Assignment: Identify one main sociological theorist and discuss one main ideology that they contributed.
Harriet Martineau was an English woman born in 1802; she was born deaf and also became the victim of various illnesses throughout her life. Despite all of this, she became an enormously popular writer, addressing a broad spectrum of social issues of the day. Like her counterparts, Compte and Spencer, Martineau was a positivist who believed in social laws and the progressive evolution of society. She was especially convinced that the most important law of social life was the happiness of people therefore she sought to study how individuals developed “morals and manners” to accomplish this. Martineau developed a specific approach to study the way in which society achieved this progress which included the condition of the less powerful groups in society, and the cultural attitudes towards authority and autonomy. She was very concerned with issues like gender, racial and class inequality.
Martineau did several main pieces of writings that are widely recognized in sociology today; one of her best known works was “Society in America” (1837) which is the result of a visit she made to the U.S. that year, where she was overwhelmed by the condition of the lives of slaves on the plantations. This also led to her becoming an advocate for the abolition of slavery, as well as for women’s rights. Another popular publication is her translation and condensing of Auguste Comte’s Philosophy Positive (1853). Harriet Martineau died in 1876, by which time she had elaborated a fine methodology for the study of social life.
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