Comparing The Theories Of Durkheim And Marx

1672 words - 7 pages

Comparing the Theories of Durkheim and Marx
Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx were two of history’s most influential theorists. While both of these classical theorists played a significant role in the development of social science, their views on social issues differed greatly.
Emile Durkheim was the first sociologist in France to hold an academic post. Much of his career was focused on promoting sociology as a “legitimate and significant academic discipline”. He was a French functionalist who looked at sociology in a scientific way. He related a functional society to the human body, with each part having a different job but as a whole, forming a functional organism. Durkheim ...view middle of the document...

For instance, as one person fills a specific roll (such as doctor, merchant, dentist…etc), that person becomes more reliant on others within society for the goods/services that they don’t have the means to produce. Thus, the division of labor is a source of unity and creates interdependence. He also believed that having people who were experts in one certain field was far better for society than having people who were just mediocre in many different areas in terms of output.
Emile Durkheim saw the state as a vital entity to preserve individuals’ rights. By ensuring that there is a hospitable environment for people to enhance their individual specialties, the state promotes individualistic freedom. This promotion of individualistic freedom is then met with societal interdependence as a result of specialization.
Durkheim viewed the educational system as a way to socialize people into society’s mainstream. Schooling brought people together from diverse backgrounds to form a more cohesive social structure. Since educational systems are built by society, which consistently seeks opportunities to reproduce its collective beliefs and values through its social institutions, schooling was used as an instrument to perpetuate unity and cooperation. Education was also a source of networking, providing the students with the opportunity to make interpersonal connections.
Like education, Durkheim saw the institution of family as another way to perpetuate society’s collective beliefs. He said that the family was a structured environment that served as an instrument in social harmony. He also believed that the family was an important and effective mechanism to “internalize” social morals, instilling beliefs in individuals which society deemed important or necesary.
Emile Durkheim perceived crime and deviance as a “normal” aspect of any healthy society. He claimed that criminal acts function to show what is good/bad in a society (again uniting society in shared values and perceptions) and to clarify boundaries. This affirmation of cultural values and norms promotes social solidarity. When asked by peers what the point of punishing people who committed acts of deviance was if it was so beneficial for society, Durkheim equated deviance to pain; he said that although pain is detestable, it is necessary to grow stronger.
According to Durkheim, the institution of religion created a sense of moral obligation in individuals to adhere to society’s demands. This obligation matured into yet another factor that perpetuates a consensus of values. The idea that religion gives people meaning in life unites members within society with a set of shared morals. He was not as particularly focused on the religious experience of individuals themselves but rather the communal activity associated with the religious experiences. The participation in religious activities was thought to give rise to bonds and interpersonal ties that...

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