5 Important Figures in the History of the Birth of Modern Sociology

Actually, the thought of society has been around for a long time. Before Auguste Comte, who was considered the starting point of sociology, many people had tried to systematically study society, including Plato, Aristotle, Ibn Khaldun, John Locke, and JJ Rousseau. However, their research is still mixed with other disciplines, such as politics, psychology, history, and so on.

Thus, the birth of sociology as a new science has been counted since Auguste Comte. The following will discuss several important figures in the history of the birth of modern sociology, starting with Auguste Comte. For that, please look carefully at the following explanation. Happy learning and reading, hope you can understand.


  1. Auguste Comte (1789  – 1857)

The word “sociology” was first coined in 1839 by Auguste Comte, a French philosopher. Comte was the first to use the name “sociology”. Moreover, Comte made important contributions to sociology. Therefore, experts generally agree to call him the “Father of Sociology”.


Comte is very helpful to sociology. Some of Comte’s important contributions to sociology are as follows.

■ He said that sociology should be based on systematic observation, comparison, experimentation and historical methods. The object being studied must also be a fact, meaning it is not an expectation or prediction. So, it must be objective and must also be useful and lead to certainty and accuracy.

■ He also said that sociology is the queen of the social sciences, and is at the top of the social science hierarchy.

■ He divides sociology into two major parts, namely social statics which represent stability or stability, and social dynamics which represent change.

■ He contributed ideas that led to the development of sociology in his book  Positive Philosophy  , known as the law of human progress or the law of the three levels. In explaining natural phenomena and social phenomena, humans will go through the following three levels.

  • Level I (theological level): everything is explained by referring to things that are supernatural.
  • Level II (metaphysical level) : at this level humans understand something by referring to metaphysical forces or abstract things.
  • Level III (positive level) : natural and social phenomena are explained by referring to scientific descriptions (scientific level).


  1. Karl Marx (1818 1883)

Karl Marx is better known as an economic historical figure than a pioneer sociologist and philosopher. Karl Marx developed a theory about socialism which later became known as “Marxism”. Nevertheless, Marx was a well-known sociological theorist. Marx’s contribution to sociology lies in his theory of class.


Marx held the view that the history of human society is a history of class struggle. According to Marx, the development of the division of labor in the economy of capitalism gave rise to two distinct classes, namely the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

■ The proletariat  is a class consisting of people who do not have the means of production and capital so that they are exploited for the benefit of the capitalists.

■ The bourgeoisie  (capitalists) is a class consisting of people who control the means of production and capital.


According to Marx, at one time the proletarians would realize their common interest so that they could unite and rebel against the capitalists. They will gain victory that will result in the elimination of class conflict so that proletarian society will establish a society without class.

  1. Herbert Spencer (1820 1903)

Herbert Spencer, the Englishman, in 1876 put forward a theory of “social evolution”, which is still adhered to today even though there are changes here and there. He applies Darwin’s theory of “theory of evolution” analogously to human society. He believed that society underwent an evolution from a primitive society to an industrial one.

Spencer divides three aspects in the evolutionary process, namely structural differentiation, functional specialization, and increased integration. Then Spencer divided the structures, parts, or systems that arose in the evolution of society into three.

■ Regulatory system , serves to maintain relationships with other communities and regulate the relationships that occur between its members.

■ Support system , serves to meet the needs for the resilience of community members.

■ Divider system , serves to transport goods from one system to another.


The stages in the process of social evolution with the types of society are divided by Spencer into three parts as follows.

1. Primitive Type of Society

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In primitive societies it is said that there is no functional differentiation and specialization. The division of labor is still small. The power relationship is not yet clear. This type of society is very dependent on the environment. Collaboration has occurred spontaneously and is supported by kinship.


  1. Type of Militant Society

In this militant society, heterogeneity has started to increase either because of an increase in population or because of conquest. What is important is the coordination of specific tasks, carried out by force. This method requires self-regulating systems or parts. This involuntary cooperation is guaranteed by a leader, then by the state nationally. Control by the state is limited to production, distribution and to areas of life.


  1. Type of Industrial Society

Industrial society is characterized by a very high level of complexity, which is no longer controlled by state power. As a substitute, society controls itself, such as the right to self-determination, voluntary cooperation, and the balance of various interests. This condition resulted in individualization which was marked by reduced interference by the local government.

  1. Emile Durkheim (1858 1917)

Durkheim is one of the founders of modern sociology. Durkheim was influenced by the traditions of French and German thinkers. Example:

■ Viewing De Saint Simon as the man who laid the foundations for the method of positivism, the forerunner of industrialism and the division of labor, which subsequently became an important theme in Durkheim’s work.

■ Commends Auguste Comte for emphasizing the distinctiveness of social affairs and the unity of method in various sciences.

■ Agrees with Montesquieu that social phenomena are a separate kind, also agrees with social morphology and methods of comparison.

■ Agrees with Rousseau that people need collective rules for their behavior, which they interact with in the educational process.


All these influences were worked out creatively by Durkheim so that his contribution was very impressive and had a big influence on the development of sociology of the 20th century. Durkheim in his first major work, discussed the problem of the division of labor which served to promote solidarity.


The division of labor that develops in society does not result in the disintegration of the community concerned, but instead increases solidarity as parts of society become dependent on one another. According to Durkheim, there are two main types of solidarity, namely mechanical and organic solidarity.

  1. Mechanical Solidarity

A type of solidarity based on equations. It can be found in societies that are still simple and have a segmenter social structure. The social structure consists of segments that are homogeneous and show less cohesiveness. In this society, all members have the same collective consciousness. If one segment is lost then this loss has no effect on the overall structure of society.


  1. Organic Solidarity

Is an integrated system in organisms based on a variety of functions for the benefit of the whole. Each organ has its own characteristics that cannot be taken over by other organs. In an organic solidarity society there is a great interdependence that necessitates cooperation.

  1. Max Weber (1864 1920)

Max Weber argues that the methods used in the natural sciences cannot simply be applied to problems studied in the social sciences. According to him, because social scientists study the social world in which they live, of course there are things that are subjective in their research. Therefore, sociology should be ” value free ” ( value free ), there should not be any bias affecting research and its results.


He stated that sociology is a science that seeks to understand social action. In Weber’s analysis of society, conflict occupies a central place. Conflict is a basic element of human life and cannot be eliminated from cultural life. Humans can change the means, objects, principles, or their proponents, but cannot get rid of the conflict itself.


Conflict lies at the basis of social integration and social change. This is most evident in politics and in economic competition. Max Weber is a prolific scientist and has successfully written a number of books. One of his famous books is  The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism . He made his famous opinion on the relationship between Protestant ethics and the emergence of capitalism in Western Europe.


According to Weber, the emergence and development of capitalism took place simultaneously with the development of  the Calvinism sect  in Protestantism. The teachings of Calvinism require that its people work hard, be disciplined, live simply, and are thrifty. The profits gained through hard work are not used for extravagance or excessive consumption because the teachings of Calvinism oblige a simple life and prohibit luxuries and extravagances.


The positive impact, the Protestants became prosperous because the profits obtained from their business were not consumed, but were reinvested in their businesses. In this way, according to Weber, capitalism in Western Europe developed well.



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