attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church which, in turn, led to the formation of the Protestant churches and that challenged the very orthodoxy of Christianity. It created an environment to change the old ideas within the philosophy of religion.

French Political Revolution

The French Revolution was a period of time in France when the people overthrew the monarchy and took control of the government. It lasted or 10 years from 1789 – 1799 A.D. The result of the French revolution was the development of the belief that none of the social thought and political system exists for a long time and therefore created a new thought in the European philosophical domain.

The Enlightenment Movement (also called the ‘Age of Reason’)

It is the period in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly 1685-1815 A.D. When many writers, philosophers, and scientists began to argue that science and reason were more important than religion and tradition and rejected the idea that social and natural phenomena occurred due to some supernatural factors but rather scientific factors.

Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution that began in 1760- 1840, was a period during which the agrarian, rural societies in Europe (i.e. Great Britain) became industrial and urban.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing was often done in people’s homes, using hand tools or basic machines. Industrialization marked a shift to powered, special-purpose machinery, factories, and mass production. The iron and textile industries, along with the development of the steam engine played central roles in the Industrial Revolution, which also saw improved systems of transportation, communication, and banking.

Although industrial productions went high and industrialists economically benefited, other social problems such as poverty, grim employment, and low living condition of the poor and work” mg class appeared. Hence, a concept was developed that these situations were the result of human ignorance and exploitations. With the advancement of social science, it was acknowledged that these existing social problems could be studied under the methods of social survey, which is adopted by sociology.


The above mentioned historical, socio-political and economic events created circumstances that inspired Auguste Comte to study social change and social situations which raised a demand for a discipline (subject) that can study society systematically and scientifically, and ultimately Comte gave a new name to new social science, ‘Sociology’ that could fulfill the new objective to study society and address social problems and social inquiries.

On one hand, the result of the industrial revolution was economic growth and advancement in technology, and on the other hand, it also created poverty and other social problems. In order to study social change and associated social problems, a social survey as a method of scientific study was used.

So, there developed a growing belief (thought or conviction) that the methods (e.g. social survey) of natural sciences could be applied to the study of human affairs/issues and the human and social phenomena could be classified and measured. This thinking was called Positivism.

Positivism was developed by four founding fathers of sociology; Auguste Comte, a French philosopher; Emile Durkheim, a French philosopher; Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher; Max Weber, a German philosopher. Later, when Emile Durkheim published a book, ‘Methods in Sociology’, the idea of application of fundamentals of science in the study of society or human affairs got recognized and was greatly consolidated in Sociological study. All of these facts made the emergence of sociology as a scientific discipline.

Soon after, the teaching of sociology as a separate discipline started in 1876 in the United States, in 1889 in France, in 1907 in Great Britain, after World War I in Poland and India, in 1925 in Egypt and Mexico, in 1947 in Sweden and in 1981 in Nepal.

In this way, the sociology is emerged.


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