August Comte coined the termsociology? in the 1820's. Presently, there are many different theories that attempt to explain and define the way societies begin, exist, and evolve. Also, many factors influenced the development of sociology. One of the most influential impacts on sociology would be the Enlightenment. The philosophical thinkers of this period wanted to use the knowledge of how society operates to create a more perfect world. Another major influence on the development of sociology is the industrialization of society and the industrial revolution. Due to the urbanization and the class division caused by industrialism, philosophers began to think about the living conditions and overall status of society (Ritzer). They wanted to use their knowledge of society to help improve this. The counter-Enlightenment also played an integral role in the development of sociology.
There have been three general approaches sociologists have used to theorize. First, there is the idea of positivism normally associated with August Comte. Positivism is based on the concept of empiricism. Everyone must be under agreement of what our senses are telling us or in other words, sociological theory can be observed. Also, positivistic theorists take an objective view of society basically settling for what they theorize about. Second is the view of interpretive theory most commonly linked to Max Weber, critical theorists are always critical of the structures of authorities.
August Comte is regarded as thefather of sociology? and believed that sociology could be patterned after the social sciences (Ritzer). He developed the idea of universal theory of humans, which means that all societies go through what he called the law of three stages. The first stage is that of theological beliefs, that of a supernatural explanation of the world, which is dominated by priests. While positivism looks just at the situation, interpretive focuses primarily on understanding the actors involved in society.