or disagree with?
Sociology is one of my favorite subjects and one I have taken great interest in the last year or so. Often regarded as a left wing conspiracy - especially by one poster who farts 'loony lefties' - two of the founding fathers of Sociology were, arguably, more to the right. Regardless, it is a subject that I feel should be on the Leaving Certificate as I believe it would interest many students, even the most apathetic.
Comte is the man who came up with the word sociology and probably should be in with Marx, Durkheim and Weber. However, the three just mentioned are regarded as the main founders of Sociology. So, my question is: Who do you most relate to and believe was correct about the functioning of human beings?
For some who are not familiar with the subject or the thinkers, a quick summary of the views of the three is needed. I'll really try and terse, something I'm garbage at.
Durkheim - Functionalism
Durkheim wanted to comprehend how society functioned. One of his major contributions to Sociology was Mechanical and Organic solidarity. This concept leads on to his views on why people commit suicide (anomie) and crucially, division of labor.
Mechanical solidarity basically means what holds society together. Durkheim believed this was the case in pre-industrial times as most people shared similar jobs and this lead to a collective conscience. People also had similar customs and values set in place which resulted in a social glue.
When, during the industrial revolution and the division of labor, as people began to become more skilled and work in different jobs, things changed rapidly and the complexities of capitalism lead to a new form of solidarity, organic. This was mainly because of a division of labor in society, as people were now more reliant on others, such as specialized workers. Instead of people being dependent on others they knew (working in Feudal times, everyone doing the same jobs, same rewards, etc) they were now relying on others they did not know, and the general accord was replaced with functional interdependence. When capitalism really took off in the 19th century, its rights did not penetrate to all who lived in it. Because of this, according to Durkheim, many ended up feeling isolated, bored, and living a life unfulfilled. This is where Durkheim's suicide theory comes in, as when people where living in a organic solidarity, many thought of life as worthless and having no meaning.
There is more to be said on division of labor and suicide, but that is a very basic explanation of them. Durkheim also believed that religion was played a crucial part in peoples' lives, and had many positive aspects. He believed it was necessary in society and created boundaries, customs and rules that have helped society. Obviously, each religion is different, but according to Durkheim, they all have the same effects on people:
- Religion is part of the socialisation process, creating norms and values
- Religious system of beliefs help people by filling up their needs and giving them a purpose in life
- Religion gives people a social identity
- Religion brings human beings together
Karl Marx - Class Conflict
Now I understand that any discussion about this man is completely futile as every myth about him will be brought up, from he wanted dictatorships, he was utopian, he wanted to kill all capitalists, etc. However, just to go over his views.
Marx believed that there were two classes in conflict with each other: bourgeois and proletariat. The former held the means of production and the latter was forced to sell their labor to them (which leads on to a whole host of other things). These two classes are in conflict with each other over wealth and exploitation. Workers are being exploited because they are forced to sell their labor and their labor power (they're energy, creativity, etc). Whereas the bourgeois grow fat off of the labor of the workers. Although both need each other, the exploitation of the workers is, in Marx's view, completely wrong and he predicted that workers would rise up and overthrow capitalism.
Marx borrowed a lot from Hegel and others and elaborated on them. He believed that the capitalist system alienated workers from themselves, each other, their work and the things they produce. This leads on to a development of fetishism of commodities and more. Marx took aim at religion for its help in keeping people subjugated.
Marx viewed religion as a way to keep people in line. Rather than rise up and fight for better conditions, religion offered people a better world in the afterlife. Marx saw this is folly and attacked religion for keeping people down and conforming to the system they are in.
Max Weber - Social Action Theory
Weber believed that in pre-industrial societies, people had a complete set of different values. As times moved on and with industrialisation, people moved on with their beliefs and customs. They began to think carefully about the consequences of their actions in the future. Society is formed by the way people interact with each other. Religion is of course, a key element in this interaction.
His biggest contribution arguably is his view that religion is central to what way a society acts. He did this by touring different parts of the world and concluding that religions such as Hinduism, Islam and Catholicism were not right for the development of capitalism, unlike Protestantism. He did not mean that capitalism was Protestantism, he mean't that Protestantism in a capitalist society was more suited. In his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber outlines how Calvinism did not teach people to acquiesce and accept their role in life, unlike the caste system, for example.
Weber believed it was no coincidence that western European countries who were Protestant lead the way in their development of industrial capitalism. John Calvin preached about saving, investing and that it was a duty to God to work hard. Living your life like that will lead to salvation.
Apologies if I have did a disservice to your favorite sociologist, I did only say I would be terse and I haven't even touched on some of their, in my opinion, more interesting views on the family, particularly Marx's. Personally, I tend to agree with all three. I think Durkheim's division of labor is crucial in its analysis of suicide, even today. The same with Marx and alienation because of labor. Anyway, do you agree with one, two or all three or do you thoroughly disagree with all of them?
The political philosophy forum is probably the only forum that is troll free. I have a feeling this will be moved to that forum by Cato. I only did not start it in that forum because you can't and I couldn't be arsed Pming, so apologies in advance.