What is the importance of Herbert Spencer in the field of sociology?

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Herbert Spencer was one of the most important figures in the early years of sociology.  Spencer was strongly influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin.  He brought Darwin's ideas into the field of sociology.

Spencer looked at society as a biological organism.  He argued that a society is made up of various interdependent parts and that those parts work together to keep the system as a whole working.   Spencer also believed in a sort of social Darwinism.  He believed that nothing should be done to correct social problems because the problems were all part of a process in which society was evolving to the best possible state.

Because of his connection to social Darwinism, Spencer is not greatly honored today.  However, his ideas have helped to shape sociology, giving rise to the sociological perspective known as functionalism or structural functionalism.

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