The Development of Sociology as an Academic Discipline
The term sociology was first coined by the French philosopher named Auguste Comte in 1838. The term was the product of Comte’s scientific analysis of the existing social problems in which he believes that science and history culminates in a new science of humanity, which he calls sociology. The term sociology was actually a mixture of Latin ‘socius’ and Greek ‘Logy’ and is defined as “the study of society on highly broad or abstract level.
Prior to the development of sociology as a branch of social science, and as an academic discipline, Europe was facing societal changes in terms of intellectual developments. First of these changes is the modernization that was taking place during this time which has made research “an enduring task for teachers of sociology” (Janowitz, M. 1984, p. 5). The modernization brought by the industrialization had left the world dispersed and disintegrating.
Another societal change which led to the development of sociology was the creation of empires or the colonization. Geoffrey Hurd (1986), stated that the industrialization made possible “colonization and a more effective domination of colonial peoples” (p. 111). The colonization presented social problems between white and colored people with the white race emerging as the oppressors and colored people as the oppressed. This racial conflict became the focus of intellectual research.
The third societal change was the coming of the age of enlightenment. The age of enlightenment was very influential in the development of sociology as an academic discipline because this was also the period that religion was eroding as the system of authority and was being gradually replaced by the emphasis on knowledge. Margaret Taylor and Howard Andersen (2005) noted that the age of enlightenment influenced the development of sociology on the ground that it was based on humanitarianism. That is, they held on to a principle that “human reason can direct social change for the betterment of society.
Sociology is a social product. It was breed by the societal changes that had influenced the society either positively or negatively. Sociology as academic discipline therefore not is only a branch of social science which deals with the condition of the society; it is also a perspective on the impact of changes on the society.
Janowitz, M. The Last-Century USA: University of Chicago
Hurd, Geoffrey (1986) Human Societies London: Routlege
Taylor, M. & Andersen, H. (2005) Sociology USA: Thomson Wadsworth