Karl Marx & Emile Durkheim as Structuralists

Topics: Sociology, Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx Pages: 2 (457 words) Published: September 20, 2012
For Durkheim, society is a living independent being. The social phenomena must be analyzed with a holistic view, not individually but as part of a whole, the same way as for the biological study of a living organism. Therefore, the society is more than the sum of its parts (that is the individuals). For this reason, Durkheim developed the idea of the solidaristic function exercised by the division of labor seen as the distribution of social roles. Each has need of goods supplied by those who have a job other than their own. But Durkheim not only can be considered a structuralist (of positivist and historical perspective tradition), but also a precursor of the structural-functionalism, since he leads every phenomenon to the function and role that they carry within society. Marx also agrees with Durkheim that social science should focus on the structural supra-individual dimension (analysis of modes of production of a society, analysis of its social classes, etc.). The same superstructure (culture, politics, literature, etc.) is the reflection of the economic structure of society (its mode of production, its relations among social classes). So he can be considered as Durkheim a structuralist. Of course, in K. Marx, the engine of the dynamics of society is the labor force and the struggle between social classes for the conquest of political and economic power. In his mind, studying the nature of society means scientifically analyze its social and economic laws. And it is not a study end in itself, since it allows him (Marx) to predict what will be the future of social change that is necessary and inevitable. His doctrine is historicist and in some respects deterministic. On the contrary, for Durkheim the dynamics of society is represented by the division of social labor. The last one unites people, creates a dependency among them. Studying the nature of society means, therefore, analyze the mechanisms of the division of social labor. Of course, the division of...
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