Herbert Spencer [1820 - 1903]

An English scholar, Herbert Spencer, known as one of the most brilliant intellects of modern times, contributed a great deal to the establishment of sociology as a systematic discipline. His three volumes of "Principles of Sociology", published in 1877 were the first systematic study devoted mainly to the sociological analysis. He was much more precise than Comte in specifying the topics or special fields of sociology.

According to Spencer. the fields of sociology are: the family, politics, religion, social control and industry or work. He also mentioned the sociological study of associations, communities, the division of labour, social differentiation, and stratification, the sociology of knowledge and of science, and the study of arts and aesthetics.

Spencer stressed the obligation of society to deal with the inter-relations between the different elements of society, to give an account of how the parts influence the whole and are in turn reacted upon. He insisted that sociology should take the whole society as its unit for analysis. He mentioned that the parts of society were not arranged unsystematically. The parts bore some constant relation and this made society as such a meaningful 'entity', a fit subject for scientific inquiry.

Spencer's another contribution is his famous organic analogy, in which society is compared with human organism. Spencer was influenced by the theory of organic evolution of his contemporary, Charles Darwin, Even L. F. Ward, Sumner and Giggings were highly influenced by the organismic theory of society advocated by Spencer.


Michael E. Marotta said...

Thank you for your objective appraisal of Herbert Spencer. I made him the subject of a term paper for a graduate class in sociology theory. Not only are his ideas still compelling, his life course is itself a study. As a radical liberal he argued that children should vote. Equal rights for women was an easy argument for him to make in the 1840s. As the Victorian Age waned, he became more conservative; and the liberalism of Birmingham capitalism also lost its edge. Spencer offers much to modern sociology and we pay him too little attention.

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I have read something spectacular about this man, Spencer developed an all-embracing conception of evolution as the progressive development of the physical world, biological organisms, the human mind, and human culture and societies. , I think that he is one of the most important person in the history!!

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Luck Stephen said...

I want to know more about his contribution to sociology

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