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Industrial Revolution - Emergence of Sociology - Industrial and French Revolution

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Sociology emerged after the Industrial and French Revolution. The term sociology was first used by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) to describe the scientific study of society (Hall 1996:49). Comte was inspired by the philosophes but his work in sociology goes beyond them. Sociology therefore, may be defined as the academic study of the relationships which developed between human beings as they organize themselves and are organized by others in society ( Watson 1980:1). Watson further elaborated that, "Sociology can be seen as an academic discipline which emerged in the nineteenth century as both a reaction and a reflection of certain major social and cultural shifts which had been occurring for some hundreds of years in Europe". These occurrences gave rise to the industrial society. To discuss the emergence of sociology this paper looks at early theorists in the discipline of sociology and factors that led to an industrial society.

The emergence of sociology in the 19th century was due to the social forces prevailing at the time. The industrial revolution French revolution, the Reformation together with the Enlightenment have influence the emergence of the discipline. The populace in Europe was going through a period of transformation that saw society moving rapidly from an agricultural society to an industrial society. Hence, the emergence of sociology as an academic discipline to the reaction to and a reflection of certain major social and cultural shifts that gave rise to the industrial society. As stated previously Auguste Comte was the first person to use the term sociology. As stated by Hall (1996), Comte wish was to create a naturalistic science capable of explaining its past and predicting its future. Comte produced a theory of three stages the religious, metaphysical and the scientific. His notion on development was based on the idea of a development of the human mind and society developing progressively through the emancipation of the human intellect.

Comte was not the only early theorist that contributed to the emergence of sociology. Emile Durkheim saw society as a system working together to form a whole. These parts he referred to are the institutions of society that allow for the smooth functioning of society. He also noted the movement of society from a mechanical to an organic society. According to Stover, Max Weber capitalism contains two forms, rational capitalism and the spirit of capitalism. The first is based on profit and loss and the second is a psychological religious idea specifically link to Protestantism that distinguished it from other types. This psychological process is pronounced in early Calvinism that produced an attitude towards economic activity. Finally, Karl Marx expresses a capitalist society, whereby in the transition of society he saw two classes the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie being the ones who owns the land and, machines and the proletariat are the workers who does not own any means of production. This is can be seen in the transition period from agricultural to industrial society. For Marx this set the stage exploitation to the proletariat.

The industrial society stems from activities of the Industrial Revolution. The phrase the industrial revolution was first used by Arnold Toynbee in a series of lectures delivered in 1880-1881, to describe an exceptional period of industrialization in Great Britain starting in the late 1700s and continuing into the early 1800s. The industrial revolution was called a revolution of necessity. It was this act that transformed British society. There were massive changes in agriculture, textile and metal industries that brought about social cultural shifts with regards to historical and societal factors and sociological issue all of which give rise to the industrial society.

Prior to the 1750 Great Britain showed sign of stability in population and daily essentials such as food. According to Tonybee in the writings of Stover (1999:55) farmers of the day bitterly complained that low and stable prices gave them no encouragement to improve their farming activities. The changes in agricultural practices were minimal. Farmers hoe their limited crops, fertilized and plowed their fields with wooden plows drawn by domesticated animals.

New planting strategies and crops required new machinery and technology. The farmers were resistance to this change. They found that once the old tools were working there was no reason to change. These farmers were set in their old ways of doing things. They were disenchanted and rejected the new technology. However, in the 1800s the treshing machine, the mower and the reaper gained wide acceptance. According to Stover, "the agricultural revolution was a reluctant revolution. Changes in technological innovations were not accepted until there was a strong incentive to adopt them. During the mid 1700s the population in England began to increase. The farmers began to use new imported plants such as clover and potato, and continue planting turnips, not as a garden crop but as food crop for animals and humans alike.

Preceding to the industrial revolution the textile manufacturing was done by hand production techniques. Simple tools such as the hand loom and spinning wheel, located in the home were used. By mid to late 1700s, technological development in textile manufacturing occurred. The fly shuttle was used in textile manufacturing. Prior to its development, a weaver needed a helper. A helper is no longer needed and productivity could be doubled or even tripled. Therefore, many small entrepreneurs were out of business and had to seek employment at the factories that were opening in the city.

New machines with improved technology were developed to replace the spinning jenny that spun thread on one spindle. Two years later producers Hartgraves, and James built one with 100 spindles. The first working model of a machine power textile loom was built by Edmund Cartwright in1787. Like the previous machine, the loom contributed to unemployment of skilled weavers. This resulted in increase poverty and created a movement from land to factories.

The industrial revolution in 18th century England was a different kind of revolution. The development of different technologies allowed the mass production of products for the first time in history, and factories began to appear across the country. This made Emile Durkheim's division of labour the most important characteristic of industrial societies. Karl Marx believed that the



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