A History of Classical Sociology (Student's Library) by Igor Kon (Editor)

By Igor Kon (Editor)

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Evolutionism, as the leading trend of the social thought of the time, was based on the ideas of the unity of the laws of the history of nature and of man, the unity of the method of the natural and social sciences, so undermining providentialist and finalist explanations of development. Evolutionism closely linked sociology with ethnology, solving their common problems of the genesis of society and culture. To that was due the exceptional attention of sociology then to primitive history and comparative study of the origin and development of the social institutions of peoples without 57 a written language, whose culture was transmitted predominantly by oral tradition.

G. Sumner). Proponents of a psychological orientation, on the contrary, criticised him for his naturalism. The crisis of evolutionism at the turn of the century evoked sharp criticism of Spencer. But Durkheim had already seen in him the forerunner of the functionalist trend. 20 Later, however, he was cited less and less. 21 Historians of sociology of 1940-50 agreed with that. The advent of neo-evolutionism, on the one hand, and of cybernetics and the systems approach, on the other, again raised interest in the West in him, and he was seen as a precursor of these new currents, although they were not born, of course, on foundation of Spencerism.

The quantitative growth and complication of the structure of social aggregates entailed a process of functional and structural differentiation of the whole. In primitive social organisms their separate parts and functions were weakly differentiated and similar to one another. One and the 49 same partial structure could perform several different social functions in them, and one and the same function could be performed by several different structures. As society grew its parts became more and more unlike one another.

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