Over the years, the names Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Friedrich Nietzsche have been very dominant in the field of sociology, psychology, economics, and politics. In discussing the concepts of communism and materialism, the theories of Karl Marx cannot be disregarded. For Marx, the major influential factor in human history is economics (Cline 2008). According to Marx, even in the past, people were not moved by ostentatious ideas but rather by material things that helped them live and survive.
Marx’s studies and theories also deal with explaining the roots of the collision of classes—the wealthy and labour classes. The conflict between the wealthy and labour classes became inevitable because of the rise of capitalism. Due to capitalism, there has been a separation between these two classes. The wealthy continue to own properties and acquire labourers as modern slaves to work for them in their businesses, while the labourers continue to struggle for what little they have, and they have to work day and night just to survive.
It is also because of capitalism that the scarcity of resources has increased, and this made the conflict between the classes even worse. For Marx, everything is built upon the foundations of economics. All the prominent social and economic institutions as well as other organizations can only be understood well if they will be associated with economics. Moreover, Marx expressed that oftentimes, people tend to think that their ideas actually root from truth, beauty, love and other grand concepts, but in actuality, those ideas are from class interest and class conflict (Cline 2008).
On the other hand, as compared to Marx, Emile Durkheim was better known for his studies of the communication process in relation to sociological analyses. The main idea of Durkheim’s theory notes that the civilization of human beings is a result of communication (Book Rags 2008). Their psychological nature becomes cultural forces, and the material and economic life becomes the community and the society. Aside from this, Durkheim also became a prominent figure in the field of sociology.
He explained the nature of the society with an evolutionary approach, regarding society as an organism that has a specific structure and function (University of Regina 2002). According to Durkheim, although a society is composed of individuals, he pinpointed that a society is not simply a sum of individuals; rather, it has an identity and existence of its own that is different from the individuals that are part of it. He further added that it is the society that is influencing the individuals through norms, social facts, sentiments, and social currents, rather than the individuals influencing the society as a whole.
Durkheim’s sociological ideas also posed a concern towards social order. He tried to find out how a modern society remains intact given people’s differences, individualism, and autonomy of individuals (University of Regina 2002). Eventually, Durkheim was able to find the answer and explained it in his book, ‘The Division of Labour in Society’. In the book, Durkheim defined and explained the concepts of social solidarity, common consciousness, and systems of law which he also connected to the idea of forced division of labour.
However, he claimed that such forces in the society will not always be effective in creating solidarity. Thus, there will be disruptions in solidarity and consciousness because of the social changes. This chain of ideas introduces the concept of anomie or suicide, which Durkheim considered as a naturally occurring phenomenon in every society. Durkheim also expressed his ideas about social action. In explaining this concept, he took the structuralist approach. He considered the social structures to exert a strong influence on social action (University of Regina 2002).
He believed that the collective thoughts, beliefs, practices, and consciousness of individuals can indeed make a difference in a lot of ways. Max Weber shared the same position as Marx in terms of alienation in relation to former’s views about the inevitable rationalisation and bureaucratisation of the world (The Hewett School n. d. ). Both of them agreed that it was the modern methods of organisation which drastically increased the effectiveness and efficiency of production. Both of them also concurred that these modern methods paved the way for the exceptional domination of man over nature.
They also shared the same opinion of the modern world with such rationalized efficiency—that it threatens to transform into a monstrous being and dehumanize its creators (The Hewett School n. d. ). However, Weber opposed Marx’s claim that alienation is only a transitional stage towards man’s true liberation. Ha also denied that inevitable characteristic of socialism. Previously, Marx noted that capitalism caused the lowering of the worker class in the mode of production. However, Weber argued that this situation cannot be avoided in a rationally coordinated system.
Weber further added that men cannot participate in socially significant actions anymore unless they join a larger organization. It is through these organizations that men get to sacrifice their own goals and desires for the sole aim and objective of the organization. Thus, people get to take off a part of them and therefore get to be alienated. Lastly, Friedrich Nietzsche was known in his arguments about the core and foundations of morality. Unlike Marx, Durkheim, and Weber, Nietzsche’s theories are more inclined to morality, and he was more into arguing for concepts that relate to religion.
However, his theories posted a huge significance in the fields of sociology, economics, and politics as well. His moral philosophy is primarily critical in orientation. With his philosophy, he attacked morality both for its commitment to weak descriptive claims about human action and also for the adverse impact of its distinctive norms and values on the budding higher types of human beings—or what he calls the ‘higher men’ (uberman) (Zalta 2007). This idea of higher men explains that, above all other motivations, human behaviour is motivated by the will to power.
He also became known in his arguments regarding the foundations of traditional Christianity. For Nietzsche, the creativity and realities of the world are more important than any consideration of any worlds beyond (UK Apologetics 2007). Aside from this, he also had several beliefs which proved his interest to challenge the tradition and beliefs of Christianity. Nietzsche believed that the goal of a human’s life must be to find his/her true self and not to help others. He also believed that sexuality does not really oppose virtues; rather, it is a virtue in its own right.
Furthermore, he also argued that the highest virtue an individual can have is to be true to him- or herself. Thus, Nietzsche’s ideas can be observed to have a sense of selfishness. However, it can be explained that he has this kind of belief since his exposure and genre are that which believe in the power of the human will alone and not of any greater being. Upon analyzing the theories and theorists mentioned above, I observed that all their ideas contribute a lot to the developments of the society nowadays. The first three theorists dwell more on the economic side.
They explained the effects of capitalism, social classes, and the harmony of relationships within a society. On the other hand, Nietzsche observed the moral part which the first three theorists seemed to have overlooked. Looking at our modern society now, everything seems affected by multimedia. If only Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Nietzsche still exist today, they might probably look at multimedia as one of the most powerful forces that has the ability to shape a society. However, relating their theories to the modern concepts of multimedia today, Durkheim’s concepts seem to have the greatest relevance to it.
This is because Durkheim regarded communication as a shaping factor of civilization. By this, he meant that communication (which includes multimedia nowadays) is one of the forces that pave the way for human organization (Book Rags 2008). Communication or multimedia in the modern perspective can also be interpreted—using Durkheim’s view—as the mould which makes or shapes a society. Thus, a society without the practice of communication cannot be considered a civilized society (Book Rags 2008).
Putting this into modern context, a society without the practice of multi-media—which can be considered as one of the most powerful means of communication at present—is a society which has not yet reached development. List of References Cline, A. (2008). ‘Religion as Opium of the People’. About. com [online]. Available from <http://atheism. about. com/od/philosophyofreligion/a/marx. htm? p=1> [29 October 2008] Book Rags (2008). Durkheim, Emile (1858-1917) [online]. Available from <http://www. bookrags. com/research/durkheim-mile-1858-1917-eci-01/#bro_copy> [29 October 2008] The Hewett School (n. d. ).
Weber and Marx [online]. Available from <http://www. hewett. norfolk. sch. uk/CURRIC/soc/WEBER/w&m. htm> [29 October 2008] University of Regina (2002). Conservative Approaches [online]. Available from <http://uregina. ca/~gingrich/s16f02. htm> [29 October 2008] Zalta, E. Ed. (2007). ‘Nietzsche’s Moral and Political Philosophy’. Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy [online]. Available from <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/nietzsche-moral-political/> [29 October 2008] UK Apologetics (2007). Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) [online]. Available from <http://www. ukapologetics. net/truthaboutnietzsche. html> [29 October 2008]
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