Harriet Martineau Sociology Help

Harriet Martineau

Comtes works were made more accessible for a wide variety of scholars through the efforts of the British sociologist Harriet Martineau (1802-1876). Until recently, Martineau received no recognition in the field of sociology, partly because she was a woman in a male-dominated discipline and society: Not only did she translate and condense Comte's work. but she was also an active sociologist in her own light. Martineau studied the social customs of Britain and the United States and analyzed the consequences of industrialization and capitalism. In Society in America (1962/1837), she examined religion, politics, child rearing, slavery, and immigration in the United States, paying special attention to social distinctions based on class, race. and gender. Her works explore the status of women, children, and "sufferers' (persons who are considered to be criminal, mentally ill, handicapped, poor, or alcoholic).

Based on her reading of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of mall (1974/1797), Martineau advocated racial ana gender equality. She was also committed to creating a science of society that would be grounded in empirical observations and widely accessible to people. She argued that sociologists should be impartial in jhelr assessment of society but that it is entirely appropriate to compare the existing state of society with the principles on which it was founded (Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley, 1998).

Some scholars believe that Martineau's place in the history of sociology should be as a founding member of this field of study, not just as the translator of Auguste Comte's work (Hoecker- Drysdale, 1992; Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley, 1998). Others have highlighted her influence in spreading the idea that societal progress could be brought about by the spread of democracy and the growth of industrial capitalism (Polanyi, 1944). Martineau believed that a better society would emerge if women and men were treated equally, enlightened reform occurred; and cooperation existed among people in all social classes (but led by the middle class).

In keeping with the sociological imagination, Martineau not only analyzed large-scale social structures in society, but she also explored how these factors influenced the lives of people, particularly women, children, and those who were marginalized by virtue of being criminal, mentally ill, disabled, poor, or alcoholic (Lengermann and Niebrugge-Brantley, 1998).

She remained convinced that sociology, the "true science of human nature:' could bring about new knowledge and understanding, enlarging people's capacity to create a just society and live heroic lives (Hoecker- Drysdale, 1992).

Posted on September 5, 2014 in The Sociological Perspective

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