• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

A unique contribution to discussions of social theory, this book counters the argument that no social theory was ever produced in Britain before the late twentieth century. Reviewing a period of 300 years from the seventeenth century to the mid-twentieth century, it sets out a number of innovative strands in theory that culminated in powerful contributions in the classical period of sociology. The book discusses how these traditions of theory were lost and forgotten and sets out why they are important today.

Patrick Geddes: Towards a Professional Sociology
Patrick Geddes: Towards a Professional Sociology

By the second half of the nineteenth century a diverse range of sociological ideas was circulating among the British literary and scientific publics. Mill and Lewes were the leading thinkers to have developed the approach of the Scottish theorists and Buckle through combining these with ideas taken from Comte. Their arguments promised an objective, scientific method that would – one day – yield law-like explanations of social phenomena that would be comparable with those already becoming available in economics. An alternative position was taken by the more critical forms of social thought rooted in Romanticism that saw the disturbances and disorders of contemporary social life as a loss of community and social cohesion ...

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