What is sociology? Simply, it is the study of how society functions, or in some cases, does not function. Various competing schools of sociology have attempted to fit observations of social phenomena into different conceptual systems. This book traces the origins of these systems from Enlightenment thought and the pioneering work of Auguste Comte to subsequent developments in Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim and Marx Weber. The rapid expansion of sociology in 20th -century America and Britain, the post-World War II dominance of Talcott Parsons, the Chicago School and the rise of Structuralism are outlined in a clear, graphic form. The book also examines the array of concepts and methods of research that have been applied to the study of society by the key analysts, and is essential reading for students of the subject and for anyone interested in understanding the functioning of society.