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Marx, Weber and Durkheim have significantly advanced our understanding of industrial capitalist societies. Are their theoretical contributions relevant to the analysis of the contemporary world?

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Marx, Weber and Durkheim have significantly advanced our understanding of industrial capitalist societies. Are their theoretical contributions relevant to the analysis of the contemporary world? Name: Miriam Brandt ID Number: 01805436 Course Name: 1st Arts, Sociology and Politics Course Tutor: Deirdre McHugh Tutorial Group: No 9 For hundreds of years people have tried to find ways to understand the changes in our society. How have we evolved from a hunting and gathering society about 12,000 years ago, when humans lived totally without technology, searching continuously for food, to today's fast-moving society, where we have modern technology at out fingertips? This paper will argue that three of sociology's founders, Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emilie Durkheim help us understand how and why society changes. These three social thinkers, who all lived in the 19th Century and thus were witness to the greatest change in society, the industrial revolution, have all studied societies in different ways and have come up with their own theories for social change. This paper will help us answer questions, which are puzzling us in today's modern world. Why is there such a large and ever-increasing divide between the rich and the poor? ...read more.


For him, people's ideas have transforming power. He found that modern society is a product of people's way of thinking as opposed to Marx's views that modern technology and capitalism brought about change. Weber argued that pre-industrial societies' views are mainly traditional, i.e. "sentiments and beliefs passed from generation to generation" (Macionis & Plummer, p.81), whereas people in modern societies act rationally, "deliberate matter-of-fact calculation of the most efficient means to accomplish a particular goal" (Macionis & Plummer, p.82). He viewed the industrial revolution as a rationalisation of society. "People tried to replace tradition with reason and law as the basis for societal organisation" (Tovey & Share, p.14). Weber argued that the main form of rationalisation was bureaucracy as a way to control larger organisations. He also found that industrial capitalism was based on Calvinism, where it is pre-destined, God's will, that some people will do well in this world and that they are given the opportunity to enjoy the materialist, monetary wealth this brings. Like Marx, Weber believed that a problem of industrial capitalism is widespread alienation. But in his view, this was due to disenchantment with the world rather than oppression and false consciousness, i.e. ...read more.


or over attachment to society are more likely to commit suicide than others. Durkheim saw the decreasing importance on morality as a result of modernisation and we can see its' effect in today's world, e.g. increase in crime and deviance. This paper has now considered three different theories, which can explain and help us understand industrial capitalist societies and have looked at how these theories are relevant in today's world. We have argued that the advancement of technology, which is at the heart of our modern world, is not necessarily good for our society. It has brought its' own problems, like do we enjoy our high standards of living at the expense of others? Inequality will remain a huge problem. Marx has seen class division to be a major negative result of modernisation. Weber's view that modern society is wearing away traditional ties and the loss of individualism is evident in today's contemporary world, when we consider social problems like crime, decreasing family values, family structure breakdown etc. Durkheim's theory is that modernity has decreased close moral ties and has led to increased isolation and anomie. There is no question that modern technology has benefited societies in many ways, but the price we have to pay for this technological advancement may be the loss of human community, moral values and beliefs. ...read more.

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