Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

The Modern Social Sciences


Sociology emerged in response to the problem of social order in modern society in the wake of the American and French Revolutions and the rise of industrialism and market capitalism. Sociology had its roots in the theories of August Comte and Herbert Spencer and in empirical work previously conducted by census bureaus, state labor boards, and reform organizations. By the 1880s, sociologists had perceived a threat in the alliance with biology: It undercut the need for a separate discipline and, in Spencer's laissez-faire version, tainted the discipline among social reformers and other constituencies crucial to its success. In Dynamic Sociology, the American Lester Frank Ward addressed both issues. On the surface, American and European sociology during the interwar decades was a study in contrasts. The 1960s spelled the end of 'modern' sociology. In the United States, Parsons's hegemony and Merton's 'middle range' compromise gave way to a politically charged humanist/positivist divide.

Published By

Cambridge University Press


D. Ross and T. M. Porter


This material has been published in The Modern Social Sciences, edited by D. Ross and T. M. Porter. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Find in Tripod

Included in

History Commons