Marx, Durkheim and Weber on the Development of Modern Industrial Society
Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are the dominant classical voices when studying or analyzing the emergence of society from a more cooperative, collective feudal society to a modern capitalistic society. All three of these sociological philosophers contributed to the nature of society and social change. Each of them eventually surmised that the relationship between individuals and their fellows and individuals and their world was directly related to their relationship to economic conditions. Whether referencing Marx and his concept of “alienation”, Durkheim and his thoughts on social solidarity or Weber and rationalism and disenchantment, the outcome for the modern citizen was not naturally grounded in humanitarianism or connectedness with his fellows, rather it was grounded in the division of labor and relationship to modern capitalism and the means of production. No matter how profound the differences in viewpoints, they were acutely concerned with the evolving market society and its effect on society and human interaction. Moreover, none of the three saw capitalism as a system without serious downfalls and consequences to human relationships with their world, their fellows and themselves.
Marx theoretic endeavors are clearly influenced by the history of his time. His works show a shift from more philosophical influences to more economically based studies. The antecedent of Marx studies was the move from feudal society to a society based on capitalism. In analyzing Marx, his belief that the move into capitalism was a necessary step in societal evolution is primary. In identifying the issues of class based in economics and the exploitation of workers, Marx sought to explain and change the social scheme of society. The shift to an owner /worker society would inevitably lead to alienation of the worker. The end result, according to Marx, was revolution as a result of the...