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Today, there has been an increased concern towards the classical sociological theories. This has not been the case due to the importance of these theories in terms of their historical contexts, but because they have become living, documents, which come with complete relevance in influencing how, people, live and co-exist with one another (Catherine & Krikos, 2004). Past contributions to the field of sociological theories has been something important which has been able to influence the modern day theorist in achieving a better social world. Therefore, this great work brought forth by the classical thinkers of the past has continued to play a very big role in inspiring modern sociologists towards realization of their goals. This has been the major reason why majority of the present contemporary sociologists and thinkers have been seeking for ways through which they can reinterpret some of these classics thus being able to apply them within the present day scenes (Sydie & Adams, 2002). There has been a great contribution of women to the sociological theories. This research paper is therefore aimed at analyzing some of the major contributions of women to modern sociological theories on how such contributions have been very important to the society.
Women's Contribution to Classical Sociological Theories
Although the greatest contributions to sociological theories have been brought forth by man, it is something worth noting that women have also made greater contributions to these theories. To begin with, it is something important to note that the contributions by female thinkers towards sociological theories are something that has been overlooked for the past years. One of the greatest contributors was Harriet Martineau who lived between 1802 and 1876. She is known as the founding mother to modern sociology and able to carry out enormous illustrations on social economics and politics. She came up with arguments on how morals and human manners can be observed, and this was presented in a book, which had compromised her work from different parts of the world (Sydie & Adams, 2002). Martineau is known to have come with central views on sociology as an integral part of the human society. This she was keen to devise solutions to some of the patterns and consequences within the society, which had brought problems (Catherine & Krikos, 2004). According to her, she believed that the greatest law towards human social was to have happiness, and her work dwelt much in understanding the degree with which different individuals would have good manners and morals towards the realization of such happiness. She was also concerned with understanding some of the factors that led to slowed progressive with different societies and thus addressing the oppression faced by women. Here she outlines that cultural attitudes and autonomy towards specific individuals was a barrier to growth and sustenance, and an eventual denial of happiness (Catherine & Krikos, 2004). She also focused her studies on patterns of marriage and continued slavery and how it affected social performances. As well, she studied the major conditions, which were common with women earning wages and the impacts on societal standards (Anderson & Taylor, 2005).
Another important contributor is Charlotte Gilman Perkins who lived between 1860 and 1935. Gilman’s concerns and contributions focused much on gender stratification, something that had been quite common. She came up with the argument that the economic arrangements, which had been common, must have been the major cause for gendered labor divisions in the society. She also said that economic arrangements would bring about ‘sexual-oriented’ economic arrangements, which would affect much on the society thus slowing development. She this raised concerns on the mastery of men and blamed it for poor social conditions. Just like Marx, it is very true that Gilman was very contented that meaningful and equal work was the path to self-realization of man (Weisbrot & Baker, 2001). However, Gilman went farther and raised concerns on how women had been alienated from societal functioning and thrown into households chores that were nonproductive. She thus argued that such kind of pattern was a total wastage of humanity and that is the reason why the roles were to be reversed. She proposed a solution of having total economic emancipation in which women would be part. Her important contributions led to the opening up of new opportunities for all women, being able to work, and get wages (Ulrich, 2008). This later developed to modern day professionalization of women chores such as the household jobs and food industries.
Jane Addams and the overall involvement of her Women’s School in Chicago brought more contribution to classical sociological theories (Reynolds, 2003). Addams together with the other women in Chicago School carried out intensive researches, which were an approach to reforming the society, and their studies were mainly interested on ameliorating some of the social problems, which had been noted within the immigration operations, industrial operations and urbanization. Addams came up with a concept, which she referred to the ‘social ethic’, in which an individual and his or her action was to determine the welfare of a given society, and which should be part. It will be agreed that Addams theory was a product of personal observations and experiences, which were aimed at improving the failed conditions in the society (Serenko & Bontis, 2008). Due to her approach, Addams was indeed able to help in creating the Hull House, which addressed the issues of immigrant women and the neighborhood. It was there where Addams was able to bring social reforms. She as well envisioned a society whereby all people worked together without any kind of stigmatization (Peirson, 2008). Her contributions would bring better knowledge and solutions to problems faced by the unfortunate and women in general. She encouraged education for all, liberalization and a legitimate democracy within all human societies, which was free of gender violence and ethnicity (Rousseau, 1992).
Some other useful contributors are Cooper Anna Julia Cooper of 1859 to 1964 and her counterpart, Wells-Barnett Ida of 1862 to 1931. Their work mainly focused on different roles of power in the social life of man (Terence, 2009). Their interests were in racism and sexism within the American society. They concluded that power could range from the commonplace physical oppressions, emotional interferences and manipulation such as coercion, taking advantages over others and freedom of speech. They ended up viewing the society as a complex system, which could only function when all institutions, cultures and stratified groups were in peace and harmony. Cooper went ahead and suggested that equilibrium and domination were the only solutions towards a free society (Hinde, 1997). Marianne Schnitger, wife to Max Weber also made greater contributions to sociological theories. Most of Marianne’s deals much on sociology although they have gone to oblivion. Her theoretical project had been in the creation of sociology by taking a keen look on women and their stand point. She was greatly concerned with female welfare and autonomy, the role of women and their work towards economic production, and their purpose in the modern society (Leslie, 2002). She was able to reveal that a free society would develop, and this would happen when all women had been given the rightful autonomy. She was also able to reveal that a society with torn-apart duties for men and women could not develop in terms of economy (Cranston, 1984).
Finally, we cannot forget the work of Beatrice Webb Potter who lived from 1858 to 1943. Webb later became a leading socialist in Britain after studying much on poverty problems and gender values. After engaging in work with a number of poor people, she was able to understand that it was necessary for the economic patterns to be reformed (Blyth, 2008). She was thus able to contribute much to the economical issues in order to solve most of the problems faced in the society. Webb thus ended up viewing the state’s intervention to be the necessary tool that could work miracles towards eliminating poverty and bringing an economic balance and control.
However, it shall be noted that the contributions of these women thinkers are very distinctive since they have been able to incorporate the exact standpoint towards gender while focusing on the work and lives of the women in general (Leslie, 2002). They have also been able critically to embark on the problem of social inequality, which had been faced by women for the longest time ever (Allan, 2009). As well, there is a great importance which comes from their contributions in that they have been able to offer a number of solutions to majority of the ameliorate problems within the modern day society (Ball, 2008). Therefore, it is agreed that women have as well made greater contributions to sociological theories thus changing the manner in which people used to live, improving opportunities for women, and contributing to economic development and sustenance.