The French sociologists (holistic approach), during the eighteenth and nineteenth century were
much concerned with the nature of society and of the human social institutions. Their interests
lay rather in what human society essentially is, than in the history of it s development, either
generally or in particular cases. Thus Comte, like his predecessor and teacher Saint Simon, was
much concerned to stress that societies are systems, not just aggregates of individuals. Since the
societies were look at as systems, they must be made up of interrelated parts. And they believed
that these parts must be related to one another, and to the whole society of which they were parts,
in accordance with laws similar to the laws of nature, which, in principle at least, it should be
possible to discover. So the understanding of society, like the understanding of the physical
organism, was to be achieved by discovering the laws of social organization which operated to
maintain the whole structure. This organismic approach to the study of human societies had
some limitations and can be dangerously misleading.
The organic approach reached its most sophisticated expression in the writing of the
French sociologist +mile Durkhiem, who is one of the most figures in social anthropology. With
Durkhiem, sociology had become in France a seminal discipline that broadened and transformed
the study of law, of economics, of Chinese institutions, of linguistics, of ethnology, of art history,
and of history.
Durkhiem s nephew, Marcel Mauss, was less systematic than he was and paid greater
attention to symbolism as an unconscious activity of the mind. Claude L ve-Strauss, combines
reasoning with intensity of feeling, also offered corrections to Durkhiem s views.
1. Other Cultures. 1966. John Beattie.
2. Brittiania. Volume four, P. 295 2b.