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Max weber (1864–1920)

Prominent sociologist Max Weber established a sociology department in Germany at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich in 1919. Weber wrote on many topics related to sociology including political change in Russia and social forces that affect factory workers. He is known best for his 1904 book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism . The theory that Weber sets forth in this book is still controversial. Some believe that Weber argued that the beliefs of many Protestants, especially Calvinists, led to the creation of capitalism. Others interpret it as simply claiming that the ideologies of capitalism and Protestantism are complementary.

Weber believed that it was difficult, if not impossible, to use standard scientific methods to accurately predict the behavior of groups as people hoped to do. They argued that the influence of culture on human behavior had to be taken into account. This even applied to the researchers themselves, who, they believed, should be aware of how their own cultural biases could influence their research. To deal with this problem, Weber and Dilthey introduced the concept of verstehen    , a German word that means to understand in a deep way. In seeking verstehen, outside observers of a social world—an entire culture or a small setting—attempt to understand it from an insider’s point of view.

In his book The Nature of Social Action (1922), Weber described sociology as striving to "interpret the meaning of social action and thereby give a causal explanation of the way in which action proceeds and the effects it produces." He and other like-minded sociologists proposed a philosophy of antipositivism    whereby social researchers would strive for subjectivity as they worked to represent social processes, cultural norms, and societal values. This approach led to some research methods whose aim was not to generalize or predict (traditional in science), but to systematically gain an in-depth understanding of social worlds.

The different approaches to research based on positivism or antipositivism are often considered the foundation for the differences found today between quantitative sociology and qualitative sociology. Quantitative sociology uses statistical methods such as surveys with large numbers of participants. Researchers analyze data using statistical techniques to see if they can uncover patterns of human behavior. Qualitative sociology seeks to understand human behavior by learning about it through in-depth interviews, focus groups, and analysis of content sources (like books, magazines, journals, and popular media).

Should we raise the minimum wage?

In the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to raise the national minimum wage, and he signed an executive order putting this into effect for individuals working on new federal service contracts. Congress did not pass legislation to change the national minimum wage more broadly. The result has become a national controversy, with various economists taking different sides on the issue, and public protests being staged by several groups of minimum-wage workers.

Opponents of raising the minimum wage argue that some workers would get larger paychecks while others would lose their jobs, and companies would be less likely to hire new workers because of the increased cost of paying them (Bernstein 2014; cited in CNN).

Proponents of raising the minimum wage contend that some job loss would be greatly offset by the positive effects on the economy of low-wage workers having more income (Hassett 2014; cited in CNN).

Sociologists may consider the minimum wage issue from differing perspectives as well. How much of an impact would a minimum wage raise have for a single mother? Some might study the economic effects, such as her ability to pay bills and keep food on the table. Others might look at how reduced economic stress could improve family relationships. Some sociologists might research the impact on the status of small business owners. These could all be examples of public sociology, a branch of sociology that strives to bring sociological dialogue to public forums. The goals of public sociology are to increase understanding of the social factors that underlie social problems and assist in finding solutions. According to Michael Burawoy (2005), the challenge of public sociology is to engage multiple publics in multiple ways.

Summary

Sociology was developed as a way to study and try to understand the changes to society brought on by the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the earliest sociologists thought that societies and individuals’ roles in society could be studied using the same scientific methodologies that were used in the natural sciences, while others believed that is was impossible to predict human behavior scientifically, and still others debated the value of such predictions. Those perspectives continue to be represented within sociology today.

Short answer

What do you make of Karl Marx’s contributions to sociology? What perceptions of Marx have you been exposed to in your society, and how do those perceptions influence your views?

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Do you tend to place more value on qualitative or quantitative research? Why? Does it matter what topic you are studying?

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Further research

Many sociologists helped shape the discipline. To learn more about prominent sociologists and how they changed sociology check out (External Link) .

References

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner. 2000. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology . London: Penguin.

Buroway, Michael. 2005. "2004 Presidential Address: For Public Sociology." American Sociological Review 70 (February): 4–28. Retrieved December 30, 2014 (http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/Public%20Sociology,%20Live/Burawoy.pdf).

Cable Network News (CNN). 2014. "Should the minimum wage be raised?" CNN Money. Retrieved December 30, 2014 (http://money.cnn.com/infographic/pf/low-wage-worker/).

Cronk, George. n.d. “George Herbert Mead.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource . Retrieved October 14, 2014 (http://www.iep.utm.edu/mead/).

Durkheim, Émile. 1964 [1895]. The Rules of Sociological Method , edited by J. Mueller, E. George and E. Caitlin. 8th ed. Translated by S. Solovay. New York: Free Press.

Fauré, Christine, Jacques Guilhaumou, Jacques Vallier, and Françoise Weil. 2007 [1999]. Des Manuscrits de Sieyès, 1773–1799 , Volumes I and II. Paris: Champion.

Hannoum, Abdelmajid. 2003. Translation and the Colonial Imaginary: Ibn Khaldun Orientalist . Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University. Retrieved January 19, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Hill, Michael. 1991. “Harriet Martineau.” Women in Sociology: A Bio-Bibliographic Sourcebook , edited by Mary Jo Deegan. New York: Greenwood Press.

Johnson, Bethany. 2003. “Harriet Martineau: Theories and Contributions to Sociology.” Education Portal . Retrieved October 14, 2014 (http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/harriet-martineau-theories-and-contributions-to-sociology.html#lesson).

Poggi, Gianfranco. 2000. Durkheim . Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Ritzer, George, and Goodman, Douglas. 2004. Sociological Theory, 6th Edition . New York: McGraw Hill Education.

Stapley, Pierre. 2010. “Georg Simmel.” Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. Retrieved October 21, 2014 (http://www.cf.ac.uk/socsi/undergraduate/introsoc/simmel.html).

U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. 2010. Women and the Economy, 2010: 25 Years of Progress But Challenges Remain . August. Washington, DC: Congressional Printing Office. Retrieved January 19, 2012 ( (External Link)&File_id=8be22cb0-8ed0-4a1a-841b-aa91dc55fa81 ).

Questions & Answers

explain major contributions of Charles Wright Mills and Augusto Comte to the discipline of sociology
lugumba Reply
importance of sociology in logic if some one knows about plz help
Saqib
what are importance of studying sociology
Neema Reply
1 sociology detects and Solve Social Problems 2Sociology Helps in Planning and Development 3. Sociology makes a scientific study of Sociology 4 studies role of the institutions in the development of the individuals. 5 Helps in Preservation and Growth of Culture
manisha
6.sociology has made broaden the outlook of man. 7 Sociology is of great importance in the solution of international problems. 
manisha
eplayn philosopher of sociology
Mujahid Reply
explain philosopher of sociology
Mujahid
me
Ashebir
what is the difference between asocialist group on all definitions?
Koko Reply
what is the value of sociology
Banao Reply
What are the patterns of social interaction with regard to gender, religion and education
Norman Reply
define functionalist perspective
Jalil
what is cultural
nusrat Reply
culture is the way of life of a particular group of people
Philemon
culture is the backbone of society.
shahnam
culture consists of the beliefs' behaviour' objects' and other characteristics common to the members of particular group of society.
Zahid
culture is our way of life, customs ,traditions ,norms nd behavoiur
musharaf
can anyone explain what is socialogy as science in detail ?
Sydish Reply
sociology is a science because it adoptes and applies the scientific method . sociology does make a scientific method in the study of its subject matter.hence sociology is a science
Zahid
because its study the systematically about society
Akak
in secince we use tools such as thermometers telescopes microscope verniercliper etc similarly in sociology we tools interview questionare servey case study sampling etc so sociology is a science.
shahnam
scientific study of society is called sociology it involves scientific method, observation, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusions , this study produces theories and facts about society , that's why it is science
sohrab
explayn philosopher of socilogy
Mujahid
is caste system dangerous in politics? how
Zahid Reply
In present days the main caused for winning the election,after that they influence in any field
Akak
by those activities a father will become enemy to his son hence we should control it
Zahid
is it possible that marriage some places is being done between man's
Zahid Reply
No it is not possible.
umar_king
yeah itz hpns
musharaf
but in western some places it is possible as I considered a book there shows
Zahid
dear friends how then there born babies plz help me
Zahid
mee toooo
musharaf
dear friends I just know that there doesn't born babies
Zahid
they dont bother about thier offsprings nd it hpns in very rare cases in western societies
musharaf
ya right
Zahid
what is mean by ID
Bk Reply
what is counter culture
Jalil
what are the importance of social science on health care
Philemon Reply
the social sciences can contribute to preventing and treating illness by pinpointing the env.settings nd social relationships
musharaf
child poverty in social influences
Hash Reply
Often associated to food insecurity, children living below the poverty line are at an increased risk for becoming both malnourished and overweight. This can highly affect a child’s confidence. Moreover, evidence suggests that many of the effects of poverty on children are often added to by their fam
manisha
India is battling poverty for nearly 60 years now. And, with the help of new policies that strive to empower and spread awareness about the fundamental rights of children, along with participation and activities initiated by CRY – Child Rights and You, the children of India are sure to see a better
manisha
Does sociology have to deal with only interaction and society
Glory Reply
no
Illiasu
no it touches every aspect of social system...
Gh
hmm. :-)
manisha
it deals with society also but as whole....
Gh
tells about drawbacks and government plans..and makes us focus on what can be done for improvement. like for. eg. in agricultural practices what farmers need to do for better crops.
manisha
yeh absolutely
Gh
according to Emile Durkheim sociology is study of social institutions also.....
Gh
and financial institutions also like commercial banks
manisha
hmm also study about market as a social institution....
Gh
world topics like globalisation modernization and different movements. government plans.
manisha
socilogy also study process such as..... sanskritisatoion ,westernization and modernization also
Gh
yes
MRM
YES
Anas
yeah
gerardo
how we will define status and role?
Saqib
maybe
gerardo
what are the effects of sociology to education
Ndubuisi
what is culture integration
Tariq Reply
define socialization
Ndubuisi
Socialization iz a process of learning.
Dr
Education for effective citizens and civic responsibility discuss
Ndubuisi
Thank you Dr Muzammil
Ndubuisi
What is the main difference between census and survey?
Mustafa Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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