The Birth of Sociological ThoughtJuly 2, 2021
B.C. In the 300s, Aristotle said, “Man is a social creature.” then, of course, he was expressing a judgment that we can include in the field of sociology today. However, these and similar judgments do not prove that the origin of sociology can be traced back to Ancient Greece or to the older teachings where we can find similar judgments.
Judgments and thoughts inherited from the history of thought show that society has been pondering for a long time. Thinking about the experience of living together is as old as human history. The whole written and oral history of thought proves this. E.g; Moral and political philosophies, born from philosophy since ancient Greece, have long developed important teachings and views on how people should live and be governed. Although the subjects on which all these views and teachings are focused are within the scope of sociology, we cannot call either morality or political philosophy sociology. Because philosophy is an activity that produces thoughts on how the social order and human behavior should be. The interest in social events remained at the philosophical level until the 19th century.
After the Ancient Greece, a long time had to pass and radical transformations had to be experienced in order for thinking, examining and researching on social events and phenomena to turn into a discipline. It is a result of a series of historical and intellectual developments that thinking about the experience of living together can leave the monopoly of philosophical thought and become a relatively independent science under the name of “sociology”. Otherwise, no science can be the product of the interest and effort of only a few thinkers. Of course, scientists have special contributions to the emergence and shaping of sciences, but it cannot be denied that historical conditions and social problems played a more decisive role in the emergence of sciences, especially social sciences.
When thinkers reflect and respond to these conditions and problems, they gain the right to be the inventor of a new science. So, sociology, like all other sciences, has a place of birth, time and thinkers who contributed to its original position in the history of sciences. In order to understand the birth of sociology properly, it is necessary to clarify the historical factors, social conditions and the ground formed by the thinkers behind it.
When we look at this historical background roughly, we see that the first step of a radical mental, social and political transformation was taken with the Renaissance and Reformation movements in Europe. As a result of these movements, the sectarian unity and relative political unity that had prevailed during the Middle Ages broke up and Europe entered a new historical period that will last for centuries and which we call modernity today. During this period, many changes and developments witnessed by Europe directly or indirectly contributed to the birth of sociology: Western enrichment with geographical discoveries and colonialism, capital accumulation and capitalism, 1789 French Revolution, Industrial Revolution, urbanization, migration from rural to urban, etc. Along with these developments, 19th century thinkers focused on the question of how the social order can be re-established in the chaos environment caused by the deterioration of the social order, and “What is society?”, “Why is society structured as it exists now?”, “Why and how do societies change?” They tried to find answers to questions such as (Giddens, 2008:45).
As a result of these events, the main problems that occupied the thinkers of the period emerged; The social structure has been fragmented, social stability has deteriorated and a great concern for the future has begun to prevail among people. In the 19th century, sociological thought was actually shaped by the solutions that the thinkers of the period tried to develop for these problems.