Marx Vs Durkheim

Industrial Revolution changed the economic and social landscape of society in seventeenth and eighteenth century in Europe. One also finds the evolutions of social and economic ideas during that period which were the harbingers of various revolutions in Europe. Both Karl Marx and Durkheim as social theorists looked in the social structure of society by using a lens of conflict and functionalist theorist respectively with an objective to bring social change. Both have the commonality of discussing groups and structure rather than studying individuals.
As a conflict theorist, Marx unbundles the complex system of society identifying inequality which benefits few who rule and brings sufferings for more particularly the workers. He believes both mode of production and process of production are controlled by industrialist while the worker is alienated from the production. For addressing this increasing inequality, he proposes a theory of classless society based on Hegelian dialectical materialism and advocates the overthrow of ruling upper class bourgeois replacing with proletarians and middle class.
Social relations for Marx are fundamentally division of labor and struggle between social classes as his humanity is not religious but of course economic. He argues that for understanding society one needs to explore and analyze its formation with reference to forces of production and who benefits from that production and who loses in this process. He says ‘ability to expound the real process of production, starting out from the material production of life itself, and to comprehend the form of intercourse connected with this and created by the mode of production, as the basis of history; and to show it in its action as State, to explain all the different theoretical products and forms of consciousness, religion, philosophy, ethics, etc., etc. and trace their origins and growth from that basis; by which means, of course, the whole thing can be depicted in its totality’.
For him, mode of production is the driving force for social development and social transformation. He argues that society’s transformation from feudal to industrial (rural to urban) resulted as the mode of production changed during the course of time. He says as the mode of productions changes the division of labor, therefore new classes emerge but with the same pattern of one who controls it and the other who produces for it.
Durkheim’s functionalist perspective looks at society as a system with various parts which together making a whole. He forms the idea of society as an ‘integrated system’ functioning through interconnected parts. He sees society as a phenomenon which may be empirically investigated and the changes are internal within the society.
Durkheim classifies these abnormal forms of labor and then investigates into the causes of those anomalies. He does not stop here but also prescribes the solutions to fix those anomalies. Being an ardent supporter of DOL, he firmly believes that change in social structure is only possible through normal distribution of DOL. Like Marx, he also digs deep into the anomalies such as inequality and deprivation but his analysis of causes more scientific and methodological. His prescription for social change is for transformation from mechanical to organic by using the instrument of division of labor. But Marx, social change perspective is revolutionary and immediate. Though both have contributed a lot for modern sociology but it seems that Durkheim doctrine is more prevalent and acceptable in modern society.
My personal views about DOL (1893) and ‘The Rules (1895)’ have mixture of appreciation and some limitations. Frankly, I did not enjoy reading DOL as I did in Marx. I feel that Durkheim while writing DOL had in his mind that he would be publishing rules after two years. Therefore in DOL, he tried to present a theory for justifying his methods. Being a constructionist/ functionalist, it is a strategic and successful move. But his theory does not have that depth and appeal which makes you ardent follower of Durkheim as theorist. On the other hand, credit goes to him for building an argument for sociology as an independent entity. Being a sociologist in making, I personally am idealist and that’s why have more inclination towards Marx as he questions the system and somehow defies inequality and challenges power imbalance and finally presents an argument ‘another world is possible’. Durkheim on the other hand looks into the layers of society and then argues that division of labor may transform society from primitive to modern but he sees it objectively without any passion making another world rather tries to fix this world by changing social structure.
With functionalist point of view, Durkheim’s rules are really fascinating and innovative in sociology. Even one can say that current research paradigm is dominated by the followers of Durkheim. His argument that it is necessary to prove your argument supported by a theory and then proved by a set of methods so that research present proof of argument and follow set of methods. Reading rules gave me the idea that how most of the research practices today follow that framework and provides sociologist a space in modern society to come up with their findings and incorporate it in policy discourse.
The compatibility of both rules and DOL go parallel particularly when he looks into the various layers of solidarity and then correlate it with DOL. His partitioning of solidarity into two parts and then its effects on DOL and also looking into the further parts and bits of negative and positive solidarity shows that he tried to applied ‘the rules’ wherever possible. He also looks in DOL with its abnormal forms both in mechanical and organic solidarity and then tries look into causes and effects of abnormal forms of DOL.
One limitation which I feel he did not discuss in both DOL and the rules is the concept of Power which is very important in sociology as ignoring power equals legitimizing power. Though he discusses inequality in forced division of labor but one can hardly find cause and effect in that area. With all its limitations, the rules are the wonderful guidelines for the students of sociology to conceptualize that how current rules are refined and improved which more than hundred years ago were introduced and innovated by a Durkheim.
Durkheim, Emile (1947). The division of labor in society. Glencoe, Ill., Free Press
Durkheim, Emile(1982). Durkheim: The Rules of Sociological Method and Selected Texts
on Sociology and its Method. edited and introduction by Steven Lukes, select translations by
W.D. Hallis. New York, NY:The Free Press.
Marx Vs. Durkheim. http://www.exampleessays.com/viewpaper/100755.html Retrieved on March 29, 2009.
Robert C Tucker (1978). The Marx-Engels reader. New York : Norton.


No comments:

Post a Comment