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Ch 2: Key Sociology Theorists

About This Chapter

Watch online video lessons and learn about key sociology theorists, such as Marx, Durkheim and Merton. Use the quick quizzes that follow each lesson to test your understanding of the material.

Key Sociology Theorists

Many theorists have studied society and developed ideas based upon their findings. These ideas help to shape how we view society and what is done to aid in the development of society. As you watch these lessons, you'll study multiple theorists and their ideas. You will learn about:

  • Gerhard Lenski's theories of sociocultural evolution, social stratification & technology, including his description of the types of society - hunting/gathering, horticulture, pastoralism, agrarian, industrial and post-industrial
  • Karl Marx's key theories on the differences among capitalists, proletarians and bourgeoisie, including an explanation of false consciousness, class conflict, alienation and his views of religion
  • Max Weber's idea of rationality and how it applies to capitalism, religion and social organization
  • Emile Durkheim's theories on society as a functional system and the connection between modernity and anomie
  • W.E.B. DuBois' ideas of racial conflict and the African-American double consciousness, and Harriet Martineau's belief that all aspects and members of society should be studied
  • C. Wright Mills' concept of sociological imagination and the power elite, and Robert K. Merton's distinction between manifest functions, latent functions and dysfunctions

Each of our video lessons is designed to be informative, accessible, and enjoyable. All video lessons are taught by experts on the subject matter and put together by professional video editors.

14 Lessons in Chapter 2: Key Sociology Theorists
Charles Horton Cooley: Looking Glass Self and the Effect of Primary Groups

1. Charles Horton Cooley: Looking Glass Self and the Effect of Primary Groups

Charles Horton Cooley was a sociologist who wanted to better understand society and human behavior. He believed that the influence of groups within a society had a strong impact on human behavior. In this lesson, we will discuss primary groups, the theory of the looking-glass self and the concept that one's self and society are distinctly one unit, not two.

Herbert Spencer: Theory & Social Darwinism

2. Herbert Spencer: Theory & Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer was one of the leading sociologists of his time and was an influencer of the structural-functionalist perspective. Learn more about the man who coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest' and understand the positive and negative aspects of social Darwinism.

Gerhard Lenski's Theories of Sociocultural Evolution, Social Stratification & Technology

3. Gerhard Lenski's Theories of Sociocultural Evolution, Social Stratification & Technology

In this lesson, you will learn how Gerhard Lenski studied the amount of technology a society had and how such technology could allow a society to evolve and change. This lesson will also describe the various types of societies and their level of technology.

Karl Marx: Theory of Class Consciousness and False Consciousness

4. Karl Marx: Theory of Class Consciousness and False Consciousness

In this lesson, you will learn what Karl Marx meant by a society having a class consciousness and a false consciousness. This lesson will also discuss how, according to Marx, these two elements can either help or hinder working-class members of a society.

Karl Marx on Religion: How Religion Affects Social Inequality

5. Karl Marx on Religion: How Religion Affects Social Inequality

This lesson will discuss Karl Marx's view of how religion is an 'opiate for the people' and perpetuates social inequality. It will discuss how Karl Marx believed that religion was a way for the poor to accept their poverty and for the wealthy to control the poor.

Karl Marx's Theories: Class Differentiation and Revolution, Socialism & Capitalism

6. Karl Marx's Theories: Class Differentiation and Revolution, Socialism & Capitalism

In this lesson, we will discuss the difference between socialism and capitalism, how Karl Marx believed that social class dictated one's social life and who were the bourgeoisie and proletariat.

Bureaucracy: Max Weber's Theory of Impersonal Management

7. Bureaucracy: Max Weber's Theory of Impersonal Management

At a time when organizations were run like families, Max Weber looked for ways to bring a more formalized structure to organizations. Weber created the idea of bureaucratic management where organizations are more authoritative, rigid and structured. This lesson will describe the development of bureaucracy and common characteristics of bureaucratic organizations.

Emile Durkheim: Society, Integration Level & Suicide Study

8. Emile Durkheim: Society, Integration Level & Suicide Study

In this lesson, we will focus on the research conducted by Emile Durkheim regarding the rate of suicide and social factors that may contribute to suicide.

Emile Durkheim's Theories: Functionalism, Anomie and Division of Labor

9. Emile Durkheim's Theories: Functionalism, Anomie and Division of Labor

How does a society function? This lesson will help answer this question through an exploration of Emile Durkheim's theories of functionalism, anomie, and division of labor.

W.E.B. Du Bois: Theories, Accomplishments & Double Consciousness

10. W.E.B. Du Bois: Theories, Accomplishments & Double Consciousness

W.E.B. Du Bois was an important figure in American civil rights history, and his idea of the double consciousness delved into what it felt like to live as a black person in a white people's world. Learn more about his life and works in this lesson.

Harriet Martineau: Theories and Contributions to Sociology

11. Harriet Martineau: Theories and Contributions to Sociology

In this lesson, we will look at the contributions to sociology made by Harriet Martineau. She is considered the first woman sociologist and studied many social problems of her time.

C. Wright Mills: Sociological Imagination and the Power Elite

12. C. Wright Mills: Sociological Imagination and the Power Elite

This lesson discusses the sociologist C. Wright Mills and his view on the power elite and the sociological imagination. In this lesson, you will also discover what the term sociological imagination means and how it relates to social issues.

Robert K. Merton: Theories and Functionalism

13. Robert K. Merton: Theories and Functionalism

This lesson will discuss Robert Merton's functionalist view of society. Merton distinguished between the types of functions within each social structure - manifest functions and latent functions. This lesson also discusses how not all functions serve a society positively.

Erving Goffman's Theories: Impression Management, Dramaturgy & Symbolic Interaction

14. Erving Goffman's Theories: Impression Management, Dramaturgy & Symbolic Interaction

This lesson introduces the work of Erving Goffman, a sociologist who helped to explain society through the everyday interactions of people. You will learn what he meant by saying that people are all actors playing a part - and that our behavior is dictated by symbols and whether we are in public or private.

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