Explain how the Industrial and French Revolutions led to the establishment of sociology as a social science.

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Both the architects of the government after the French Revolution and the new industrialists (both of which emerged at the same time) were faced with a similar problem: neither had a blueprint for how to organize either the society of a new kind of state or the "society" of the...

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Both the architects of the government after the French Revolution and the new industrialists (both of which emerged at the same time) were faced with a similar problem: neither had a blueprint for how to organize either the society of a new kind of state or the "society" of the factory. All of their thinking had to be developed from scratch or from patching together old ideas. Therefore, both groups needed sociology, which is the study of how human societies function.

The French revolutionaries and, after them, Napoleon, wanted to construct the best possible society based on the newest and best principles of how a society functioned. Therefore, they turned to rationalism: to science and data that could help them best understand how to move forward. Likewise, the early industrialists wanted to learn the best organizational ways to increase efficiency in the factory so that they could maximize profit. This led to time/motions studies, studies of human motivation, and studies of how to organize group to maximize productivity.

From these beginnings, sociology grew into a discipline rooted in both the social and scientific, with data that be can be applied to a wide range of situations. Both the French and the industrialists were willing to throw out the traditional, which they believed got in their way, and replace it with the new and future oriented.

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The concept of sociology and the study of society emerged following the French and Industrial revolutions. These revolutions drastically changed society, and they also have interesting things to observe and study. One of the major impacts of these revolutions is that they showed how a large population reacted to sudden upheaval, both socially and economically.

These epochs of drastic change brought about many people creating manifestos and presenting ideologies regarding how people do and should act, and the natural consequences of those actions. People like Emile Durkheim started attempting to predict behavior and how societies would change and develop as a result. Because of this, the foundations of sociology were laid, both in these manifestos and also through observing the large scale societal decisions.

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The basic answer to this is that both the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution changed society in dramatic ways.  As society changed, some scholars came to think about how societies in general change and how they can be stabilized and/or held together.  Out of these thoughts came the discipline of sociology.

Before the French Revolution, European societies had remained at least relatively stable for a long time.  They had been characterized by a high degree of hierarchy and inequality.  With the French Revolution, this changed (particularly, of course, in France).  All of a sudden, people were cheering as their monarchs were executed.  Different forms of government were rising and falling.  There was upheaval as had not been seen in a long time.  In this environment, people like Auguste Comte started to think about society and how it functioned.  They wanted to improve society and make it more stable.  In order to do this, they had to first understand how societies worked. 

The Industrial Revolution had a similar impact on society.  Before the Industrial Revolution, European economic life had remained rather stable for a very long time.  People tended to work in or near their own homes.  They tended to work as family units and had a great degree of control over how and when they worked.  They also tended to live and work in roughly the same places and the same ways that their ancestors had.  With the Industrial Revolution, this changed.  Now, people were leaving the countryside and moving to new and growing cities.  This created a society that was much more urbanized than ever before.  Now, people were no longer working at home or with their families but rather in factories away from home.  People who worked in factories, of course, were in no way able to control when or how they worked.  All of these things meant that society was changing in very fundamental ways.

As with the French Revolution, this made people like Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, and (somewhat later) Emile Durkheim think about how society worked.  It made them want to understand society’s workings more clearly so they could help to improve (as they saw it) society.  This  was the beginning of the study of sociology as a formal discipline.

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