A Comparison of Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim’s Views on Society

1. Introduction:

Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim are two of the most influential theorists in the history of sociology. Both their works have shaped the way sociologists view the society today. Although their claims present some similarities, there are also evident differences between the two perspectives. In this essay, I will be discussing the major differences between Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim’s views on society. I will be comparing their views on social structure, religion, and their theoretical contributions to sociology.

2. Differences in Social Structure:

One of the major differences between Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim is their views on social structure. For Spencer, the social structure is based on a hierarchical order where people are stratified into different classes based on their economic status. He believed that this hierarchy is natural and inevitable because it is based on the law of survival of the fittest. On the other hand, Durkheim believed that social inequality is not natural and can be changed. He argued that the unequal distribution of resources is what leads to social inequality.Durkheim also believed that social cohesion is necessary for a society to function properly. He thought that if people were not bound together by shared values and beliefs, then the society would collapse.

3. Views on Religion:

Another difference between Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim is their views on religion. For Spencer, religion is a way for people to cope with the fact that they are living in an unjust world. He believed that religious beliefs help people to accept their place in society and make them more compliant with authority figures.Durkheim, on the other hand, saw religion as a force that unites people together and gives them a sense of purpose. He thought that religions help to promote social cohesion by providing people with a set of shared values and beliefs.

4. Theoretical Contributions to Sociology:

Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim have also made different theoretical contributions to sociology. For example, Spencer was one of the first sociologists to apply Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to human societies. He argued that societies evolve over time and that this process is driven by competition between different groups.Durkheim, on the other hand, was one of the first sociologists to study crime and deviance. He argued that crime is a normal part of any society and that it is necessary for social cohesion. He also argued that punishment is necessary in order to maintain social stability.

5. Conclusion:

In conclusion, there are evident differences between Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim’s views on society. These differences include their views on social structure, religion, and their theoretical contributions to sociology.

FAQ

Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim differ in their approaches to sociology in that Spencer was more focused on the individual while Durkheim was more focused on society as a whole.

The main similarities between their ideas are that they both believed in social evolution and the importance of understanding social change. The main difference is that Spencer believed that societies progress through the survival of the fittest, while Durkheim believed that they progress through solidarity.

Spencer's ideas influenced the development of sociology by helping to establish it as a discipline separate from other fields such as philosophy and history. Durkheim's ideas influenced the development of sociology by providing a framework for understanding how societies function.

Their ideas were ahead of their time in that they were some of the first to attempt to systematically study society using scientific methods.

Spencer and Durkheim's ideas compare favorably to those of other classical sociologists such as Karl Marx and Max Weber.