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What were the individual and societal problems identified by the classical social theorists. How did they suggest they might be resolved?

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Introduction

What were the individual and societal problems identified by the classical social theorists. How did they suggest they might be resolved? Abstract: In this essay I have tried to answer the question by analyzing the individual and societal problems identified by Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx, and the way they suggested to resolve these problems. I divided the essay by discussing each classical theorist's ideas separately and then comparing them. The beginning of the 19th century saw the very end of large land ownership. Workers were starting to have more freedoms then their ancestors who lived during the feudal period. During this period the serfs had to work for their landlords: part of what they produced had to be given to their lords. Very little could be sold by the farmers because there were no large scale markets. Before the turn of the century a very small part of the population in Europe had access to education: "It is said that in England, not more than 1 child in 15 possesses the means of being taught to read and write; in Wales, 1 in 20; in France, ... 1 in 35."1 Children were educated by their parents and in most cases the male children took over his father's work and females took care of the house and eventually their children. This was starting to change in the first decades of the 19th century, and this is probably what enabled the increasing freedoms amongst the lower classes. ...read more.

Middle

Anomie is "a sense of not knowing what one is expected to do".6 In mechanical solidarity everyone knows what their duties are towards the community and their beliefs, in organic solidarity this is not the case and one doesn't know what he is supposed to do. Max Weber similarly also looks at this transition from feudalism to capitalism, although, he mainly focused on the societal problems rather than the individual problems. He emphasized more on the role of ideas and the way people were thinking in relation to the change in society not only on technological and material change.7 Weber noticed that places where capitalism developed first were the places where Protestantism was more eradicated. He believed that the problem with traditional societies was religion. The main religion around Europe before the spread of Protestantism was the Catholic Church. According to him, people supporting this church are not motivated in their work. This is because people can easily be absolved at any time, just by confessing their bad actions to their priest. In Protestantism, and in particular in Calvinism, there is no absolution and each person works for god. Each person has the interest build a successful business, earn money to reinvest on the business in order to enlarge their business and become more profitable. And since, according to them, each person is predestined either to heaven or to hell, one would always be satisfied with himself because at least during their life they have prospered economically even if they don't go to heaven. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, they are "alienated from their human (creative) potential,"9 so they don't produce for beauty but for profit.10 For these reason Marx believes the proletariat is exploited and oppressed by capitalists, and the only solution to this problem is revolution. Since in a developed capitalist society there are a few capitalists and a large number of proletariat, according to Marx, these should unite and overthrow the capitalists and form a dictatorship of the proletariat. "Thus, Communism is a system that permits people to express the thoughtfulness, creativity, that have been possibility but inhibited or destroyed by previous social systems (e.g., feudalism, capitalism)."11 However Marx understands that in order to have communism a society must pass through capitalism in order to have the technologies for such a revolution. All three classical theorists considered the change from a traditional society to a modern society. They took in consideration the sociological developments both in material factors and the role of ideas that caused the change. They suggested ways to form an 'ideal' society, by looking at the individual and social problems of old traditional society, and suggesting ways they might be resolved. In the case of Karl Marx, in the 1920s, a group in the then-Soviet Union put in practice his ideas and went "in the direction of disastrous communist regime."12 These leaders that called themselves as communist "would have been attacked by Marx himself for their inhumanity."13 These societies hardly came close to Marxist ideology. ...read more.

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