The Top Theorists You'll See in Introduction to Sociology classes

by Christine Chadwick

At its most basic level, sociology is the study of human behaviour and how it relates to culture. Ethics also plays a major role in this area. Students who receive a sociology degree often go on to pursue jobs in criminal justice, business, government, communications, and other fields. Most Sociology classes will cover these top three theorists.


Emile Durkheim is often considered the father of sociology and cited as the one who made it a science. A French sociologist, Durkheim is famous for contributing landmark ideas regarding the structure of society. He believed the aim of sociology should be to note what he called "social facts" or universal truths about the way society functions. Unlike many other theorists of his time, Durkheim focused on the internal behaviors of people as opposed to external societal factors. Durkheim's studies on society also play a significant role in the study of anthropology.


Before the first day of your Sociology classes, you will have probably heard of Karl Marx. His most famous contribution to literature is The Communist Manifesto, which he wrote with Friedrich Engels. Marx took a scientific approach to the study of sociology. He held that through examining past historical events and outcomes, he could discern societal tendencies and determine what would happen in the future. This may sound like fortunetelling, but Marx's approach was based around logic and simple theories like cause and effect. At the basis of Marx's sociological view is the class struggle between the property-owning class and the labouring class. Marx believed revolution on the part of the lower class was the only effective way to disrupt the status quo.


Many sociologists consider Max Weber to be the father of modern sociology. Like Marx, Weber wrote extensively on capitalism. His unique approach to industrialisation as a result of religion and ideas, rather than of technological innovations, was and still is groundbreaking. Like Durkheim, Weber believed insight can be gained through comparative study of world societies. Weber felt that the cultural outlets of society, like religion and art, trickle down to more practical aspects, like economics and politics. Weber wrote several works on the sociology of religion and its impact on human behaviour and class structure.

Sociology students will likely delve much deeper into the ideas of these three theorists. Many of their theories remain relevant to society today, which is the reason they are still studied in sociology courses across the nation today.

Tags: Sociology Behaviour
Categories: Sociology