History: Sociology and Karl Marx

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 9 November 2016

History: Sociology and Karl Marx

Sociology is the study of people within a society. Three important Modernist Thinkers; Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber are the three important figures in sociology. During the time of the modernist thinkers, they played a role in sociology thinking. This paper will explore the importance on why these three figures are considered modernist thinkers. What there main focus was and how they are considered a modernist thinker. Karl Marx was born in 1818. He was a German philosopher who believed that material goods are part of the social world. Marx was committed to revolutionist. Marx was trying to influence the social movement. According to Marx, the ideal government would be a communist state where resources are equally shared. Marx was involved in political and social issues which later on lead to more a communist theory. Marx theory on history is focused on whether or not society will rise and fall. Based on this theory Marx was influenced by Hegel.

Marx belief on history evolved from many unpredictable directions. Marx was trying to explain the analysis of capitalist within societies and the economic failures that were produced. He suggested different socialist remedies. In the article “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s philosophy of Right” by Karl Marx, “The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society” in other words Marx was thinking about how a human being could exist. Religion is dependent on economics such as “ state and society” Marx explained that capitalist takes more of our productive labor where as religion we believe there is a god or to be called that there is a god. According to Karl Marx, alienated labor is the process of capitalism.

We create dominates us. The difference of alienated labor is “the relationship of the worker to the product of labour, the second is the relationship of the labour to the act of production, and lastly is the difference is man is a species-being not only in that practically and theoretically he makes both his own and other species into his objects” (15) this is the consequences of man alienation of production from work. Therefore man is opposed from himself. Social change fits with Karl Marx perspective because Karl Marx believed there needed to be a better society and with a social change there was going to be conflict. One of the conflicts was the class conflict, the capitalist. With social change he was able to produce a better society even though there were going to be economic problems. Emile Durkheim was a French sociologist argued that society had to be studied on its own. He was the primary of society. In Durkheim’s perspective society influences individual through norms and social facts.

The way an individual think or acts is constituted as a proper domain which is defined as a “constraint” in Durkheim perspective. “Constraint” is used to identify the reason behind social facts. A constraint holds power over an individual and becomes stronger over reaction. He believed that societies are held together by values. Durkheim main focus was the concern of social order, how does modern society hold together given the individualism of an individual. In the article Suicide Durkheim connects division of labour and anomie. In Suicide he connects the analysis of suicide, by exploring the different rates, different places and to explain how they are different. Emile Durkheim treats religion by according to the article “In the Human Meaning of Religion, Durkheim differentiates religion in the context of social life.

It states: “religion is a mirror of society and that in fact what people take to be the realm of the sacred is society itself”(68), in other words religion is a reflection of society. The importance function of religion is to make us act. He states: “If among certain peoples the ideas of sacredness, the soul and God are to explain sociologically, it should be presumed scientifically that, in principle, the same explanation is valid from all the peoples among whom these same ideas are found with the same characteristics” (68). Based on this article religion is the meaning of life, it provides support and authority figures. Religion impacts and influences society and effects different social norms an individual. Based on my understanding social change does fit with Durkheim perspective. Therefore; in the article Division of Labour in Society, Durkheim focuses on the origin of connecting individual with one another with society, he analysis the social change and explains the conflict in modern society.

In Durkheim perspective what unite us is called “social solidarity” which brings individuals together. In the article it states: “Society it not seen in the same aspect in the two cases. In the first, what we call society is more or less organized totality of beliefs and sentiments… the society in which we are solidarity in the second instance is system of different, special functions which definite relations unite” (107) meaning solaridity is based on similarity because it binds us together but is different because we are different people. With Durkheim producing social change it was reduced by social reform. Max Weber was a German sociologist. Weber agreed with Marx that individuals had to fight to protect their own property and interest. He also agreed with French sociologist Durkheim; that people interest is determined by shared values. Weber believed in causality.

There were multiple causes on why people behave the way they do according to him. He also believed that society is more of rationality and bureaucracy. Sociology should be more of a social action according to Weber. Weber work was the process of rationalization. Rationalization is where rules and laws dominate sectors of society in the model of a bureaucracy. According to Weber “Class, Status, Party; the way in which social honor is distributed in a community between typical grounds participating in this distribution we may call the ‘social order’. The social order and the economic order are, of course, similarly related to the ‘legal order’ (102), class, status and party was a source of social conflict that became a social difference. Class and status influences one another where as” ‘parties’ live in a house of power” (106) in other words Weber was trying to explain that these spheres are connected by distribution of power.

Status makes up the social order and classes are the economic order each promotes power and social change In the article “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” focuses on the religions ideas and economic behavior as part of the rationalization of the economic system. It states: “We can treat ascetic Protestantism as a single whole. But Since that side of English Puritanism which was derived from Calvinism gives the most consistent religious basis for the idea of calling , we shall, following our previous method , place one of its representatives at the center of the discussion”(158).Weber explore the emergency of capitalism was by an ascetic spirit of sacrifice.

The development of capitalism was influences by Calvinism. In the society of this time they had more highly capitalist who were Protestants. Social change fits with Weber perspective because in the article Bureaucracy, it states “The principles of office hierarchy and of levels of graded authority mean a firmly ordered system of super- and subordination in which there is a supervision of lower offices by the higher ones” (89) bureaucracy is a social order where as the authority who changes the order it becomes a social change to society. In conclusion three important figures of sociology were Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. Each three were considered modernist thinkers for sociology. Even though they all had different theories and ideas, Marx believed economics was the force of social change where Weber though religion was.

Emile Durkheim selections from “Division of Labor in Society” From Scott Appelrouth and Laura Edles (eds.) Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory (Pine Forge Press, 2008)

Emile Durkheim selections from “Suicide” From Scott Appelrouth and Laura Edles (eds.) Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory (Pine Forge Press, 2008)

Emile Durkheim “The Human Meaning of Religion” From Peter Kivisto (ed) Social Theory: Roots and Branches (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Karl Marx “Alienated Labor” From Peter Kivisto (ed) Social Theory: Roots and Branches (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Karl Marx “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” From Christopher
Hitchens (ed) The Portable Atheist (Nation Books, 2009)

Max Weber “Bureaucracy” From Peter Kivisto (ed) Social Theory: Roots and Branches (OxfordUniversity Press, 2008). Max Weber “Class, Status, Party” From Peter Kivisto (ed) Social Theory: Roots and Branches

Max Weber selections from “Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” From Scott Appelrouth and Laura Edles (eds.) Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory (Pine Forge Press, 2008).


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 9 November 2016

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