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Harriet Martineau

The Sociological Framework of Harriet Martineau Over the past twenty years, sociology has gone through a process of self-evaluation, as field researchers and observers express a wariness about the empty universalism of speculative systems and look for ways in which to secure empirical foundations that give way to meaningful application in a pluralistic, postmodern world. The survival of sociology as a critical theoretical discipline is a concern expressed by many, such as contemporary social analyst George Ritzer, who are forging new paths of application that represent a paradigm shift in this classical social legacy. In the framework of classical sociological theory, numerous sources, including Ritzer, investigate this brave new world of unified science and empirical foundation. They are moving amidst the “theory park” of speculative philosophical systems in sociology and yet they are turning to theoretical applications such as elementarist, holistic, and interactionist approaches. This technique is employed in order to make classical social theory more meaningful and to better engage theory with useful research (Sandywell, p. 607). An analysis of the work of author and social analyst 19th century social analyst Harriet Martineau, while simultaneously evaluating Rizter’s contemporary application of social theory indicates that Martineau was far ahead of her time in this regard. Meanwhile, Rizter and others like him are beginning to reap the benefits of her benchmark work in interactionist social theory. Martineau in the early 19th century was the first therefore to offer this interactionist approach to social-scientific thought that is not unlike the approach being applied in contemporary efforts to engage classical sociological theory in a meaningful modern construct. Indeed, Martineau’s work reflects a pioneering perspective that cut its teeth philosophically on the emergence of evolutionary naturalism. By ...

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