Medieval society to modernity

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Modernity, began in Europe, but yet it affected every state in the West and, to some grade, all the states of the universe. The passage from traditional medieval society to modernness is easy to place. The Enlightenment brought about a period of alteration. God was no longer thought to be at the Centre of the existence, there was a move from agribusiness to industry which saw three revolutions signalling the coming of modernness in the signifiers of the industrial revolution in England 1780-1840 the democratic revolutions of the United States of America in 1776 and France in 1789 and the “ The scientific revolution ” ( 1500-1700 ) . Capitalism became the prevailing economic force and sociological construct of modernness is hence associated with industrialisation, urbanisation, secularisation, bureaucratism and advancement.

The Enlightenment is the name given to an rational motion developed in Western Europe in the 17th and eighteenth Century. It came approximately through the thoughts and attitudes of a group of authors ( called philosophers in France ) , who helped make ‘a new model of thoughts about adult male, society and nature ‘ . ( Hamilton 1992:23 ) These philosophers established a direct challenge to the traditional construct of the universe generated by the Roman church. The Philosophers involved believed that they were more enlightened than their compatriots and put out to edify them ; hence the period of clip was labelled the ‘enlightenment ‘ . They were strongly influenced by the rise of modern scientific discipline and by what had happened after the long spiritual struggle that followed the Reformation. Possibly the most important root of the Enlightenment was so the Scientific Revolution, which affected the position of the universe. Enlightenment philosophers were act uponing critics to utilize logic, ground, and rationalism in order to understand the universe. “ The scientific revolution ( 1500-1700 ) gave rise to the spirit of enquiry, logical thinking, and the critical ( scientific ) method of geting at the truth ” ( Kramnick ) .

Kramnick, Isaac. “ Thematic Essay: Political and Social Thought of the Enlightenment, ” Microsoft & A ; reg ; Encarta & A ; reg ; Online Encyclopaedia 2009 hypertext transfer protocol: // & A ; transcript ; 1997-2009 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Basically, the English and Gallic revolutions were significantly different. The nature of the Industrial Revolution within England provided the people with an ideal towards greater freedom and cultural look, as consumerism began to rule society. France on the other manus, was more visibly concerned with the issue of faith than England was. Medieval Europe thought the authorization was the word of God and was revealed through the instructions of the Roman church. The enlightenment challenged this whilst accepting new thoughts of faith, myth and tradition therefore assisting make a new religion through cognition and ground. The enlightenment ushered a period of uncertainness for faith in Europe, and Christianity in specific was criticised by the enlightenment authors. One theory that gained broad attending in the enlightenment suggested that faith was ‘the innovation of cultic leaders or priests, whose premier consideration was the promotion of their ain involvements ‘ ( Yolton et al 1996: 447 ) . Yolton, J et Al ( 1996 ) Enlightenment ( Blackwell )

Galileo was in fact imprisoned and about killed because of his beliefs and theories that questioned the traditional thoughts and attitudes of the church. In order to get away Galileo had to get down his pride and admit he was incorrect, even though he knew has was right. Although the philosophers involved in the enlightenment continued to believe in God, the findings they made meant the footing of cognition was no longer seen as the word of God as the church believed, as described by Hamilton in his book ‘The Enlightenment and the Birth of Social Science ( 1992: 55-56 ) . “ For the first clip adult male could make bold cognize about the societal agreements under which he lived, instead than hold them presented to him through the befoging haze of a spiritual political orientation. By cognizing about these societal agreements their operation would go clear and therefore unfastened to alter. ” In other words the enlightenment leads to science and natural doctrine replacing faith as the agencies of cognition.

“ During the enlightenment religion in godly disclosure, and the authorization of the Church, were progressively undermined by the new assurance in the ability of human ground to supply an apprehension of the universe. Similarly, the apprehension of history as the history of the autumn of adult male from God ‘s grace, with religious redemption merely come-at-able in the following universe, was mostly replaced by a belief in human perfectibility and the increasing religion in adult males power and ability to utilize his new-found cognition to better world ‘s province ” . ( Badham 1986:79 ) Badham ( 1986 ) Theories of Industrial Society

Enlightenment brought about a cultural alteration in what creates cognition and what the intent of cognition is. After the enlightenment, history was no longer seen as ‘synonymous with God working his intent out. ‘ ( Smart, 1992, Pg8 ) Smart, B ( 1992 ) Modern Conditions, Postmodern Controversies ( Routledge ) Power of human ground was now used to make cognition. The enlightenment period challenged beginnings of authorization dramatically, ne’er before had people dare inquiry the word of church until this clip, and the enlightenment brought about a great trade of alteration in the manner people perceived the universe.

The thought of a ‘social contract ‘ is another of import characteristic of the Enlightenment. The cardinal construct in Jean-Jacques Rousseau ‘s idea is ‘liberty ‘ and most of his plants trade with the mechanisms through which worlds are forced to give up their autonomy. This issue which Rousseau confronted most of his life is summed up in the first sentence of his most celebrated work, The Social Contract:

“ Man is born free but everyplace in ironss. ” ( Rousseau ( 1762 ) , 1973: 165 ) .Rousseau, J.J ( [ 1762 ] 1973 ) The Social Contract, Everyman

The progressives welcomed the dramatic alterations because persons are of course rational and should be able to prosecute their ain involvements, the remotion of traditional restraints and the outgrowth of authoritiess which guaranteed the rights of the person were hence seen as progressive developments. For socialists this did non travel far plenty, human existences are of course sociable and their demands can merely be met jointly, this necessitates the replacing for capitalist economy which divides people by socialism which enables them to collaborate. On the other manus to these two optimistic responses to societal alteration, conservativists exhibited horror ; human existences are of course a member of a societal being, unequal but depending on each other. These revolutions in their neglect for tradition and their rupture of the natural order were seen as unsafe developments.

The three most normally mentioned sociological positions are Functionalism, which is a system theory. Marxism which is frequently seen as a struggle theory and in add-on there is besides Social Action Theory. August Comte, Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons are known as the three best-known Functionalists. When you look into the Social Action Theory you come across many articles by Max Weber, who is one of the earliest known Social Actionist and George Herbert Mead. Very few sociologists really write about Marxism other than Karl Marx himself.

Functionalism is a theoretical position based on the impression that societal events can be best explained in footings of the maps they perform, that is the parts they make to the continuity of society. Furthermore, they view society as a complex system whose assorted parts work in relationship to each other in a manner that needs to be understood. ( Giddens 4th Edition, 2001, page 689 ) . Functionalism is based on a systems theory. The thoughts behind the position are that our behavior is governed and constrained by societal forces. In other words, we are what we are because of the societal groups that we belong to. Functionalists see society as a system based upon the same lines as the human organic structure. The analysis used to depict functionalism is frequently compared to the working of the human organic structure. Therefore, if you describe how the human organic structure works, you can compare society to the same system. Each portion of the organic structure i.e. the heart/family, lungs/workplace and brain/government, have a peculiar occupation to carry through within the overall system. However, you need them to be working in concurrence for the system to work decently. In a similar manner it is the part we make within our society, which enable us to boom. The assorted parts of the society, such as the household or faith must be seen in relation to society as a whole. ( Haalambos and Halborn, 5th Edition, 2001, page 9 )

The term ‘sociology was coined by a Gallic adult male named Auguste Comte ( 1798-1857 ) in 1838. He wanted to understand the great societal alterations that had occurred around him and made the earliest part to the development of sociological thought. He set about inventing a ‘science of sociology ‘ . A scientific discipline in the mode set down by the scientist and philosophers of the Enlightenment. He believed that the methods used in the natural scientific disciplines could be applied to the survey of society, therefore Comte was a advocate of Positivism, defined as ‘an epistemic place that advocates the application of the methods of the natural scientific disciplines to the survey of societal world and beyond ‘ ( Bryman, A, 2004: 542 ) . Bryman A. ( 2004 ) Social Research Methods, New York: Oxford University Press Comte has peculiar prominence given to him because his thought reflected the disruptive times of his age and besides because he coined the word sociology in other to be different from other minds. He was a Gallic adult male who noticed that the Gallic revolution had introduced important alterations into the society and he besides sought to explicate and make a scientific discipline of the society that could explicate the societal Torahs of the universe merely as scientific discipline explained the Torahs of the physical universe. He argued that the society conforms to the invariable Torahs in much the same manner that the physical universe does. His jurisprudence of three phases claims that the human attempts to understand the universe have passed through the theological and metaphysical and positive phases. He was keenly cognizant of the province of the society that he lived. He was concerned with the inequalities being produced by industrialisation and the menace they posed to societal coherence. In his position, the long term solution was the production of moral consensus that would assist to modulate or keep the society together. His visions for the society were ne’er realized, his part to systematizing and uniting the scientific discipline of society.

Another Key mind is Emile Durkheim ( 1858-1917 ) , He did pull on many facets of Comte ‘s Work but he believed that Comte ‘s thoughts where excessively “ bad and obscure and that Comte had non successfully carried out his programme ” ( Gidden ‘s, 2001: 8 ) . Giddens, A. ( 2001 ) sociology ( 4th edition ) , Cambridge: civil order Durkheim did believe that societal life could be studied with the same objectiveness as the natural universe and he developed the construct of societal facts, which should be studied by sociologists ; “ societal facts are facets of societal life that shape our actions as persons, such as the province of economic system or the influence of faith ” ( Gidden ‘s, 2001: 9 ) . Giddens, A. ( 2001 ) sociology ( 4th edition ) , Cambridge: civil order for him his chief rational concern of sociology is the survey of societal facts. He stated that the facets of societal life shape our actions as persons, such as the province of the economic system or the influence of faith. However, he conceded that societal facts are hard to analyze because they are unseeable and intangible and they can non be observed straight. He alternatively states that they must be revealed indirectly which is by analysing their effects or by sing efforts that have been made at their look, such as Torahs, spiritual texts or written regulations of behavior. He was concerned with the alterations that were transforming society in his ain life-time. He was peculiarly interested in societal and moral solidarity ; this was in other words what held the society together and held it from falling into pandemonium. He stated that there are two types of solidarity and he contrasted them together, mechanical and organic, associating them to the division of labor and the growing and differentiations between the different businesss. However, the forces of industrialisation and urbanisation led to a turning division of labor that contributed to the dislocation of solidarity.

Karl Marx ( 1818-1883 ) Marx ‘s thoughts were strikingly different from that of Comte ‘s and Durkheim. Marx thoughts where inspired by the industrial revolution and argued that the system of capitalist economy affected human experience. He focused on struggles between the categories, and the demand for significant societal alteration to a communist society. His political activities brought him into struggle with the German governments, after a brief stay in France, he settled for good in expatriate in Britain. He nevertheless witnessed the growing of mills and the inequalities that resulted. His point of views were grounded in what he called the materialist construct of history. Harmonizing to this position, it is non thoughts or values human existences hold that are the chief beginnings of societal alteration. Rather societal alteration is prompted chiefly by the economic influences. He believed in the inevitableness of a workers revolution which would subvert the capitalist system and usher in a new society in which there would be no categories, the rich and the hapless. Marx gave names to the rich persons and have nots, they are known as the Bourgeoise and the Proletariats. One manner of measuring the power of the upper category is through the survey of elites ( people who fill the top places in each of the major establishments of society ) ; most of the sociological arguments have centered on economic elites and political elites. ( Sociology in focal point 5th Edition, 2000, page 53 ) They differ from functionalists in the manner that they see the difference. He did non intend that inequalities would vanish ; he instead stated that society would no longer be split into a little category that monopolizes economic and political power and the big mass of people who benefit small from the wealth their work creates. He believed that in the society of the future production would be more advanced and efficient than production under capitalist economy. Karl Marx is quoted as stating political orientation is a deformation of world, it binds members of society to the contradictions and struggles of involvement that are built into their society ‘s. ( Haralambos and Holborn, 5th Edition, 2002, page 13 )

Max Weber ( 1864-1920 ) was influenced by Marx, but saw category struggle as less important and believed that thoughts and values had as much impact on societal alteration. He developed the thought of ‘ideal types ‘ , which are “ conceptual and analytical theoretical accounts that can be used to understand the universe ” . Weber made usage of ideal types in his authorship on signifiers of bureaucratism and the market. He hence merely can non be labelled a sociologist as his involvement and concerns ranged across many countries. He was born in Germany where he spent most of his academic calling. He was most concerned with the development of modern capitalist economy and the ways in which modern society was different from earlier signifiers of societal organisation. In common with minds of his clip, he sought to understand the nature and causes of societal alteration ; he was influenced by Marx but was besides critical of some of his positions. He saw category struggle as less important than Marx. He believed that sociology should concentrate on societal action, non structures ; he argued that human motive and thoughts were the forces behind alteration. Harmonizing to him, persons have the free will to move and determine their hereafter.

Social Action Theory is frequently described as the alternate theory. Social Actionists see people as persons who have a right to respond as and how they wish. They say that how we react with each other in our society is mostly up to us as single societal being. It is asocietal position that focuses on the significance and connotations that underpin human actions. Social active positions are concerned with the manner in which the homo actively and creatively interprets the universe around them. Rather than the external forces which could be used as a usher( Giddens 4th Edition,2001, page 698 )

It is deserving indicating out here that sociology did non go the institutionalized and professional subject that we know today until the terminal of the 19th and the beginning of the twentieth century. As Jenkins puts it ‘Comte foremost gave it a name and Marx sketched out some of its most abiding thoughts… sociology as we know it today was established… by Weber, Simmel, Durkheim and Mead ‘ ( Jenkins, 2002:21 ) . Jenkins R. ( 2002 ) foundations of sociology, Basingstoke: Palgrave

The enlightenment period is frequently referred to as the ‘age of ground ‘ . The enlightenment influenced people lives a great trade, and without this period, the universe would non be how it is today. It enabled people to hold the right to show their positions freely and publically without the fright of being imprisoned or even killed.


Bauman Z and May T. ( 2001 ) Thinking Sociologically, Oxford: Blackwell

Bryman A. ( 2004 ) Social Research Methods, New York: Oxford University Press

Giddens, A. ( 1997 ) Sociology ( 3RD edition ) , Cambridge: Civil order

Giddens, A. ( 2001 ) sociology ( 4th edition ) , Cambridge: civil order

Jenkins R. ( 2002 ) foundations of sociology, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Lee, D and Newby, H. ( 1983 ) The Problem of Sociology, London: Hutchinson/Routledge

Macionis, J. J. and Plummer, K. ( 2002 ) sociology: A Global Introduction, Harlow, Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge

Wright Mills, C. ( 1959 ) The sociological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press/Harmondsworth: Pelican


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