Sociology is, simply, the scientific
study of social behavior and human groups (Schaefer, 2017). It is made up of
many parts from contributions of numerous researchers of sociology. Each individual
added to the theoretical findings of the previous contributor. A theory is a
set of statements that seeks to explain problems, actions, or behavior.
Although other early sociologist
acknowledged the importance of using science to study sociology; Emile Durkheim,
a 19th century pioneer of sociology (1858-1917), was the first
person to apply scientific methods to sociology as a discipline. He believed in the importance of studying
social facts and patterns of behavior without one’s personal bias. His focuses
were on how society maintained order and stability. Aside from Emile Durkheim’s
books, “The Divisions of Labor in Society,”
“Suicide: A Study in Sociology” and
“The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, he also contributed important
theoretical work on suicide. He was
interested suicide rates and how they varied from country to country. Durkheim
developed a highly original theory about the relationship between suicide and social
factors. He advocated the use of systematic observations to study sociological
events. Durkheim’s contributions to sociology are relevant today! Just like
other scientific disciplines, sociology involves the organized, systematic
study of phenomena (in this case, human behavior) in order to enhance
understanding (Schaefer, 2017). According to that same text, all scientists
attempt to collect precise information through methods of study that are as
objective as possible.
Twentieth Century sociologist, Talcott
Parsons (1902-1979), was an educator and scholar of sociology. He played a
significant role in the development of functionalist theory. The functionalist
perspective emphasizes the way in which the parts of society are structured to
maintain its stability (Schaefer, 2017). He began development of his, “General
Theory of Action” in structure of social action in 1937. It published in 1951.
He produced a general theoretical system for the analysis of society, known as
structural functionalism. Parsons analysis was based on observation, reasoning,
and verification. He explored the difference between concepts of behavior and
action. He was influenced by the work of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber among
other European sociologists. Functionalist perspective is still used in today’s
sociology, so Parsons’s contribution is still relevant.
Schaefer, Richard T. (2017). Sociology: A Brief Introduction
with Connect Access Card. (12th ed.). McGraw-Hill.