Basic perspectives and schools of developing sociology in the XX century

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MINISTERY OF EDUCATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS Belarus State Economic University REFERAT: «Basic perspectives and schools of developing sociology in the XX century» Minsk 2008 In the XX century sociological science has undergone considerable changes. Modern sociology presents an extremely complex system of theories, conceptions, hypotheses, methods and ways of investigating social phenomena. Of importance is the fact that the evolution of main perspectives and schools of modern Western sociology went along simultaneously on its three levels: theoretic, applied and empiric. Empiric researches had been carried out before but they didn’t bear a systematic character; neither had they some developed methodology and methods of research. An empiric direction that appeared in

the XX century can be considered an opposition to the theoretic constructions of classical sociology of the XIX century. It was given birth by the attempts to overcome theorizing of social philosophy, on the one hand, and by the necessity to solve practical issues of governing social processes, on the other hand. Most actively sociology developed in the USA to meet some significant needs; first, to extend beyond the framework of the European tradition, second, due to the necessities required by a fast development of American industrial society and practical implementation of newly appeared social problems. American sociology is represented by numerous schools and directions and the Chicago school is one of them. When the University of Chicago was founded in 1892, it established

the nation’s first department of sociology. The study of sociology was still a relatively undeveloped field, but by the 1920s the department had become nationally famous as the department pioneered research on urban studies, poverty, the family, the workplace, immigrants, ethnic and race relations, and developed important research methods using mapping and survey techniques. From the 1920s to the 1930s, urban sociology was almost synonymous with the work of the Chicago school. The major researchers in this school included William Thomas, Florian Znaniecki, Robert Park, Louis Wirth, Ernest Burgess, Everett Hughes, and Robert McKenzie. The books which opened the school were The City: Suggestion for the Investigation of Human Behaviour in the City Environment by R. Park and a big

monograph Polish peasant in Europe and America 1918-1920 by F. Znaniecki and W. Thomas. Florian Znaniecki (1882-1958) is a philosopher and sociologist who taught and wrote in Poland and the United States. He gained international fame as the co-author with William Thomas (1863-1947) of The Polish Peasant in Europe and America that is considered the foundation of modern empirical sociology and humanist sociology. In this work, analyzing private documents (letters, diaries, memoirs etc.) the sociologists investigated the problems of migrants’ adaptation to a new social and cultural milieu. The Chicago School of Sociology grew to prominence under Robert E. Park (1864-1944). Along with E. Burgess and L. Wirth, Park created a theoretical basis for a systematic study of the society.

Along with W. Thomas, he gave major impetus to the movement which shifted sociology from social philosophy to an inductive science of human behaviour. A partial list of the fields in which Park made significant contributions includes social psychology and the theory of personality; studies on the community; the city; human ecology (he coined the term); the social survey (as an institution); crowd and public – the field of collective behaviour (R. Park is often called the sociologist of collective behaviour); and most of all, race relations and conflicts of cultures. In the field of method he made valuable contributions as to the use of life histories, guided and unguided, for the investigation of personality. But in the 1940-50s the leadership in developing empiric sociology