Blog - 5
Sociology, Our Founding Fathers
and the feminist perspective
Sprague notes; “drawing on the feminist analyses of gendered consciousness (Aware of differences amongst male and females) social theory is exactly how it should be, if one were thinking like a white male capitalist”. I begin with this quote for this simple reason; it sums the
totality of the present day controversies surrounding sociological theory and the feminist perspective, and the fact that society needs a fresh perspective on more of a micro level rather than macro level set of analysis in order to draw modern day conclusions for modern day issues.
Briefly discussing just a few of our founding fathers, we will start with Auguste Comte
[1898 - 1857] Comte is considered the Father of sociology, and founded the theories of philosophy of positivism. Comte’s main focus was to ascertain the laws that he believed governed the evolution of the mind (pg.38). Karl Marx [1818 – 1883] main works included social class, and the relationship between economy and state. Emile Durkheim’s [1858 – 1917] contributions to sociology included the studies on the influences of individuals and that with influences them, and the division of labor. Although these are not the entirety of their contributions to sociology, we will use this as a base for our discussion.
The feminist critique written by Sprague describes them as “The dead white men”. Which I found quite amusing, but extremely personified in describing the canonized theory. While our founding fathers are of great importance to the beginnings of sociological study, I refer you to the dates listed by each name above. Society as a whole expresses the very concept of evolution. Therefore, as each generation is more modernized than the next the theory’s associated with society seem to have stalled modern day progress, that is; we seem to be stuck in past generations. The concept of inequality seems fixed in the struggle of the equality of women, and their contributions to the field. As we are all aware, the feminist movement has not changed much since the 1960’s. The hierarchal systems set in place since our very beginnings still haunt us today. How long will the inequality of women last, how long will the feminist voice be silenced, and what effect does this have on modern society?
The need for change has come about, we now live in extremely diverse society, and with-in our modern society there are many extremely intellectual women, just as there were in the 1800’s. We now live more independently then those of the 1800’s, and the fact that integration of family and social dynamics have taken a turn, we are in need of more advanced sociological theory most believe it is imperative to our ever changing world.
The study of social theory now needs to incorporate within it a more micro level set of concepts, comparisons, and analogies of societies. As most are fully aware macro and micro
levels of research are needed on certain aspects of society. However, most people no longer belong to small clusters of people (Tribes, small communities), were the problems they faced then were more similar then that of modern day societies. Sociology has taken a
turn toward individuals themselves. The issues that surround our modern life leave most asking why people do what they do? And, how we as sociologists can apply modern day theories and resolutions to those issues. It is what happens in our individual life’s that causes us to react in certain ways. Things such as:robbery and why that people feel the need to commit crimes of a heinous nature...
The concept of the bias cannon as defined by Sprague is that of all white male sociologists whose thoughts, ideas, and theories were put on a pedestal. Were as most of us sociologists in training can-not say we know all our founding father concepts, and theories in their entirety; here is something most are aware of, the lack of the feminist view on society, and it has become more and more apparent in modern day society. Just as in the 1800’s the concepts of female sociologists were basically ignored, and still are to this very day. Even in the 1800’s there were extremely intellectual women such as Jane Addams and Harriet
Martineau, which were very influential women in the field of sociology, and to this day still are not fully recognized for their contributions. As most of you have probably noticed there is a museum right on campus dedicated to Jane Addams, yet we know little about her. Jane Addams contribution included a vast array of issues, such as her work with peace and finding an end to the war, to working with juveniles, focusing on children’s issues on labor, and battered wives, or Harriet Martineau another feminists whose theories were dismissed
because she was “just” a woman with no influence when it came to real world applications of sociology in her time. Yet her contributions earned her the status of “founding Mother” of sociology. Martineau’s contributions included, “social life in society” she focused on the patterns, causes, consequences, and the issues of society on more of a micro level thought
It seems to most that feminists like Jane Addams, and Harriet Martineau had a better idea of society as a whole, and the issues faced by the people on more intimate level. That is as opposed to that of their male counterparts. There is a desperate call for change in modern day theories of sociology, as opposed to that of yester year and the sociological theories that were common in that era. We are a new generation with a more modernized array of issues. Most feminists believe there is a profound need for modern day sociology to incorporate with-in it modern day theories, and modern day answers to those problems. How will we as future sociologists make contributions to society in fifty years from now by only leaning from the works of “dead white men”? The call for a more modernized outlook on sociology with a feminist view is needed desperately, if not only for the sake of future sociologist, but for the sake bringing a revolutionized outlook to the field.