sociology

John Locke and the Importance of the Social Contract

John Locke and the Importance of 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. “To love truth for truth’s sake is the…
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Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

Giambattista Vico and the Scienza Nuova

On June 23, 1668, Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist Giambattista Vico was born. An apologist of classical antiquity, Vico is best known for his magnum opus, the Scienza Nuova of 1725, often published in English as The New Science, in which he attempted to bring about the convergence of history, from the one side, and the more systematic social sciences, from the other, so that their interpenetration could form a single…
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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 views became…
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Rensis Likert and the Likert Scale Method

Rensis Likert and the Likert Scale Method

On August 5, 1903, American social psychologist Rensis Likert was born. Likert is primarily known for developing the Likert scale method, an approach to creating a psychometrically sound scale based on responses to multiple questions or “items.” Likert’s method has become a time-honored way to measure people’s reactions such as to opinion surveys as well as personality tests. “A number of statistical assumptions are made in the application of his (Thurstone’s) attitude…
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Vilfredo Pareto and the Law of the Vital Few

Vilfredo Pareto and the Law of the Vital Few

On July 15, 1848, Italian engineer, sociologist, economist, political scientist and philosopher Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born. He made several important contributions to economics, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals’ choices. The Pareto principle was named after him and built on observations of his such as that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. “The assertion that men…
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Jürgen Habermas and Communicative Rationality

Jürgen Habermas and Communicative Rationality

On June 18, 1929, German sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas was born. Widely recognized as one of the world’s leading intellectuals, Habermas is perhaps best known for his theories on communicative rationality and the public sphere. “Subjects who reciprocally recognize each other as such, must consider each other as identical, insofar as they both take up the position of subject; they must at all times subsume themselves and the other under the…
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Adolph von Knigge and the Art of Human Relations

Adolph von Knigge and the Art of Human Relations

On May 6, 1796, Freiherr Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig Knigge passed away. In Germany, Knigge is best remembered for his book ‘Über den Umgang mit Menschen‘ (On Human Relations), a treatise on the fundamental principles of human relations that has the reputation of being the authoritative guide to behaviour, politeness, and etiquette. “Without inspiration, which fills the soul with a healthy warmth, nothing great can ever be brought to pass.” — Adolph…
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Jean Piaget and Genetic Epistemology

Jean Piaget and Genetic Epistemology

On August 9, 1896, Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher Jean Piaget was born. He is best known for his epistemological studies with children. In 1934, he declared that “…only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.” Piaget created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva in 1955 and directed it until his death in 1980. The number of collaborations that its founding made possible, and…
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Alexis de Tocqueville and the Democracy in America

Alexis de Tocqueville and the Democracy in America

On July 29, 1805, French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville was born. He is best known for his Democracy in America, where he analyzed the rising living standards and social conditions of individuals and their relationship to the market and state in Western societies. Today, it is considered an early work of sociology and political science. “The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can…
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The Medium is the Message – Marshall McLuhan

The Medium is the Message – Marshall McLuhan

On July 21, 1911, Canadian philosopher of communication theory Herbert Marshall McLuhan was born. His groundbreaking work is considered to be the cornerstone of media and communication theory. McLuhan is known for coining the expressions the medium is the message and the global village, and for predicting the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. “In television, images are projected at you. You are the screen. The images wrap…
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