THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIOLOGY
Sociology is the youngest of the recognized social sciences. August Comte in France coined the word “sociology” in his Positive Philosophy. published in 1838. He believed that a science of sociology should be based on systematic observation and classification, , not on authority and speculation. This was a relatively new idea at that time. Herbert Spencer in England published his Principles of Sociology in 1876. He applied the theory of organic evolution to human society and developed a grand theory of “social evolution” which was widely accepted for several decades. Lester F, Ward, an American, published his Sociology in calling lot social progress through intelligent social action which sociologists should guide. All these founders of sociology were basically social philosophers. They programmed that sociologists should collect, organize, and classify factual data, and derive sound social theories from these facts, but very often their own method was to think out a grand system of theory and then seek facts to support it. So while they called for scientific investigation, they did relatively little of it themselves. Yet they took the necessary first steps, for the idea of a science of sociology had to precede the building of one.
A Frenchman, Emile Durkheim, gave the most notable early demonstration of scientific methodology in sociology. In his Rules of
Sociological Method, published in 1895, he outlined the methodology which he pursued in his study Suicide, published in 1897. Instead of speculating upon the causes of suicide, he first planned his research design, and then collected a large mass of data on, the characteristics of people who commit suicide, and then derived a theory of suicide from these data.