Sociology emerged as new subject in the later part of the 18th century and developed throughout the 19th century. The social events and crisis of this period laid down a fertile terrain of ideas and new values that enabled sociology to take root.
Sociology requires freedom of thought as it has limited scope in totalitarian societies. However the obstacle to its development in 18th century Europe was not the state but the Catholic Church. One of the main doctrines of the church at that time was that the natural and social orders were creations of God and therefore not the affairs of men. Explanations of the nature of the universe that didn’t fit the framework of the teachings of the church were actively discouraged. Under these conditions little active questioning of the nature of society could take place. It was not until the Enlightenment a philosophical movement that stressed the humans as opposed to the supernatural understanding of society that the power of the church began to weaken.
The impending crisis gave the feeling that something would happen to the writers and thinkers after the later part of the 18th century. This awareness came about with the growth of historical scholarship but more importantly with the technological and social changes of the late 18th century.
The precondition concerns the belief that things can actually be done to remedy the situation. This realization came late in the 18th century, as the earlier prevalent thought was that the society was too complex a task to understand.