Let me emphasize from the outset that by branding sociology as non-science, I am by no means claiming that it is useless, just as designating medicine and technology as non-science, I am not dismissing their usefulness. When a company studies the traffic pattern of an intersection to determine if a traffic light is needed on that intersection, it is potentially saving lives. And when a sociologist studies a gang-infested urban neighborhood, (s)he may come up with recommendations that could save dozens of lives. But despite their utility, neither traffic monitoring nor sociology is to be called “science.”
Social investigators should not be offended if they are not called “scientists.” Many human endeavors are necessary and useful even though their practitioners are not labeled “scientists.”
No musician, artist, or poet is expected to be called a “scientist” even though their discipline is indispensable for human intellect and pleasure.
The procedure of gaining knowledge outlined in what is science has been forced by nature itself, and every time it was artificially interjected into a discipline by humans, it has failed. A prime example of this failure is sociology.
There are three names attached to the dawn of modern sociology, Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, and Herbert Spencer. A brief overview of the theories of the workings of society proposed by these three originators of sociology unravels the degree to which this discipline can be called “science.”
Comte, the “father of sociology,” the French thinker who co-coined the name of the discipline and who earlier expressed his work as “social physics,” believed that all human life passed through distinct historical stages and that, if one could grasp this progress, one could not only explain the social ills, but prescribe remedies for them. Comte thought that the best way to understand society is through the scientific method developed by the natural sciences. However, since he could not decide on the elemental matter, the building block, of society, an important prerequisite and a signature of all the natural sciences, Comte’s ambition turned into positivism and philosophy, and eventually into a ‘religion of humanity’ to replace the traditional worship.
Karl Marx, sometimes called the “true father” of modern sociology, rejected the positivist sociology of Comte and replaced it with the notion of class struggle. His underlying philosophy, dialectical materialism, is, like Comte’s, also an adaptation of scientific methodology. He places fundamental importance on the production of goods and the stratification of the population that results from the mode of production in all historical human societies: slaves and masters in the ancient societies, peasants and feudal nobility in the medieval Europe, and proletariat and capitalists in the industrial society of nineteenth-century Europe. Marx believed that the old mode of production is toppled only through a revolution carried out by the oppressed class equipped with the ideology that springs out of that class. He thought that the ultimate social structure was communism, which was classless, and was achieved via a proletarian revolution. The history of communism from its inception in 1917 to its total collapse today, is a testimony to the failure of Marxian sociology.