Who is the author of “First Essay on Population”? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

First Essay on Population

Question: Who is the author of “First Essay on Population”?

  1. Doublediet
  2. Spengler
  3. Malthus
  4. None of the above

Answer: (3)

Malthus and the Enduring Impact of “First Essay on Population”


Thomas Malthus’ “Essay on the Principle of Population” is a seminal work that has profoundly influenced economic thought, demography, and social theory. Published in 1798, this essay, particularly the first edition, laid out Malthus’ views on population growth, resource constraints, and the potential consequences for human societies. This essay explores the key ideas presented by Malthus, the historical context in which he wrote, the criticisms he faced, and the enduring impact of his work.

Thomas Malthus and the Historical Context:

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834), an English cleric and scholar, penned the “Essay on the Principle of Population” during a time of significant social and economic changes in England. The Industrial Revolution was transforming agrarian societies into industrialized ones, leading to urbanization and altering traditional modes of living. Malthus’ work was a response to the optimism of the Enlightenment era and the belief in progress. He sought to address concerns about the ability of societies to sustain their populations in the face of limited resources.

Key Ideas in “First Essay on Population”:

Malthus’ central argument can be summarized in the form of two postulates and one conclusion:

  1. First Postulate: Human populations tend to grow exponentially (geometrically) unless checked by limiting factors.
  2. Second Postulate: Food production, being arithmetic in nature, increases at a slower rate than population growth.
  3. Conclusion: The geometric growth of population will eventually outstrip the arithmetic growth of food production, leading to a “Malthusian crisis” characterized by famine, disease, or other checks on population growth.

Malthus contended that positive checks (e.g., famine, disease, war) and preventive checks (e.g., late marriage, abstinence) would naturally regulate population size, preventing it from indefinitely surpassing the available means of subsistence.

Criticisms and Responses:

Malthus faced considerable criticism for his pessimistic outlook and the perceived implications of his theory. Prominent figures like David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill engaged in debates with Malthus, challenging aspects of his arguments. Critics argued that technological advancements and human ingenuity could overcome resource limitations.

Despite these critiques, Malthus’ ideas were central to discussions on population growth and resource availability. The debate spurred by his essay influenced subsequent economic and social theories.

Enduring Impact and Evolution of Malthusian Thought:

Malthus’ work did not fade into obscurity after the initial debates. Instead, it underwent various reinterpretations and revivals in response to changing intellectual landscapes.

  1. Darwinian Era: Malthusian ideas found resonance with Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The concept of competition for limited resources and the survival of the fittest dovetailed with Malthusian principles.
  2. Social Darwinism: In the late 19th century, Malthusianism experienced a revival through the lens of social Darwinism, wherein ideas about natural selection were applied to human societies. This period witnessed the rise of neo-Malthusian thought.
  3. Neo-Malthusian Ecology: In the late 20th century, concerns about environmental degradation, overpopulation, and resource depletion brought Malthusian ideas back into focus. Scholars and environmentalists revisited Malthusian thought in the context of global ecological challenges.

Critique of Malthusianism:

While Malthusian ideas have left an indelible mark, they have been met with persistent criticism. Critics argue that technological innovation, increased agricultural productivity, and social and economic changes have disproven the dire predictions of unchecked population growth leading to wide


Thomas Malthus’ “First Essay on Population” stands as a foundational text in the history of economic thought and demography. Despite facing criticism and evolving intellectual landscapes, Malthusian ideas have endured and adapted to new contexts. The essay has sparked ongoing debates about population growth, resource constraints, and the sustainability of human societies. Malthus’ work remains a touchstone for discussions on the intersection of population, resources, and societal well-being.


Take a Quick Sociology Quiz to measure your Performance


Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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