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Herbert spencer


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Herbert spencer

  1. 1. SOC4044 SociologicalTheory:Herbert SpencerSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender 1
  2. 2. Herbert Spencer ReferencesCoser, Lewis A. 1977. Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context . 2d ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.Keb, Julia Ann. 1999. “Herbert Spencer: Social Darwinism in Education.” Retrieved October 6, 1999 (, Linda A., David Knox, and Caroline Schacht. 1997. Understanding Social Problems. New York: West Publishing Company.Peel, J. D. Y. 1974. “Spencer and the Neo-evolutionists.“ Pp. 188-209 in Theories and Paradigms in Contemporary Sociology. Edited by R. Serge Denisfoff, Orel Callahan, and Mark H. Levine. Itasca, IL: F. E. Peacock Publishers, Incorporated.Perdue, William D. 1986. Sociological Theory: Explanation, Paradigm, and Ideology . Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company.Spencer, Herbert. [1850] 1888. Social Statics: or, the Condition Essential to Human Happiness Specified and the First of Them Developed. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Spencer, Herbert. [1873] 1961. The Study of Sociology. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Spencer, Herbert. 1897. The Principles of Sociology, Part VIII .Toffler, Alvin. 1980. The Third Wave. New York: Bantam Books.Turner, Jonathan H. 1998. The Structure of Sociological Theory . 6th ed. Cincinnati, OH: Wadsworth Publishing Company.Turner, Jonathan H., Leonard Beeghley, and Charles H. Powers. 1998. The Emergence of Sociology Theory. 4th ed. Cincinnati, OH: Wadsworth Publishing Company.Wang, Bee Lan C. 1985. “Population and Hunger.” Pp. 284-295 in Social Problems: Christian Perspectives. Edited by Charles P. DeSanto and Margaret M. Poloma. Winston-Salem, NC: Hunter Textbooks, Incorporated.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith2Bolender
  3. 3. Herbert Spencer 1820 - 1903Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith Bolender 3
  4. 4. Herbert Spencer Born April 27, 1820 in Derby, England Located in the heart of British industry Oldest of nine children, the only to survive Religious/political/philosophical background Nonconformist Dissenters Partial Quaker in thinking Supported laissez-faire economics (Coser 1977:102-103; Perdue 1986:56)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith4Bolender
  5. 5. Herbert Spencer Taught at home by his father and later his uncle Education--heavy in science--very light in Latin, Greek, English, and History By age 16 he had a good background in mathematics and the natural sciences Never would become a generally educated individualSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith5Bolender
  6. 6. Herbert Spencer In 1837 (at the age of 17) he became an engineer at London and Birmingham Railroad Later he worked as a draftsman for the Birmingham Railway Discharged in 1841---he returned home to DerbySunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith6Bolender
  7. 7. Herbert Spencer Next few years published several articles in the radical press “The Proper Sphere of Government” Argued for an extreme restriction of the scope of government • The whole field of human activity (except for policing) should be left to private enterprise • There are no poor laws, no national education, no established church, no restrictions on commerce, and no factory legislationSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith7Bolender
  8. 8. Herbert Spencer In 1850, he finished his first book, Social Statics Based on the theme in “The Proper Sphere of Government” • Creed of laissez faire His work was in disagreement with Comte in the area of “intervention.” Comte visualized that a “social priest” (with governmental powers) would fine tune society so that society would run as smoothly as possible. • Similar to the role of the chairperson of the Federal Reserve (in the United States) in fine tuning the economy via changing interest rates.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith8Bolender
  9. 9. Herbert SpencerThe basic argument of Social Statics can be stated as follows: 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. (Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:45-46)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith9Bolender
  10. 10. Herbert Spencer Each member of the race. . .must not only be endowed with faculties enabling him to receive the highest enjoyment in the act of living, but must be so constituted that he may obtain full satisfaction for every desire, without diminishing the power of others to obtain like satisfaction: nay, to fulfill the purpose perfectly, must derive pleasure from seeing pleasure in others. (Spencer [1850] 1888:448)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith10 Bolender
  11. 11. Herbert Spencer “The Developmental Hypothesis” 1852, seven years prior to Darwin’s Origin of Species Expounded and advocated a theory of evolutionSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith11 Bolender
  12. 12. Herbert Spencer In 1853 he received a sizable inheritance from his uncle’s estate From then on he lived the life of a private scholar A lifelong bachelor living frugally in various lodgings and rooming houses in LondonSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith12 Bolender
  13. 13. Herbert Spencer Around 1854, Spencer suffered from a nervous illness--at times unable to concentrate, write, or even to read Attempted to overcome acute insomnia with heavy doses of opium He eventually retreated from society, became a semi-hermitSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith13 Bolender
  14. 14. Herbert Spencer Principles of Biology (several volumes 1864- 1867) Textbook used at Oxford The Study of Sociology (1873) Textbook used at Yale University William Graham Sumner taught Spencerism at Yale Principles of Psychology (two volumes 1870- 1872) Textbook used at Harvard UniversitySunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith14 Bolender
  15. 15. Herbert Spencer Throughout his life Spencer refused nearly all honors offered him by universities, the government, or scientific bodies. He had no official position and no university degree. Yet during the last quarter of the century he enjoyed an international reputation and influence almost comparable to that of Charles Darwin. (Coser 1977:107)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith15 Bolender
  16. 16. Herbert Spencer Paradigm: Order Class of Theories: Organicism Societal Evolution Social Darwinism (Turner 1998:80) “Society is akin to a special organism obeying its own laws of ‘progress.’” Platonic Theme The natural order of all societies is one of hierarchy. (Perdue 1986:47)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith16 Bolender
  17. 17. Herbert Spencer Almost a decade before Darwin published On the Origin of Species , Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.” Spencer’s Social Statics [1850] Spencer had used the phrase earlier when writing articles for newspapers. (Turner 1998:80, 85)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith17 Bolender
  18. 18. Herbert Spencer “. . .Spencer had made the connection between biology and sociology.” (Turner 1998:80) This is a profound statement. A large segment of sociological thought is closely aligned with biology--especially in ecological themes.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith18 Bolender
  19. 19. Herbert SpencerComte had allied sociology with biology, arguing that in the hierarchy of the sciences, sociology would emerge from biology and become the “queen science.”Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith19 Bolender
  20. 20. Herbert SpencerBut Spencer did more than make superficial analogies between biological and social bodies, he proclaimed that sociology was to be the study of superorganic organisms--that is, relations among living organisms--and he included more than human organisms in this definitions. (Turner 1998:80)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith20 Bolender
  21. 21. Herbert Spencer Survival Similarities in Social and Biological Systems Production of life-sustaining substances Reproduction of system parts Regulation and control of actions by system parts Distribution of information and materials among system units (Turner 1998:80)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith21 Bolender
  22. 22. Herbert Spencer The sociological concept of progress was elevated by Spencer. The evolution of society involves increasing complexity of social structure and associate culture symbols, and this complexity increases the capacity of the human species to adapt and survive in its environment. (Turner 1998:81)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith22 Bolender
  23. 23. Herbert Spencer Evolution, that is, “a change from a state of relatively indefinite, incoherent, homogeneity to at state of relatively definite, coherent, heterogeneity,” was to Spencer that universal process, which explains “. . .those latest changes which we trace in society and the products of social life.” (Coser 1977:89)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith23 Bolender
  24. 24. Herbert Spencer Spencer argued, that the evolution of human societies, far from being different from other evolutionary phenomena, is but a special case of a universally applicable natural law. Sociology can become a science only when it is based on the idea of belief in a social order not conforming to natural law, survives.” (Coser 1977:90)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith24 Bolender
  25. 25. Herbert Spencer Spencer’s most fruitful use of organic analogies was his notion that with evolutionary growth come changes in any units structure and functions, that increases in size bring in their wake increases in differentiation. (Coser 1977:90)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith25 Bolender
  26. 26. Herbert Spencer Evolution-- Unilinear or Multilinear ?Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith26 Bolender
  27. 27. Herbert Spencer The earlier Spencer indicated a unilinear model of evolution--a straightforward progressive march. The mature Spencer indicated that “regression” was possible (influenced by what he saw in England toward the end of the 19th century). (Coser 1977:96-97)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith27 Bolender
  28. 28. Herbert Spencer Social progress is not linear but divergent and re-divergent. . . (Spencer 1897:725) It was always Spencer’s view that the true symbol of development was not a chain, but a tree. (Peel 1974:198)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith28 Bolender
  29. 29. Herbert Spencer Wave Theory Illustrated by Toffler in The Third Wave (Toffler 1980) Toffler is really a conflict theorist, but one can see traces of “evolutionary” ideas within his work.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith29 Bolender
  30. 30. Herbert Spencer Survival of the Fittest War and complex societies Interventions into lesser societies (Turner 1998:81)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith30 Bolender
  31. 31. Herbert Spencer Refer to Herbert Spencer HandoutSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith31 Bolender
  32. 32. Herbert Spencer(Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:58-61)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith32 Bolender
  33. 33. Herbert Spencer War, has an interesting impact upon society. It is one of the few social phenomena that “individualistic” members of a modern society are willing to “sacrifice” self-centerness for the “good” of society as a whole. After all, war is the ultimate social problem. (Per Dr. Bolender 1999)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith33 Bolender
  34. 34. Herbert Spencer The period of World War II was the closest that the United States was to having a socialist-type government. Individualism was sacrificed for the “good” of the “community.” (Per Dr. Bolender 1999)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith34 Bolender
  35. 35. Herbert Spencer At least for a period of time, members of society are willing to allow “major” efficient changes to be made “overnight.” Also, there are “residual” affects after the war, for example, the GI Bill.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith35 Bolender
  36. 36. Herbert Spencer (Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:62-64)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith36 Bolender
  37. 37. Herbert Spencer (Turner, Beeghley, and Powers 1998:64-68)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith37 Bolender
  38. 38. Herbert Spencer The Contrast Between Militant and Industrial Societies (see handout)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith38 Bolender
  39. 39. Herbert Spencer Structural-functionalism focuses on the functions war serves and suggests that war would not exist unless it had positive outcomes for society . . .War has created a world of larger political units. . . from 600,000 around 1,000 BC to less than 200 today. (Mooney, Knox, and Schacht 1997:465-466, 469-470)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith39 Bolender
  40. 40. Herbert SpencerThrough centuries of warfare, the state (as a large political unit) was created. . . This led to greater stability which led to profound positive social and cultural changes.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith40 Bolender
  41. 41. Herbert Spencer Industrialization and technology could not have developed in the small social groups that existed before military action consolidated them into larger states. Thus, war contributed indirectly to the industrialization and technological sophistication that characterized the modern world.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith41 Bolender
  42. 42. Herbert Spencer As societies become more industrialized, their proneness to warfare decreases. . . Preindustrial nations Overall mean of 10.6 wars per decade Industrial nations Overall mean of 2.7 wars per decadeSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith42 Bolender
  43. 43. Herbert Spencer Positive Benefits of War Creates solidarity Gives society a common cause to rally around Increases employment and stimulates the economy Inspires scientific and technological developments that are useful to civilians Microwave oven InternetSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith43 Bolender
  44. 44. Herbert Spencer Serves to encourage social reform GI Bill VA Health care HousingSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith44 Bolender
  45. 45. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Nonintervention and the Survival of the Fittest (Coser 1977:99-101)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith45 Bolender
  46. 46. Herbert Spencer:NoninterventionSpencer, the same as Darwin, drew the concept of survival of the fittest from the works of Thomas Robert Malthus. The role of “ intervention ” is a major/serious philosophical issue in the concept of “pure evolution and nonintervention .”Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith46 Bolender
  47. 47. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Classical Malthusianism Thomas Robert Malthus English economist Essay on the Principle of Population First published in 1798 AD (Wang 1985:285-286)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith47 Bolender
  48. 48. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Basic principles of the Malthus’ Theory Food is essential for the existence of man “Passion between the sexes” will continue to exist and to result in population growth Population grows “geometrically” whereas at best food increases only “arithmetically”Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith48 Bolender
  49. 49. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Positive checks Famines Disease WarsGiven the human propensities to procreate faster than food can be produced, most of mankind is poor most of the timeSunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith49 Bolender
  50. 50. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Preventive checks (moral restraints) Delayed marriages Reduced frequency of sex relations within marriage No premarital or extramarital sex relationsMalthus did not think that the effect of “moral restraint” would be significant. Further, he did not approve of the practice of contraception.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith50 Bolender
  51. 51. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention The classical Malthusian theory of population implies that an increase in the food supply or income would result in either fewer people dying, or in more marrying earlier and having more children. In either case both would result in increased population growth, thereby nullifying the effects of the additional food or income. Thus, Malthus looked with disfavor on welfare programs in England during his day and, if he were living today, he would probably think it equally unwise to send food to starving people overseas.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith51 Bolender
  52. 52. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Spencer’s own theory of population was slightly more optimistic than Malthus. (Coser 1977:100-101)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith52 Bolender
  53. 53. Herbert Spencer:NoninterventionSpencer argued that an excess in fertility stimulates greater activity because the more people there are, the more ingenuity is required to stay alive. The least intelligent groups and individuals die off; hence, the general level of intelligence is bound to rise gradually.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith53 Bolender
  54. 54. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Except. . . .The intervention of government in social affairs, Spencer argued, must distort the necessary adaptation of society to its environment. Once government intervenes, the beneficial process that would naturally lead to man’s more efficient and more intelligent control over nature will be distorted and give rise to a reverse process that can only lead to the progressive deterioration of the human race.(Based on Social Statics Spencer 1892:151--special edition of Social Statics). (Coser 1977:100-101)Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith54 Bolender
  55. 55. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention This is applicable to organization behavior at the micro level.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith55 Bolender
  56. 56. Herbert Spencer:Nonintervention Christian response to the “ intervention ” versus “ nonintervention ” question/issue.Sunday, October 21, 2012 ©1999-2006 by Ronald Keith56 Bolender