Social scientists began to adopt the scientific method to make sense of the rapid changes accompanying modernization and industrialization.
One of the most influential early figures in sociology was Auguste Comte who proposed a positivist sociology with a scientific base.
Harriet Martineau was an English social theorist and Whig writer, often cited as the first female sociologist.
Herbert Spencer created what he called "sociology," a synthetic philosophy that tried to find a set of rules explaining social behavior.
Marx focuses on explaining class conflict due to the means of production, which he posited was the driving force behind social evolution.
Emile Durkheim studied how societies maintained social integration after traditional bonds were replaced by modern economic relations.
Weber departed from positivist sociology, instead emphasizing Verstehen, or understanding, as the goal of sociology.
Lester Ward, the first president of the American Sociological Association, is generally thought of as the founder of American sociological study.