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Sociological Theories

Using the major sociological and historical traditions as a backdrop, the sociologist C. Wright Mills criticized and amplified some of the major arguments against trends in modern thought (Mills, 1959). In his work, Mills identified two major traditions that he believed were vital in the development of a modern, workable theory of society. The first was the tendency, particularly from the implications of the writings of Max Weber, to manipulate the evidence of history in such a way as to make initial theories "fit" into a preconceived notion of society (Mills, 1959, p. 22). The second, identified as an even larger block to progress in the identification and elaboration of sociological theory, was called the Grand Theory. In this, Mills likely meant that the primary goal of the social disciplines should be that of the identification and further development of a "systematic theory of the nature of man and society" (Mills, 1959, p. 23).

Within this paper, two contrasting materials will be analyzed along varying lines of criteria. The two works under review here, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1958), and Emil Durkheim's The Division of Labor in Society (1984), both represent different approaches to similar, contemporaneous problems within sociological theory. This paper will begin with a summary of each book, and will then compare and contrast the books using a myriad of social, theoretical, and historical components.


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