Durkheim’s Theory of Anomie and Marx’s Theory of Alienation Essay

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Durkheim’s theory of anomie and Marx’s theory of alienation have had a very strong influence on the sociological understandings of modern life. Critically compare these two concepts. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the two concepts of anomie and alienation and evaluate their merits. The analysis will cover various aspects of modern life under the two theories and seek to establish which provides a more convincing account. In order to critique the concepts against each other, it would be helpful to define them in terms of a common ground, that being labour, as well as looking at the concepts’ similarities, differences and origins. The present-day solutions in use such as trade unions, nihilism and religion also warrant…show more content…
There are also varying degrees of alienation depending on the particular work environment. Some workers subject to particular tasks may feel 'distant' from their co-workers. Without this sense of belonging, these workers let their work related alienation penetrate their personal spheres which is seen in the struggle they have maintaining personal relationships, as a result of the feelings of isolation that they harbour. This in turn can lead to problems of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness such as depression and violent behaviour stemming from underdeveloped social interactions. (Macionis: Chapter 4) In terms of political ramifications, alienation leads to a withdrawal from public life originating in feelings of powerlessness wherein the government elected comes to be seen as “they” rather than “we”. (Macionis: Chapter 4) Subsequently, citizens do not perceive themselves as citizens in the true sense of the word. They do not have a sense of belonging or shared identity and as such will not value political activity. For Durkheim, the problem concerning modernity emerged from the move to an industrial society wherein the division of labour (increasing specialisation of occupations) led to a decrease in mechanical solidarity (social cohesion based on similarities between members of pre-industrial societies); resulting in the breakdown of the influence of social norms on individuals within a
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