Historically, societies were understood and explained through religious and philosophical texts. History, Philosophy and Politics also developed as independent disciplines. One thinks of Plato’s Republic, Chanakya’s Arthashastra, and histories by various Greek, Roman, Arab, Persian, Turk, Chinese and Indian writers. One notable contribution to the study of societies is by Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century Tunisian, considered the first sociologist of the world.
However, it is the advent of the Industrial Revolution – first in England and later its spread to the rest of Europe and North America - that gave rise to a new type of society, the like of which had no precedent in history. This new industrial society had totally new characteristics not observed in earlier ones. New sciences of sociology, economics, psychology, and anthropology were developed. Advances were made in the older disciplines of philosophy, political science and history. Europeans who had colonized the Americas and Oceania in the 16th- 18th centuries completed the colonization of the rest of the world by the first decade of the 20th century. They introduced newly developed knowledge along with new institutions for governance, control and exploitation during the colonial rule. The British introduced a new educational system with schools, colleges and universities in the 19th century. The Punjab University was one of the first five universities established in the sub-continent in the last quarter of the 19th century. Science and social science disciplines, developed in Europe, were introduced in the colonies. Newer disciplines like anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics that helped understand the newly subjugated societies were developed.
However, it is the advent of the Industrial Revolution – first in England and later its spread to the rest of Europe and North America - that gave rise to a new type of society, the like of which had no precedent in history. This new...