Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Simmel on the Development of Capitalist Society and the Demise of Individualism

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Marx, Durkheim, Weber and Simmel on the Development of Capitalist Society and the Demise of Individualism Theorists began to recognize capitalism as pre-industrial society developed economically and major social changes began to occur. Modernization resulted in industrialization, urbanization and bureaucratization as the workplace shifted from the home to the factory, people moved from farms into cities where jobs were more readily available and large-scale formal organizations emerged. Classical theorists’ observations addressed numerous facets of social organization and interaction that came about as a result of modernization; however this essay will focus on their ideas regarding capitalism and the capitalistic society. Over…show more content…
Where Marx saw the modern industrial world as a necessary step to freedom, Durkheim saw it as a development with specific social phenomenon which he refers to as “social facts” that needed to be studied scientifically as explained in The Division of Labor in Society. These social facts were outside the individual and were capable of exercising power over the individual and influencing behaviour. “A social fact is identifiable through the power of external coercion which it exerts or is capable of exerting upon individuals” (Durkheim, [1859] 1982, p.56) Durkheim believed that by examining and understanding the effect of these social facts on human behaviour within the context of industrial society, adequate solutions could be devised to deal with the problems inherent in the new capitalist society. According to Durkheim, two different types of social facts exist: material and immaterial. Durkheim was most interested in studying the latter, particularly morality, collective conscience, collective representation, and social currents. He suggested that society could achieve a state of harmony or equilibrium – the state at which it was designed to remain. Unlike Marx, who believed the industrialized society would bring alienation and revolution, Durkheim believed it would bring cohesion and interdependence. Greater specialization would create greater interdependence. Marx and

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