Marx, Weber, Durkheim Essay

4049 words - 17 pages

Marx, Durkheim and Weber on the Development of Modern Industrial Society

Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are the dominant classical voices when studying or analyzing the emergence of society from a more cooperative, collective feudal society to a modern capitalistic society. All three of these sociological philosophers contributed to the nature of society and social change. Each of them eventually surmised that the relationship between individuals and their fellows and individuals and their world was directly related to their relationship to economic conditions. Whether referencing Marx and his concept of “alienation”, Durkheim and his thoughts on social solidarity or Weber and ...view middle of the document...

The end result, according to Marx, was revolution as a result of the development of class consciousness and an eventual advance into a utopian society.
Marx argued that social change was created through a series of changes or “stages of development” whereby capitalism evolved as the dominant social structure. This development between man and his relationship to the means of production was critical for his survival, pivotal even in maintaining his social being. Marx in no way assumed that this economic state was normal however it had to be accepted as natural/normal in order to be effective. Because this system of owner and worker was constantly being reproduced it would “become” normal, accepted in the consciousness of the individual. In order to successfully reproduce and become internalized at a” consciousness level”, this economic system had to be adopted in other structures of society including religion, education, entertainment et al. Marx explains in the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy that the relations of production in essence represent the economic structure of society on which the legal and political superstructures are built. The message adopted by these social structures had to be congruent with the ideology of capitalism. This dependence on the means of production was a state achieved quite likely against his or her will. The initial strength in his theory is in identifying and addressing his belief that the individual’s very consciousness is determined by his or her social being rather the converse.
Diverging from the theoretical framework of Adam Smith and “The Wealth of Nations” which viewed the division of labor as a natural consequence of human exchange and its inherent ability to find balance, Marx formed the theoretical framework that saw the division of labor as one of conflict where capitalism functioned as a system of oppression and exploitation of one class over another. Yet it was within this very system of exploitation that change would occur as exploited workers in the proletariat would, as a result of class consciousness, become aware of the political, economic and social ideologies of the bourgeoisie and would revolt in response. The end result would be the end of class division and its oppressive nature and individuals would be free to be and do what they chose.
Furthermore, Marx analyzes and examines the ideas of alienation, a phenomenon hopelessly intertwined in capitalism. For Marx, it is not a matter of consciousness rather a natural development of capitalism wherein the individual becomes alienated from his or her work product, then his or her peers and finally the self. It is the owner then, not the worker that would own and profit from the end product. Marx, In the Communist Manifesto, states that the worker actually becomes the product. He or she is relegated to a wage laborer and according to Marx, a seller of themselves. It is then inherent in capitalism that the individual only sees...

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