Le Play Fredéric

(redirected from Le Play Frederic)

Le Play Fredéric

(1806-82) French mining engineer and professor of metallurgy, and later an independent scholar and researcher, whose studies in sociology and involvement in industrial management and in public life (e.g. in organizing major international exhibitions) led to his making a wide- ranging contribution to the early development of empirical sociology. In particular, he used data gathered in pioneering interviews to provide accounts of working class family life and domestic economy (e.g. Les Ouvriers Européens, 1855). He regarded the family as the fundamental social unit, and its health and stability as an indicator of the overall state of society. He also proposed a more general classification of types of family, seeing the modern family as increasingly corresponding to an ‘unstable’ type, the outcome of unregulated urban and industrial change, poor housing and women's industrial work. A conservative politically, Le Play emphasized the importance of traditional values, including ‘original sin’. This led him to emphasize the importance of establishing the social facts about the interrelation of society's interdependent parts, even if his own prejudgements often coloured his work.