Three thinkers form the foundations of modern-day sociological thinking. Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx, and Max Weber. Each developed different theoretical approaches to help us understand the way societies function, and how we are determined by society. This essay will focus on the contrasts and similarities of Durkheim and Weber’s thought of how we are determined by society. It will then go on to argue that Weber provides us with the best account of modern life.
Emile Durkheim (1858 - 1917), believed individuals are determined by the society they live in because they share a moral reality that we have been socialised to internalise through social facts. Social facts according to Drukhiem are the “manners of acting thinking and feeling external to the individual which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him [or her].” Social facts are external to the individual, they bind societies together because they have an emotional and moral hold on people, and are why we feel shame or guilt when we break societal convention. Durkheim was concerned with what maintained the cohesion of social structures. He was a functionalist, he believed each aspect of society contributes to society 's stability and functioning as a whole. He theorised that society stayed united for two reasons “mechanical solidarity” and “organic solidarity.” Premodern societies were held together by mechanical solidarity, a type of social order maintained through a minimal division of labour and a common collective consciousness. Such societies permitted a low degree of individual autonomy, Social life was fixed and there was no sense of self. They had retributive legal systems so no individual action or...
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...hine and aware of this his one preoccupation is wether he can become a bigger cog.”
Best account of modern life
Durkheim and Weber present two contrasting but occasionally overlapping ideas about modern societies, both look at modern life through it’s connection to industrialisation and capitalism. For Durkheim modern life is characterised by the increasing division of labor and the rise of the individual. In contrast, Weber see modern life as the dominance of rationality. These two systems lead to different outcomes for the individual in modern life. For Durkheim the result is anomie, a loss of shared moral values and norms, whereas for Weber it is the disenchantment of the individual under rationalised bureaucratic authority. Although both have insights that … I think that although Weber had a very pessimistic vision he provides the best account of modern life.
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