Biological Trend in Sociology

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Biological Trend in Sociology

 

doctrines and schools of non-Marxist sociology of the second half of the 19th century whose common feature is the application of the concepts and laws of biology to the analysis of society. Although analogies with the organic world had been known in social theories since antiquity, the transference of the laws of biology to societal phenomena attained especial prevalence in the second half of the 19th century as a result of progress in biology (discovery of the cell, of the laws of the struggle for existence and of natural selection, and so on). The doctrines of H. Spencer, the racial anthropology school (J. A. Gobineau, H. Chamberlain, G. Lapouge, O. Ammon, and others), the organic school of sociology (P. Lilienfeld, A. Schüffle, R. Worms, and others), and social Darwinism (L. Gumplowicz, G. Ratzenhofer, A. Small, and others) are examples of the biological trend in sociology. Schools of the biological trend held various political and ideological orientations, from reactionary—validating war and oppression of certain races and social groups by others (racial anthropology school)—to liberal (organic school). Biological theories of society posed several difficult questions (the problem of the integrity of society, its structure, the function of its separate parts, the study of social conflicts, and so on). However, these theories were inadequate for an explanation of complex social processes and led to antihistoricism; superficial analogies often replaced concrete study of social phenomena. At the turn of the 20th century biological theories were gradually supplanted in non-Marxist sociology by psychological theories.

REFERENCES

Kon, I. S. Pozitivizm ν sotsiologii. Leningrad, 1964.
Sorokin, P. A. Contemporary Sociological Theories, 2nd ed. New York-London, 1964.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.