Sociology, theory and theorists

sociology, theory and theorists

Sociology is defined as the social science that deals with the origins and development of human relationships including the organisations and institutions that enable us to function as a society.

Basic principles

The basic principles of sociology work on the basis that a person’s beliefs, attitudes and actions are shaped by social structures such as communities, social categories and social institutions. Sociologists therefore analyse the behaviour patterns of distinct groups of people and assess the differences based on aspects such as race, age or sex.


Sociology has its origins in the industrial revolution and was heavily influenced by a handful of influential contributors of the time: August Comte, Herbert Spencer, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber.


The main sociology theorists are:

  • Emile Durkheim
  • Erving Goffman
  • Sir Francis Galton
  • George Herbert Mead
  • Henri Lefevbre
  • Herbert Spencer
  • Jurgen Habermas
  • Max Weber
  • Norbert Elias
  • PauloFreire
  • Pierre Bourdieu
  • Prince Peter Kropotkin
  • Talcott Parsons
  • Thorstein Bunde Veblen
  • W.E.B. DuBois

Sociological theories

Sociological theories consist of a set of ideas that sets out an explanation for and understanding of human society. The various theories tend to be selective with regards to the terms of their priorities and perceptions and the data they determine as significant. They therefore offer a a very specific and some would say piecemeal view of reality. Theories include:

  • action theory
  • altruism
  • anarcho-syndicalism
  • androcentrism
  • anomie
  • apartheid
  • aristocracy
  • atavism
  • biological determinism
  • bureaucracy
  • collectivism
  • communications theory
  • conflict theory
  • corporatism
  • eugenics
  • exclusion theory
  • feminist linguistics
  • feminist methodology
  • functionalism
  • grand theory
  • grounded theory
  • historical materialism
  • human nature
  • internal colonialism
  • law of the small number
  • Marxism
  • mass society
  • new age
  • piecemeal social engineering
  • power
  • public interest
  • racism
  • relative deprivation
  • social Darwinism
  • sociobiology
  • spontaneous order
  • structural functionalism
  • survival of the fittest
  • systems theory

Sociology as you will see is a broad and diverse subject with a wide range of topics and theories. It is very much a developing subject and much of the scope of sociology is new.