Emile Durkheim Theory Essays

Next I will attempt to compare and contrast Marx’s and Durkheim’s theories regarding the structure of modern society.

Followed by several criticisms of both theorists, and ending with a small conclusion to this essay.

Marx (cited in Giddens, A & held, D) said: “He does not fulfil himself in his work but denies himself, has a feeling of misery rather than well-being, does not develop freely his mental and physical energies but is physically exhausted and mentally debased.

The worker, therefore, feels himself at home only during his leisure time, whereas at work he feels homeless.

Emile Durkheim 1858 – 1917 Durkheim was born in the eastern French province of Lorraine. He was educated in France and Germany, and taught social science at the University of Bordeaux (the first offered in a French University) and the famous French University the Sorbonne.

Durkheim believed that the collective conscience of society was the source of religion and morality and that the most basic values developed in society, especially in primitive societies, are the strong bonds of social order.Key to all of these was the focus on integration and regulation. It is also argued that he was confused between the distinction between egoism and anomie, and that he failed to substantiate his claims of the existence of altruism and fatalism; this is argued to such an extent that it has even been suggested that there is only one cause of suicide (egoism) that Durkheim could claim to be true.Egoistic suicides occurred with low integration, altruistic with excessive; anomic suicides with low regulation, and fatalistic with excessive. However, whilst acknowledging some of Durkheim’s own contradictions or confusions, some sociologists have gone on to develop and substantiate the ideas that he developed, and there is no denying that his study of suicide is a far-reaching and legacy-building work of substantial value.Durkheim used the comparative method to study the official suicide rates of various European countries.While he was not the first to notice the patterns and proportional changes of suicide rates between different groups in European societies, it was this fact that was the foundation of his theory – why did some groups consistently have much higher rates than others?He distinguishes between the ‘pre-modern’ suicides – altruism and fatalism, and the ‘modern’ suicides – egoism and anomie. The transition, he claims, from pre- to modern society has led to individualism, through greater social and economic mobility, and urbanisation. Marx rejected Hegel’s idealism and developed his own materialistic theory of history as science, essentially predicting that the accomplishment of the working class was inevitable.With his associate Engels, Marx published the Manifesto of the Communist Party in (Marx & Engels 1848).Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 Marx was born in Trier, Prussia.And is one of the founders of economic history and sociology.


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