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How do Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons view the social world - Research Paper Example

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How do Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons view the social world

A fundamental concern of Marx is the concept of different classes in society, arranged hierarchically in a pyramid form with a small number of people controlling things at the top, and a very large base number of workers who create the goods which society needs. This arrangement, in Marx’s view, contains an inbuilt source of conflict, since the elite levels seek to exploit the worker levels for their own profit. These tendencies can be resolved by a raising of the consciousness of the workers, and revolutionary activity which overturns the supremacy of capitalist elites and in theory returns more control to the workers. The elites who own the means of production are known as the bourgeoisie, and the workers who supply the labour in the production process are known as the proletariat. The main concern, therefore, in Marx’s view of society is the locus of power and how it is exercised. Marx is critical of the forces that lead capitalist business owners to drive down the wages of workers in order to make more and more profit for themselves. Work is viewed as an ennobling process which brings meaning to the life of a person, but only if there is a fair distribution of the wealth that comes from that labor. Marx was concerned about the future exploitation of workers under Capitalism. Its never-ending accumulation of money for its own sake rather than for general good sets up a cycle of opposition. The closer a worker is to the goods he produces, being able to use them himself and appreciate their value, the more authentic his experience of work is going to be. One consequence of this view of the social world is that it emphasizes the importance of human actions, and does not leave much room for philosophy and religion, which explain things by means of concepts outside human control such as scientific principles, or divine intervention. Humans construct their social reality out of historically inherited traditions, and their reactions to what happens in their lives in relation to others around them. As society after the industrial revolution grew ever more complex, so did social organization become more necessary, and this resulted in the emergence of large bureaucracies to guide and administer social functions. Solidarity between workers becomes necessary in order to hold the greed of the bourgeoisie in check, and in Marx’s view this mutual support and respect between workers is one of the main components of a successful society and a future risk is the erosion of this solidarity and an endless cycle of oppression and revolution. Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a French scholar interested in how society works, and his fundamental concern was the structures and institutions that different societies and groups within society construct in order to manage their day to day lives. Unlike Marx, Durkheim sees religion as an important aspect of the social world, and defines this broadly to include all kinds of beliefs that knit people together. For Durkheim concepts like the contrast between sacred and profane objects or actions are ways of giving meaning to human social actions. In other words religion should be seen as a product of social interaction between people in a group. Durkheim’s attempt to describe the underlying norms and values of society by means of observation of the way that people act formed the beginning of what we now recognize as the discipline of sociology. Looking at late nineteenth century ...Show more
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Summary

Sociology How do Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons view the social world? The view of the social world which Karl Marx (1818-1883) holds is a materialist one, which means that the focus is on economic means of production and the roles that people play in creating wealth and transferring it from person to person…
How do Marx, Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons view the social world
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