Free «Durkheim and Marx» Essay Sample

The term solidarity refers to the level and kind of integration that is exhibited by a certain group of people or simply by society as a whole. Solidarity is composed of the social relations that often bind individuals to one another, and its basis lies is shared values, kinship ties, and norms. However, in complex societies, many theories have been formulated as to what brings the logic of social solidarity. This essay discusses the contrast between Emile Durkheim’s and Karl Max’s views on solidarity.

Describe the need for such an analysis; what motivated you to choose this question over another? What would a reader who is superficially acquainted with Marx and Durkheim gain from your paper? Explain what you are going to do in this paper.

Durkheim argues that the kind of solidarity that is prevalent in a given place is directly related to the type or structure of the society. Durkheim studies society as a functionalist, studying its actors or social objects and their role in society. According to Durkheim, harmony is the foundation of society (1933). He looks at the social phenomenon in respect to its role in facilitating the cohesion that is paramount in many societies. This includes his examining the role of religion, labor division, and suicide and the way in which they contribute to maintaining social cohesion



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On the other hand, Marx uses the conflict approach to study the basis of society. He argues that any place where there was social order, there had to the control of opposing interests, suppression, and that conflict among people is extremely essential in society. However, Durkheim proposed that solidarity was society’s normal conditionand that conflict is unusual and pathological irrespective of the problems associated with rapid industrialization and urbanization.

Transition (logic); is the distinction between two kinds of solidarity relevant to a comparison of D and M? If so, how? Durkheim points out two main kinds of social integration. These are mechanical and organic. In mechanical integration or solidarity, the homogeneity of persons is what leads too cohesion and integration. This is where people tend to feel connected because they share the same lifestyle, education, religious training, and work. These people also share sentiments and beliefs or common conscience on many issues that are concurrent within that society.

A “mechanical society” styleis prominent in traditional societies. For instance, in tribal societies, integration is founded on kinship ties due to the dominant interfamily network. In its organic integration, it is a direct outcome of interdependence and specialization among individuals. This kind of integration is predominant in modernized or industrialized towns. In such big societies, cohesion is purely based on the codependence that citizens tend to exhibit. Every person will perform a unique task in society, they have divergent interests and values, and the integration of that society depends on the way such individuals rely on each other in performing specialized work. In big societies, solidarity is based on mutual dependence. In the small societies, any violation of the shared system of beliefs was interpreted as a direct intimidation of the shared identity. This is where deviance was used to emphasize punishment.

According to Marx, there was a time when resources were plenty in society. There was little recognition of the ruling class. This means that the chances of these people leading better lives were scarce. The ruling class or the bourgeoisie did not intermingle with the working class or the proletariat. Life was monotonous because none knew what the other did with his or her life. The ruling class relaxed in enjoyment while the workers toiled, with limited time for pleasure and enjoyment. With the advent of industrialization, urbanization came in. Urban towns sprung everywhere and people from both classes intermingled due to the interdependence in society. The variation in pay between the classes led to the alienation of workers. They competed against each other in a bid to get good jobs and salaries (Marx &Engels, 1848, page number? Text?). They did not have any voice on the production means. They were oppressed, unhappy, and dissatisfied. This made them not to find pleasure and enjoyment in the work place and the social life. This was the source of conflict for the workers. The emergence of classes and the constant conflict between the ruling class and the workers is what brought conflict to the modern world (Marx, 1848).

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This is what made Marx strive for a dismantling of modern society because it was the direct cause of conflict. Durkheim argues that modern society is based on organic structure. There is need to reform it and not eliminate it because there is solidarity due to interdependence among the specialized workers. According to Marx, this conflict is the one that led to social problems like crime, suicide and the need for punishment.

The workers strived to control the production means and this is what led to crime. However, the threatened ruling class introduced religion and punishment as a way of controlling the workers. Marx termed religion the “opium of the masses”. Religion was used and is still being used as a way of maintaining social order in any society. Religion in most perspectives is what prescribes the ethics of the masses and reinforces the rewards and punishments that should be awarded to those who go against its teachings. Marx believed that religion in itself is a clear reflection of the means of production in society. It preserves the economic structure of the society. In it, the upper class is protected from the underlying conflict due to problems being experienced by the working class. This implies that religion is what is enforcing solidarity in the modern cities and it blinds the workers from seeing that the ruling class is exploiting them. Religion promises people to be “afterlife bound and earthly useless.” This is what makes them unable to notice the essentialism of Marx’s advice on revolution and destruction of classes (Ferraro, 2007 page number?).

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Marx argues that the values and beliefs in the modern world are so diverse. What is wrong in one culture could be right in the other. Immigration trends have brought many people to cities and as a result, there is intermingling of cultures. In urban towns and cities, religion enhances group solidarity (Ferraro, 2007). A religious environment leads to intermingling of people from all classes. There are strong social bonds shared by people who share religious rituals, beliefs, and practices. This is what makes the oppressed worker to feel that they are at the same level with the ruling class and thus resign to their fate-afterlife promises. In religion, Marx proposes that individuals will engage supernatural beings as a means of controlling what they have no power over for instance oppression (Ferraro, 2007). On the religious foundations, people will also engage in non-religious practices that will strengthen the sense of integration. In other words, religion is a very powerful form of socialization that makes an individual’s identity and sense of belonging to be strong. Religion is the basis of capital punishment and crime since it serves to protect capitalism (Ferraro, 2007).

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On the contrary, Durkheim’s views on “The Division of Labor in Society,” show that he is totally opposed to Marx (1933). He says that labor division is means of achieving social cohesion and integration rather than generate conflict. Durkheim acknowledges the problems that came with mass industrialization and urbanization but he tries to resolve those problems in Anomie that can be translated to mean “normlessness” or the lack of norm regulation (Durkheim, 1933).

Durkheim somehow recognizes the fact that industrialization brought about labor division and this was the cause of lack of norm regulation. During rapid changes in the social life of a society, people tend to lose focus on their beliefs, norms, values, and goals. Mutual dependence tends to disappear and in that state, they are less bound by the shared norms. Values are more general than personal. Labor in an industrialized world is monotonous. Workers have to repeat the same process everyday and this makes them lose their role in the means of production. They lose commitment to organization and their responsibility in the general society. The outcome is that workplace norms are less powerful in their daily activities.

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The other form of normlessness that Durkheim noted was egoism. Egoism is a condition that results from the lack of influence of norms and social values. The society tends to have many people who are highly individualistic, and do away with norms in pursuit of personal interest. Individualism and repetitive tasks for the workers are the main cause conflict from the perspective of Durkheim. Conflict is a result of diminished solidarity and Durkheim looked at it as a pathological condition that could be reversed.

Durkheim proposed ways of “curing” this pathological condition to prevent conflict and the resulting crime. He used the analysis of the American society that was done by Alexis de Tocqueville (Durkheim, 1933). Durkheim argues that social cohesion can be brought about b the activities of occupation groups. These groups will set the norms and values of society and replace the functions of religion, family, and community. Occupational groups will then relate in an economic way and thus agree on working conditions, labor wages to remove social stratification. These groups are supposed to play the role of political parties and relations between them can be political. Durkheim believed that bureaucracy was the direct outcome of mass democracy (1933). He suggested that occupational groups were supposed to regulate the egoism and individualism of the government, and deal with any form of oppression.

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Occupational groups were to be formed based on similarity of labor and thus they would play the role of social organizations. Persons in these groups are supposed to share their common interests and in the end have collective identity. This will give many persons in society identity, the way religion and kinship ties did.

Durkheim’s theories are based on consensus. He suggests that law and punishment practices should be the truest reflection of the morals of the occupational groups (Durkheim, 1933). He says that crime is part of a functional society and punishing any moral violation is a way of reinforcing morality among all occupational groups. His functionalist approach therefore emphasizes the fact that punishment can strengthen solidarity in a society and enhance cooperation among individuals. According to Durkheim, punishment is an appropriate and emotional response that is used to show the morality and judgment in a society as reflected in the arguments that justify the death penalty. Anything that deviates from the moral codes makes a community to be vulnerable to internal and external threats.

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Marx argues that capitalism is the source of immorality in society and therefore creates the need for sustenance of law. Capitalism diverts the citizenry from its exploitative nature by orchestrating hysteria and panic in the working class. The Criminal Justice System in most nations is an exploitation tool since it is subjected to the proletariat as the ruling class devour state resources in huge scandals of greed and the crave for power (Marx &Engels, 1848). Marx believes that criminal activities in the proletariat are easy to be discovered because they are less immune to discovery due to their limited resources and the effect of religion than the bourgeoisie (Marx &Engel, 1848). In a capitalist nation, a citizen must have all the basics of survival and if he or she does not, they result to criminal activities with the aim of acquiring. Marx concludes that religion and law are indeed the tools that the ruling class has used to protect itself from violent class wars. Communism rather than capitalism is the only solution to crime and solidarity. Solidarity can easily be attained in a classless society because none is oppressed and cohesion is easy.


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