Energy and society: Herbert Spencer’s ‘energetic sociology’ of social evolution and beyond

  title={Energy and society: Herbert Spencer’s ‘energetic sociology’ of social evolution and beyond},
  author={Andrew McKinnon},
  journal={Journal of Classical Sociology},
  pages={439 - 455}
  • Andrew McKinnon
  • Published 1 November 2010
  • Biology
  • Journal of Classical Sociology
Herbert Spencer is usually thought to use a biological metaphor for understanding social-evolutionary processes. Spencer’s evolutionary theory is an ‘energetic’ theory, premised on a particular understanding of physical principles; he applied these ‘energetic’ principles equally to inorganic, organic and supra-organic (social) evolution. The centrality of energy metaphors makes Spencer’s theory of social evolution directly relevant in a global society where energy has once again become an… 

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