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Sociology is the study of human societies. It is usually as one of the social sciences (along with subjects like psychology) and was as a subject in the late 18th century (through the work of people like the French writer Auguste Comte). However, the subject has only really gained as an academic subject in the 20th century through the work of writers such as Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Talcott Parsons (names that will be visited throughout this course). One name that you may have heard of - Karl Marx (the founder of modern Communism) - has probably done more to stimulate people’s interest in the subject than anyone else, even though he lived and wrote (1818-1884) in a period before sociology became fully established as an academic discipline. Sociology, therefore, has a reasonably long history of development, (150-200 years) in Britain it has only been in the last 30-40 years that sociology as an examined subject in the education system has achieved a level of prominence equivalent to, or above, most of the other subjects it is possible to study.