Essay on Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Simmel: the Individual & Society

3548 Words May 16th, 2005 15 Pages
Each of the four classical theorists Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Simmel had different theories of the relationship between society and the individual. It is the objective of this paper to critically evaluate the sociological approaches of each theory to come to a better understanding of how each theorist perceived such a relationship and what it means for the nature of social reality. Karl Marx noted that society was highly stratified in that most of the individuals in society, those who worked the hardest, were also the ones who received the least from the benefits of their labor. In reaction to this observation, Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto where he described a new society, a more perfect society, a communist society. Marx …show more content…
(Marx #18 p. 489)
Under the existing forces of production, the capitalist could purchase the commodity of labor for an allotted amount of time agreed upon between the capitalist and the worker, and use it to invest in the creation of commodities for the capitalist to sell on the open market. Marx now notes that the use-value which labor posses for the capitalist is that it can produce more value then it would take to sustain the worker (Marx #18 p. 504). Through exploitation or paying the worker a subsistence wage and working the individual longer than the amount of time "necessary" to reproduce the value of that wage, the capitalist creates surplus value.
The capitalist form of production, through the process of exploitation which is solidified by wage subsistence labor, increasingly divides the population into two classes (Marx #11 p. 246). The classes are characterized by their relationship to the capitalist form of production in that one owns the means of production (the bourgeoisie) while the other (the proletariat) owns nothing but his labor power, which he must sell in order to gain access to the means of production for survival (Marx #11 p. 251).
An example of this would be a factory producing a commodity, for this example let's use radios. Some of the money obtained from selling radios will be spent on things like raw materials or constant capital in order to build more radios (Marx #18 p. 509-510). It would be in