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Social Thinkers

Social Thinkers
What would Sociology be without its great sociological thinkers who have contributed so much to this mother of social sciences? A study of some of the major thinkers of sociology and their important theories and viewpoints.

    * L.H Morgan
    * Sir Edward Evans Pritchard
    * Ruth Benedict
    * Margaret Mead
    * G. H Mead
    * C.H Cooley
    * B. Malinowski
    * Alfred Schultz
    * Herbert Marcuse
    * Edmund Leach
    * Ralph Linton
    * Peter M. Blau
    * Franz Boas
    * Auguste Comte
    * Emile Durkheim
    * Herbert Spencer
    * Karl Mannheim
    * Karl Marx
    * Pareto
    * R.K Merton
    * Sigmund Freud
    * Pitirim Sorokin
    * Talcott Parsons
    * Ferdinand Tonnies
    * Veblen
    * Plato
    * Thomas Hobbes
    * Sir Edward Burnett Taylor
    * Karl Polyani
    * Alfred Louis Kroeber
    * Erving Goffman
    * James George Frazer
    * Ralph Dahrendorf
    * Raymond Firth
    * Radcliffe Brown


Indian Thinkers

    * M. N. Srinivas
    * Gail Omvedt
    * Andre Béteille
    * G.S Ghurye
    * Yogendra Singh

L.H Morgan

A social evolution considered that technological growth and social evolution are related to each other. His classification for the social evolution can be given as




Bow and Arrow
Upper-Discovery of iron
Use of phonetic language
and script
Middle- Fire and
Middle - Domestication
of animals
and Agriculture

on print
Lower- Development
of pottery

Marriage and family

Deeply influenced Engels and has writing based on the major anthropological work Iroquois of Polynesia. The different stages stated are:



Marriage Less And Indifferent Towards Sex
Primitive Promiscuity
Without Restrictions And No Taboo Regarding Incest
Consanguine Family
Same Generation Marriage Between Brother And Sister
Punalvant Family
Group Marriage Between Men And Women With One Male
Group Having Sexual Relation With Any Female
Marriage Between Two Opposite Sex, But Freedom To Male To
Have Relation With Any Female.
Male Dominance Over Female
Monogamous Family
Present Stage Of Marriage

Descriptive And Classificatory Terminology

Morgan has given single term for specific individual's relation which is characterized by firstly divergence is kept in linear relationship and collateral relationship are distinguished secondly the term also describe blood relationship.

Important Books:

  • System of consanguinity and affinity of the human family (1870)
  • Ancient society (1877)

Sir Edward Evans Pritchard

Sir Pritchard was leading British social anthropologist who undertook ethnographic studies of a number of African societies. He perceived study of social anthropology as a humanistic rather than scientific study of society. This distanced him from functionalists who propounded general laws or theories about societies in general. By introducing a historical element to his work Evans Pritchard showed how societies change and manage change over time which represented a major advance on the static analysis of functionalism. Evans Pritchard played a major role in shifting focus of anthropology from study of the function of rituals in society to an examination of meaning ascribed to rituals and also translation of one culture into terms understandable to members of another culture. His major sociological contributions are the writings on rational action, religion and language.

Important Books:

  • Witchcraft
  • Magic and oracles among the Azande
  • The Nuer
  • Essays in social anthropology

Ruth Benedict

Ruth Benedict was influenced by the culture and personality school of American Anthropology. She conducted her first fieldwork in 1920s and was influenced by Psychological theory. She considers that culture is integrated according to a pattern and is organized around a specific line and at the various elements is integrated along it. She propounded on the basis of her study of culture in different societies that the various aspect of life reinforce the existing patterns of culture. Benedict studied the patterns of culture in two important field work conducted in the south western United States among Zuni Indians and the North West coast Kwakitul Indians. She specified two patterns of culture



Found in Zuni Indian Society.
Found in Kwakitul Indians
Simple, harmonious relationship With submissive attitude and Joint community orientation
Individualistic orientation, With submissive attitude and Joint community orientation

Important Books:

  • Patterns of Culture
  • Chrysanthemum and the sword

Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead popularized social anthropology and was a student of Ruth Benedict. She argued mainly that the personality patterns are more influenced and shaped by culture rather than biological make-up. She is a pioneer of critical study of gender in terms of sex and temperament in Three Primitive Societies.

Important Books:

  • Coming of age in Samoa
  • Growing up in New Guinea
  • Growth and Culture
  • New lives for old: A study in culture transformation

G. H Mead

Mind, Self and Society belonged to the Chicago school and founders of symbolic interactionism.Mead's thought was even categorized as social behaviourism.In his work he firstly laid foundation for social psychology. He emphasized the importance of language, symbols and communication in human life, the ways in which our gestures and words bring reciprocal responses in others through a process of role taking. He noted the reflected and reflexive behavior and nature of self and the importance of act. The importance of self was realized only during social interaction. The self function in the society were to analyze the situation identify and communicate and also practice self-control. Mead also refers to the objective reality of perspectives. In simpler terms there could be different explanation of the reality depending on the stand or the view point taken for a given time e.g. history is always an account of the past from some persons present.

Important Books:

  • The philosophy of the present
  • Mind ,self and society

C.H Cooley

Cooley gives recognition to the interrelation between self and society and considers them to be born together. He defines social self as a product on one's self as reflected in the perceptions of others. Hence the image of self can only be concretized in relation to the society. This recognition is placed in human imagination i.e.mind, Looking Glass itself. The three important dimensions of this theory are the imaginations of one's own appearance to others, secondly imagination of others judgment of that appearance and thirdly to have personal feeling regarding that image.

Organic theory

Following Durkheim tradition Cooley considers that society is basically analogous to organic evolution and it is progressive and democratic society which is an integrated whole of individuals. They both are indispensable for each other's continuation and existence. Therefore he regards that isolated person and non individual society are myth. He does not undermine the individual's importance since he considers that each individual has an importance analogous to each organ of an organism.

Primary Group

The concept pioneered by Cooley is characterized by face to face relations cooperation and coherence. The presence of We feeling where the self is strongly integrated in the group e.g. family etc.This group is contrasted with larger and more disparate nucleated group or secondary group e.g. Trade Unions etc.

Important Books:

  • Human Nature and the social order
  • Social Organization
  • Social Process

B. Malinowski

Malinowski's theory made functional analysis more conducive to the 20th century. He gave notion of system levels and the concept of different and multiple system needs at each level. There are three systems of needs, social structure are originated in biological needs and derived from social structures, integrative needs of the society.

Biological Needs

Primary needs

Necessitate action for fulfillment which necessitates collective organization

Social Structural Needs

Create institutions for satisfaction of biological need
These institutions have own need to be met for society to survive.
Institutions are economic, educational, political organization.

Symbolic Needs

Provide information necessary to adjust to environment.
To provide a sense of control over destiny
To provide communal rhythm

Magic Religion and Science

Malinowaski distinguished between the three


Instrumental relieves anxiety about the uncontrollable elements out of traditional mythology, taboos etc conducted by magician good /bad


Utilitarian, sustains the social structure
Distinction between sacred and profane
Common to all moralistic


Rational questions existing social structure uses and norms.
No mythology, stress or crises
Value neutral and objective

Primitive Economy

Malinowski tries to highlight two important aspects: the social and economic activities of primitive and the importance of the economic aspect on the cultural type of people. Kula a specific system of trade is carried among the islands of a given place. The trade is controlled by traditional norms and regulations.

Important Books:

  • Agronauts of the western pacific
  • Crime and customs
  • Sex and repression in savage society
  • Coral gardens and their magic
  • A scientific theory of culture

Alfred Schultz

Austrian social scientist, his importance lay in his attempt to provide a phenomenological basis for sociology i.e. sociology without philosophical presuppositions. His contributions to sociological thought focused on the structure and functioning of the consciousness and the structure and functioning of the social world as a set of mental constructs. The question he addressed himself to was what is the social reality with which sociologists concern themselves. He argued that sociologists should examine common sense beliefs and actions. Like Weber he was an exponent of interpretative sociology and a critic of positivism. He tried to apply his ideas to the realms of literary criticism, musical appreciation, politics and sociology of Knowledge.

Important Book:

The Phenomenology of social world

Herbert Marcuse

A German -American philosopher and social theorist Marcuse was associated with the Frankfurt School. He developed his own version of critical Marxism which attempted to update the Marxian theory in response to the changing historical conditions from the 1920s through to the 1970s.His first published article attempted a synthesis of phenomenology, existentialism and Marxism. He also published in 1932 the first major review of Marx's 'Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts' of 1844 and attempted to revise interpretations of Marxism from the standpoint of the works of early Marx. His first major work in English, Reason and revolution demonstrated the similarities between Marx and Hegel. His Eros and Civilization attempted an audacious synthesis of Marx and Freud and sketched the outlines of a non-repressive society. He published a critical study of Soviet Union in Soviet Marxism and a wide ranging critique of both advanced capitalist and communist societies in One Dimensional Man. This book theorized the decline of revolutionary potential in capitalist societies and the development of new forms of social control.

Important Books:

  • An Essay on Liberation
  • Counter-revolution and Revolt
  • The Aesthetic Dimension

Edmund Leach

A social anthropologist regarded as structuralist he is known for his technical studies in the fields of kinship, marriage, ritual and myth, moving rapidly from one topic to another. In his book Political Systems of Highland Burma he elaborates the notion of verbal categories. A contextual structuralist by approach his form of structuralism is more empirically based than the intellectual versions of it offered in Europe. He examined the ways in which humans use categories to distinguish between self and other, we and say, culture and nature. He criticized Radcliffe Brown and his successors who claim to construct typologies and infer social laws directly from ethnographic data.

Important Books:

  • Rethinking Anthropology
  • Pul Eliya
  • Levi Strauss

Ralph Linton

Belonging to the diffusionist school of culture along with Kluckhon and Kroeber, he deals with culture from the angle of subjective nature of human understanding. Accepting culture as a configuration of learnt behavior whose component elements are shared and transmitted by the members of a particular society he distinguished between real culture, ideal culture and cultural construct. Ideal culture implies the cultural patterns which society delineates as ideal or proper behavior while real culture shows the manner in which such behavior actually occurs in reality. If the former is reality, the latter is our understanding of the same. If the former may be called culture, then the latter may be called cultural construct.

Important Books:

  • The Study Of Man
  • The Cultural Background Of Personality
  • The Tree Of Culture

Peter M. Blau

An Austrian sociologist who contributed substantially both theoretically and empirically to the scientific analysis of social structure. Initially he adopted a social psychological perspective focusing on interpersonal relations of workers in bureaucracies. His exploration of how formal structures of organizations constrain informal social relations of bureaucrats remains a classic of sociological analysis. Along with the Homans he established exchange theory in sociology. He was primarily concerned with applying small-scale exchange theory to large-scale issues.
Blau's orientation shifted from the social psychological to the social structural and from the micro to the macro.

Important Books:

  • On the nature of organizations
  • Exchange and Power in Social life
  • The American Occupational Structure

Franz Boas

German -American cultural anthropologist Franz's theoretical position is often characterized as historical particularism.He claimed that unilinear evolution was an inadequate model for the known diversity of human cultures. Progress he said does not follow a particular sequence nor is it necessarily unidirectional from simple to complex. Differing with evolutionary theorists like E.B Taylor he contended that cultural learning is unconscious rather rational. Laws comparable to natural sciences were possible in principle though usually premature in practice. He argued in favor of meticulous collection of ethnographic data before attempting generalization.

The Boasian school established culture as the key concept in US anthropology and has been criticized for its cultural determinism and relativism. However Boas was influential in the development of disciplines of folklore, linguistics and anthropology. He was mostly concerned with recording the symbolic culture of Kwakiuti and other north-west coast tribes and deriving general themes of cultural comparison.

Important Books:

  • The Mind of the Primitive Man
  • Anthropology in Modern Life
  • Race, Language And Culture

Auguste Comte

Auguste Comte (1798 - 1857) was a French positivist thinker and came up with the term of sociology to name the new science made by Saint-Simon.One universal law that Comte saw at work in all sciences he called the 'law of three phases'. It is by his statement of this law that he is best known in the English-speaking world; namely, that society has gone through three phases: Theological, Metaphysical, and Scientific. He also gave the name "Positive" to the last of these because of the polysemous connotations of the word.
The Theological phase was seen from the perspective of 19th century France as preceding the Enlightenment, in which man's place in society and society's restrictions upon man were referenced to God. By the "Metaphysical" phase, he was not referring to the Metaphysics of Aristotle or any other ancient Greek philosopher, for Comte was rooted in the problems of French society subsequent to the revolution of 1789. This Metaphysical phase involved the justification of universal rights as being on a vauntedly higher plane than the authority of any human ruler to countermand, although said rights were not referenced to the sacred beyond mere metaphor.

What he announced by his term of the Scientific phase, which came into being after the failure of the revolution and of Napoleon, was that people could find solutions to social problems and bring them into force despite the proclamations of human rights or prophecy of the will of God. In this regard he was similar to Karl Marx and Jeremy Bentham. For its time, this idea of a Scientific phase was considered up-to-date, although from a later standpoint it is too derivative of classical physics and academic history. The other universal law he called the 'encyclopedic law'. By combining these laws, Comte developed a systematic and hierarchical classification of all sciences, including inorganic physics (astronomy, earth science and chemistry) and organic physics (biology and for the first time, physique sociale, later renamed sociologie).This idea of a special science-not the humanities, not metaphysics-for the social was prominent in the 19th century and not unique to Comte. The ambitious-many would say grandiose-way that Comte conceived of it, however, was unique.Comte saw this new science, sociology, as the last and greatest of all sciences, one that would include all other sciences, and which would integrate and relate their findings into a cohesive whole.
Comte's explanation of the Positive philosophy introduced the important relationship between theory, practice and human understanding of the world. On page 27 of the 1855 printing of Harriet Martineau's translation of The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte, we see his observation that, "If it is true that every theory must be based upon observed facts, it is equally true that facts can not be observed without the guidance of some theory. Without such guidance, our facts would be desultory and fruitless; we could not retain them: for the most part we could not even perceive them. He coined the word "altruism" to refer to what he believed to be a moral obligations of individuals to serve others and place their interests above one's own. He opposed the idea of individual rights, maintaining that they were not consistent with this supposed ethical obligation (Catechisme Positiviste).
Comte formulated the law of three stages, one of the first theories of the social evolutionism: that human development (social progress) progresses from the theological stage, in which nature was mythically conceived and man sought the explanation of natural phenomena from supernatural beings, through metaphysical stage in which nature was conceived of as a result of obscure forces and man sought the explanation of natural phenomena from them until the final positive stage in which all abstract and obscure forces are discarded, and natural phenomena are explained by their constant relationship. This progress is forced through the development of human mind, and increasing application of thought, reasoning and logic to the understanding of world.During his lifetime, Comte's work was sometimes viewed skeptically because he elevated Postivism to a religion and named himself the Pope of Positivism. Comte coined the term "sociology", and is usually regarded as the first sociologist. His emphasis on the interconnectedness of different social elements was a forerunner of modern functionalism. Nevertheless, like many others from his time, certain elements of his work are regarded as eccentric and unscientific, and his grand vision of sociology as the center-piece of all the sciences has not come to fruition.His emphasis on a quantitative, mathematical basis for decision-making remains with us today. It is a foundation of the modern notion of Positivism, modern quantitative statistical analysis, and business decision-making.

Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917) was concerned primarily with how societies could maintain their integrity and coherence in the modern era, when things such as shared religious and ethnic background could no longer be assumed. In order to study social life in modern societies, Durkheim sought to create one of the first scientific approaches to social phenomena. Along with Herbert Spencer, Durkheim was one of the first people to explain the existence and quality of different parts of a society by reference to what function they served in keeping the society healthy and balanced-a position that would come to be known as functionalism.Durkheim also insisted that society was more than the sum of its parts. Thus unlike his contemporary Max Weber, he focused not on what motivates the actions of individual people (methodological individualism), but rather on the study of social facts, a term which he coined to describe phenomena which have an existence in and of themselves and are not bound to the actions of individuals. He argued that social facts had an independent existence greater and more objective than the actions of the individuals that composed society and could only be explained by other social facts rather than, say, by society's adaptation to a particular climate or ecological niche.

In his 1893 work The Division of Labor in Society, Durkheim examined how social order was maintained in different types of societies. He focused on the division of labor, and examined how it differed in traditional societies and modern societies. Authors before him such as Herbert Spencer and Ferdinand Toennies had argued that societies evolved much like living organisms, moving from a simple state to a more complex one resembling the workings of complex machines. Durkheim reversed this formula, adding his theory to the growing pool of theories of social progress, social evolutionism and social darwinism. He argued that traditional societies were 'mechanical' and were held together by the fact that everyone was more or less the same, and hence had things in common. In traditional societies, argues Durkheim, the collective consciousness entirely subsumes individual consciousness-social norms are strong and social behavior is well-regulated.In modern societies, he argued, the highly complex division of labor resulted in 'organic' solidarity. Different specializations in employment and social roles created dependencies that tied people to one another, since people no longer could count on filling all of their needs by themselves. In 'mechanical' societies, for example, subsistence farmers live in communities which are self-sufficient and knit together by a common heritage and common job. In modern 'organic' societies, workers earn money, and must rely on other people who specialize in certain products (groceries, clothing, etc.) to meet their needs. The result of increasing division of labor, according to Durkheim, is that individual consciousness emerges distinct from collective consciousness-often finding itself in conflict with collective consciousness.Durkheim also made an association of the kind of solidarity in a given society and the preponderance of a law system. He found that in societies with mechanical solidarity the law is generally repressive: the agent of a crime or deviant behaviour would suffer a punishment, that in fact would compensate collective conscience neglected by the crime-the punishment acts more to preserve the unity of consciences. On the other hand, in societies with organic solidarity the law is generally restitutive: it aims not to punish, but instead to restitute normal activity of a complex society.The rapid change in society due to increasing division of labor thus produces a state of confusion with regard to norms and increasing impersonality in social life, leading eventually to relative normlessness, i.e. the breakdown of social norms regulating behavior; Durkheim labels this state anomie. From a state of anomie come all forms of deviant behavior, most notably suicide.
Durkheim developed the concept of anomie later in Suicide, published in 1897. In it, he explores the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics, explaining that stronger social control among Catholics results in lower suicide rates. According to Durkheim, people have a certain level of attachment to their groups, which he calls social integration. Abnormally high or low levels of social integration may result in increased suicide rates; low levels have this effect because low social integration results in disorganized society, causing people to turn to suicide as a last resort, while high levels cause people to kill themselves to avoid becoming burdens on society. According to Durkheim, Catholic society has normal levels of integration while Protestant society has low levels. This work has influenced proponents of control theory, and is often mentioned as a classic sociological study. Finally, Durkheim is remembered for his work on 'primitive' (i.e. non-Western) people in books such as his 1912 volume Elementary Forms of the Religious Life and the essay Primitive Classification that he wrote with Marcel Mauss. These works examine the role that religion and mythology have in shaping the worldview and personality of people in extremely (to use Durkheim's phrase) 'mechanical' societies.Durkheim was also very interested in education. Partially this was because he was professionally employed to train teachers, and he used his ability to shape curriculum to further his own goals of having sociology taught as widely possible. More broadly, though, Durkheim was interested in the way that education could be used to provide French citizens the sort of shared, secular background that would be necessary to prevent anomie in modern societies. It was to this end that he also proposed the formation of professional groups to serve as a source of solidarity for adults.Durkheim argued that education has many functions:
1. To reinforce social solidarity

  • History: Learning about individuals who have done good things for the many makes an individual feel insignificant.
  • Pledging Allegiance: Makes individuals feel part of a group and therefore less likely to break rules.
2. To maintain social roles
  • School is a society in miniature. It has a similar hierarchy, rules, expectations to the "outside world". It trains young people to fulfill roles.
3. To maintain division of labour.
  • Sorts students out into skill groups. Teaches students to go into work depending on what they're good at.

Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer(1820-1903) was an English philosopher and prominent liberal political theorist. Although today he is chiefly remembered as the father of Social Darwinism, a school of thought that applied the evolutionist theory of survival of the fittest (a phrase coined by Spencer) to human societies, he also contributed to a wide range of subjects, including ethics, metaphysics, religion, politics, rhetoric, biology and psychology. Although he has often been criticized as a perfect example of scientism, he was at the time considered by many to be one of the most brilliant men of his generation.

The early works of Spencer demonstrated a liberal view of workers' rights and governmental responsibility. He continued in this vein by developing a rationalist philosophy concerning the natural laws of progress. These views would mature into his 1851 manuscript Social Statics, a document that stressed the importance of looking at the long-term effects of social policy with respect to the nature of man. Spencer is often quoted out of context, making him seem uncompassionate toward the poor and working class. In actuality he stressed "positive beneficence" and man's evolving "moral faculty," and was ahead of his time in promoting the rights of women and children. It was here that Spencer began developing his view of civilization, not as an artificial construct of man, but as a natural and organic product of social evolution. Since this "social Darwinism" precedes "The Origin of Species," it would be more accurate to refer to Darwin's ideas as "biological Spencerism." In 1855 Spencer wrote the Principles of Psychology, which explored a theory of the mind as a biological counterpart of the body rather than as an estranged opposite. In this model human intelligence was something that had slowly developed as a response to its physical environment.
In 1862 Spencer was able to publish First Principles, an exposition of his evolutionary theory of the underlying principles of all domains of reality, which had acted as the foundational beliefs of his previous works. His definition of evolution explained it as the ongoing process by which matter is refined into an increasingly complex and coherent form. This was the main canon of Spencer's philosophy, a developed and coherently structured explanation of evolution (that predated Darwin's major works). By this time Spencer was achieving an international reputation of great respect. His views on man's place in nature were very influential and broadly accepted. While he had an interest in all the sciences, Spencer never committed his time to a single field of study and was not an experimentalist. Perhaps this broad range of knowledge and lack of specialization made his views and writing so accessible and popular.

The important books:

  • Social Statics (1850)
  • Principles of Biology(1864-67)
  • Principles of Psychology(1870-72)
  • Principes of Sociology (1876-96)
  • Principles of Ethics(1879-93)
  • The Study of Sociology (1873)

Karl Mannheim

Karl Mannheim's major contribution was in sociology of knowledge which was defined as a theory of existential or social conditioning of thought. He considered that ideological knowledge is often placed within the given social structure and historical process hence such knowledge is situationally relative. The social structure to which ideas are bound are seen mainly in terms of class factors or status groups.
In his book 'Ideology and Utopia' he considers that ideological knowledge or thought is propounded by those benefitting from status quo whereas utopia is rooted in the thoughts of under privileged. Mannheim also stressed on the generational element in his thought,just like social class,one's generation also determines thought. Due to the ideological characteristics of thought he was accused of adopting a position of total relativism. However his central ideas and contribution to sociology was substatntive and not epistemological.

Important Books

  1. Ideeology and Utopia
  2. Essays on Sociology of Knowledge
  3. Man and society in an age of reconstruction

Karl Marx

Karl Marx's (1818- 1883) thought was strongly influenced by:
The dialectical method and historical orientation of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; The classical political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo; French socialist and sociological thought, in particular the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

The most important concepts of Karl Marx

The following concepts of Marx have aided sociological thought significantly;

Dialectical Materialism Materialistic Interpretation of History i.e Historical Materialism Class and Class conflict Alienation
Marx believed that he could study history and society scientifically and discern tendencies of history and the resulting outcome of social conflicts. Some followers of Marx concluded, therefore, that a communist revolution is inevitable. However, Marx famously asserted in the eleventh of his Theses on Feuerbach that "philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however is to change it", and he clearly dedicated himself to trying to alter the world. Consequently, most followers of Marx are not fatalists, but activists who believe that revolutionaries must organize social change.
Marx's view of history, which came to be called the materialist conception of history (and which was developed further as the philosophy of dialectical materialism) is certainly influenced by Hegel's claim that reality (and history) should be viewed dialectically. Hegel believed that the direction of human history is characterized in the movement from the fragmentary toward the complete and the real (which was also a movement towards greater and greater rationality). Sometimes, Hegel explained, this progressive unfolding of the Absolute involves gradual, evolutionary accretion but at other times requires discontinuous, revolutionary leaps - episodal upheavals against the existing status quo. For example, Hegel strongly opposed the ancient institution of legal slavery that was practiced in the United States during his lifetime, and he envisioned a time when Christian nations would radically eliminate it from their civilization. While Marx accepted this broad conception of history, Hegel was an idealist, and Marx sought to rewrite dialectics in materialist terms. He wrote that Hegelianism stood the movement of reality on its head, and that it was necessary to set it upon its feet. (Hegel's philosophy remained and remains in direct opposition to Marxism on this key point.)
Marx's acceptance of this notion of materialist dialectics which rejected Hegel's idealism was greatly influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach. In The Essence of Christianity, Feuerbach argued that God is really a creation of man and that the qualities people attribute to God are really qualities of humanity. Accordingly, Marx argued that it is the material world that is real and that our ideas of it are consequences, not causes, of the world. Thus, like Hegel and other philosophers, Marx distinguished between appearances and reality. But he did not believe that the material world hides from us the "real" world of the ideal; on the contrary, he thought that historically and socially specific ideologies prevented people from seeing the material conditions of their lives clearly.
The other important contribution to Marx's revision of Hegelianism was Engels' book, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, which led Marx to conceive of the historical dialectic in terms of class conflict and to see the modern working class as the most progressive force for revolution.The notion of labour is fundamental in Marx's thought. Basically, Marx argued that it is human nature to transform nature, and he calls this process of transformation "labour" and the capacity to transform nature labour power. For Marx, this is a natural capacity for a physical activity, but it is intimately tied to the human mind and human imagination:A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. (Capital, Vol. I, Chap. 7, Pt. 1) Karl Marx inherits that Hegelian dialectic and, with it, a disdain for the notion of an underlying invariant human nature. Sometimes Marxists express their views by contrasting "nature" with "history". Sometimes they use the phrase "existence precedes consciousness". The point, in either case, is that who a person is, is determined by where and when he is - social context takes precedence over innate behavior; or, in other words, one of the main features of human nature is adaptability. Marx did not believe that all people worked the same way, or that how one works is entirely personal and individual. Instead, he argued that work is a social activity and that the conditions and forms under and through which people work are socially determined and change over time.Marx's analysis of history is based on his distinction between the means / forces of production, literally those things, such as land, natural resources, and technology, that are necessary for the production of material goods, and the relations of production, in other words, the social and technical relationships people enter into as they acquire and use the means of production. Together these comprise the mode of production; Marx observed that within any given society the mode of production changes, and that European societies had progressed from a feudal mode of production to a capitalist mode of production. In general, Marx believed that the means of production change more rapidly than the relations of production (for example, we develop a new technology, such as the Internet, and only later do we develop laws to regulate that technology). For Marx this mismatch between (economic) base and (social) superstructure is a major source of social disruption and conflict. Marx understood the "social relations of production" to comprise not only relations among individuals, but between or among groups of people, or classes. As a scientist and materialist, Marx did not understand classes as purely subjective (in other words, groups of people who consciously identified with one another). He sought to define classes in terms of objective criteria, such as their access to resources. For Marx, different classes have divergent interests, which is another source of social disruption and conflict. Conflict between social classes being something which is inherent in all human history:The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. (The Communist Manifesto, Chap. 1)
Marx was especially concerned with how people relate to that most fundamental resource of all, their own labour-power. Marx wrote extensively about this in terms of the problem of alienation. As with the dialectic, Marx began with a Hegelian notion of alienation but developed a more materialist conception. For Marx, the possibility that one may give up ownership of one's own labour - one's capacity to transform the world - is tantamount to being alienated from one's own nature; it is a spiritual loss. Marx described this loss in terms of commodity fetishism, in which the things that people produce, commodities, appear to have a life and movement of their own to which humans and their behavior merely adapt. This disguises the fact that the exchange and circulation of commodities really are the product and reflection of social relationships among people. Under capitalism, social relationships of production, such as among workers or between workers and capitalists, are mediated through commodities, including labor, that are bought and sold on the market.
Commodity fetishism is an example of what Engels called false consciousness, which is closely related to the understanding of ideology. By ideology they meant ideas that reflect the interests of a particular class at a particular time in history, but which are presented as universal and eternal. Marx and Engels' point was not only that such beliefs are at best half-truths; they serve an important political function. Put another way, the control that one class exercises over the means of production includes not only the production of food or manufactured goods; it includes the production of ideas as well (this provides one possible explanation for why members of a subordinate class may hold ideas contrary to their own interests). Thus, while such ideas may be false, they also reveal in coded form some truth about political relations. For example, although the belief that the things people produce are actually more productive than the people who produce them is literally absurd, it does reflect the fact (according to Marx and Engels) that people under capitalism are alienated from their own labour-power. Another example of this sort of analysis is Marx's understanding of religion, summed up in a passage from the preface to his 1843 Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right: Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Whereas his Gymnasium senior thesis argued that the primary social function of religion was to promote solidarity, here Marx sees the social function as a way of expressing and coping with social inequality, thereby maintaining the status quo. Marx argued that this alienation of human work (and resulting commodity fetishism) is precisely the defining feature of capitalism. Prior to capitalism, markets existed in Europe where producers and merchants bought and sold commodities. According to Marx, a capitalist mode of production developed in Europe when labor itself became a commodity - when peasants became free to sell their own labor-power, and needed to do so because they no longer possessed their own land or tools necessary to produce. People sell their labor-power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work they do in a given period of time (in other words, they are not selling the product of their labor, but their capacity to work). In return for selling their labor power they receive money, which allows them to survive. Those who must sell their labor power to live are "proletarians." The person who buys the labor power, generally someone who does own the land and technology to produce, is a "capitalist" or "bourgeois." (Marx considered this an objective description of capitalism, distinct from any one of a variety of ideological claims of or about capitalism). The proletarians inevitably outnumber the capitalists.
Marx distinguished industrial capitalists from merchant capitalists. Merchants buy goods in one place and sell them in another; more precisely, they buy things in one market and sell them in another. Since the laws of supply and demand operate within given markets, there is often a difference between the price of a commodity in one market and another. Merchants, then, practice arbitrage, and hope to capture the difference between these two markets. According to Marx, capitalists, on the other hand, take advantage of the difference between the labor market and the market for whatever commodity is produced by the capitalist. Marx observed that in practically every successful industry input unit-costs are lower than output unit-prices. Marx called the difference "surplus value" and argued that this surplus value had its source in surplus labour.
The capitalist mode of production is capable of tremendous growth because the capitalist can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits in new technologies. Marx considered the capitalist class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly revolutionized the means of production. But Marx argued that capitalism was prone to periodic crises. He suggested that over time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labor. Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labor is the source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit falls below a certain point, the result would be a recession or depression in which certain sectors of the economy would collapse. Marx understood that during such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth of new sectors of the economy.
Marx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be punctuated by increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that the long-term consequence of this process was necessarily the enrichment and empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment of the proletariat. He believed that were the proletariat to seize the means of production, they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, and a system of production less vulnerable to periodic crises. In general, Marx thought that peaceful negotiation of this problem was impracticable, and that a massive, well-organized and violent revolution would in general be required, because the ruling class would not give up power without violence. He theorized that to establish the socialist system, a dictatorship of the proletariat - a period where the needs of the working-class, not of capital, will be the common deciding factor - must be created on a temporary basis. As he wrote in his "Critique of the Gotha Program", "between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat."
In the 1920s and '30s, a group of dissident Marxists founded the Institute for Social Research in Germany, among them Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Erich Fromm, and Herbert Marcuse. As a group, these authors are often called the Frankfurt School. Their work is known as Critical Theory, a type of Marxist philosophy and cultural criticism heavily influenced by Hegel, Freud, Nietzsche, and Max Weber.The Frankfurt School broke with earlier Marxists, including Lenin and Bolshevism in several key ways. First, writing at the time of the ascendance of Stalinism and Fascism, they had grave doubts as to the traditional Marxist concept of proletarian class consciousness. Second, unlike earlier Marxists, especially Lenin, they rejected economic determinism. While highly influential, their work has been criticized by both orthodox Marxists and some Marxists involved in political practice for divorcing Marxist theory from practical struggle and turning Marxism into a purely academic enterprise.Other influential non-Bolshevik Marxists at that time include Georg Lukacs, Walter Benjamin and Antonio Gramsci, who along with the Frankfurt School are often known by the term Western Marxism. Henryk Grossman, who elaborated the mathematical basis of Marx's 'law of capitalist breakdown', was another affiliate of the Frankfurt School. Also prominent during this period was the Polish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg.In 1949 Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman founded Monthly Review, a journal and press, to provide an outlet for Marxist thought in the United States independent of the Communist Party.In 1978, G. A. Cohen attempted to defend Marx's thought as a coherent and scientific theory of history by reconstructing it through the lens of analytic philosophy. This gave birth to Analytical Marxism, an academic movement which also included Jon Elster, Adam Przeworski and John Roemer. Bertell Ollman is another Anglophone champion of Marx within the academy.

R.K Merton

Robert King Merton was a distinguished sociologist perhaps best known for having coined the phrase "self-fulfilling prophecy." He also coined many other phrases that have gone into everyday use, such as "role model" and "unintended consequences". He was heavily influenced by Pitirim Sorokin who tried to balance large-scale theorizing with a strong interest in empirical research and statistical studies. This and Paul Lazarsfeld influenced Merton to occupy himself with middle-range theories.

Theories of the middle range:

Middle-range theories, applicable to limited ranges of data, transcend sheer description of social phenomena and fill in the blanks between raw empiricism and grand or all-inclusive theory. In his plea for these kinds of theories Merton stands on the shoulders of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber.

Clarifying functional analysis:

Merton argues that the central orientation of functionalism is in interpreting data by their consequences for larger structures in which they are implicated. Like Durkheim and Parsons he analyzes society with reference to whether cultural and social structures are well or badly integrated, is interested in the persistence of societies and defines functions that make for the adaptation of a given system. Finally, Merton thinks that shared values are central in explaining how societies and institutions work.However he disagrees with Parsons on some issues which will be brought to attention in the following part.


Parsons' work tends to imply that all institutions are inherently good for society. Merton emphasizes the existence of dysfunctions. He thinks that something may have consequences that are generally dysfunctional or which are dysfunctional for some and functional for others. On this point he approaches conflict theory, although he does believe that institutions and values CAN be functional for society as a whole. Merton states that only by recognizing the dysfunctional aspects of institutions, can we explain the development and persistence of alternatives. Merton's concept of dysfunctions is also central to his argument that functionalism is not essentially conservative.

Manifest and latent functions:

Manifest functions are the consequences that people observe or expect, latent functions are those that are neither recognized nor intended. While Parsons tends to emphasize the manifest functions of social behavior, Merton sees attention to latent functions as increasing the understanding of society: the distinction between manifest and latent forces the sociologist to go beyond the reasons individuals give for their actions or for the existence of customs and institutions; it makes them look for other social consequences that allow these practices' survival and illuminate the way society works.Dysfunctions can also be manifest or latent. Manifest dysfunctions include traffic jams, closed streets, piles of garbage, and a shortage of clean public toilets. Latent dysfunctions might include people missing work after the event to recover.

Functional alternatives

Functionalists believe societies must have certain characteristics in order to survive. Merton shares this view but stresses that at the same time particular institutions are not the only ones able to fulfill these functions; a wide range of functional alternatives may be able to perform the same task. This notion of functional alternative is important because it alerts sociologists to the similar functions different institutions may perform and it further reduces the tendency of functionalism to imply approval of the status quo.

Merton's theory of deviance

Merton's theory of deviance

Merton's structural-functional idea of deviance and anomie.

The term anomie, derived from Emile Durkheim, for Merton means: a discontinuity between cultural goals and the legitimate means available for reaching them. Applied to the United States he sees the American dream as an emphasis on the goal of monetary success but without the corresponding emphasis on the legitimate avenues to march toward this goal. This leads to a considerable amount of (the Parsonian term of) deviance. This theory is commonly used in the study of Criminology. (Specifically Strain Theory).
Cultural goals
Institutionalized means
Modes of adaptation
Conformity is the attaining of societal goals by societal accepted means, while innovation is the attaining of those goals in unaccepted ways. Ritualism is the acceptance of the means but the forfeit of the goals. Retreatism is the rejection of both the means and the goals and rebellion is a combination of rejection of societal goals and means and a substitution of other goals and means. Innovation and ritualism are the pure cases of anomie as Merton defined it because in both cases there is a discontinuity between goals and means.

Sociology of science

Merton carried out extensive research into the sociology of science, developing the Mertonian norms of science. This is a list of ideals that scientists should strive to attain, specifically:
Communalism Universalism Disinterestedness Skepticism


Pareto (1848-1923) gave following concepts:
Circulation of elites Logico- experimental method Logical and non logical action Residues and Derivations

Circulation of Elites

Pareto believed that society is unequal mentally and physically some people are more intelligent and capable then others. It is these people who become elite in any social group. According to him there are two types of elites- Governing elites and Non governing elites. Governing elites are those individuals who directly or indirectly play major part in ruling the society while the non governing comprise the rest of the society. The elites are intellectually more superior. The society degenerates where elites occupy status due to ascription status and through achievements. The ascriptive elites are taken as lions and who become elite through vitality and imagination are foxes. Hence lions and followed by foxes.Since Lions have element of stability of persistence but however lack in manipulative activities hence are replaced by foxes.

Logical and Non logical action

Society is a system in equilibrium. This equilibrium implies that there are certain forces which maintain the form or structure of society. If the outer forces like war try to disturb the system the inner forces push towards restoring the equilibrium. Logical actions are which uses means appropriate to ends and logically links means with ends. These actions are both subjective and objective.Nonlogical are residual and fall outside the periphery of logical actions. According to Pareto nonlogical action are important to study since they explain sentimental actions.

Residues and Derivatives

Residues and Derivatives are both manifestation of sentiments which pertain to human nature. This theory helps in jeopardizing the non scientific theories and beliefs regarding human action. E.g. various religions in different societies. However all religions have some common beliefs. These common and constant features are called derivatives while rest is residue.
Pareto states six classes of residues which are constant throughout the western history.
  1. Instinct combination.
  2. Group persistence
  3. Manifestation of sentiments through actions and outer expressions
  4. Power to impose power over society.
  5. Residues of personal integrity.
  6. Residue of sex.


Sorokin is author of books such as The crisis of our age and Power and morality, but his magnum opus is Social and Cultural Dynamics (1937-1941). His unorthodox theories contributed to the social cycle theory and inspired (or alienated) many sociologists.In his Social and Cultural Dynamics he classified societies according to their 'cultural mentality', which can be ideational (reality as spiritual), sensate (reality is material), or idealistic (a synthesis of the two). He has interpreted the contemporary Western civilisation as a sensate civilisation dedicated to technological progress and prophesied its fall into decandence and the emergence of a new ideational or idealistic era.

Talcott Parsons

Talcott Parsons (1902-82) was for many years the best-known sociologist in the United States, and indeed one of the best-known in the world. He produced a general theoretical system for the analysis of society that came to be called structural functionalism. Parsons' analysis was largely developed within his major published works:
The Structure of Social Action (1937), The Social System (1951), Structure and Process in Modern Societies (1960), Sociological Theory and Modern Society (1968), Politics and Social Structure (1969).
Parsons was an advocate of "grand theory," an attempt to integrate all the social sciences into an overarching theoretical framework. His early work"The Structure of Social Action"reviewed the output of his great predecessors, especially Max Weber, Vilfredo Pareto, and Émile Durkheim, and attempted to derive from them a single "action theory" based on the assumptions that human action is voluntary, intentional, and symbolic. Later, he became intrigued with, and involved in, an astonishing range of fields: from medical sociology (where he developed the concept of the sick role to psychoanalysis-personally undergoing full training as a lay analyst) to anthropology, to small group dynamics to race relations and then economics and education.
Parsons is also well known for his idea that every group or society tends to fulfill four "functional imperatives".
  • adaptation to the physical and social environment;
  • goal attainment, which is the need to define primary goals and enlist individuals to strive to attain these goals;
  • integration, the coordination of the society or group as a cohesive whole;
  • latency, maintaining the motivation of individuals to perform their roles according to social expectations.
Parsons contributed to the field of social evolutionism and neoevolutionism. He divided evolution into four subprocesses:
  1. division, which creates functional subsystems from the main system;
  2. adaptation, where those systems evolve into more efficient versions;
  3. inclusion of elements previously excluded from the given systems; and
  4. generalization of values, increasing the legitimization of the ever-more complex system.
Furthermore, Parsons explored these subprocesses within three stages of evolution: 1) primitive, 2) archaic and 3) modern (where archaic societies have the knowledge of writing, while modern have the knowledge of law). Parsons viewed the Western civilisation as the pinnacle of modern societies, and out of all western cultures he declared the United States as the most dynamically developed. For this, he was attacked as an ethnocentrist.Parsons' late work focused on a new theoretical synthesis around four functions common (he claimed) to all systems of action-from the behavioral to the cultural, and a set of symbolic media that enable communication across them. His attempt to structure the world of action according to a mere four concepts was too much for many American sociologists, who were at that time retreating from the grand pretensions of the 1960s to a more empirical, grounded approach.

Pattern variables

Parsons asserted that there were two dimensions to societies: instrumental and expressive. By this he meant that there are qualitative differences between kinds of social interaction. Essentially, he observed that people can have personalized and formally detached relationships based on the roles that they play. The characteristics that were associated with each kind of interaction he called the pattern variables.Some examples of expressive societies would include families, churches, clubs, crowds, and smaller social settings. Examples of instrumental societies would include bureaucracies, aggregates, and markets.
  1. Affectivity Vs affective neutrality : When actor is oriented towards maximum satisfaction from a given choice.
  2. Particularism Vs.Universalism: Situations are judged according to uniform criteria (universalism) and not according to actor or individuals relation with the given subject(particularism).
  3. Quality Vs Performance : Defining people on the basis of biological difference and performance is judging people according to their performance and capacity.
  4. Self orientation Vs Collective Orientation when the actor acts out of personal interest it is self orientation.

Ferdinand Tonnies

Ferdinand Tönnies (1855- 1936) was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies. His distinction between two types of social groups - Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft - is what Tönnies is best known for. He was, however, a prolific writer and also co-founder of the German Society for Sociology.
Tönnies distinguished between two types of social groupings. Gemeinschaft often translated as community refers to groupings based on a feeling of togetherness. Gesellschaft often translated as society on the other hand, refers to groups that are sustained by an instrumental goal. Gemeinschaft may by exemplified by a family or a neighbourhood; Gesellschaft by a joint-stock company or a state.
His distinction between social groupings is based on the assumption that there are only two basic forms of an actor's will, to approve of other men. Following his "essential will" ("Wesenwille"), an actor will see himself as a means to serve the goals of social grouping; very often it is an underlying, subconscious force. Groupings formed around an essential will are called a Gemeinschaft. The other will is the "arbitrary will" ("Kürwille"): An actor sees a social grouping as a means to further his individual goals; so it is purposive and future-oriented. Groupings around the latter are called Gesellschaft. Whereas the membership in a Gemeinschaft is self-fulfilling, a Gesellschaft is instrumental for its members. In pure sociology theoretically these two normal types of will are to be strictly separated; in applied sociology empirically they are always mixed.

The important books :

Gemeinschalf and Gessellschaft (1887) Introduction to Sociology (1936)
Types of social norms stated by Tonnies: Law, Moral rules, Mores and Conventions.


Thorstein Bunde Veblen (1857 -1929) was a Norwegian-American economist and sociologist.The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), a satiric look at American society written while he taught at the University of Chicago, is his most famous work. He coined the widely used phrases "conspicuous consumption" and "pecuniary emulation".Thorstein Veblen's career began amidst the growth of the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, and psychology. He argued that economics was inevitably shaped by culture and that no universal "human nature" could possibly be invoked to explain the variety of norms and behaviors discovered by the new science of anthropology.
One of his most important analytical contributions was what came to be known as the "ceremonial / instrumental dichotomy". Veblen saw that although every society is dependent on tools and skills to support the "life process", every society also appeared to have a stratified structure of status ("invidious distinctions") that ran contrary to the imperatives of the "instrumental" ("technological") aspects of group life. This led rise to the dichotomy: the "ceremonial" was related to the past, supporting the tribal legends; "instrumental" was oriented toward the technological imperative to judge value by the ability to control future consequences. The "Veblenian dichotomy" was a specialized variant of the "instrumental theory of value" due to John Dewey, with whom Veblen was to make contact briefly at The University of Chicago.
The Theory of the Leisure Class and The Theory of Business Enterprise together constitute an alternative construction on the neoclassical marginalist theories of consumption and production, respectively. Both are clearly founded on the application of the "Veblenian dichotomy" to cultural patterns of behavior and are therefore implicitly but unavoidably bound to a critical stance; it is not possible to read Veblen with any understanding while failing to grasp that the dichotomy is a valuational principle at its core. The ceremonial patterns of activity are not bound to just any past, but rather to the one that generated a specific set of advantages and prejudices that underly the current structure of rewards and power. Instrumental judgments create benefits according to an entirely separate criterion, and therefore are inherently subversive. This line of analysis was more fully and explicitly developed by Clarence E. Ayres of the University of Texas at Austin from the 1920s. In addition to these two books, his monograph Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution and the essay entitled "Why Economics is not an Evolutionary Science" have been influential in shaping the research agenda for following generations of social scientists. His ideas were also inspirational to the technocratic movement.

Sigmund Freud

The Sexual Life of Human Beings

Sigmund Freud discusses the concept of sexual and homosexuality in unusual terms. In his lecture 'The Sexual Life of Human Beings' he has written that many people regard it as something which combines a reference to the contrast between the sexes to the search for pleasure to the reproductive function and to the characteristic of something that is improper and must be kept secret. By means of careful investigations we have come to know groups of individuals whose sexual life deviates in the most striking way from the usual picture of the average. Some of these 'perverse' people have struck the distinction between the sexes off their programme.Only members of their own sex and especially their sexual parts are not a sexual object for them at all and in extreme cases are objects of disgust. This implies that they have abandoned any share in reproduction. We call such people homosexuals or inverts. They are men and women who are often though not always irreproachably fashioned in other respects, of high intellectual and ethical development, the victims only of this one fatal deviation. Through the mouth of their scientific spokesmen they represent themselves as a special variety of the human species- a third sex which has a right to stand on an equal footing beside the other two. This class of perverts at any rate behaves to their sexual objects in approximately the same way as normal people do to theirs. But we now come to a long series of abnormal people whose sexual activity diverges more and more widely from what seems desirable to a sensible person. In their multiplicity and strangeness they can only be compared to the grotesque monsters painted by Breughel for the temptation of St.Anthony which Flaubert leads past, before the eyes of his pious penitent. We accordingly divide them into those in whom like the homosexuals, the sexual object has been changed and others in whom the sexual aim is what has primarily been altered. The first group includes those who have renounced the union of the two genitals and who replace the genitals of one of the couple engaged in the sexual act by some other part or region of the body; in this they disregard the lack of suitable organic arrangements as well as any impediment offered by feelings of disgust. They replace the vulva for instance by the mouth or anus.Others follow who still retain the genitals as an object not on account of their sexual function but of other functions in which the genital plays a part either for anatomical reasons or because of its propinquity. Then come others again who have abandoned the genital as an object altogether and have taken some other part of the body as the object they desire - a woman's breast, a foot or a plait of hair. After them come others for whom parts of the body are of no importance but whose every wish is satisfied by a piece of clothing ,a shoe, a piece of underclothing -the fetishists. The second group is led by perverts who have made what is normally only an introductory or preparatory act into the aim of their sexual wishes. They are people whose desire it is to look at the other person or to feel him or to watch him in the performance of his intimate actions or who expose parts of their own bodies which should be covered in the obscure expectation that they may be rewarded by a corresponding action in return. Next come the sadists, puzzling people whose tender endeavors have no other aim than to cause pain and torment to their object ranging from humiliation to severe physical injuries and as though to counter balance them their counterparts the masochists whose only pleasure it is to suffer humiliations and torments of every kind from their loved object either symbolically or in reality. There are still others in whom several of these abnormal preconditions are united and intertwined and lastly we must learn that each of these groups is to be found in two forms: along side of those who seek their sexual satisfaction in reality are those who are content merely to imagine that satisfaction who need no real object at all but can replace it by their phantasies.The claim made by homosexuals or inverts to being exceptions collapses at once when we learn that homosexual impulses are invariably discovered in every single neurotic and that a fair number of symptoms give expression to this latent inversion. Those who call themselves homosexuals are only conscious and manifest inverts whose number is nothing compared to that of the latent homosexuals. Freud says that a particular disease paranoia which is not to be counted among the transference neuroses regularly arises from an attempt to fend off excessively strong homosexual impulses. The hysterical neurosis can produce its symptoms in any system of organs and so disturb any function. All the so-called perverse impulses which seek to replace the genital by some other organ manifest themselves: these organs are then behaving like substitutive genitals. The symptoms of hysteria have actually led us to the view that the bodily organs, besides the functional part they play must be recognized as having a sexual significance and that the execution of the first of these tasks is disturbed if the second of them makes too many claims. Countless sensations and innervations which come across as symptoms of hysteria in organs that have no apparent connection with sexuality are in this way revealed to us as being in the nature of fulfillments of perverse sexual impulses in relation to which other organs have acquired the significance of the sexual parts. To fall ill of a neurosis as a result of a frustration of normal sexual satisfaction. But when a real frustration like this occurs the need moves over to the abnormal methods of sexual excitation. As a result of this collateral damming-back the perverse impulses must emerge more strongly than they would have if normal sexual satisfaction had met with no obstacle in the real world. In some cases manifest perversions are provoked or made active if the normal satisfaction of the sexual instinct encounters too great difficulties for temporary reasons or because of permanent social regulations. Sigmund Freud also came up with theory on sexual life of children which he said was because the memories and associations arising during the analysis of symptoms in adults regularly led back to the early years of childhood. The analyses have confirmed that all these inclinations to perversions had their roots in childhood that children have a predisposition to all of them and carry them out to an extent corresponding to their immaturity --- in short that perverse sexuality is nothing else than a magnified infantile sexuality split up into its separate impulses. To suppose that children have no sexual life-sexual excitations and needs and a kind of satisfaction but suddenly acquire it between the ages of 12 and 14 would be as improbable and indeed senseless biologically as to suppose that they brought no genitals with them into the world and only grew them at the time of puberty. What does awaken in them at this time is the reproductive function which makes use for its purposes of physical and mental material already present. Freud introduced concept of libido as the name of force by which the instinct manifests itself. In an infant the first impulses of sexuality make their appearance attached to other vital functions. His main interest is directed to the intake of nourishment when children fall asleep after being sated at the breast they show an expression of blissful satisfaction which will be repeated later in life after the experience of a sexual orgasm. He also said that an infant will repeat the action of taking in nourishment without making a demand for further food here he is not actuated by hunger but this is sensual sucking and the fact that in doing this he falls asleep once more with a blissful expressions shows that the act of sensual sucking has in itself alone brought him satisfaction. Thus we learn that infants perform actions which have no purpose other than obtaining pleasure. Sucking at the mother's breast is the starting point of the whole of sexual life, the unmatched prototype of every later sexual satisfaction. What is shown with the intake of nourishment is repeated in part with the excretions. The infants have feelings of pleasure in the process of evacuating urine and faeces and that they soon contrive to arrange those actions in such a way as to bring them the greatest possible yield of pleasure through the corresponding excitations of the erotogenic zones of the mucous membrane. A child's sexual life is made up entirely of the activities of a number of component instincts which seek independently of one another to obtain pleasure in part from the subject's own body and in part already from an external object. Among these organs the genitals come into prominence. Freud in the last part of lecture discusses that infantile sexual researches begin very early sometimes before the third year of life. They do not relate to the distinction between the sexes since children attribute the same male genital to both sexes. If a boy discovers vagina from seeing his sister /friend he tries to disavow the evidence of his senses. Later on he takes fright with threat if he shows interest in his little organ, produce a deferred effect. He comes under the sway of the castration complex the form taken by which plays a great part in the construction of his character if he remains normal, in his neurosis if he falls ill and in his resistances if he falls ill and in his resistances if he comes into analytic treatment. The little girls feels at disadvantage owing to their lack of a big visible penis ,they develop a wish to be a man- a wish that reemerges later on in any neurosis that may arise if they meet with a mishap in playing a feminine part.


Plato was the first western philosopher who attempted a systematic study of society. Plato in republic and Aristotle in Politics dealt systematically with social institutions. They accepted state and society as synonymous and took the individual for granted. Plato could be said to be the first exponent of the organic theory in society and Aristotle subscribed to it too. Thus they accepted society as a unified system structured around division of labor and social inequality. They saw society in holistic terms and gave state the dominant role. Aristotle thought the origin of societies lay in human nature and its structure consisted of social groups in function. Their views presented the definition of society in terms of objective laws and historical processes.

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher whose conception of man was non-sociological -the life of man is solitary,poor,rusty,brutish and short while the condition of man is a condition of war against everyone. Thus he claimed that men were basically in conflict with each other guided by their greatest motivation-lust for popwer.Consequently order in society is possible with the existence of a strong government the artificial leviathan-the state-which is the product of human reason and social contract. Parsons refutes this view on the basis of Weber and Durkheim's emphasis on normative aspects of social life such as ideals, values etc.

Sir Edward Burnett Taylo

An English anthropoloist,Tylor's most important contribution lies in his treatment of culture. His Primitive Culture presents his doctrine of survivals the view that non-functional beliefs and customs in modern societies are relics of the cultural past and his theory of animism. Animism implies the attribution by some people of a spiritual existence to animals, plants and even inanimate objects occasionally. This notion forms the basis of his theory of development and origins of primitive religion. For Tylor the principal criterion of cultural growth are development of industrial arts extent of scientific knowledge, type of religion, extent of political and social organization. He originated the method of adhesions based on probability and helped to establish a comparative religion.

Major Works:
Researches into early history of mankind (1865)
Anthropology (1896)

Karl Polyani

Polyani's views have exerted a decisive influence on economic anthropology and the economic history of the ancient world through his comparative study of economic institutions as outlined in his "Trade and Market in Early empires". His belief that in pre-capitalist societies the economy is embedded in social relationships governed by values other than concern for profit has clear affinities with the functionalism of Malinowski and Talcott Parsons. He gave a Weberian typology of exchange systems-reciprocity, house holding, redistribution and market exchange. As a utilitarian theorist to him the basic concern of modern society was to combine socialist economic planning with individual freedom

. Major Works:
The Great transformation(1944)
The Livelihood of man(1977)

Alfred Louis Kroeber

An American anthropologist Kroeber made important contributions in ethnographic fieldwork as well as theories of cultural progress cultural determinism and philosophy of history. He refined the concept of cultural areas employing quantitatively additional concepts of culture intensity and climax.Inorganic,organic and super-organic are the three distinct levels of phenomena with the last being the result of induction of culture. Its development does not depend upon the organic; rather it is guided by laws peculiar to itself.

Major Works:
Handbook of the Indians of California (1925)
Configuration of Culture growth (1944)

Erving Goffman

Collins links Goffman more to social anthropology than to symbolic interactionism.Influenced by the former, he held a distinctive perspective which had a powerful influence on the latter. It could be argued that he had a hand in shaping another creative sociology-ethno methodology. Recognized as a symbolic interactionist,he remained best known for his dramaturgical theory.
Major Works:
Presentation of self in everyday life (1959)
Role Distance (1961
) Stigma (1963)

James George Frazer

Basically classicist and armchair anthropologist i .e. belonging to the Evolutionary School, his interest in anthropology was stimulated by the Primitive Culture of E.B Tylor.His major work The Golden Bough was a reconstruction of the gradual evolution of human thought and custom through the successive stages of magic, science and religion. Magic which was the earliest phase of evolution was to be replaced by science. Science he viewed as a return to the age of magic. But unlike the early men who possessed a completely wrong idea of natural causes in the age of science, correct techniques and premises are used to manipulate nature. Religion he understood as a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and human life. The law of similarity and the law of contact are the two principles on which magic is based so primitive man wrongly believed. The magic based on the first principle is called imitative or homeopathic. And that based on the second is termed contagious.
Major Works:
The Golden Bough (1900)
Totemism and Exogamy (1910)
The belief of the immortality and worship of the dead (1913)
Folklore in the old testament (1918)

Ralph Dahrendorf

He was a German sociologist who still represents one of the best efforts to incorporate the insights of Marx and Weber into a coherent set of theoretical propositions. His theory is known as the dialectic theory of conflict and his themes of academic work are -class and conflict theory, role theory, society and democracy in Germany with particular emphasis on education and the possibilities of reform in higher education and modernization as a global process.
He viewed society to be held by enforced constraint where some positions are delegated power and authority over others. Influenced by structural functionalism he argued that society is composed of imperatively coordinated associations i.e. associations of people controlled by a hierarchy of authority and power. Thus his central thesis was that the differential distribution of authority invariably becomes the determining factor of systematic social conflicts.
Major works:
Class and class conflict in Industrial Society (1959)
Essays in the theory of society (1967)

Raymond Firth

British social anthropologist Raymond Firth has made a notable divergence from orthodoxy of structural functionalist theory in British anthropology during the post -war years. He employed the concept of social organization as distinct from social structure and his studies in this field were influential in the development of action theory approach in social anthropology. He has made important contributions in the field of kinship especially the study of unilineal descent.
Major works:
We the Tikopia (1956)
Elements of social organization (1956)
Economics in the New Zealand Maori (1959)

Radcliffe Brown

Together with Malinowski he may be said to have been responsible for the rise of British anthropology. Influenced by Comte,Durkheim and Montesquieu he was an exponent of comparative sociology. That is the structural principles of governing social relationships can be known through comparative study of social systems.
He also advocates the unity of the scientific method claiming that social anthropology-the theoretical natural sciences of human society-should also employ the methods of physical or biological sciences in the investigation of social phenomena. The task of the natural science of society is to discover the nature of social phenomena and explain the regular forms of social life.
He emphasis on the synchronic analysis of social structure -observation and analysis of social structure at a particular point of time. He was influenced by the empirical ethnographic tradition and holistic analytical tradition of British and American anthropology respectively.
To him social structure is not an abstraction but empirical reality. It helps us to see the entire web of social relationships in a systematic way and thus gain insight into the way society works and remains integrated. He mentions two methods for the interpretation of cultural materials-historical methods which narrate the process of historical development of a culture but its application is not possible in tribal societies which lack historical records and functional methods which assume culture as an integrated functional system and tend to discover and verify general laws of function which they assume to be valid for all human societies. Brown specialized in the study of kinship and marriage concentrating on the classificatory kinship terminology.
Major Works:
The Andaman Islanders (1922)
Structure and Function in Primitive Societies (1952)

Attached: Social Thinkers
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