In this paper, an analysis of the ideas presented by the fathers of Sociology is presented. In the following paragraphs an analysis is made of the ideas of Marx, Weber and Durkheim. This brief introductory analysis is then followed by an extensive comparison between the three. The paper seeks to identify whether or not Karl Marx provides theories more adequate than those presented by Weber and Durkheim. Karl Marx Karl Marx presented theories to the world that focused primarily on human nature. To Marx, any description of human nature was incomplete without a discussion on the tendency of human nature to transform with time and events.
In this continuous process of change, Marx chose to identify social classes on the basis of two primary factors. The first factor was the means of production that were available for the society to bring into use. These means of productions incorporated all natural and technological resources available. The second factor was the evolution of the social framework of the society that occurred as the people of the society interacted with each other in the process of the utilization of the means of production.
It is for the same reason that Marx identified history not as a time span that should be divided in terms of events, but in terms of the individual modes of production that were brought into use by society over the ages. Max Weber This paragraph discusses one of the most insightful thinkers of the twentieth century. From his childhood, Weber had been a passionate thinker and philosopher. His contributions in the various areas of the social sciences are considered to be nothing less than pioneering observations in the field.
In terms of the aspect of the economical behavior of a society, Weber disagreed with views of the Carl Menger and Friedrich von Weiser kind. Durkheim Emile Durkheim was a seventeenth century French sociologist whose work portrayed the process through which societies maintain their coherence once differences such as ethnic backgrounds and religion no longer remain primary. Durkheim is credited for numerous lectures and publications on the sociological studies that dealt with various aspects of society.
Approach adopted for the comparison The critical comparison between the three is initiated by a comparison between Marx and Weber, and is continued by introducing Durkheim later on in the paper. The comparison is hence performed in a systematic routine in order to make sure that the maximum number of Marx’s ideas is compared with those of Weber’s and Durkheim’s that counter them. In the process, the paper also allows for a more meaningful look into social inequalities, their origins and their impacts.
Comparison An understanding of the differences in the perceptions of Marx and Weber can be attained by analyzing their viewpoints on capitalism. In this regard, we can observe that Marx and Weber found themselves deeply intrigued by the changes that came about when industrialization was at its peak. However, the difference between their approaches to the same is nothing less than remarkable. Marx’s writings show his desire for a revolution to take place in society, while Weber chose to contemplate upon the reasons and causes of which capitalism was an affect.
While both philosophers were in agreement upon the fact that society had set out on a route which would eventually lead it to disastrous consequences, there lies a clear difference between the perceptions that the two hold with regard to the final outcome (Grabb, 2006, pp. 17-36). Both men are credited for their individual contributions because even though the similarities between their ideas often lead people to mistake them to belong to the same school of thought, their ideas are more than merely different.
The greatest difference between their theories lay in the aspects that defined the eventual outcomes that the prevalence of capitalism held for a society. Marx was an avid believer in dialectic materialism. His perception held that the continuous tussle and struggle between the classes found in a society was the leading cause of the change that the society underwent (Marger, 2007). Marx held no doubt in his perception of the five stages that a society went through in the process of its evolution.
To Marx, capitalism was nothing more than one of these stage before absolute communism could prevail. To Marx, capitalism came about when a revolution against the government began to take root in the economic infrastructure of the society (Marxism, 2006). Weber, on the other hand, stressed more on the reasons and affects of capitalism rather than the eventuality to which it led. To Weber, capitalism was intricately associated to protestant reformation. The fundamental beliefs that Protestants held were the primary contributors to the steady foundation of capitalism.
From Weber’s point of view, the eventual formation of classes in the society was not an element that should be opposed or considered to be opposed because it allowed for each man to pursue his desires in accordance with the resources he had at hand. Weber was of the opinion that capitalism does not increase segmentation negatively in a society. In contrast to Marx, Weber’s perception indicates that the eventualities of capitalism are far from catastrophic (Grabb, 2006, pp. 45-70).
For Weber, capitalism allowed the development of skills in a society and promoted specialization trends amongst the labors. Needless to say, Weber’s classes were separated from each other and identified as distinguishable with relevance to the degree of access to resources and means of production that each class is entitled to. Unlike Marx, Weber chooses to consider capitalism as anything but an idealistic form of society. We can deduce therefore that it is in the aspects of the formation, direct impacts and eventualities of capitalism that the differences between Marx and Weber lie.
The main difference between, Marx, Max Weber and Durkheim, was that, Max Weber was in contradiction with what these two believed, Max Weber was termed as the conflict Theorist because both the other respective Theorists did not agree with the theories he put forward. Durkheim and Marx both contested his views strongly however they did so in completely different contexts. Weber managed to analyze the fact that human kind had a thirst for power that came with the possession of resources; these could be anything from land to capital or investment.
According to him Social Status went hand in hand with the conditioning of human life. He explained these facts in terms of categories like, societies were chronologically divided into social strata depending on their possession of material wealth which further gave them Status and ultimate entry into the party of the elite. The concept of Power, Weber explained that when referring to mankind power did not emerge from strength, it was from wealth that strength and power both emerged.
The term Social Inequality became increasingly clear, with this explanation of Weber’s that power issued from the acquisition of wealth. For instance material resources presented limitations, limitations in the sense that all could not achieve it, after all resources are not acquired for free and in this day and age it makes perfect sense, that acquiring an Italian Villa is not an option open to the poor (Grabb, 2006, pp. 78-93). This is what made Weber’s theory so different that he presented in depth material in response to the Interactionists like Durkheim and Marx.
Weber deigned to explain that wealth corresponded with the structural situation of a society; it is wealth that makes the divisions in a chronological order, the poor, middle class and the rich and then the elitists. For ease in understanding of the material Weber broke it down into three categories Power of Class, Power of Status and Political Power. Power of class corresponds to the fact that for some individual’s acquisitions of material resources is a luxury they cannot afford; this puts them in a weak position.
While those, which just by the possession of wealth are categorized into their own special class. Obviously if you hold a person in senior regard, he obviously will possess power to exert over you. For example a Manager or a Director just through his designation has his own special social status or social standing and therefore is able to exert his power of authority over his subordinates. Making rules and regulation puts one in a position of authority.
Therefore if the Government makes rules and regulations and creates laws then that puts the Government in a powerful position, similarly a political party that has the ability to create laws obviously has the power to exert them and this is what the power of politics is all about. On the other hand, the fact remains that the eighteenth and the seventeenth century were time periods when views on the structure of a society in an urban setting were much debated and as the industrial revolution continued to have its affects on society, the differences between the classes in the society continued to become all the more prominent.
The establishment of a capitalist society became a desire for the upper class since it allowed them to bring advanced modes of production into use. This benefit was also followed by the benefit that the prevalence of capitalism allowed the upper class to continue their rule and domination over the lower class. Durkheim and Marx both wrote and researched extensively into this phenomenon (Hurst, 2006).
While both thinkers choose to stress upon classes and change in terms of the characteristics of the affects that they have on the group level rather than the individual level, , yet in the eyes of Emile Durkheim, the prime factor is to determine the function of capitalism in a society. Karl Marx comes across as a conflict theorist at this point since he chooses to stress upon the role of social inequalities in the generation of change within the complex system of the society. Durkheim is a functionalist as a sociologist while Marx is a conflict theorist.
Durkheim looks at society as a system in terms of the constituents that it holds and the approach with which they contribute to the sustenance of the social system. In terms of Marx however, it is inequality and conflict that serve to bring about social change (Eagly, Baron, Hamilton, Hamilton, & Kelman, 2004). The system remains complex just as it was in Durkheim’s interpretation, but the role and causes of the eventualities change. In doing so, Marx tries to reduce the foundation and impacts of social inequality.
Marx’s theories appear to make use of the Social Conflict Theory in their origination. Marx presents the vision of a society in which the system of class does not prevail for it is given no regard to begin with. In order to so, Marx makes use of dialectical materialism. It is clear to see from Marx’s point of view that Marx believes in the union of sorts between the middle class to all the social segmentations that spanned right up till the upper class (Kolakowski, 2007).
In light of the above assessment, it would not be unjustified to infer that the theorist to explain Social Inequalities in their fullest and with the most practicality with regard to the scenario that prevails in the present day world would have to be Karl Marx (Neckerman, 2004). His perspective allows for an iconic view of the class system and identifies the exact role of classes in a society while also serving to undermine their very presence in line of the overall desire of Marx to eradicate the prevalence of the class system altogether.