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Auguste Comte

Believed that a theoretical science of society and a systematic investigation of behavior were needed to improve society.

Harriet Martineau

Spoke out in favor of the rights of women, the emancipation of slaves, and religious tolerance. Believed in doing instead of just observing.

Herbert Spencer

Did not feel compelled to correct or improve society, but hoped to understand it better. Suggested that since societies are bound to change eventually, one need not work actively for social change.

Émile Durkheim

Insisted that behavior must be understood within a larger social context, not just in individualistic terms. Believed that division of labor led to anomie (loss of social norms).

Max Weber

Believed that to fully comprehend behavior, we must learn subjective meanings people attach to their actions.

Karl Marx

Very critical of existing institutions.

W.E.B. DuBois

Encouraged sociologists to view society through the eyes of those segments of population that rarely influence decision making. Many of his ideas challenged the status quo.

Charles Horton Cooley

Wanted to learn more about society, but preferred to use the sociological perspective to look first at smaller units.

Jane Addams

Combined intellectual inquiry, social service work, and political activism to assist the underprivileged and creating a more egalitarian society.

Robert Merton

Believed some may deviate from the socially approved goal of accumulating material goods or the socially accepted means of achieving that goal. Emphasized that sociology required both the macro-level and micro-level approaches.

Pierre Bourdieu

Wrote about how capital in its many forms sustains individuals and families from one generation to the next.

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