History of the Development of Sociology

When was sociology born? To answer it, please follow the following description. Hundreds of years BC the question already existed. However, sociology was born as the study of society, only in the 19th century, when a French philosopher named Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857) expressed concern over the state of French society after the outbreak of the French Revolution.

The impact of this revolution, apart from causing positive changes with the emergence of a democratic climate, the revolution also brought about negative changes in the form of class conflicts that led to anarchism in French society. This conflict is motivated by the ignorance of the people in overcoming changes or laws such as those that can be used to regulate the stability of society.

On this basis, Comte suggested that research on society needs to be improved into a science that stands alone with research based on the scientific method. From this, sociology was born as the youngest science in the social sciences. The term sociology was popularized by Comte in his book entitled  Cours de Philosophie Positive  (1830).

In the book, it is explained that the object of sociology is man or society as a whole. Thus, Auguste Comte can be categorized as one of the founders of sociology. Sociology as a science, of course, has scientific criteria, which are as follows.

■ Empirical , where research on society is based on observations (experiences).

■ Theoretical , built from the concepts of observational and logical results and has the aim of explaining cause – effect relationships .

■ Cumulative , the theory of which is built on previous theories with the aim of improving, expanding, and refining the old theory.

■ Nonetis , is done not to find the merits of a fact, but to explain it analytically.

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For his services in introducing the term sociology, Comte is called the  father of sociology . He studied sociology systematically, so that sociology was separated from philosophy and stood alone since the mid-19th century. Comte’s idea received wide acceptance, as evidenced by the emergence of a number of scientists in the field of sociology. They include, Pitirim A. Sorokin, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, George Simmel, and Max Weber.


They all contributed to various approaches to studying society which were very useful for the development of sociology. The approaches they put forward include the following.

■ Herbert Spencer

Introducing the organic analogy approach, which understands society like the human body, as an organization consisting of parts that depend on one another.

■ Karl Marx

Introducing the dialectical materialism approach, which considers conflicts between social classes to be the essence of change and development of society.

■ Emile Durkheim

Introducing social facts, in the form of tracing the functions of various social elements as an enhancement and at the same time maintaining social order.

■ Max Weber

Introducing a social action approach, which involves exploring values, beliefs, goals and attitudes that guide people’s behavior.


In general, the approaches put forward by sociological scientists in the 19th century tended to be macro (broad). For them, change in society can be predicted from the characteristics of the community itself. The characteristics of a society will influence the behavior of its citizens and the social changes that will occur.


The (broad) macro approach received criticism from sociological scientists of the 20th century. In the 20th century there was a massive migration to North America to be precise, the United States and Canada. This has resulted in rapid population growth, the emergence of industrial cities, complete with the turmoil of big city life, crime, and demands for the emancipation of women. As a result of all this, striking changes in society were inevitable.


It is this change in society that encourages scientists to look for new sociological approaches, because the macro approach is not suitable for the conditions of modern society. For this reason, modern sociology was born. Modern sociological approaches tend to be micro or often referred to as empirical approaches .


The empirical approach means that changes in society can be studied starting from social facts to emerging social facts. Based on these social facts, it can be concluded that the overall change in society. From then on, it was realized how important research was in sociology.


by Abdullah Sam
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