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Durkheim, Marx, and Weber Perspectives on Political Institutions (Essay Sample)


the paper described how Marx, Weber, and Durkheim discussed about human history, culture, economics, society, and politics in an interconnected manner. However, the main focus of the essay was to offer a comparative discussion among these three theorists and the common ground they chose in developing political theory.


Durkheim, Marx, and Weber perspectives on Political Institutions
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Durkheim, Marx, and Weber perspectives on Political Institutions
Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Karl Marx played a significant role towards building a sociological knowledge base which is popularly dubbed the classic sociological theory. The involvement of these theorists with the social transformation and changes from the mid-19th to the early 20th century touches on the fundamental issues of human development and existence (Jenson & Mérand, 2010). During the emerging modern social theory, the leading and influential contribution originated from these three philosophers. Marx, Weber, and Durkheim discussed about human history, culture, economics, society, and politics in an interconnected manner. However, the main reason why a comparative discussion is needed among these three theorists is the common ground they chose in developing political theory.
Karl Marx
Karl Marx is unquestionably among the most influential and important philosophers of the modern era. In as much as the majority of what this thinker wrote has been sedimented into the modern culture, a considerable number of his thoughts, particularly his political ideas, is way too outrageous ever to be fully integrated into academic logic (Haribabu, Mathur & Kennedy, 2020). The theory of political class as postulated by Marx depicts capitalism as a single step in the historical development of economic systems following each other in a natural trend driven by distinct impersonal historical forces that manifest through conflict and behavior between social classes. Based on Marx’s hypothesis, every society has different social classes, whose members share a lot in common. This theorist believed that in a capitalist system, the society has two political classes, that is, the business owners or the bourgeoisie who are in charge of controlling the means of production; and the workers or the proletariats whose efforts transform raw materials into finished products. The control that the bourgeoisie’s class have towards the means of production vests them power over the working class which gives them an opportunity to limit the ability of the workers to create and obtain what they need for their survival (Jenson & Mérand, 2010). The bourgeoisie employ social institutions as weapons and tools against the working class to maintain their privilege and positions of power. The government implements the will of the business class through physical intimidation to implement the private property rights and regulations to the means of production.
Marx also goes ahead to mention that the economic interests that property system creates in an industrialized society creates a strong foundation for collective social action. The people who hold positions of power in specified sets of property relations would always focus on doing what they can to maintain those relations. On the flipside, those who are at the receiving end of such property relations have a suppressed mobilization interest in changing those relations. People who share a common place in property systems constitute a political class, and their grievances are methodically discrete from those in other social backgrounds.
Marx further suggests that political institutions in modern societies tend to treat politics as a collective nature of human communities, and maintains that historical science, which encompasses law, ideology, and state, are aspects of wider super-structural relations that function to reproduce and fix minority rule within societies divided based on political classes (Riley, 2015). From Marxism school of thought, politics is best fathomed as an epiphenomenon of production relations by which a given class maintains its influence over the productive interaction of humanity with nature.
Max Weber
The modern society, according to Weber, centered on rationalization. Based on this theorist’s concept, a rational society is that which is founded on efficiency and logic instead of tradition and morality (Haribabu, Mathur & Kennedy, 2020). According to Weber, a capitalist society is a rational one. Even though this results to merit-based success and efficiency, it can have undesirable impacts when conceived extremely. In certain modern societies, this Weber’s theory applies when strict design and rigid routines result to a mechanized working environment and geared to producing similar products in each location.
The symbolic interactionism theory, which is among the three most recognized sociological theories, is founded on the early concepts of this theorist which focus on the people’s viewpoint and the way in which individuals relate to the society. According to Weber, the culmination of rationalization, industrialization, and similar results is what he calls the iron cage, in which a person is trapped by political bureaucracy and institutions (Haribabu, Mathur & Kennedy, 2020). In an industrialized, capitalist society, there are supermarkets rather than family-owned stores; chain restaurants have replaced local eateries; superstores offering different merchandise instead of independent businesses focusing on a single line of product; and shopping malls are offering restaurants, retail stores, condominiums, and even fitness centers. Based on Weber’s belief, such kind of change might be rational, though its universal desirability is questionable.
Émile Durkheim
Unlike the thinker’s and influencer’s viewpoints that have been discussed above, the perspective of Durkheim on society emphasized on the required interconnectivity of all its components. To this functionalist, society is greater than a collection of its parts. According to Durkheim, morals are communal beliefs and collective conscience is the societal attitude. The philosopher, however, believed that the strength of connections that people have to their social groups, something he termed as social integration, was the primary factor in social life.
Durkheim compared the modern society to a living organism, where every organ plays a fundamental role in the functioning of the body. In this functionalist’

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