Although Durkheim, Marx and Weber would make any list of the founders of sociological thought, there are a number of others. In an essay of 1,500 words, make the case for some other person as a founder of sociology. This choice will need to be made from an approved list circulated by the seminar convenor.
Paul Felix Lazarsfeld
In my essay I am going to discuss why I believe Paul Lazarsfeld to be a true founding father of modern sociology. Lazarsfeld was born to Jewish parents in Vienna, Austria on February 13th 1901. Hynek Jeabek (2001) deemed him to be one of the major figures of 20th Century American Sociology and being one of the founders of Empirical Sociology. His major interests were the methodology of social research and the development of institutes for training and research. Lazarsfeld’s ‘Mathematical Thinking in Social Sciences’ (1954) work was a clear illustration of an attempt to combine the role of mathematical thinking in social sciences and applying this into his research into the areas of mass communication, public opinion, voting behaviour, and popular culture. He gained a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Vienna in 1924 and from here he entered the domain of sociology. In the 1930s he participated in several early quantitative studies and in 1935 established a research institute at the University of Newark within the field of opinion research. From here he was given the Radio Project which he was unable to pursue at Newark.
He moved his work from the Radio Project to Columbia University where Lazarsfeld went on to teach for three decades. With the help of his colleague Robert K Merton it grew into the Bureau of Social Research which they founded as an institute at Columbia. During the 1940s and 50s, mass communication was becoming more and more popular and became a field in its own right. Lazarsfeld’s interest in this developed from his Bureau of Social Research, where he conducted two of the most important investigations in...