Sunday, 31 July 2011

Modernity and Social Changes In Europe and Emergence of Sociology

Sociology is a comparatively new subject. The emergence of sociology is often credited to the suddenchanges which occurred in late 18th and 19th century Europe. Founding fathers of Sociology viz. AugusteComte (1798-1857), Herbert Spencer(1820-1903), Emile Durkheim(1858-1917), Karl Marx (1818-1883)lived in this era of profound upheavals in European society. These changes encompassed almost eachdimension of the life of society be it economics, politics or cultural. These changes are enumeratedbelowEconomic Changes : There was a transition from pre-industrial feudal society to capitalist industrialsociety during this period. Earlier most of the people worked in the fields with feuds as owners and serfsworking under them. Now, there was a rise of new industries driven by heavy machines which requiredditiona high labour input. This demand of labour prompted land-workers to migrate towards cities. Inthis way there was a sudden and huge out swell in population of cities which led to the increase of squalor, poverty and congestion. The new environment in city was highly impersonal and there wasbreakdown in older social traditions and relations.Political  and Ideological Changes: There was a transition in political beliefs of the people. The divineright of monarch/king to rule over the masses was being questioned. The ideas of democracy, equality,liberty, secular morality started gaining prominence with the efforts of philosophers like Thomas Hobbes, Rousseau, John Locke etc. French revolution proved to be a watershed event and helped inrapid propagation of these ideas.The old theological sayingThe rich man in his castle,And poor man at his gate,God made them highly and lowlyAnd ordered their estatewas no more being agreed upon to by the people and there was a increased belief in responsibilityof man towards the fate of society instead of some supernatural reality or God.Scientific  Changes: The olden and traditional beliefs, norms and values came under high stress owing tonew discoveries in science and technology. Darwins origin of species , Invention of steam engine byJames Watt and many more new discoveries in natural sciences made people to question older religiousbeliefs.Overall there was a new awareness in society coupled with a visible poverty. To undertand these changes there was advent of sociology.

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