social science

Robert Redfield and the Folk-Urban Continuum

Robert Redfield and the Folk-Urban Continuum

On December 4, 1897, American anthropologist and ethnolinguist Robert Redfield was born. Redfield‘s ethnographic work in Tepoztlán, Mexico is considered a landmark Latin American ethnography. From his studies of Mexican communities, Redfield developed a theory (1956) of a folk-urban continuum, to account for the differences between folk society and urban society. Robert Redfield was the son-in-law of University of Chicago sociologist Robert E. Park. In 1923 he and his wife…
Marianne Weber and the Status of Women

Marianne Weber and the Status of Women

On August 2, 1870, Marianne Weber, sociologist, women’s rights activist and wife of sociologist Max Weber was born. Weber is known for her book “Wife and Mother in the Development of Law”, where she compiled the legal, economic, and social status of women from antiquity until her present time. Marianne Weber was born as Marianne Schnitger in 1870. Her mother was Anna Wever, the daughter of a businessman named Karl Weber.…
The Social Theories of Lewis Henry Morgan

The Social Theories of Lewis Henry Morgan

On November 21, 1818, pioneering American anthropologist and social theorist Lewis Henry Morgan was born. Morgan is best known for his work on kinship and social structure, his theories of social evolution, and his ethnography of the Iroquois. Interested in what holds societies together, he proposed the concept that the earliest human domestic institution was the matrilineal clan, not the patriarchal family. During the 1840s, Lewis Henry Morgan befriended Ely…
William Isaac Thomas and the Thomas Theorem

William Isaac Thomas and the Thomas Theorem

On August 13, 1863, American sociologist William Isaac Thomas was born. Thomas developed innovative work on the sociology of migration and went on to formulate a fundamental principle of sociology, known as the Thomas theorem, in which he contended that, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences“. Thomas was born in Russell County, Virginia to Sarah Price Thomas and his father Thaddeus Peter Thomas, a…
Alfred Kroeber and the Nature of Culture

Alfred Kroeber and the Nature of Culture

On June 11, 1876, American cultural anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber was born. His primary concern was to understand the nature of culture and its processes. He developed the concept of cultures as patterned wholes, each with its own style, and each undergoing a growth process analogous to that of a biological organism. Kroeber also made valuable contributions to the archaeology of New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru. Alfred Kroeber grew up…
Gustave le Bon and the Behaviour of the Crowd

Gustave le Bon and the Behaviour of the Crowd

On May 7, 1841, French social psychologist, sociologist, anthropologist, inventor, and amateur physicist. Gustave le Bon was born. Le Bon is best known for his study of the psychological characteristics of crowds, The Crowd, Study of Popular Mind. His writings incorporate theories of national traits, racial and male superiority, herd behavior and crowd psychology. Gustave le Bon was born in Nogent-le-Rotrou, France. He studied medicine and also managed to travel through Europe,…
Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism

On April 27, 1820, English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and prominent classical liberal political theorist of the Victorian era Herbert Spencer was born. Spencer is best known for the expression “survival of the fittest”, which he coined in Principles of Biology (1864), after reading Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. This term strongly suggests natural selection, yet as Spencer extended evolution into realms of sociology and ethics, he also…
Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

Robert Malthus and the Principle of Population

On February 13, 1766, English cleric and scholar Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus was born. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society. Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. His…
John Locke and the Social Contract

John Locke and the Social Contract

On August 29, 1632, English philosopher and physician John Locke was born. One of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers he became known as the “Father of Classical Liberalism“. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in his most significant work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) which analyzed the nature of human reason, and promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge.  John Locke’s Youth and Education John…
Sociological Revolutionary – Émile Durkheim

Sociological Revolutionary – Émile Durkheim

Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) Émile Durkheim was born on April 15, 1858 and is best known for his significant sociological ideas establishing the subject as a stand alone academic discipline along with Karl Marx and Max Weber.  Émile Durkheim was born and grew up in Épinal, Lorraine as the son of a sternly religious Jewish family. But even though Durkheim decided not to follow his parent’s footsteps in the religious sense,…
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