1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Famous Sociologists

A List of Some Of The Most Famous Sociologists

By

Throughout sociology's history, there have been many famous sociologists who have left their mark on the field of sociology as well as the world at large. Learn more about these sociologists by browsing though this list of some of the most famous thinkers in sociolgogy history. For a more detailed profile, click on the names of the sociologists below.

1. Auguste Comte

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

August Comte is known as the founder of positivism and is credited with coininging the term sociology. Comte helped shape and expand the field of sociology and placed a great deal of emphasis in his work on systematic observation and social order. 

2. Karl Marx

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Karl Marx is one of the most famous figures in the founding of sociology. He is known for his theory of historical materialism, which focuses on the way social order, like class structure and hierarchy, emerges out of the economic system of a society. He theorized this relationship as a dialectic between the base and superstructure of society. Some of his notable works, like "The Manifesto of the Communist Party," were co-written with Friedrich Engels. Much of his theory is contained in the series of volumes titled Capital. Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and in a 1999 BBC poll was voted the "thinker of the millennium" by people from around the world.

3. Emile Durkheim

Emile Durkheim is knows as the "father of sociology" and is a founding figure in the field of sociology. He is credited with making sociology a science. One of his most famous pieces of work includes Suicide: A Study In Sociology, and another important work of his that focuses on how society functions and regulates itself is The Division of Labor in Society.

4. Max Weber

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Max Weber was a founding figure of the field of sociology and is considered one of the most famous sociologists in history. He is known for his thesis of the "Protestant Ethic" as well as his ideas on bureaucracy. Click here to learn more about Weber's take on how Protestant religious values combined with the early capitalist economy in the American colonies to create the ideological and economic foundation of the U.S.

5. Harriet Martineau

Harriet_Martineau_by_Richard_Evans.jpg
Though wrongfully neglected in most sociology classes today, Harriet Martineau was a prominent British writer and political activist, and one of the earliest Western sociologists and founders of the discipline. Her scholarship focused on the intersections of politics, morals, and society, and she wrote prolifically about sexism and gender roles.

 

6. W.E.B. Du Bois

C.M. Battey/ Getty Images
W.E.B. Du Bois was an American sociologist best known for his scholarship on race and racism in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard University and served as the head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910. His most notable works include The Souls of Black Folk, in which he advanced his theory of "double consciousness," and his massive tome on the social structure of U.S. society, Black Reconstruction.

7. Alexis de Tocqueville

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Biography of Alexis de Tocqueville, a sociologist best known for his book Democracy in America. Tocqueville published many works in the areas of comparative and historical sociology and was very active in politics and the field of political science.

8. Antonio Gramsci

Gramsci.jpg
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian political activist and journalist who wrote prolific social theory while imprisoned by Mussolini's fascist government from 1926-34. He advanced Marx's theory by focusing on the role of intellectuals, politics, and media in maintaining the dominance of the bourgeois class in a capitalist system. The concept of cultural hegemony is one of his key contributions.

 

9. Michel Foucault

Michel_Foucault_sithum.jpg

 Michel Foucault was a French social theorist, philosopher, historian, public intellectual and activist best known for revealing through his method of "archaeology" how institutions wield power by creating discourses that are used to control people. He is one of the most widely read and cited social theorists, and his theoretical contributions are still important and relevant today.

10. C. Wright Mills

Archive Photos/Getty Images
C. Wright Mills is known for his controversial critiques of both contemporary society and sociological practice, particularly in his book The Sociological Imagination (1959). He also studied power and class in the United States, as displayed in his book The Power Elite (1956).

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.