Auguste Comte, the father of sociology was born in the year 1798. He coined die term Sociology in 1839. His major works are positive philosophy, systems of positive polity and religion of Humanity. His important contributions to sociology are classification and ordering of social sciences. The nature method and scope of sociology, the law of three stages, the plan for social reconstruction and the positivism.
One of the most important contributions of Comte is Law of Three stages. The law states that human thought has undergone three successive stages of development. Technological stage, the primary stage in which man sees and judges everything in terms of supernatural beings. It is divided into again three stages i.e. Fetishism – worshipping inanimate objects, polytheism – worshipping many Gods and Monotheism – worshipping one God. Second stage is the Metaphysical stage which is guided by some abstract principles and the most developed stage is the last stage i.e. the Positive stage which is guided by scientific knowledge emphasing on scientific data and facts establishing cause and effect relationship.
Herbert Spencer is known as the second founding father of sociology. In fact, it was he who popularized the term “Sociology” by way of using it in the title of his book “Principle of Sociology”. Herbert Spencer was born on April 27, 1820, in Derby in England. He was a man of original and independent thinking. Spencer wrote a number of books. They are as follows (I) Social Statics (1850) 2) First principles (1862) 3) the study of sociology (1873) 4). The principles of Sociology in three volumes (1876-96) 5). The man versus the state (1884)
Spencer’s sociology is built around two main concepts. In an organism the parts form a concrete whole, but in a society the parts are free and more or less dispersed. In an organism consciousness is concentrated in a small part of the whole, in society it is diffused. The part – exist for the benefit of the whole in an organism but in a society the whole exists for the benefit of the individuals.
His organic analogy suffers from certain criticisms such as the death of the society does not come with organic inevitableness. But whether we accept or reject Spencer’s comparison between the human society and the organism, we are bound to acknowledge the fact that he popularised organic analogy and the idea of social evolution. In fact, the doctrine laid the foundation of Spencer’s theory of organic analogy. He established the hypothesis that society is like a biological organism and then went out to give certain similarities and dissimilarities between the society and the some of the similarities are that both society and organisms are distinguished from inorganic matter by visible growth. Both grow in size. In organism and in society there is an interdependence of parts.
Just as Spencer emphasized the similarities between society and organism, he also spelled out the different between them the concept of system in our sociological discussion.
Emile Durkheim, the French Philosopher, was the first modern thinker who emphasized on the reality of society. He laid stress on the comparative method of sociology. He gave top priority to the society and not the individual. So if Comte is rightly called the father of sociology, then Durkheim is the grandfather of sociology.
Durkheim’s contribution to sociology is enormous. Being a functionalist to the core, he talked of the functions of the society, so he always talked of the social order. His major writings are “The Division of Labour”. The Rules of sociological method”. “Suicide” a “The Elementary forms of religious life”.
Durkheim’s study of suicide rejected all the usual explanations about suicide due personal, hereditary or due to financial and geographical factors. Rather he stated that suicide has a social cause.
He stated about four types of suicide namely egoistic, altruistic, and anomic and fatalist: suicide. Egoistic suicide occurs due to lack of integration of the individual into his study social group. It is very much seen in the modern society. Egoistic suicide is the index of social disorganization in modern society. This type of suicide is found among the divorced persons.
Altruistic suicide occurs due to excess of social integration of the individual to group. This type of suicide mostly occurs in traditional and primitive societies. There three types of altruistic suicide such as obligatory, optional and acute altruistic suicide.
Anomic suicide occurs when there is lack of regulation in the society. The breakdown of social norms and sudden social changes that are characteristics of modern times encourage anemic suicide. In analyzing the consequences of anomie, Durkheim showed that there was a high rate of anomic suicide among those who are wealthy as well as divorced persons. Fatalistic suicide occurs due to excess of social regulation .The opposite of altruistic suicide is fatalist which arises as a result of increased control over the individual by the group.
Durkheim’s theory of suicide has been subjected to searching criticisms. Durkheim has given importance to the social factors in suicide and has reduced the importance of other factors.