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1 (1820-1903) Evolutionism & Functionalism Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) Evolutionism & Functionalism 1820 - 1903.

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Presentation on theme: "1 (1820-1903) Evolutionism & Functionalism Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) Evolutionism & Functionalism 1820 - 1903."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 ( ) Evolutionism & Functionalism Herbert Spencer ( ) Evolutionism & Functionalism

2 Personal Personal Born in small brick house near Derby England Mother-Harriet, quiet, Methodist Father- William, teacher

3 Education Taught at home by: Father Later, his uncle Main focus=science

4 Occupation 1837 (age17) an engineer at London and Birmingham Railroad Later: draftsman for Birmingham Railway ◦ Discharged in 1841 ◦ Returned home to Derby

5 5 Herbert Spencer 1853: Inheritance from uncle Life: Private scholar Bachelor Frugal

6 Social Environment: Ideas Emerging upper class Industrial working class ◦ Drawn to socialism Notions of inequality & social difference

7 Social Environment: Ideas “Middle-class rural radicalism” 1. Opposed centralized 1. Opposed centralized authority authority 2. Supported separation of church & state church & state 3. Anti-aristocratic (aristocrats=lazy) (aristocrats=lazy)

8 Social Environment: Ideas ◦ “Middle-class rural radicalism” (cont.) 4. Against socialism 5. Anti-military 6. Secular progress & human reason 7. Meritocracy

9 Social Environment: Ideas “Antigovernment Individualism” “Antigovernment Individualism” ◦ Small government is best ◦ Government provides: 1. Military 2. Protection for individual rights

10 Social Environment: Ideas “Naturalistic Evolutionism” 1.Applies to all natural phenomena 2.Sequences of growth & development 3.Slow, step by step progress

11 Social Environment: Ideas “Positivistic Uniformitarianism” ◦ Same evolutionary processes: ◦ Biological ◦ Psychological ◦ Social ◦ Cumulative effect of small changes over long time

12 Social Environment: Ideas Utopia ◦ Evil is eliminated ◦ People live in harmony ◦ Society based on “Spontaneous voluntaristic cooperation” ◦ Happiness for all

13 Social Environment: Ideas Sociology replaces religion ◦ Evolution=god ◦ Government (regulation & intervention=the devil)

14 Life Published in radical press “The Proper Sphere of Government”  Supported extreme restriction on scope of government

15 The Proper Sphere of Government Only Policing Everything else-> Private enterprise ◦ No poor laws ◦ No national education ◦ No established church ◦ No restrictions on commerce ◦ No factory legislation

16 16 Herbert Spencer First book (1850) Social Statics ◦ Based on “The Proper Sphere of Government”  Supported laissez faire government

17 17 1/24 Herbert Spencer Basic argument of Social Statics: “Human happiness can be achieved only when individuals can satisfy their needs and desires without infringing on the rights of others to do the same.”

18 Herbert Spencer Disagreed with Comte on government intervention ◦ Natural order of societies is hierarchy Comte: “Social Priests” (governmental powers) ◦ Help society run smoothly

19 Spencer’s Intellectual Roots Thomas Paine ◦ Individual rights ◦ Human perfectibility Adam Smith ◦ No government interference ◦ Invisible hand of the market Marian Evans (aka George Eliot) ◦ Feminism (for awhile)

20 MW/Spencer’s View of the Individual Lamarkianism ◦ Acquired traits-> Inherited Emotion/Sentiments ◦ Dominate intellect Survival of the fittest ◦ Traits change through use & disuse

21 Spencer’s View of the Individual Gender ◦ Earlier believed gender was learned ◦ Later reversed position ◦ Women’s intellectual abilities sacrificed for reproduction ◦ Women destined by nature for domestic role

22 Methodology All natural phenomena explained by evolution “Social occurrences” are natural phenomena Evolution—Progressive change in: Evolution—Progressive change in: ◦ Mass (population) ◦ Density (crowding) ◦ Differentiation (dividing into parts)

23 Methodology Evolution (continued) ◦ Specialization ◦ Different functions ◦ Integration ◦ Parts work together ◦ Adaptation ◦ Change improves function

24 24 Herbert Spencer Class of Theories: Organicism Societal Evolution--Social Darwinism Society is similar to a special organism obeying its own laws of ‘progress.’

25 Social Darwinism 1. Not Darwinism ◦ Darwinism is Not teleological 2. Survival of the fittest = Spencerism Is teleolocigal-> Perfect society Is teleolocigal-> Perfect society

26 26 Herbert Spencer Around 1854, suffered nervous illness ◦ Unable to concentrate, write, or read Acute insomnia ◦ Heavy doses of opium Retreated from society ◦ Became semi-hermit

27 Spencer’s Importance to Sociology 1 1. A positivist 2. Sociology verify causation 3. Sociologists should be cultural relativists


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