Sociological Theories - Karl Marx And Emile Durkheim

1613 words, 7 pages

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Sociology 300

The purpose of a theory is to understand/explain a concept. Karl Marx is one theorist that discusses the society as being materialistic and idealistic. Work is alienated and becomes an estranged object to the laborer. Émile Durkheim, on the other hand, discusses how our society has evolved from a mechanical solidarity to an organic solidarity. Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed is her attempt at working low wage jobs and seeing how she can get by in the American society. Her findings show elements of both Marx’s and Durkheim theories.

The Industrial Revolution and the emerging capitalism influenced Karl Marx’s theory. Marx also combined idealism and materialism in his theory. Idealism is the ideas that... View More »

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He states, “the estrangement is manifested not only in the result but in the act of production—within the producing activity itself” (Marx 48-49). The work does not feel like it belongs to the worker, it is an external factor to him. In turn, it does not satisfy the worker’s internal needs. The end product then does not belong to the worker, either does the process of creating the product. The third form is being alienated from own human kind. It is almost as if we forgot how to be human when we work because we are working without conscious thought. “Estranged labor reverses this relationship, so that it is just because man is a conscious being that he makes his life-activity, his essential being, a mere means to his existence” (Marx 50). Marx compares this work of human to animal alienation. It brings us down to the level of animals. The last form is being alienated from one person to another. This new consciousness has taken over and workers no longer see themselves as equals. They see each other based off their positions in the labor market. “The relationship of estranged labour each man views the other in accordance with the standard and the position in which he finds himself as a worker” (Marx 51). Then money comes into play. Money becomes more important in determining who someone is rather than his or her personality. Money takes a life its own, becoming independent of its possessor.

In today’s time, many of Marx’s theories do not apply to us. Back then, the capitalist were nearly 100% in control of the labor market. Now, we have labor laws, government ...

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