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Views of Weber and Durkheim on Sociological Investigation - Essay Example

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Views of Weber and Durkheim on Sociological Investigation

Till the mid-nineteenth century the study of societal structures was not recognized as a science. There was barely any effort to recognize the place of individual in the society and the former’s influence on the latter and vice-versa. There was little enthusiasm to raise questions and pursue answers relating to the society which is the unit of civilization. It was Weber and Durkheim who helped social science take a big leap forward by building elaborate arguments on the characteristics of societies, the factors and forces that hold them together, whether there are certain patterns that can be observed in societal evolution, the possible impact of such patterns, if any, on polity and economy, whether it is possible to codify them and what use this understanding could be of to the human communities. The biggest success of Weber and Durkheim was to draw the attention of the world to these issues.Weber and Durkheim, considered the founding fathers of sociology, have a great deal in common in terms of their use of empirical procedures to reinforce their propositions, in spite of the fact that their views had fundamental differences. Both of them relied on classification and creation of ideal types as the ground for comparative analysis and interpretation. Both endorsed the profound impact of the Reformation, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, the rise of capitalism and the ensuing division of labor on contemporary society but the conclusions they arrived at were not necessarily the same. For instance, Weber attributes the emergence of the modern Western Civilization to rational calculations (Shils, 2011: 34) and the will of a new generation of people but Durkheim vehemently denies that individuals can ever alter the course of history. Instead, he proposes materialistic advances as the principal factor which shaped the existing social order. The comparison offers a challenge because in defining the DOs and DON’Ts of sociological analysis and with respect to the degree of subtlety of expression, Weber is not as easy or straightforward to follow as Durkheim is. Their writings were, no doubt, instructive; yet, their strategies for comparative analysis did have their shortcomings and though they were aware of it, neither could devise a concrete strategy to overcome the problem even in the methodological statements they produced, in 1904 and 1895 respectively, on the programs for sociology. Moreover, the subjective nature of social science brings with it an element of ambiguity due to which the same question can have several seemingly contradicting, yet valid, answers. The task can be simplified by choosing ...Show more
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If sociology has firmly established itself as an academic and scientific discipline today, the credit is largely due to Weber and Durkheim. This paper "Views of Weber and Durkheim on Sociological Investigation" compares the methods of these two towering figures…
Views of Weber and Durkheim on Sociological Investigation
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