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Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber: Sociological Views and Theories

The sociological views of Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim all assert that various aspects of our identity or lifestyle are fully a product of the society in which we live. Despite this assertion, each theorist views the impact of society and its manifestation of our identity in a different way. All three of these men used the Industrial Revolution and capitalism to shape their theories of social identity, especially the identity created by capitalism's division of labor. The Industrial Revolution was a major turning point in the recent history of the world. Heilbroner (1968, p. 53) notes that a new "theological" point of view underpinned this social and economic paradigm shift toward "mechanical" rather than "organic" solidarity among individuals. This analysis will provide a comparison and contrast of the positions of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber with respect to the impact of the "new" capitalist society on individual identity.

Marx theorized that society was an organism similar to the human body where each part performs a distinct function. Marx saw the basic division in society as existing between owners and non-owners of the means of production. This division largely "determined the character" of other areas of activity and of society as a whole at any given historical period (Hess, Markson, and Stein, 1989, p. 12). Marxist sociology and economic theory posited the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat as responsible for the transition from traditional to modern society. Marx asserted that in feudalism, less alienation of man from the products of his labor occurred than was evident in early modern capitalism. Feudalism fostered cooperation, while mature capitalism with its focus on advanced machine production would invariably introduce "severe economic dislocations" resulting from overproduction, unemployment, and depression (Anderson, 1971, p. 70). This alienated the indivi...

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Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber: Sociological Views and Theories. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:11, February 21, 2017, from